Wednesday, December 10, 2008


As you probably know, I'm passionate about football - world football, not the US brand.  To love it is to love, or at least tolerate, the nuttiness that accompanies the beautiful game.  And nowhere is the nuttiness nuttier than in the world of on-field management.

In England's Premier League the season hasn't yet reached its midpoint and 5 of the 20 managers who were in place when the season began in August have either been fired or have resigned.

Juande Ramos is a case in point.  In the last 15 years he has managed 12 different teams.  He came to England last year to replace Martin Jol at Tottenham.  Jol, a Dutchman, in my view had done a great job at Tottenham.  But they were off to a bad start in 2007, so Ramos was brought in.  He had done very well in his last job with Sevilla in his native Spain.

What happened?  Tottenham got off to a bad start this year and Ramos was sacked.  He was replaced by Harry Redknapp.  Redknapp had been at Portsmouth, where he went from Southampton, where he went from Portsmouth.  I think you're beginning to get the picture.

So what happened to Ramos?  He's been hired to manage one of the biggest clubs in the world, Real Madrid.  A job opened up at Real because they too got off to a bad start this year and their manager, a German named Bernd Schuster, even though he led Real Madrid to the Spanish title last season, was shit canned.

Schuster had gone to Real in 2007, replacing Italian Fabio Capello, who was fired even though he led Real to the La Liga title the previous year.  This was Capello's second stint as manager of Real Madrid.  They won the title when he was there the first time in 1997.  And where did Capello end up after leaving Madrid?  He's now the manager of England's national team.

The nonsense never ends.  There are many more stories I could give you.  And each would be more ridiculous than the other and you would be left scratching your head - as I do.

I'll conclude by letting you know what Big Phil said the other day.  Big Phil is Luiz Felipe Scolari, now manager of Chelsea.  He has managed 20 clubs in the past 26 years.  He came to Chelsea to replace an Israeli, Avram Grant, who was there for one year after replacing Portuguese Jose Mourinho, who was at Chelsea three years and won two championships (Chelsea's first in 50 years.)  Why did Mourinho leave?  Don't ask.  He's now at Inter in Milan.

Back to Big Phil.  Before a Champion's League game that Chelsea needed to win to assure a place in the next round of this year's European championship, Scolari was asked if he was feeling the pressure.  He looked at the questioner with disdain.  Big Phil had coached Brazil and won the World Cup in 2002.  Brazilians fully expect that they will win the World Cup every time it's played, and often they do.  To not be victorious is a national disgrace.

Coaching Brazil, Phil said, that's pressure.  Nothing else even begins to compare with what Brazil's manager faces every day.  He dismissed the question with a gesture and a sneer.  For the record, Chelsea won the game and is still in the running for the Champion's League title.

Like I said, nuttiness. 


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