Who’s next?

Further to Chopper’s excellent work, the field is thinning out and we seem to be left with a shortlist of Sven, Slaven Bilic and Mark Hughes.

Sven, as I’ve said elsewhere, would be the continuity choice.  He learned the game in Sweden at a time when Roy and Bob Houghton were very influential.   Sven took their methods and used them to make Gothenberg successful.  He has, more or less, adhered to the same kinds of approach ever since, staying true to defensive solidity at the expense of attacking fireworks (look at Ivory Coast 2010 and England 2006 for evidence of this).   There are parallels with Roy’s situation pre-Fulham (success, financially inspired wilderness, Fulham), so if his wages aren’t an issue, and if he can convince the board that he is serious about Fulham, he’d be a good choice.   Sven’s career win percentage as a manager is 52%, bolstered by some devastating teams at Benfica (77% and 68%!).   At City he won 42% of his games.  (Roy’s winning percentage at Fulham was 39%, by way of a benchmark, accepting of course that different quality players affect these things).

Mark Hughes is another good option in that he has a decent track record at Wales, Blackburn and Man City, and his playing career at United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and even Chelsea would command respect.   His career win percentage as a manager is 42%, 46% at Man City (although he was starting to ‘benefit’ from the Arab billions here).

Slaven Bilic is the other candidate, and my favourite.   Here are some quotes from when Croatia beat England:

“Wake up. You didn’t lose the game because of the tactics. I admire your team but we’re simply a better team.”

“I read in your papers that no Croatian would start in the England team – that’s ridiculous, wake up.”

And he was right (he then went on to say that “there are good players in small countries too”).

This honesty is refreshing.  It’s not overblown “look at me” tubthumping, but an honest (and correct) reaction to a game in which he felt his players had not received the credit they deserved.   Bilic knows English football, is an intelligent man (good chapter on him in Jonathan Wilson’s “Behind the Curtain” book), and has that something about him.   While Roy was brilliant in his post-match interviews, Mark Hughes is a blamer, and I don’t like that.  Sven is the master of the non-statement, beaming vacantly and saying absolutely nothing (“Weeeell..”).   Bilic would be different, a good ambassador for the club, and if his record as a club manager is untested (relative to Sven’s), he has shown enough gumption to suggest that he is worth a crack.  I think MAF might see something he likes in the slightly “out there” Bilic, while Sven might seem somehow unsubstantial and Mark Hughes somehow… well I don’t know.

If it’s all about Premiership survival then Hughes would appear to be the most solid choice.   If it’s about building on what Roy has achieved, going to a ‘next level’ then we need MAF’s Harrods money and Sven.   Otherwise, Bilic intrigues me and I’d like him to have a go.

20 thoughts on “Who’s next?

  1. All sound thinking, but like when Roy got the gig, came out of the blue pretty much, I don’t recall seeing too much about his name linked with the Fulham job back then, so perhaps the board have a man in mind that’s not on the list, let’s just hope it’s not one of the World Cup managers who has been fired during the world cup!!

  2. According to today’s ‘Evening Standard’ it is now between Sven, Sparky and Steve Clarke. What would be interesting is the thought of a first rate coach like Clarke working alongside a Sven or Hughes.

  3. Bilic’s resume just reminds me too much of Lawrie Sanchez’s. I don’t think that the Prem is your starter league. Of the three, I’d prefer SGE. Hughes wouldn’t be to difficult to take either.

    1. That was one of my first thoughts when his name came up a couple years ago, but I’m not as concerned now. Sanchez’ claim to fame with NI was that he lucked out a few times against much better teams, and that he didn’t get destroyed as often as expected. Which is an accomplishment, I suppose, but maybe not as great of one as I had thought at the time.

      Croatia, OTOH, has lost only four games total under Bilic. That’s just plain dominant. Sure, they have loads of talent, but so do most of the teams they play.

      1. Croatia 1-4 England
        England 5-1 Croatia

        Impressive stuff?

        Has ZERO experience of club management. A joke candidate surely? I might as well walk in and suggest I manage the Bank of England. Let’s think straight here. People should be qualified for the job they apply to do. Surely?

        1. Well, you could pick two bad losses out of any manager’s career, even Roy had a couple of 4-0 losses with us. We’re not going to find a manager who’s never lost a game.

          FWIW, he was caretaker at Hajduk Split for a season, and did very well.

  4. Good analysis and difficult to find fault with the conclusion. One point not mentioned is that the new man has got to work well with MAF. I think that Sparky might have some difficulty there. SGE is the easy option but not necessarily a good one. Post Roy, the players are going to want to be motivated by the new man and SGE is possibly a man past his prime in that department, which leaves SB. Rumour has it that he is known to MAF and gets on well with him. He’s got a good track record, excellent contacts and a personality that should inspire and motivate the players. In my view professional football in England and in particular footballers themselves, have gone off the rails somewhat. A dose of realism is required and SB seems to have that in his character. It appears he’s got that extra something which clubs like Fulham need to be able to compete and survive against the now many clubs spending obscene amounts of money in the Premier League. In my view, he would be an inspirational appointment in many ways.

