Thursday, May 14, 2009

Coaches on the move

Upon arriving home from work this afternoon, I immediately headed over the the Winnipeg Free Press sports section to see what kind of lame headline had been chosen for last night's match between Toronto and Montreal. I was expecting something typical, like "Montreal fails to make Impact against Toronto". The Impact pun, as always, is a must.

Instead, two somewhat surprising pieces of coaching news caught my eye. Surprising not only for their content, but because the FP's rather sparse soccer coverage all of a sudden featured a bevy of wire stories.

Impact fire Limniatis, name Marc Dos Santos interim head coach

MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact dumped John Limniatis as head coach on Thursday, a day after a 1-0 loss to Toronto FC.

"Since the match against Santos Laguna (in the quarter-finals of the Champions League), it was felt that the team had no continuity," said De Santis. "When there is no result, it becomes more difficult for the coach.

"We analyzed the situation over the last three months and we thought it was time to make a change before things got worse."

A variety of reasons for the firing have been suggested. The team's slow start in USL play and the meltdown against Santos in the CCL quarterfinals are among the popular explanations. It is also very likely that the firing and the recent 1-game suspension of Sandro Grande by the team are not unrelated.

Old Yeller is being put down.

I think it would be shortsighted to suggest that last night's result had a lot to do with it, since all in all, it wasn't that bad. Back in September, I briefly suggested that Limniatis might make a suitable replacement for Dale Mitchell, which makes me glad I'm not running things soccer-wise for Canada.

Speaking of Sandro Grande and the loss to Toronto, the bald-headed midfield maven took responsibility for the loss, in a rather strange way: by implicating himself and two of his teammates:

Grande: «Testo, Sakuda et moi avons fait perdre le match» (Grande: "Testo, Sakuda and I lost the match)

And, to be honest, I have a hard time disagreeing, though I'd also throw Joey Gjertsen into the mix.

I don't know a lot about Marc dos Santos, but apparently his credentials are solid. Limniatis, apparently, will be allowed to stay within the Impact family, which means he'll probably be punching the clock at a cheese-packing factory somewhere.

* * * * *

The other piece of news, less surprising, though even less likely to appeal to many reading the Winnipeg sports pages:
Louis van Gaal not taking any AZ Alkmaar players to Bayern Munich

The last I had heard, van Gaal to Bayern was only a rumour. Van Gaal coached AZ to an Eredivisie championship this past season, and an automatic Champions League berth, so I'd be happier if he had stayed.

Louis van Gaal (x2)

Looking for some reaction from someone closer to the scene, I searched for 'az blog' and checked the first result.

The reaction:
Louis van Gaal als trainer van FC Hollywood… Zou er een club zijn die de trainer meer op het lijf geschreven is?

Hoe dan ook, Van Gaal heeft er veel zin in. En terecht ook, al is het natuurlijk geen makkelijke club waar hij tot medio 2011 aan de slag gaat. Bayern is toch een beetje het ajax van duitsland. Er moeten prijzen gewonnen, en het publiek is daarmee tamelijk verwend in de loop der jaren… Het waren trouwens niet de minsten, die vandaag in Amsterdam waren om de laatste zaakjes te regelen: met Karl-Heinz Rummenigge en Uli Hoeness was er toch in ieder geval een brok aan internationale voetbalfaam! Als we de Duitse media mogen geloven, heeft Dirk Scheringa overigens niet moeilijk gedaan en omdat AZ geen contractsom vraagt speelt Bayern M√ľnchen in de zomer van 2010 een oefenwedstrijd in Alkmaar.
My translation:
Louis van Gaal as manager of FC Hollywood . . . Could there be any club better suited to him?

Of course, Van Gaal wants the job. And to be sure, it is no easy club that he will work for until mid 2011. Bayern is like the Ajax of Germany. They have to win trophies, and the support has become rather spoiled over the years . . . The last, but certainly not least, details were tied up today in Amsterdam: in any case, with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness in town there was no shortage of international football celebrity! If we can believe the German press, Dirk Scheringa [ed: AZ president] didn't make the signing difficult, and because AZ didn't demand a fee Bayern Munich agreed to a friendly in the summer of 2010 in Alkmaar.
The fans don't seem too broken up about it, which means they probably saw it coming for some time.

Lots of speculation about a replacement, but I'll try not to worry about that for now.

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