Bossing it: Your essential round-up of September's best coaches in Europe
With so many managers to keep track of in Europe’s 54 premier leagues, you'll be wanting a good explanation of who's flying high. Right? Good. So sit back and enjoy as FFT introduces you to the dugout dwellers on lips last month...
Quote of the month
Gheorghe Hagi, manager of high-flying Viitorul Constanţa in his homeland's Liga 1, recently promoted his 16-year-old son Ianis to captain of the team. “I think I've done the right thing, even if it seems a bit risky,” said Hagi. “We have to be very careful how we raise him. He has the necessary talent and skill to become a big player. If he works hard he will have a nice career. Compared to me, Ianis has the advantage of playing with both feet, while I mostly used my left. I'm very proud of him.” Stop it, you're embarrassing him.
Battle of the month
Three players who have graced World Cup semi-finals with Holland in 1994, 1998 and 2010, Frank de Boer, Phillip Cocu and Giovanni van Bronckhorst are now battling it out for Eredivisie bragging rights.
De Boer and Cocu were joint assistant managers (what a title, eh?) for the Netherlands team that reached the 2010 World Cup Final – a final that Van Bronckhorst played in. These three players have now formed a triumvirate at the helm of Dutch football’s most famous teams, Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord respectively.
De Boer took over at Ajax in 2010 and went on to win a record-breaking four successive Eredvisie titles. When Cocu succeeded Dick Advocaat as manager of PSV Eindhoven in 2013, less than two years later he not only halted De Boer’s winning streak but also finished a remarkable 17 points clear of his rival in last season’s Eredvisie title race. With PSV having sold their two most influential players, Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum, Cocu’s challenge has become mammoth and, from the Dutch press’s point of view, intriguing. Van Bronckhorst’s appointment at Feyenoord has added to the public’s curiosity. Whether he can match De Boer and Cocu’s successes with a club whose history is less decorated remains to be seen.
For now the table shows De Boer’s thirst for glory has been reinvigorated after one season without silverware; Ajax top the table while PSV (five points behind) and Feyenoord (three) are within touching distance after one loss each. The landscape may be altered when Ajax and PSV clash on October 4.
The big stories
1) Rebrov reviving Dynamo Kiev’s glory years
Best known for his dynamic strike partnership with Andriy Shevchenko at Dynamo Kiev during the 1990s, Sergei Rebrov has proved a huge hit in the dugout at his former club. The ex-Tottenham and West Ham striker was confirmed as manager of Kiev in April 2014, facing the task of dethroning Mircea Lucescu’s Shakhtar Donetsk who'd won five league titles on the bounce with record-breaking swagger.
A Ukrainian Cup final triumph over Lucescu in his first season marked an impressive start for Rebrov, but even better achievements followed as he drove Kiev to their first title in six years, remaining unbeaten throughout the 2014/15 league campaign amid Shakhtar's political plight. They managed another cup triumph over Lucescu’s men to complete a domestic – and invincible – double.
Three trophies in the space of 12 months hasn't halted Rebrov’s craving, as eight wins and a draw since the start of this season has extended Dynamo's unbeaten league run to 37 games. Currently Rebrov’s men lie three points clear of Lucescu’s; the two powerhouses of Ukrainian football will lock horns again on October 17 in what could prove to be a season-defining contest.
Zagreb's Champions League campaign started when coach Zoran Mamic and his chief executive brother, Zdravko, were locked up in prison for 11 days facing punishment on charges of embezzlement, tax evasion and bribery
2) Controversial Mamic achieving
At 43 years old, Zoran Mamić is doing a fine job steering Dinamo Zagreb in the right direction on the pitch – but if only that was the case off it, too. For the Mamic brothers – including Zoran's chief executive brother, Zdravko – Zagreb's Champions League campaign started when they were locked up in prison for 11 days facing punishment on charges of embezzlement, tax evasion and bribery. No date has been set for their trial, however, so Zoran continues in the hotseat... for now.
Having spent the majority of his playing days at Dinamo Zagreb, the club – or his big brother, more specifically – decided to entrust him with the reins despite no previous experience. Since then he has led the club to a Croatian Cup title and two league championships. They are currently on the longest unbeaten league run in Europe, stretching 48 games.
Zagreb hadn't won a Champions League match for 16 years until their 2-1 victory over Arsenal with exemplary counter-attacking football. “We have won a Champions League game for the first time in a long time,” said Mamic. “I was secretly hopeful we could perform a miracle as I knew how my boys had been working, living and concentrating on the task. This is a huge reason for us to celebrate.”
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