They say clubs and countries change their managers like they change their underwear, or at least that’s how the famous cliche used around the footballing fraternity. Last week, Real Sociedad hired David Moyes while on the other side of the Mediterranean, Greece sacked Claudio Ranieri, a man who has been fired like it’s running out of fashion.
Managers never have it easy. When their teams win, they are lauded, when there is a slump, they are lambasted and eventually fired. The question is, do managers who after their first attempts at a big club or country deserve a second chance and how important is aspects like value and status in securing jobs at big clubs or nations? Let’s take the example of Moyes. The Scot spent 11 years at Everton, unable to win a trophy but yet developed a management style which saw many British-born managers admire and also at the same time respect.
When Sir Alex Ferguson ended his magnificent reign at Old Trafford, Moyes was drawn in and who was to argue with Ferguson? It was a complete disaster, as United finished seventh, no Champions League and a loss in revenue because of non-participation in Europe. Just like how William Wallance was scorned by the English when he tried to overthrow His Majesty King Edward, Moyes suffered the same fate as his fellow countryman from all those centuries ago. But now, Moyes has landed what seems a lucrative job with Real Sociedad, a team sitting 15th in La Liga but for the Scot, there’s a bigger picture to this. It’s a chance for him to find a sense of redemption with a club that does not have the same financial muscle as Real Madrid and Barcelona which means he can rebuild his management career and also develop a new style of play.
Claudio Ranieri is a coach that after 28 years of management, can still only speak of four titles won with none of them being league championships. Every time he is sacked from a big club, he is hired by another one; a trend which started from his time at Napoli from 1991 to the Greek national team just last week. Some say he is an unlucky manager, others say he is one that relies on old tactics learnt from the cultural catennacio style of Italy. His only titles to speak of worth recognising are the Coppa Italia with Fiorentina in 1995, the Copa Del Rey in 1999 and the Uefa Super Cup in 2004 with Valencia.
There were never massive expectations from Ranieri, but he always remained a coach that was a short-term fix and a quick go-to-guy after a club sacked a manager. One manager who always carries the expectations is Jose Mourinho. His success at Porto made him the manager he is today, and since then, every club that hired him expected trophies running like the river of Babylon and he did the same at Chelsea and Inter Milan (the latter saw him win the treble in 2010). But at Real Madrid, he may have won the league in 2012 but as a whole, it was a failure.
Now before people say he broke Barcelona’s dominance (which was not really the case), he spent over €300 million on Los Blancos; the most ever spent by a manager in the last five years prior to him leaving last year. Despite all the spending, he failed to win La Decima (which he was originally brought in for), caused more controversies within and outside of Real and could not play the way Los Blancos are meant to play. Now he is at Chelsea for his second stint, being allowed cash by owner Roman Abrahamovich and currently his side are unbeaten in all competitions so far this season.
Why is he allowed a second chance at a big club?
Because he is Jose Mourinho and just like managers including the likes of Louis Van Gaal, Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola, Fabio Cappelo; men who have earned their status because of their history and trophies won. That’s the fine line between that bunch and maybe a crowd that contains the likes of Moyes, Ranieri, Brendan Rodgers, Walter Mazzari or even an Andre Vilas-Boas. Sometimes to restore parity to one’s management career, coaching a less significant club and doing well can sometimes earn one a place back in the big time after a fall from grace. Status and history matters, as was seen with Mourinho for example, but at the same time, being at the right place at the right time and with some luck and a hint of intellengence, coming from a small club to a big one and becoming legends can happen.
Just ask Ferguson.