Facing the sack: Managers in hot soup
Football is a fickle game. It can make you feel that you are on top of the world before dragging you back down to reality after just one game. Players turn from heroes to villains and vice versa in the blink of an eye. One bad game and it can be curtains. The roles of the managers are equally as hard as the player’s, if not more. In a match, at least, the players control a little part of their destiny while playing the game. The managers, however, are not that lucky. Week in and week out they have to depend on eleven other souls to save their jobs. A lot of preparation has to go into selecting the perfect line up because when the manager sends these players to the pitch, the onus of their performances lies solely with him/her. If the performance is good their names will be etched in stone in the annals of club and football lore but one bad patch may ruin a reputation which may have taken years to build. Here’s looking at some of the most talked about falls from grace:
Jose Mourinho (Chelsea): The most recent inductee in the list and one of the most prolific managers of all times. You can love him or hate but you sure as hell won’t be able to ignore him. Guiding Chelsea to the Premier League title last season no one would have foreseen what lied ahead for the team this season. Instead of starting like champions, Chelsea started this season with a whimper. Currently standing at the 15th position in the league table, Chelsea’s decline has been rapid. It was Mourinho’s second stint at the West London football club, having previously managed the football team between 2004 and 2006. In his previous stint, he led them to back to back league titles before differences with owner Roman Abramovich led to the Portuguese being sacked. The former manager of the defending champions had endured an unprecedented season with nine defeats and constant off-field trouble involving his players and staff leading to him being shown the door. Conspiracy theories have been running amok after his sacking with rumours suggesting that some of the Chelsea players did not give their all on the field while playing for Mourinho. Only time will tell how much of that is true.
Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid): The Italian manager left Spanish club Real Madrid in May, a season after he led them to the Champions League title in 2013-14. Ancelotti, who succeeded Mourinho at the Bernabeu, won four trophies in 2014 before a disappointing La Liga season the following year, which led to his dismissal. When Ancelotti won the Champions League with Madrid, he became the only second manager after Bob Paisley (Liverpool) to win the competitions on three occasions. He also holds the unique distinction of winning the Champions League or the European Cup two times as a player (AC Milan, 1989 and 1990) and three times as a manager (AC Milan, 2003, 2007 and Real Madrid 2014). Ancelotti was also sacked by Chelsea in 2011, a year after he won the club the Premier League title, its first since 2005 when Mourinho was in charge.
David Moyes (Manchester United): Ah, where to start with Moyesey. After the retirement of one of the greatest managers in football history, Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes was supposed to take Manchester United to unprecedented heights. He was Everton’s manager for a considerable amount of time and his longevity in that club played a major role in him getting an edge over the competition. He was even handpicked by Ferguson himself and the supporters were happy to have a worthy replacement. Or so they thought. For United fans, Moyes’ stint at Old Trafford was nothing short of a nightmare. He couldn’t win with a squad that lifted the Premier League trophy the previous season. The players were just not connecting or responding to his style of play. Seven months into the season, the club decided to fire him. Moyes was later hired by Spanish club Real Sociedad in November 2014, where he lasted just short of a year.
Roberto Mancini (Manchester City): The manager who brought Manchester City back from footballing obscurity by winning the Premier League in the 2011-12 season in one of the most dramatic finishes in League history also fell victim to the lack of consistency. A poor title defence from City the following season led to Mancini’s dismissal from the club. The last straw came after City lost the FA Cup final to Wigan. After his departure from England, Mancini had a spell with Turkish club Galatasaray, before returning to Inter Milan, where he is currently employed.
Rafael Benitez (Liverpool): Benitez oversaw a period when Liverpool were a club which was a force to be reckoned with before their form and reputation started languishing.
His tenure also included an incredible comeback win in the Champions League final against AC Milan in 2005. However, Benitez’ decline began in 2009 and worsened in 2010, when the club saw itself finishing seventh in the table with no Champions League nights at Anfield.
He was promptly sacked by Liverpool’s owners. After his exit from Liverpool, Benitez had spells with Inter Milan, a caretaker role at Chelsea, a three-year stint at Napoli, before he was appointed Real Madrid’s manager where he is still struggling to adapt to the Los Blancos side.
André Villas-Boas (Chelsea): The 34-year-old Portuguese manager André Villas-Boas was called upon by Chelsea to replace the departing Ancelotti in June 2011. However, his stay at the West London club was an incredibly short one, considering the money Chelsea paid FC Porto (£13.3 million) to court him in the first place. He lasted just eight months, before a string of defeats led to Chelsea languishing in fourth place, behind rivals Arsenal. His managerial stint saw several senior players sidelined. His last match in charge of Chelsea was a 1-0 defeat to West Brom. Villas-Boas was replaced by Roberto di Matteo on a caretaker basis. Matteo would then lead the club to its first ever Champions League title in 2012. Talk about being hard done by luck. Speaking of di Matteo.
Roberto di Matteo (Chelsea): The tale of di Matteo is what urban folk lore is made of. After taking the place of Villas-Boas as an interim manager, di Matteo would do the unthinkable by guiding Chelsea to their first Champion’s League victory beating Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout. On 13 June 2012, Chelsea announced that Di Matteo had been appointed the manager and first-team coach on a permanent basis signing a two-year contract with the club. His team started the 2012–13 Premier League well, with victories against Wigan Athletic, Reading, and Newcastle United. In the 2012–13 Champions League, Chelsea drew 2–2 with Juventus and beat Danish club Nordsjælland 4–0 away. Their form declined after this, however, losing to Shakhtar in the Champions League and to Manchester United at home in the Premier League. Chelsea’s chances of advancing through their Champion’s League group were raised with a 3–2 home victory against leaders Shakhtar but on 21 November 2012, Di Matteo was sacked following their 3–0 away loss to Juventus in the Champions League, which all but eliminated them from the competition. Di Matteo had lasted just eight months as manager of Chelsea despite winning two major trophies, causing the decision to be controversial with many pundits and club fans.
Vicente del Bosque (Real Madrid): The decision to sack del Bosque, currently in charge of the Spain national football team, must still rankle Madrid, for the club became the epitome of managerial instability soon after. Bosque, who rose through the ranks at Real Madrid, was unceremoniously sacked a day after he won the club’s 29th La Liga title. The reason, many speculated at the time, was his failure to win the Champions League that season. Bosque during his four-year stint led Madrid to two Champions League wins, the first of which came in 1999-2000, and the other in the 2001-02 season. He has successfully managed Spain for nearly a decade, coaching the side to the 2010 World Cup title and the 2012 Euros.
Louis van Gaal (Bayern Munich): The current manager of Manchester United may soon follow his own footsteps out of the door of his current club, just like he did with his former club Bayern Munich. With Manchester United getting criticised left and right this season due to their inability to find the net against considerably weak opponents and frustratingly coming out in the losing end, van Gaal’s days in Old Trafford may have just been numbered. With the Red Devils out of the Champion’s League, failing to advance from a relatively easy group, van Gaal’s coaching techniques have come under scrutiny. The eccentric Dutchman best known for his philosophy was sacked by German club Bayern Munich in April 2011, almost two years after he joined the Bavarian club to succeed Jürgen Klinsmann. His stint saw Bayern win the Bundesliga in the 2009-2010 season, before reaching the final of the Champions League.