Ferrara failure highlights weakness of rookies

MILAN - Clubs will be more wary about appointing inexperienced big names as managers after Juventus's Ciro Ferrara became the latest rookie manager to be sacked on Friday.

Barcelona's Pep Guardiola is a rarity in being a huge success in his first big club job, leading the Catalans to six trophies last year including the Champions League.

His achievement was one of the reasons Juve decided to name former defender Ferrara as coach following Claudio Ranieri's surprise dismissal in May.

The 42-year-old, who had only worked as a Juve youth coach and assistant to Italy boss Marcello Lippi, made a good start but when results started to go wrong his side failed to react to any of his tactical or motivational moves.

"Ferrara doesn't know how to manage a group. Juve needs rebuilding," well-known Italian pundit Mario Sconcerti wrote in Corriere della Sera, acknowledging that under-performing new recruits like Diego and a raft of injuries have not helped.

Juve were dumped out of the Champions League at the group stage following an embarrassing 4-1 home defeat by Bayern Munich and then went on a run of five defeats in six Serie A games.

Thursday's Italian Cup quarter-final defeat at Inter Milan was the last straw for Juve's directors, who had tried to give Ferrara extra time to turn the situation around and vindicate their decision to go with inexperience.

AC Milan were another Italian club who plumped for a rookie coach for this season.

Brazilian Leonardo, a fluent speaker of five languages, had been working part-time as a director at Milan but was chosen to replace Carlo Ancelotti when the Italian headed for Chelsea.

The choice of Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi was partly financial, Leonardo was already on the payroll and the Italian prime minister did not want to go chasing an expensive experienced manager given he has reined in his soccer spending.


Guardiola's stunning start in Spain also played a part in Leonardo's appointment, as well as the belief that good players do not need a large amount of coaching in order to win.

The plan backfired in the early stages of the season with Milan losing at home to FC Zurich in the Champions League amid woeful domestic form. Leonardo had no experienced hand to turn to as he seemed powerless to stop the rot.

An almost accidental change in formation and the general weakness of Serie A, along with Leonardo's quick learning and savvy brain, helped Milan improve markedly but flaws remain.

Sunday's 2-0 defeat to Serie A leaders Inter Milan, who were reduced to nine men, was another indication that Leonardo is not totally comfortable in his new role yet.

He is managing better though than former England striker Alan Shearer did at his beloved Newcastle United.

He was brought in as a "messiah" to save them from relegation from the Premier League but could not prevent the club dropping into the second tier.

Jurgen Klinsmann and Marco van Basten also failed hugely in their first proper club jobs at Bayern Munich and Ajax.

Both had done reasonably well as coaches of Germany and the Netherlands but the day-to-day involvement with a club side is totally different to managing a national team.

They may have been great ex-players but the pair left their faltering sides after less than a season.

"I asked myself, am I good enough for Ajax? Do I have influence on my players? Am I capable of improving the team?" a candid Van Basten told reporters.

"And when I answered no to every question it was clear that my qualities are not good enough for the demands of Ajax."

Bayern did not go searching for an inexperienced or fan-friendly replacement for Klinsmann.

The Germans put veteran Jupp Heynckes in temporary charge and then went for the abrasive former Ajax, Barca, Netherlands and AZ Alkmaar coach Louis van Gaal.

"We are delighted to be getting such an experienced and successful coach," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said, underlining the point that Klinsmann had been a big risk.

Juve, sixth in Serie A, have also gone for experience to try to avoid missing out on a Champions League place next term.

Former Inter and Milan coach Alberto Zaccheroni is the new boss for the time being with Liverpool's Rafael Benitez talked about in the media as a long-term successor. Recent ex-Juve greats like Pavel Nedved and Zinedine Zidane were never mentioned.

Top players do not always make top managers.