A month and a half into the new year and predictably, with dashed title hopes and suddenly more real relegation fears hitting home, a speight of managers have found themselves out of a job, and more worryingly, in hospital. Here’s my assessment of how it will all work out for Chelsea, Newcastle and Portsmouth.
Guus Hiddink & Chelsea
Chelsea have made the right sort of appointment in signing up Guus Hiddink to their cause, and though I don’t think they will win the title, he might help them regain some respectability this season. I suggested in my piece on Scolari’s exit the other day that Chelsea need to get someone in who can rally the troops and get them playing as a team again, and I think Hiddink is certainly the man for that job.
He is a serial over-acheiver with his succession of jobs in national team coaching, after taking South Korea to a fourth place finish in the 2002 World Cup and Australia to the second round in the 2006 World Cup, losing only to eventual winners Italy after some very contraversial refereeing decisions. More recently of course, he took Russia to the semi finals of Euro 2008 where the team was praised for it’s excellent style of play, and overcame many more ‘traditioanlly strong’ nations like England and Holland in the tournament and it’s qualifying. He has shown then, that he has the ability to get the best out of players and take a squad not recognised for success far beyond all expectation.
Of course, expectation in the Chelsea camp is extremely high and the players are more used to success than some of his previous charges, but still, Chelsea are a team that have a lot more potential than they are showing at the moment, and if he can get it out of them, he can give them an outside chance of Premier League success, and maybe even a decent bash at the Champions League.
His appointment is, at present, only as a ‘caretaker’ boss until the end of the season but I feel that if successful (to a degree) he may well stay on longer term. If this is the case, I again feel it will be good for Chelsea as he has shown in his time with Russia that he will put faith in younger, hungrier players ahead of some more established stars, and Chelsea need to revitalise their ageing squad if they are to challenge seriously next season.
Joe Kinnear & Newcastle United
I must take this opportunity to give my best wishes to Joe and all of his family. He is facing a triple heart bypass surgery and at times like these one realises what is really important in life. May the operation be a success and may he have a speedy recovery, all the very best Joe.
The Newcastle resurgence under Kinnear had taken a little dip lately, and they still look very much candidates for relegation, which would be an awful fate for such a big club with such passionate fans. It is tragic that they should lose Kinnear at this important time, especially to such circumstances, but I hope for Kinnear and for the fans that the loss can galvanise them into better form and perhaps Premier League survival.
The players at Newcastle have shown in recent months that they are a tight knit bunch and Kinnear’s committed personality has managed to mould them into a good unit. Now they need to pull together and play not just for the club but for their boss. With that sort of inspiration, I think that we may see a second wind breathed into the Newcastle squad and they may survive this relegation battle.
With such inspiration comes great determination, and in a Premier League dogfight, that is perhaps the most important asset. There will be bad days and bad results, that is inevitable, but what keeps teams up is the ability to put those days behind them, concentrate on the next one and be determined enough to grind out some results. I think Newcastle will survive their scare, and I dearly hope Joe Kinnear can do the same. All the best Joe.
Portsmouth find themselves managerless for the second time this season, with Harry Redknapp having walked out on them before Christmas, they have now seen fit to show Tony Adams the door, despite giving him a snowballs chance in hell of succeeding.
The team that they had there was Redknapp’s team, assembled by his mysterious means, let’s face it, Hawwy does manage to lure a lot of good players to clubs in quite poor positions. Once their messiah left and the spell was broken, it was obvious that Portsmouth would face a time of upheaval and some chopping and changing. When you consider that the board allowed some of these players to leave, important players, without letting Adams replace them, you have to feel sorry for Adams as the board are quite clearly the incompetent ones, not he.
You simply cannot sell the likes of Lassana Diarra and Jermaine defoe and not allow a manager to replace them. It leaves gaping holes in the team and therefore you should not be surprised when the team suffers because of it. Pompey’s failure was not Adams’ fault, he did the best he could with not a lot. I thought in January that when they didn’t give him any money, they must be settling in for the long term and letting him build a team of his own.
But to sack him and attempt to start from scratch shows incredible naivety. Any manager that comes in now will have no opportunity to add to a squad that is incompatible with Premier League survival, and so they have simply condemned the club to further upheaval. At least Adams, who had been at the club with Redkanpp, had some bonds with the players and a measure of the state of the club. They face almost certain relegation and I think Adams would have been in a better position than any outsider to help them bounce back at the first attempt.
Sorry Pompey fans, it looks like the idiocy of your board has finally come to haunt them. They have made some awful decisions in the past and I think this time it’s the final straw. You’re going down with the Baggies.