Managers

The world is against Leeds United if you believe David O'Leary's vision of events. Mike Ticher takes issue with a spiky work of self-defence

Football clubs are not open institutions and successful managers, on the whole, are not warm and fuzzy people. To be really good at the job you have to be a hard bastard of one type or another. The same is true of many chairmen, who are led to concentrate so in­ten­se­ly on what seems best for their club that the whole of the outside world is filtered through the needs of XXFC. These are hardly original insights, but they are strongly re­inforced by Leeds United On Trial. Despite the storm over the book’s amazingly crass timing and title, it probably provides more evidence about the nature of football clubs in general than it does about Leeds United and David O’Leary in particular.

Ever since he signed Argentina's Alberto Tarantini for Birmingham in 1978, Jim Smith has been one of the managers most willing to introduce foreign players to English football. Andy Lyons asked him about the pitfalls and benefits

What have been the main barriers to the integration of foreign players in English clubs? Has the traditional “team building” culture of drinking together been a particular problem?
I think that was true at one time but generally there is less of a drinking culture around English football these days. Players will go out together to restaurants and so on but you don’t us­ually get a whole team all going out on a Thursday night or what­ever. One thing that did concern foreign players in the early days especially was our level of medical treatment. They’d often prefer to go back home to get treated. I think we have caught up in that respect and work with the best international specialists now, rather than just with staff at the club. The for­eign players couldn’t believe we didn’t have full-time masseurs and that it was down to the old physio doing a bit on a Friday or Sat­urday morning. The foreign players work religiously on mas­saging muscles after training, far more than English players do.

Stephen Wagg tries to make sense of Peter Taylor's departure from Leicester

I was glad, I have to admit, when Peter Taylor was made manager of Leicester City in the summer of 2000. He seemed a gentler soul than his predecessor, the fre­quently tetchy Martin O’Neill. He’d been a suc­cessful steward of the England Under-21 side and ap­parently everyone in the English football world attested to his ability as a coach.

Tim Springett looks at Stuart Gray's sorry experience at Southampton and charges the club with mishandling both his appointment and his sacking

For the third campaign in a row, Southampton have un­dergone a mid-season change of manager. Six points from the first seven games of the season had the pressure building on Stuart Gray and, as Saints prepared to take on West Ham on October 20, it was a fair bet that the losing manager might find himself out of a job by the following Monday. The Hammers’ 2-0 victory earned Glenn Roeder a breathing space but Saints’ chairman Rupert Lowe duly wielded the axe.

David Harrison looks back on the life of Bertie Mee – a truly unique achiever

On February 18, 1939, a young man, barely out of his teens, pulled on Mansfield Town’s No 11 shirt and ran on to the Vicarage Road pitch, to make his third League appearance. Fifty years on, he was again observing that same expanse of muddy turf, only by now oper­ating as the home club’s first-ever paid director.

Gary Johnson was sacked as Latvia coach after a draw with San Marino. Daunis Auers explains what he was doing there in the first place 

Gerijs Dzonsons (or Gary Johnson as the English spelling would have it) bounced into Latvian football at the tail end of yet another doomed campaign for the national side, a respectable but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to qualify for Euro 2000. Johnson offered a colourful contrast to the grey, dour Soviet negativity of Revaz Dzodzashvilli, his Georgian predecessor, with his bubbly, upbeat, chirpy cockney (I could go on, but I think you know what I’m driving at) demeanour that had never been seen in Latvian football, or, come to that, anywhere in Latvia.

In recent decades, few Britons have gone abroad and stayed. Phil Ball  profiles John Toshack, the only British coach working at the top level in a major European league

“Whether it’s with a bottle of claret, a good rioja, a glass of raki or a decent port, the attraction’s still the same – come away after 90 minutes with the three points,” said the peripatetic Welshman, John Tosh­ack, in an article penned just before Christmas from St Etienne for El Diario Vasco, the Basque newspaper with whom he had signed a contract at the beginning of the year to write a weekly column. His Bacchanalian references were, of course, a nod to all the countries in which he has managed a football team, although he seems to have had some problem recalling his Welsh spell, unless he was alluding in the opening clause to some new strain of Swansea claret.

Clive Charles, one of the most sought after coaches in the US, says he benefited from leaving Britain. Mike Woitalla reports 

British coaches in American soccer are as easy to find as fast-food restaurants on Main Street. In a nation long dependent on foreign teachers, who more likely to dominate the tutorial corps than expatriates from a land of the same language?

Former England international Tony Woodcock had two spells as a player with Cologne and settled in Germany aftr retiring. He has since worked as a coach and for a management company representing players as he told Andy Lyons

“I got a FIFA agent’s licence when I joined the company I now work for 18 months ago. We do everything connected with sport from TV production to internet coverage. My depart­ment is sports management, dealing with boxers and ice hockey players as well as footballers. When I first moved to Cologne from Forest [in 1979], a transfer to another country was a complicated business, like something from a James Bond story, with secret talks and flying here and there. I learned a lot about how things were organised and later in my career players would come to me for advice on things like moving clubs.

Marcus Christenson examines the past achievements of the next England manager

Sven-Goran Eriksson’s appointment was met with a barrage of xenophobia in England. In Sweden and elsewhere in Europe, however, the discussion centred on why on earth a top European coach would go anywhere near the mangy Three Lions. It is difficult to imagine Fabio Capello, Hector Cuper, Alberto Zac­cheroni or any other successful European coach leav­ing their clubs to join up with Adam Crozier and co. So why was Eriksson prepared to swap Rome for London?

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