Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Serie A could set off managerial merry-go-round across Europe's top leagues

Plenty of high-profile names looking for work this summer, including Juventus' departing manager Massimiliano Allegri

Massimiliano Allegri is leaving Juventus and could be heading to the Premier League, while two managers from English clubs - Mauricio Pochettino and Maurizio Sarri - have been linked with the Juve vacancy. EPA
Massimiliano Allegri is leaving Juventus and could be heading to the Premier League, while two managers from English clubs - Mauricio Pochettino and Maurizio Sarri - have been linked with the Juve vacancy. EPA

Here’s a scenario that doesn’t come around every summer. Currently available for work: each of the last three managers who won the Premier League titles before Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City put that trophy under lengthy lock and key.

And fresh onto the same job market: the manager who won the last five Italian Serie A titles.

Quite the buyer’s market, it seems, in what promises to be an intriguing few circuits of the so-called managerial merry-go-round in the months ahead, spiced up by the possibility that some very distinguished bosses, after time off appear restless, to re-engage.

Antonio Conte, who guided Chelsea to the English title in 2017 and left a year later, looks poised to accept the challenge of making Inter Milan the sort of force they ought to be, although the size of that task may well be conditioned by the last day of the Italian league season. Inter are grasping a top-four finish, and with that a place in the 2019-20 Uefa Champions League, but it could still be loosened if they slip up at the weekend.

It would be wise to whisper the phrase around Conte, but what is required of the next manager of Inter is to ‘do a Mourinho’. That means lifting the Inter, the serial underachievers of Italy, and indeed of Europe, to the sort of heights Jose Mourinho carried them to a decade ago, including his treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League in 2010.

Inter have not won their domestic league since then, and the yield from current manager Luciano Spalletti’s two seasons in charge is no trophies, a fourth place in last season’s Serie A, and a group-phase Champions League exit last December.

Inter could, or course, have gone back to Mourinho, who has made it clear he is eager to return to a prestigious managerial job. What next for the winner of the 2015 Premier League (with Chelsea), and the 2017 Europa League (Manchester United)?

Mourinho might yet be the highest-profile manager to be passed over for big vacancies this summer, given the pedigree of the others seeking a new post. Mourinho, for all his two past Champions Leagues, his league titles in four different countries, has a reputation to polish after the unhappy endings at both his last two jobs, Chelsea and United.

Likewise Claudio Ranieri, not so long ago the lion of Leicester City, England’s surprise champions in 2016, but more recently, and briefly, the manager of a Fulham on their way to relegation. Ranieri has confirm his current job, as caretaker coach of Roma, will not be anything more than a caretakership lasting until this Monday.

That adds to the whirligig of change ahead in Serie A. As many as five of the top six finishers may be under new management by August.

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Seven candidates who could replace Allegri at Juventus

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The champions certainly will be, with Massimiliano Allegri having announced, soon after winning his fifth successive scudetto with Juventus that he would not be in charge of their next phase of domestic domination, nor of the ambition the club nourish most fervently, to win the Champions League.

Allegri, twice a beaten finalist managing Juve in the European Cup, finished as a losing quarter-finalists, to Ajax in April. From there, faith in him among Juve’s executives was dented.

Where next? A Premier League job interests Allegri, while at least two Premier League managers - Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino, or Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri - have been under consideration as his successor at Juventus.

As Allegri can vouch, the apparent consistency of the reigning champions in Europe’s major leagues is no pointer to managerial stability. Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain all retained their league titles; other than Pep Guardiola at City, and perhaps Thomas Tuchel at PSG, none of those clubs’ managers can assume that means staying on.

Barcelona’s Ernesto Valverde is vulnerable, bearer of the unhappy record of having paced the touchline helplessly as three-goal leads were overturned in Champions League knockout ties for two seasons in the trot.

Robert Kovac, appointed at Bayern last May, won the Bundesliga, but, any of his three predecessors in the previous six seasons, saw the coronation completed only on the last afternoon, while the club’s standards dropped in Europe, with defeat to Liverpool at the last-16 stage.

Kovac had seemed a refreshing appointment, 44 years old when Bayern opted to put him in a job that Jupp Heynckes, 74, and that expert traveller through the management rollercoaster, 59-year-old Carlo Ancelotti - now of Napoli - had held before him.

But within the Bayern executive, some doubts have been raised about whether Kovac has the experience for what will be a summer of significant comings and goings in the playing squad.

No such doubts over youth exist at Olympique Lyonnais, who have asked 45-year-old Sylvinho, the former Brazil left-back, to guide them into the Champions League next season. It is his first senior coaching job.

Nor at Anderlecht, where Vincent Kompany, 33, is the new player-manager. Sylvinho was part of Guardiola’s 2009 treble-winning Barcelona, 10 years before Kompany was City’s captain for their historic trio of prizes. They have good schooling in management.

Updated: May 22, 2019 08:19 AM

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