In these days of economic uncertainty it almost makes sense that managers appear to be moving in greater numbers than players. After all, the task of a manager or coach or trainer is to entice, encourage or force the best out of whatever players are at his disposal.
At the highest level already four of the 16 managers at Euro 2012 have slipped off their perches and will duty turn up sooner or later back in the club world. Not only that, but three have been replaced ahead and the most spectacular rumours concern the replacement for a fourth.
Croatia already knew that Slaven Bilic would be heading off for Lokomotiv Moscow as soon as the checkboard shirts had been packed away after the first-round exit in Poland and Ukraine. Hence his old team-mate Igor Stimac was ready to step straight into the role at the behest of another of their old colleagues, Davor Suker, who is now president of the federation.
Dick Advocaat was another Euro 2012 boss who had already decided to jump before there was any risk he might be pushed. The Dutchman is off to PSV Eindhoven and the 2018 World Cup hosts thus find themselves in a state of some confusion since Sergey Fursenko also felt obliged to quit as Russian Football Union president after the Euro debacle.
One man not too unhappy to see this was Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko (who also happens to be a member of the FIFA exco and who fronted the Russians’ successful 2018 bid). Mutko had been ousted from the RFU leadership, in favour of Fursenko, by then state President Medvedev in February 2010.
Mutko has been fiercely critical of the Euro 2012 campaign and blamed some of it on the pressure put on players by the 18-month season through which the Russians have lined up their league programme with that of western Europe. Fursenko thinks it is nonsense and has said so. Coincidentally, the man who proposed the switch-around and pushed it through was Fursenko.
Hence the former Gazprom executive has been blamed for everything in sight and, if Advocaat got anything wrong, then no-one has had time to notice.
The RFU now has to find a new president – ever-faithful Nikita Simonyan has stepped in as caretaker yet again – but who has the authority to appoint one? This is one of the reasons for so much speculation, different board members have their favourites. One target could be Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini, another Fabio Capello, still another (and perhaps one of the more sensible) Dan Petrescu.
Bringing in a foreign coach who speaks no Russian might appear a recipe for failure again but many of the players very specifically do not want a Russian coach who may be too much a product of the ‘old school’ from Moscow.
Elsewhere no-one was surprised to see Laurent Blanc’s contract not renewed by the French federation. FFF president Noel Le Graet’s refusal to extend, shortly before Euro 2012, meant that Blanc went into that campaign with his managerial authority utterly undermined.
The outcome was the dressing-room eruption which will see Samir Nasri, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jeremy Ménez and Yann M’vila all facing disciplinary hearings on July 27.
After an early, negotiating stance, hesitation Didier Deschamps was probably only too delighted to sever his ties with ever-confused Marseille and take over from his old team-mates. Deschamps will be looking to Brazil in 2014 and then through to Euro finals which France will host two years’ later. He could even emulate Franz Beckenbauer: the only man thus far to captain and manage a World Cup-winning team.
If Blanc’s demise was both unfortunate and political, the same cannot be said for Bert Van Marwijk’s exit as Holland boss. Van Marwijk, who appeared wound up for a fight with the media every time he entered a press conference, has been replaced by Louis Van Gaal.
That has infuriated Johan Cruyff – whose opposition ultimately prevented Van Gaal returning to Ajax as technical director. The two men have long been at odds and Cruyff has figuratively raised an eyebrow of distaste and doubt at the haste with which Van Gaal was rushed into place by the KNVB.
Doubtless that will be as nothing compared with the pace at which Mano Menezes is jettisoned by the CBF if Brazil do not win Olympic gold, for the first time in their history, in London.