Musical Chairs

Are there more fickle lovers than football club owners and their managers? Lack of success or, in some cases, lack of ‘sufficient’ success, has seen several managerial casualties litter the season’s tumultuous campaign. Now that it is all over for another summer, the serious blood-letting will begin.

The chairs of such ‘elder statesmen’ of the profession, such as Newcastle’s Sir Bobby Robson are said to be wobbling, although bookmakers’ favourite for the chop, Kevin Keegan, looks set to stay with Manchester City. David Pleat has been relieved of his caretaker duties at Tottenham and lost his job as football director in the process. Italy’s national coach, Giovanni Trappatoni, is supposedly on his way, although Celtic’s Martin O’Neill has been courted by the Spurs board all season, Liverpool also expressing a strong interest in the double-winner.

But the most drawn-out saga is taking place at Stamford Bridge where Claudio Ranieri presided over one of Chelsea’s most successful seasons ever without actually winning anything – a fact that has seen him teetering at the exit door for weeks now. Porto’s all-conquering José Mourinho looks likely to take over, if he is not persuaded to join Real Madrid, who also have their eye on Benfica’s Camacho. If Mourinho goes, Italian Luigi del Neri is favourite to succeed him, whereas Benfica have approached Luiz Felipe Scolari to replace their coach.

Germany, too, is not immune to such a farcical merry-go-round. Stuttgart and Bayern have been disputing top spot in the league all season, only to see Bremen pull away in the home straight, Bayern finishing ‘only’ second. Coupled with an early Champions’ League exit and a domestic cup semi-final defeat, Germany’s equivalent of Manchester United were left with a bare trophy cupboard, a situation respected coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has paid for with his job. Stuttgart’s Felix Magath will replace him. Expect Hitzfeld to turn up in England. Previous links to White Hart Lane could be renewed, although Anfield Road is my favoured destination for the former Champions’ League, Intercontinental Cup and multiple German Championship winner.