I no longer believe anything I read in the media. I think they are scavengers desperate for news to fill their ever expanding empires of greed. I’m also eternally optimistic and, despite the evidence to the contrary, have been hoping that Roy would eventually turn down Liverpool (and/or England) and commit himself to Fulham. It didn’t happen. It’s a sad day for the club.
I’m getting ahead of myself though. Hello, I’m Chopper (Dave to my friends, David to my Dad) and I used to write The Hammy End Chronicle. Richard has kindly offered me the chance to write occasionally (and sporadically) for CCN and I’m delighted to do so. It means I can finally lay HEC to rest but still have an outlet for my ramblings about Fulham. I’m also slightly obsessed with lists and Top Fives so for the time being that will be the route most of my posts will take.
Much like the old saying about death or taxes, it’s inevitable that at some point a manager will either get the sack or move to a bigger/richer club. Picking a new manager is never easy. There is no magic formula for getting it right and even if you do there’s always a period of transition when you don’t quite know which way it’s going to pan out. These are the current top five contenders with the bookies.
1. Alan Curbishley – Managed Charlton for 15 years, winning promotion to the Premier League twice. He built up a very good reputation and was touted (not least by himself) as a contender for the England job in 2006. In December 2006 he took over at West Ham who remained favourites for relegation until a run of seven wins in nine games saw them safe. In 2007/08 he led the Hammers to a 10th place finish but resigned within a month of the start of the following season citing board interference in team selection. I doubt anyone would be excited by his appointment. I went off him towards the end of his spell with Charlton as he seemed too often to look for excuses for bad results rather than take them on the chin.
2. Sven-Goran Eriksson – I suspect we’ve all got a view on Sven. In many ways he’s quite similar to Roy. A cautious manager who doesn’t like to take chances and possibly influenced by Hodgson’s spell in Sweden around the time he began his own managerial career. He’s had a lot of experience managing a who’s who of European clubs including; IFK Gothenburg (League Champions, two Swedish cups and the 1982 UEFA cup), Benfica (two spells including three League championships, one domestic cup and runners-up in the 1983 UEFA cup and the 1990 European cup), Roma (a Coppa Italia) and Lazio (winning UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1999 and Serie A in 2000 as well as a number of domestic Cups). Of course in England he’ll be remembered for his spell with the national team and his inappropriate off-field activities. Based on cold facts he actually did pretty well with England reaching the quarter-finals at the 2002 and 2006 World Cup Finals and the 2004 European Championships. His year at Manchester City (2007-08) saw him achieve a (then) respectable finish of 9th in the league and his departure was a result of interference from owner Thaksin Shinawatra. City fans were unhappy at this and mounted a campaign in support of Eriksson. Subsequently he has followed an odd path from Mexico to Notts County to the Ivory Coast but has failed to find the success of his early career.
3. Mark Hughes – The people’s choice? Mark Hughes is a young and ambitious manager with a respectable track record so far. Whilst still playing he became Welsh national manager in 1999. Wales were some way from qualifying for the 2002 World Cup finals but came very close to reaching the 2004 European Championships eventually losing out to Russia in the playoffs. In September 2004 he quit the Welsh job to take over at Blackburn Rovers. In his second season he led Blackburn to a top six finish and UEFA cup qualification. 2006-07 saw Rovers reach the last 32 of the UEFA cup and the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup. Hughes left Blackburn in June 2008 to take over from Sven at the newly flush Manchester City. His dismissal from City in December 2009 saw the club 4th in the Premier League, one of the dangers of managing a club with very rich owners.
4. Sean O’Driscoll – “Noisy” played almost 150 times for Fulham between 1979 and 1984. This coincided with my first visits to the cottage and what was a very exciting time under manager Malcolm MacDonald. O’Driscoll was one of those players you could rely on to put in a decent performance, never spectacular but always doing the job he was tasked with. He moved to Bournemouth in ’84 and stayed there for the rest of his playing career making well over 400 appearances. In August 2000 (after 5 years on the coaching staff) he took over as Bournemouth manager. His record over six seasons saw the club finish 7th, 21st (and relegated to League 2), 4th (and promoted back to League 1), 9th 8th and 17th. The move to Doncaster suggested Sean was keen to have the financial backing to match his ability. In his first full season at the club Rovers finished 3rd and promotion to the Championship. Despite being favourites for relegation they have achieved two very respectable finishes of 14th and 12th in that league. Rovers also won the 2007 Football League Trophy. At both sides O’Driscoll has formed a reputation for playing neat passing football and remains the same quiet and level headed person he was as a player. He was approached to take over at Burnley last season but opted to stay with Doncaster.
5. Carlos Queiroz – Yes, I’m not really sure why Queiroz is so high in the odds either. Actually Ray Lew was slightly ahead of him when I checked but, much as I like Lew, we really don’t want to go down that path do we? Obviously best known in this country for two spells as assistant to Sir Alex at Manchester United. In between those he had a season at Real Madrid but was sacked after only finishing 4th in the league and doing poorly in the cups. He has managed Portugal twice, his first spell from 1991 to 1993 followed a successful period as the under-20s coach. He is currently contracted to remain national coach until 2012, though has suffered a bit of criticism following Portugal’s performance against Spain in the World Cup.
My preference is Mark Hughes. He would be a contrast in manner and style but I think he’s a good manager who would be able to build on the foundations laid by Hodgson. A few days ago I would have been aghast at Eriksson getting the job but having written this his football qualities begin to sound more attractive. A couple of personnel favourites are ruled out due to their current roles. Martin Jol has a three year contract with Ajax and came very close to overtaking FC Twente last season. Steve Coppell has only just taken over at Bristol City. Slaven Billic has also been linked with Fulham in the past, he seems poised to move into club management but I worry about the “Sanchez factor” with him.
Whatever the outcome things are going to change and however you feel about Roy’s departure it’s going to be a fascinating few months.