With all the FIFA shenanigans last week, and now Hughes leaving us high and dry, my passion if not sheer interest in the sport is seriously being tested. But thankfully I have all you guys and gals.
But it should be said I’m not surprised Hughes left. Frustrated, but not shocked. It makes sense: we came to him late, he added the one-year-get-out clause because he had the leverage, managed a successful season all things considered, and is now gone for another “challenge”. Hmph. You may be right, but piss off.
So, here’s my random shortlist to replace Hughes. All are good I suppose, except one, but Martinez is my guy.
Martin Jol – It’s not still July 2010 is it? It’s a little disconcerting that Jol quit Ajax in December, and the club went on to win the Eredivisie title. But there’s been a lot of politicking going on in Amsterdam, even before Johan Cruyff took the reins in February, so perhaps he had enough? I’ve written about him in the past, and stick with what I said then.
Roberto Di Matteo – Di Matteo was in the process of taking West Brom down, but they put up some impressive results en route. Everyone felt sorry for the Italian gaffer after his sacking in February, but understood the firing once Roy Hodgson got the gig. (When a man of Roy’s caliber is available for a club like West Brom, you make that move. I think had Brum not made the Carling Cup Final, they too would have done the same to McLeish). Roy sure managed to turn things around, but West Brom’s problem was a great offense and poor defense (the latter of which Roy excels at changing). Fulham have a great defense and unreliable offense. Could be a good fit.
Ian Holloway – Equally eccentric as our Chairman. Could be a volatile combination, could be the perfect elixir. Took Blackpool down, but Blackpool had the lowest payroll in the history of the EPL. (I just made that stat up, but it’s perfectly believable, no?) Like with Di Matteo, could use some defensive schooling, but going forward there’s much to like.
Martin O’Neill – Stop it. After falling out with one of the most hands-off owners in sports, why would O’Neill get along with our crazy chairman? Plus, Hughes at least left us after the season ended, not 5 days before it started.
Luigi “Gigi” Delneri – We’re in dreamland here, but this man led recently relegated Sampdoria to an undefeated home record in 2009-10 and a place in the Champions League Qualifiers. He’s also taken Chievo Verona and Palermo to the UEFA Cup. Are any of those two and/or Sampdoria that much different from us? Sure, his time at Juventus was nothing to gloat about, but the managerial attrition rate at all the “big” Italian clubs is absurd (Juve is on their 5th coach in 3 seasons alone). Not to mention he’s coached at practically every club in Italy, so perhaps he’d like a crack at the EPL. My only concern about his track record is that, is if this did happen by some magical chance, he’d leave after a year. Hmm.
Brian McDermott – Unfortunately he’s still quite unproven. But he did take Reading, now a shell of its EPL self, from relegation candidates to Playoff Runners-up in about 17 months. Great guy. Great work.
Roberto Martinez – I don’t know if this would be the best hire per se, but I’d certainly be very pleased with it. Considering their “Jeckyl and Hyde” nature, he pulled off a miracle with Wigan two years running so just think what he could do with a well-rounded squad (and for a club with fans.) Martinez has signed some flops, but that’s often the result of constantly searching for bargains. He’s extremely intelligent yet unassuming, friendly yet genuine; Fulham embodied, no? If Rich suggests we attack another dog, Wigan is the perfect pooch to go. I don’t normally like to subscribe to such logic, but, seriously, where else can that club go? Their star player N’Zogbia is presumably a goner. Their goalie went back to Bolton on loan. I have a hunch Hugo Rodallega may get scooped up by a club on the continent this summer. Sorry, but they’re dead anyway.
So please come, Roberto.