RIYADH: Firing a coach is one thing but hiring the right man is another entirely. Al-Nassr relieved Mano Menezes of his duties on Sept. 19 and want to appoint a new manager in the coming days.
It may not happen before the next league game against Abha on Thursday but there is a desire to get the next boss in place before the quarterfinal of the AFC Champions League against Al-Wahda on Oct. 15.
As usual, there are a number of names floating around in the mix and most of them are familiar.
Every time a big job in Saudi Arabia becomes available then Cosmin Olaroiu’s name comes up. The Romanian has a proven track record of success in the region winning league titles with Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia and in the UAE with Al-Ain and Al-Ahli. If that was not enough, the 52-year-old led Jiangsu Suning to the Chinese championship last year.
Seen as a safe pair of hands and thought to be open to a move to Al-Nassr if the conditions are right, Olaroiu also knows the AFC Champions League after leading Al-Ahli to the final of the 2015 tournament.
A slightly more left-field name is that of Matias Almeyda with reports in the US that the Riyadh club are interested in the San Jose Earthquakes boss. The former Lazio, Parma, and Inter midfielder has had success with River Plate and Banfield in his homeland of Argentina and took Guadalajara to the Mexico title and the 2018 Concacaf Champions League.
Lucien Favre, dismissed as boss of Borussia Dortmund in December, and Paulo Fonseca, the former Roma coach who almost joined Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, have also been mentioned. There are more names such as former Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas and former Al-Ahly coach Rene Weiler in the mix.
Then there is Rudi Garcia, available after leaving Lyon in May. The 57-year-old is on the list as he is thought to be at the right age for a move to Saudi Arabia. All his managerial career has been spent in France, except for a three-year spell with Roma, and it could be the right time to take a break from Europe.
Taking Lille to the title in 2011 was an impressive achievement and he has been named as the French manager of the year on three occasions. With spells at Marseille, Lyon, and Roma, the pressures of managing Al-Nassr would not be a problem.
With victories over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Champions League, Garcia could implement the kind of fast-paced possession football that not only appeals to Al-Nassr fans but would suit the kind of players at the club.
The Yellows would not be the first to try and tempt Marcelo Gallardo from Argentina. The 45-year-old has been named as South American coach of the year on the last three occasions but has stayed with River Plate since 2014. Reports from Buenos Aires claim that Al-Nassr officials have been in the city since last week but while the club is staying quiet on this, it looks as if Gallardo wants to stay where he is until the end of the year at least.
Finding a good coach may not be that difficult for one of the biggest clubs in Asia but finding the right one is a different question altogether. With three coaches departing Riyadh in the last nine months, it is obvious that job security is precarious, and it is not just Riyadh. Even at this early stage of the season, Menezes was not the first to lose his job, but the fourth.
Such a carousel can make it more difficult to attract a certain kind of coach. Those who want to build a team and a philosophy are unlikely to be tempted as they know that after a couple of defeats, the pressure is on. Menezes led the team through the group stage of the Champions League, past the second round and into the last eight. And yet, after two defeats in the first four games of the season, he was out.
It means that clubs have to offer silly money to tempt coaches or stick to those who do not mind taking the risk. The likes of Garcia and Gallardo may be open to working in Saudi Arabia as even a short and failed spell on their resume would not detract from the successes they have had. Alternatively, they may just decide that it is not worth the risk.
Even if a top target does decide to come, the shadow of dismissal that is never far away surely means that he is not going to do the best work. Why build a team and style when a couple of bad results means that you could be out?
The focus is only on winning the next game. If that is all that matters, then such high-level coaches are probably not necessary; there are plenty of available tacticians in Europe who could do a job and set a team up to get results.
But if a club is chasing the likes of Gallardo, an internationally renowned coach who has turned down offers from prestigious clubs, then surely it makes sense to give them the time and atmosphere needed to do the best work that they can.