So once again we are left in limbo with a little less than a month till the start of the season, with our manager leaving to go onto bigger and better things (or so he thinks but as Roy found out the grass isn’t always greener, infact look back at all the managers that have come and gone under Al Fayed’s tenure and see where they are now. Curse of the Cottage?). This means that we’re in the market for a new manager, and after Gatesey looked at some of the longer shots earlier (apart from his good self who is next on my list after Jol and Ancelotti) here are some of the more likely candidates who we’ll see in charge next season
Martin O’Neill – already the bookies favourite to be our new manager and with his relationship with Al Fayed, recent success in the Premier League and free of the complexities of a current job it’s no suprise (and he’s played here for a few months). I like him, he’s a good manager without a doubt with a solid track record of staying at a club and building a successful team, and after what seems to be years on the managerial merry go round it’d be nice to have that, although his sudden tiff with Randy Lerner which lead to his departure at Villa last August is a black mark on his record. I’m also unsure of his suitability to the club. I don’t necessarily mean that he’s not a ‘Fulham man’, he’s well spoken, intelligent with a bit of humour too but his style of football is very direct, with pace and youthful energy throughout the side. Here we have a group of very technically gifted players but pace is not one of our best attributes and so you would wonder how much O’Neill would revamp the side, not to mention his football philosophy is different to all the manager’s we’ve had since the arrival of Tigana, save Sanchez, which means I’m unsure how both the players and fans would adapt to it. The biggest sticking point though is transfer funds. We have a few quid to spend but not the money that O’Neill would be looking for unless he is willing to scale down the demands he made on Villa. So, on the surface a likely appointment but I don’t think he will be our final choice.
Martin Jol – another one who is expected to be in the running. Jol is probably the most suitable candidate for the job, with past success in the Premier League at Tottenham, a fairly high profile name but not so much that he is out of our league, a current free agent and a playing style which suits the players we have here already. It is quite frustrating then that there is almost no chance of him coming here on account with the games he played with us when we were trying to bring him in last season! I doubt Al Fayed has the patience to deal with someone who he might feel has already crossed him, and for that reason I’m ruling him out. A shame really.
Schteve McClaren – alright, try and look past the whole Dutch accent thing and Wally with the Brolly incident and the whole England debacle, and when you do McClaren actually seems like a good candidate. With the support of his chairman at Boro he one a cup and got to another final with a club of a similar size to Fulham. After England he did incredibly well at Twente, finishing second before winning the Dutch league despite being crippled by losing his two best players, before going to Wolfsburg which wasn’t such a success. Even still, the more I think about it the more I warm to the idea that McClaren might get the job. There is something that seems quite false and off about him, a criticism that cropped up during his England tenure alot, but a talented coach for sure. Let’s see…
Alex McLeish – hmm. I’m a bit unsure on where I stand with McLeish. After failing to save them from relegation in 2008 he came back up at the first attempt and then pushed further on to finish 9th in the Premier League the next season based on a system similar to what brough Roy success here, one catered to getting the best out of hard working, honest players who had perhaps fallen from grace or on the wrong side of 29 by focusing on a rock solid defence. The season after that they went on better and won the League Cup, but it was a bittersweet 2011 in the end as Brum dropped out of the league following a complete collapse in the second half of the season which sets alarm bells ringing. I can imagine him being considered, but not with a major chance of being our manager, and if he was I’d be entirely indifferent.
Those are the four names most heavily linked with the job at the moment. Others include Gus Poyet and Lee Clark, two young, ambitious and talented managers who play nice football. However, after Sanchez I can’t see Al Fayed wanting to appoint such an extreme rookie at this level (sorry Gatesy), and as for Danny Murphy, who will no doubt be a manager in 5, 10 years, I think it’s way too soon for him to even begin thinking about hanging up his boots. Ray Lewington will always be mentioned but there is a reason why he has been assistant here for years and not manager. As much as I like and respect, and I do genuinely hope he’s here for as long as possible, I don’t think he has what it takes to be a successful top flight manager. Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert are another couple of names being banded about after their great achivements last season (there’s also Warnock but… I’m not sold), especially Lambert, two successive promotions can never be understated. Again, without a doubt talented football people, and I wouldn’t mind actually someone like them who has over achieved with their squads in the championship to such an extent as they have, but I can’t see them leaving their respective clubs, this summer at least. I am sure that they will want the chance to prove themselves where they are before moving on. Ian Holloway would be fun and it’d end the issue of our lack of Match of the Day minutes but his style of football is not sustainable in this league. Should he mature his ideas a bit more then he would be a strong candidate. Finally, Carlo Ancelotti. A bit of a long shot, but worth a call to his agent at least. You can’t win if you don’t try. Don’t put more than a pound on it though.