Managers

 Ben Lyttleton explains why Marco van Basten, back in football after years away, has the pedigree to become the next great Dutch coach

Marco van Basten will end his ten-year exile from foot­­ball later this year when he completes his coach­ing qualifications and all the signs are that he will be a more successful boss than his former Milan team-mates Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard.

Although they have another season in the top flight secured, Manchester City could be in for a troublesome summer in the boardroom. Ian Farrell investigates

With an aggregate derby win helping to ensure Premiership survival before the spring, all but the most optimistic Manchester City fans can be more than content with their return to the big time. Signing Robbie Fowler at a knockdown price to partner the low-maintenance goal machine that is Nicolas Anelka would seem to be another great plus. However, the deal’s complications have cast doubt over whether it will ultimately prove a positive or a neg­ative for the club. Their true effect on Kevin Keegan’s relationship with David Bernstein, once the rock-solid chairman he always seems to need, is the major concern.

Terry Fenwick's reign has ended almost before it has started, leaving the Cobblers in dire straits. Rob Marshall reviews his tenure

“The team are disjointed and it’s definitely the case of the sum of the whole being LESS than all of the individuals. The embarrassing ten­dency to play the offside trap looks outdated and liable to fail at any time. The inevitable de­feats are met with increasingly arcane man­agement excuses.” A letter received by North­ampton Town fanzine What A Load Of Cobblers after the Bristol City defeat? It could have been, but in fact it was a letter in a Pompey fanzine some years ago when former England def­ender Terry Fenwick was in charge there.

Brian Kerr may not be the household name some were expecting to be the new manager of the Republic of Ireland, but Paul Doyle is delighted at the choice

“O shite and onions!” James Joyce once bawled when asked about the ongoing troubles in his home­­land. “When is this bloody state of affairs going to an end?” That was in 1920 and the irritant was war; but you can be sure that in recent weeks, were he not worm-fodder, the writer would have lent his haughty voice to those of his many compatriots who were ex­pressing similar sentiments. Because the Roy Keane Affair, regardless of the profundity of its principles, eventually became horribly tedious. And who would have believed it would be the Football Association of Ireland, in a deeply uncharacteristic moment of lucidity, who would consign the whole sorry saga to history and finally refocus Irish football on the future? But that’s just what they did when they named Brian Kerr as the new manager of the Republic of Ireland.

Cardiff City manager Lennie Lawrence has just been honoured after taking charge of his 1,000th English domestic game, as Charles Morris reports

Jim Smith once said that the only requirement for being a football manager was “a degree in insanity”. To pursue his theme, it could be said that Smith has a professorship in the subject, being one of only eight men known to have reached the remarkable total of over­seeing teams in 1,000 English league, FA Cup and League Cup matches.

When taking over at QPR, Ian Holloway did not realise the severity of the situation he was getting into. Here he talks to Barney Ronay about administration, finances and Kevin Gallen

QPR were among the clubs to have been traumatised recently by relegation from the Premiership. What was it like being a manager picking up the pieces?
Funnily enough it was all a bit of a shock for me at the time, because I didn’t know quite how bad things were. We were talk­ing just before deadline day about doing this and doing that, we even made an offer for a player with money it turned out in hindsight we didn’t have. It was a very difficult time. It also brought some reality. For the fans it was a shock, rather than moaning about where we are, to realise that we might not even be on the map. With the gates we get, that was 13,000 people looking like they might not have a team any more. The players were concerned about being paid, and all credit to David Davis and Chris Wright, they did keep paying us. But what we had to try and do was overcome the fact that we’d had a rich sugar daddy who’d built up a huge gap between what we were paying our players and what the fans were paying to come in and watch us. Feeling that the whole thing might die at any moment was very, very difficult.

Walter Zenga's short time as a manager in Romania looks set to end soon, as Ben Lyttleton notes

When former Italy goalkeeper Walter Zenga was appointed coach of Romanian side FC National last summer, he explained that one attraction of making a fresh start was to help him get over a broken heart after his split with Italian actress Hoara Borselli. Four months later, Zenga, rumoured to have had a fling with Madonna after Italia 90, cannot wait to leave Bucharest and he looks set to do so at the end of the season. The reason? Another woman. A drugs bust. And a potential smear campaign.

Chris Ramsey is a successful black English manager – but he's working in South Carolina, where Gavin Willacy found him bitter at his treatment in his homeland

Chris Ramsey spreads his arms out wide, palms up to the cloudless sky, and looks around him at the neat yellow stands of Blackbaud Stadium. “Just think about it,” he asks. “Where would I want to be? Here or Rochdale?” The coach of Charleston Battery, arguably the best club in America’s A-League (one level below the MLS), expects the answer to be “here”, in idyllic South Carolina, where the air rarely dips below 70 deg­rees. But challenge him and he admits he would love to be coaching back home in England. The pro­blem is, he’s black. “Being black has certainly been a stumbling block in my career,” he claims. “Put it this way, I’ve had obstacles to overcome that other coaches haven’t.”

Leroy Rosenior is settling in well as the far south-west's latest black manager, but Nick House is puzzled by the route that took the former striker to Plainmoor

It’s fair to say Leroy Rosenior’s appointment as Torquay United’s first-team coach – manager in old money – met with some scepticism. The concern was simple yet forceful: was he any good? Reports from travellers were decidedly mixed: acclaimed as part of a trio at Bristol City; steady at Gloucester; hardly a suc­cess at Merthyr

Jim McLean has finally quit. Ken Gall says the man who made Dundee United great was right about most things, even if he didn't always put it politely

With all four Scottish entrants for European club competition experiencing varying degrees of dis­ap­point­ment and humiliation, and Arsène Wenger openly scoffing at the notion of ever signing a Scottish player, one might imagine that the game north of the border could do with all the help it can get.

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