  5. I’m very wary of these types of discussion because we don’t know these guys. We know their CVs and have an impression based on their public personas but how they’d actually do in the job is unknowable to us.

    When I’m interviewing my concern after checking competence and qualifications is for the chemistry. Whether I think the applicant is suitable for my firm, whether they’ll “get” me, get along with other staff members. Understand the ethos of the firm. It’s about “fit” and shared aims. People often say the right things at interviews (on both sides of the table) but some people are just right and others wrong for a particular company and the interviewer needs to be skilled and, I think, intuitive to get things right.

    We are a particularly quirky club with an eccentric, demanding owner capable of great charm and kindness yet very quick to demonise those who he feels have let him down.

    Whether any of the apparent candidates are right for us is a tough and crucial decision for the Board to make.

  6. I think Sven would be a pretty phenomenal appointment.

    Yes he has gone off the path a bit over the last few years, but he has a done very well at club level (and not to shabbily at international level) and I have an image of Sven and Mo on a boat somewhere in the adriatic. Sven would command the respect of the players and is internationall respected, which would only help with recruitment.

    The fact that Alistair Mackintosh knows him from city and he seems to be interested in managing in the prem again makes him look like an early favourite.

    I don’t like Hughes as a person, but if he got results I would back him. As for Bilic, seems unlikely to me, but would be interesting and next season would have a real sense on intrigue.

  7. I hated Bilic as a player and have enjoyed him as a manager. He was in the running for a prem managerial job previously. I think perhaps West Ham (?-seems I recall it was a team he played for) but pulled out because he felt he wasn’t finished with the job at hand which was the Croatian National team. Perhaps this was just before the Euro Finals but I don’t recall exactly.

    Sven was an utter disaster for Mexico.

  8. Conversations with Crystal Palace coach hinted at Southgate and Lewington working well together for Fulham with Alan Smith in background.

  9. Joachim Löw might be a good option…German FA not agreed a contract with him, he is 50 and has lots of experience, be a good option, can’t see it being anyone we expect myself, Joachim has done a great job with Germany, and German players would love to come to Fulham, the football and wages in Bundeslige not very good, I know I have to suffer seeing Hertha BSC when I am in the Berlin office, Brentford are better… :-) and prob get paid more…

  10. What a shame Curbishley is out the reckoning. A highly experienced London-based with a good track record (has never been sacked), he finds himself in the wilderness for nebulous reasons so with something to prove.

    Personally dull, he gave playing time to ball-players and wingers and his Charlton teams were perfectly watchable. Is it just the tiffs with Konchesky and Murphy that have ruled him out?

    I’ve fewer reservations about Curbs than any of the three on that list, and the view I’ve kept reading (not on here) that he’d represent “a massive step back” is based on heaven knows what. I accept, however, that if Bilic is the answer then the question must differ from one with a Curbishley solution.

  11. Curbs has too much history with bad blood with too many of our players, ok now and again, but the amount of players that would be not happy with him as manager is too great is a massive risk, look how the England players were, and look how they played, is not something Roy has worked on for this long to build prob our best ever team spirit to throw it down the drain with a manager who can’t get a gig for so long, and remember every season with Curbs in the second half Charlton used to head for the basement faster than Blackpool will this season…

    Joachim Löw would be a great bet, ok apart from the club shop having to stock all those cardies….

  12. Off the top of my head, I think my top three are Hughes, Bilic, and Sven, in that order. That’s entirely based on my eye’s perception of their previous team’s performances, not anything really objective…yet. I’m working on some new stuff to hopefully show the under/overachieving tendencies of the candidates – probably easy enough, but I’m not sure yet if there’s a solid pattern to it all.

    Eventually, I’d also like to be able to rate a manager’s pre-game and in-game tactics. I do have a few ideas, but it will need some testing.

  13. Sure if the club were wise enough to get Roy they will be wise enough now with many more people aware of the club to be able to find a sound replacement, the old man may be getting on a bit but after the euro games sure he wants a top replacment for Roy, with due respect & sure Sparky is good manager but we don’t want somebody just to keep us away from the religation dog fight each year, that teams like Blackburn, Bolton etc have to fight to stay away from each season, we are better than that, let’s hope who ever gets the gig that they have the balls for the job…

  14. Balls required?
    JA above seeks gutsy leader. Golden balls? The Becks?
    If chairman MO seeks to have one last spectacular go at FFC then the Sven plus David Becks would be high glamour answer but if we are back to relegation avoidance the Hughes is probably the safest option.

  15. Ha ha funny thought but come to think of it was talk of Roy and Becks for England, but Roy sigend for Liverpool before it was in the press the italian taylor would stay on, Roy must have know, but SGE and Becks works for me…

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