The off season of uncertainty

The big man himself, Sir Alex, has bid farewell and will be replaced by Everton’s David Moyes. Talk about big shoes….

‘Tis the summer of discontent’, words made famous by William Shakesphere many a year ago. These words could easily be applied to this summers European football off season as many of the world’s top clubs find themselves either searching for a new manager or adjusting themselves to a new appointee to their respective hotseat. The list itself is impressive. In England we see Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton all on the lookout for someone to lead them while Manchester United has famously bid farewell to longterm king Sir Alex Ferguson, appointing another angry Scotsman in Everton’s longterm manager David Moyes. In Spain Real Madrid have said both a fond and somewhat bitter goodbye to Jose Mourinho after an eventful but ultimately disappointing few years and are rumoured to have set their sights on the eminently reliable Carlos Anchelotti to replace him. Should this occur the position at PSG will become available for someone who prefers to take care of a club with virtually limitless transfer funds and a wealth of world class talent. Just down the road on the peninsula Italian runner up Napoli are confirmed to be on the lookout for a new manager (Rafa Benitez has been signed up) while perennial underachievers Roma currently only have confirmed theirs as interim undoubtebly leaving them to scour the market for someone more permament. Then there was Serie A disaster package Inter who in classic fashion confirmed the security of their manager Andrea Stramaccioni over and over and over before getting cold feet and sacking him, but only after signing several players at his behest. Finally, in Germany, Bayern Munich will be changing manager, drawing in the much desired Pep Guardiola who must have thought his Christmas’ had come twice after managing a team containing Lionel Messi for several seasons then taking over perhaps the most complete squad on world football. Surprisingly enough Bayern had told all who would listen that current manager Jupp Heynckes would be retiring only for the man himself to advise the world that he was actually only retiring from German football and he would be available should Real Madrid come knocking. One almost feels that despite having the best squad in the world Pep might be in for a rough ride trying to replicate the most successful season in Bayern’s history.

Chancer Rafa Benetiz has quickly moved on from Chelsea and taken the vacant post at Napoli. His last stint in Italy was nothing short of catastrophic.

But there is more. Several other European heavyweights are still to comprehensively confirm their managers position for varying reasons. The most prominent of these is Barcelona whose manager Tito Vilanova has been battling cancer and unfortunately may not be able to take his place in the dugout next season although Barcelona no doubt have another miracle manager lurking in the depths of their youth academy waiting to unveil their immense talent to the world. Then there is AC Milan where rumours are continually swirling over the fate of manager Massimiliano Allegri, particularly after a supposedly memo from eccentric owner Silvio Burlesconi was released stating he wanted to get rid of the entire training squad.

Who knows what Silvio will do!

So what does all this movement and change mean for football fans during the off season. Well firstly a mass amount of rumours. If the news media is to be believed Mourinho is heading to Chelsea, Wigan’s Martinez lined up for Everton, Malaga’s Manual Pellegrini to Manchester City, which leaves Malaga in the hunt for a new boss also, Napoli’s Mazzari has been linked to PSG and Inter Milan (note: Mazzari has joined Inter) while Roberto Mancini to PSG, Inter Milan and newly promoted uber rich Monaco. There will surely also be enough twists, turns and surprises along the way to make Lionel Messi seem Carrollesque.

Victor Valdes is trading Barcelona and mountains of trophies for Monaco and mountains of cash

Perhaps the most interesting part of the monumental managerial merry-go-round in Europe is what this means to the players and the transfer market. It is well known that when a new manager comes to a club they like to put their stamp on it, make it their own. It is therefore fair to assume that some mouthwatering player transfers will be happening over the long summer months making Greek the world round choke on their Ouzo as they struggle away under the yolk of European Union inspired austerity measures that are  also the rage in many other corners of the continent. Already Monaco have laid out a marker for what is to come by splashing some 120 million Euro for just three players, the goal scoring machine, Falcao, and Porto duo Joao Moutinho and James Rodriquez. Following them to the tax challenged principality will be veteran Ricardo Carvalho and Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes who was no doubt lured by the promise of the new challenge of locating pockets deep enough to carry the copious amounts of money he will now be earning. Barcelona have also thrown down the gauntlet to those who believe their reign of midget inspired sideways passing is over by signing the prodigiously talented and sponsored Neymar, beating out illustrious and hated rivals Real Madrid in the process. Neymar comes with the standard super hype which puts him at or on the same level as a super charged Pele despite having done little outside the shanty towns of Brazil. The big question with the wonderfully gifted youngster is whether his diving is up to the standards expected in the Catalan capital and whether he is capable of creeping out of monumental shadow of Lionel Messi, a shadow that managed to take the walking, talking super ego of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, stomp on it a few times, roll it out into a thin strip and fling it back to Italy with its tail between its legs. It isn’t easy to go from the star attraction to the side show for a man who struggles to reach the food on a normal sized table.

Goal scoring machine Falcao has been sold for a reported 60 million Euros. Incredibly he may not be the biggest of the summer……

But it will not just be those clubs operating at the upper echelon of footballs finances that will provide all the entertainment. With all these managerial changes there will no doubt be many fringe players in the elite teams who will no longer be required, as well as a few young bucks eager to spend some time on the field rather than cooling their heels as glorified water boys on the bench. With this in mind the smaller club will be scouring the market looking for their very own Michu, someone who can ensure survival as well as providing a cool name for the youngsters to have on the back of their shirts. With all this in mind one can only sit back and look forward to the action unfolding in what promises to be one of the most exciting off seasons for some time.

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