Written by : Nick Moore
The Chelsea success raised hopes. The Wolves defeat was eerily familiar. We weren’t awful, but we didn’t get anything. Nor in truth did we deserve anything. In the current form table (last eight games) we are bottom. Of the four teams we have beaten this season two Norwich and Watford are nineteenth and twentieth in the league. One win in eight (and one draw) is not good enough; the vultures circle around Pellegrini.
A decision has to be made on his future before the transfer window opens.
If he is to be given the old heave ho, then rumours abound that there seems to be a currently agreed shortlist. It consists of Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche, Rafa Benitez, David Moyes, and Chris Hughton. The implication is that these are the candidates the club will consider.
Fans have voted on the options in various polls, and Eddie Howe comes out top with most fans – but Eddie, Sean and Rafa are all in jobs. Their clubs would need to agree to release them. They may not; why would they? If they did agree to let them go, a hefty compensation package is likely. This would have to be taken from the potential transfer budget given Financial Fair Play rules – and this is in addition to paying off Pellegrini and his staff.
Moyes and Hughton are out of work and are available. Moyes is rumoured to be going to Everton (or not). He is unlikely, given his previous experience with us, to accept another short term deal. Do you want Moyes for three years? He did a good job in keeping us up. But when he wasn’t appointed, we don’t remember any demonstrations demanding he be given the job. It would seem to be a step back to an option nobody wanted before.
Hughton is an underrated manger. He took Brighton from the depths of the Championship to the Premier League and kept them up. But his cautious approach meant their fans couldn’t wait to see him go in the summer.
This shortlist is worrying. It looks suspiciously like the usual suspects, and it looks lazy. It’s unrealistic in that the best won’t come. This is the most important decision we’ll make. We should be looking at all possible candidates at home and abroad.
According to one report we are monitoring Freddie Ljungberg. How does that work? If he has a great run, Arsenal will offer him their job. If he doesn’t do well we won’t offer him the time of day.
Other names pop up from time to time. Christophe Galtier, the manager of Lille, has been mentioned. He has twice won the Ligue 1 manager of the year, once in a tie with Carlo Ancelotti and again last year. He lifted Lille from 17th in 2017/18 to runners up to PSG last year. He is reputed to have done well in the transfer market and be a good organiser defensively. He won’t do well in fans polls because we don’t know him. Will Lille release him?
It used to be that managers from the lower divisions of the football league who were doing well would get promoted to jobs in top league. Marcelo Bielsa is a coach with an international reputation. Personally he would have been my choice when we appointed Slaven. However, again, you wouldn’t think Leeds would let him go mid-season.
We could look at the two Lees too. Lee Bowyer has done a remarkable job at Charlton – with Josh Cullen playing a pivotal role – in the most unlikely circumstances. Working with next to no budget and with a much hated owner he got promotion. Up until Cullen got injured they were doing OK in the championship. It would also be worth looking at Lee Johnson at Bristol City. They play attractive football and tend to go on runs both positive and negative.
Again it’s unlikely that these clubs will be willing to give up their manager easily.
So we should look at the available not currently working managers. If we do make the decision to change manager we can’t afford to be drifting without a manager for long. We need to have someone lined up.
There are of course those have just joined the queue at the labour exchange – Unai Emery, Quique Sanchez Flores and Marco Silva. Fancy any of these? Marco Silva was mentioned previously but his stock has fallen now.
There are some high quality managers without work. Massimiliano “Max” Allegri is probably the biggest of these. Five straight league wins in Italy tends to make you a wanted man. He says he is on a sabbatical for the whole season.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst became Feyenoord manager in May 2015. He won the Dutch Cup in his first season and the club’s first league title for 18 years in 2017. He has been linked to Man City and their organisation but is currently not working.
Marcelino has been linked to the Arsenal job. He was at Valencia where he did well finishing fourth twice and won the Spanish cup. Previous to that he got promotion at Villarreal and three straight top six finishes. Some fans would love him as he plays 4-4-2.
Ralf Rangnick works for the Red Bull organisation in a development role. He has been a temporary manager for Red Bull Leipzig twice with some success. He previously managed Schalke 04 twice getting to the champions league and was at 1899 Hoffenheim when they got back to back promotions. He is an interesting possible because of his experience in a range of roles that would strengthen the development of the club for instance in the critical area of recruitment.
Quique Setien did well at Real Betis but the fans didn’t like his team’s relentless keeping the ball. He was linked with managing Barcelona not long ago.
Roger Schmidt is another German currently out of work. He has won a league title in Austria. He has managed Bayer Leverkusen who he took to fourth and third in his first two seasons. He doesn’t seem to last long and is very much in the Bielsa hard high press style which can run out of steam. However you do get a significant positive bounce with him. He won the cup in China and turned his side into contenders. When he was fired at the end of July hundreds of fans came to the airport to see him off.
OK that’s enough names. Hopefully the point is made that there are a lot of good possible choices. What the club needs to do is research all the options. It would help too to be clear what the club’s priorities are, what they want from their new manager. For me, I still want a team that plays on the floor but we have to be less tactically naïve. We need to be better organised defensively and although no one ever gets recruitment completely right, that needs attention to improve.