Top 5 contenders to replace Roy

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.

10 thoughts on “Top 5 contenders to replace Roy

  1. I don’t think Sven will get past Mo’s moral standards criteria – which is a good thing in my point of view.

    I just hope we don’t lose our stress free end of season games!

  2. I think more than anything it’s gonna be a deflated and sad few months. A period of mourning is inevitable; especially after the highs at the end of last season.

    And what about the players? There must be a sadness there too. Particularly among the ones whose revived careers are down to Roy Hodgson ie. Pantsil, Duff, Gera etc. And there will be people moving on before the season starts I feel. End of an (all too short) era for Fulham. Will be lucky to ever have his like again. Now I feel very sad.

  3. From a training and thoughtfulness point of view, with the chance of building on a legacy and not just throwing it away as usual, O’Driscoll would have real potential. However, will not remotely carry the clout, unless somehow under the wing of some higher profile bloke in the first instance, and that won’t happen.

    Hughes would be the choice from that lot to rate the most approval on messageboards and probably players, and given the need to get with things he might be best choice. About his underlying and long-term qualities I’m less convinced, but also pretty ignorant.

    If Curbishley hadn’t fallen out with so many of our current players I’d probably prefer him, truth to tell. That he’s dull on TV is of such minor consequence. Apparently he would be a massive step backwards. The reasons for that judgement elude me, but it does seem a common one.

    1. Agreed. I’d love to see O’Driscoll but suspect if we went that route we’d suffer in the short term and that would probably result in him not having enough time to show what he could achieve.

      Curb’s does have a decent record, and maybe all the negative thoughts in my head are just based on the media impression, not too keen to find out first hand though.

  4. The two players we think we know he fell out with are Koncheski (who it seems won’t renew a contract with one year to go) and Murphy (off the pace much of last season, surely in decline and seemingly acting as an unofficial agent in Hodgson’s move to Liverpool).

    He sold Zamora for a good price (far too much for us to have paid according to most of us then) and Pantsil (who has surely proved himself)

    I’d be OK with Curbishly and it’s for sure that we need a quick appointment of someone who knows the Premiere League intimately. There’s urgent squad rebuilding necessary.

  5. Thanks for the piece, Dave. I feel a whole hell of a lot better about Mark Hughes reading that, and for that matter, S-GE, as a football coach, not as a manager at Fulham, though. I hate to think of Danny Murphy gone, but it is true he was less than himself this past season, and at his age, in football terms, it’s unlikely to improve. Would not mind seeing him on the Fulham bench as an assistant for a few years, or with Roy at Liverpool, returning to Fulham one day. Maybe I’m wrong, though.

  6. Sven is without a doubt my first choice. His record and experience is outstanding, and it is testament of how far Fulham of come in recent years that we might be added to the long list of world class clubs that Sven has managed in the last 30 years: Benfica, Roma, Fiorentina, Sampdoria, Lazio, as well as the national teams of England, Mexico and Ivory Coast.
    Firstly we have to eliminate any negative feelings we might have towards Sven because of his time as England manager, as the job is the No.1 manager’s graveyard, and he actually did very well for England. During his period in charge he took England to 2 quarter finals of the world cup; losing to Brazil (the Winners), and Portugal on penalties, and England rose to a No.4 world ranking. Not to mention the 5-1 thrashing of Germany in Munich!!
    Like Roy he has managed teams all over Europe including Scandinavia and Italy, only comparably far bigger clubs than Roy. He has an extensive record in European competitions. Out of the list he is the most likely to do as well as Roy and could potentially do better.
    I am nothing short of terrified of the idea of 3rd rate manager like Curbishley being our next manager!!

  7. Nice post, Chopper. Agree with Ernesto’s thoughts on Sven. His accomplishments with England seemingly grow in stature every day and the guy has an amazing ability to always able to parlay himself into another well paying gig.

    To me, Queiroz is a classic example of someone who is a great assistant, but isn’t suited for the top job.

    Hughes would likely do well in a club of our size. Plus, he could get us Craig Bellamy since he’s the only manager that he’ll every play well for;)

    Not a big fan of Curbishly. He did great with Charlton, but they always seemed to quit on him once they got to 40 pts.

    Surprised that no one raised the name of John Collins. True that he doesn’t have a long track record as manager, but I think that he’s a viable candidate. He understands the Premiership as well as having played/coached outside of the UK. Plus, he’s got a connection to the club.

  8. I would be fine with any of those. I’m a little iffy on Curbishly due to past history with some of our players, but these guys are professionals, and I’m sure they can put it behind them. Hughes would be my first choice, as I believe he’s done an excellent job everywhere he’s been – including Man City. I have to admit though that I am intrigued by Slaven Bilic, even if the Sanchez parallels are a little scary. Croatia has become one of my favorite national teams over the past few years. They’re just incredibly tough to beat (I think they’ve only lost four games since he’s been in charge), but not because they do nothing but defend. It would be a gamble, but I’d get behind it*. At least we can take comfort in the fact that Croatia’s style of play is a little more pleasing to watch than Northern Ireland’s :)

    *disclaimer: I thought Sanchez was a great choice at the time.

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