Greetings from the Berlin bunker!
Let’s start the latest edition of what seems to be an increasingly irregular series with an admission. This is actually my second attempt at writing this winter update – the first one basically asked what it would take for Pardew to no longer be manager of this fine club of ours. In the time between writing it and the editor getting to the email, however, he’d thrown in his lot with Palace. He waited four years, you’d think he could have waited a few more days…
Seriously, though, what else is there to say but ‘good riddance’.
For Palace, IF they think he is the best man to keep them up, then the compensation fee they will pay the Toon is worth the gamble – a small drop in the ocean compared to the untold riches of Premier League survival. Now, why they are convinced that he is the right man to keep them up, I have no idea, but that’s their problem, not ours.
Our biggest problem is not the managerial vacancy, but still the same one it has been the last six or so years. The owner. And while this is a small victory, and it has been celebrated over the festive season as one of the best Christmas gifts possible, Pardew’s management was a symptom of the larger problem within the club. Indifference masked as stability. Maybe we will get a manager who can beat sunderland. Or one who will play players in their correct positions. Or one whose teams are hard to break down defensively. Hell, we may even get a manager who can do all of the above, but that won’t change the lack of ambition above his head. It’s a victory, but a small one. In the meantime, though, let’s enjoy it.
Some of the press have mentioned Thomas Tuchel as a possible replacement. As your resident spy in spy within the land of beer and sausages, I’d better be the one to give you the low-down on the man. Now, IF he would be interested, and if the club hired him, I think he would be a hell of a fit. (I doubt he would be too interested, and doubt he is on the shortlist that is currently being drawn-up, but he’s still an interesting fella, so what the hell).
After limited success in his playing career, he learned his coaching trade with the youth and development teams at VFB Stuttgart, FC Augsburg, and 1. FSV Mainz 05. It was with the latter that he made the reputation that he currently has, taking over as Mainz trainer (remember, in Germany the manager is the director of football, and the trainer is the manager) after their promotion to the Bundesliga in 2009.
Under his control, Mainz punched well above their weight, and became known for their fast tempo and aggressive attacking. He took the small club to finishes of 5th, 13th (twice) and finally seventh in Germany’s top division, before leaving with one year left on his contract. As his contract still has a year to run though – Mainz would have to receive compensation if another team were to hire the Bavarian before the end of June, which you would assume rules him out of any thinking in the boardroom at Barrack Road, if indeed he was ever under consideration. For my money, he would be a good choice, with an exciting, attacking brand of football and a reputation of bringing on young talent (He on a German FA prize for his work with young footballers in 2011).
Now, to move-on from Herr Tuchel to one of his predecessors at Mainz, Jürgen Klopp, whose men are currently in some kind of trouble. Despite qualifying with ease from their Champions League group, Borussia Dortmund are firmly rooted in the Bundesliga relegation places as the league takes its winter break. In fact, the only reason they aren’t bottom is that Freiburg have scored one less goal than BVB so far this season, and they are currently 30 points behind pace-setters FC Bayern. That has to be some kick in the teeth for their fans.
Injuries to players like Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan have removed some of their attacking potency, and coupled with a suddenly very vulnerable defensive unit, and a lack of luck in some games, and they’re really struggling domestically. It’s all very well and good saying a team is too good to go down, but if they keep getting similar results (and have the ‘distraction’ of the Champions League), they will struggle to survive. Still, they have no competitive games now until the end of January, which should give the coach plenty of time to get the team refocused and re-energised.
Did I just call the Champions League a distraction? This must be what happens when you follow Newcastle United.
NEIL CRANSWICK – Follow Neil on @tfberlin1892
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