Fulham announced this morning that Martin Jol has been appointed manager on a two-year deal. The prospect of seeing the always engaging Dutchman back in the Premier League is definitely something I’m looking forward to this upcoming season. During his time as manager of Tottenham, his team’s performances were always entertaining to watch. His attacking philosophy and focus on youth talent will therefore make Fulham next season even more exciting to watch.
With Jol moving to Craven Cottage and, if you believe the media reports, Steve McClaren hotly favored to be the next manager of Aston Villa, the 2011-12 Premier League season could be the “year of the manager.” If Guus Hiddink joins Chelsea, next season promises to be one where you’ll have 20 intriguing characters.
Consider for a second that you’ll have, in addition to Martin Jol and possibly Steve McClaren and Guus Hiddink, the likes of Neil Warnock, David Moyes, Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish, Roberto Mancini, Arsene Wenger, Owen Coyle, Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul Lambert, Steve Kean, Alan Pardew, Brendan Rogers, Steve Bruce, Harry Redknapp, Mick McCarthy, Tony Pulis and Roberto Martinez. Each of these men are complete characters. Skilled as football managers, yes, they also bring a dynamism to the league that makes it even more entertaining instead of other leagues where the managers seem to be practically invisible.
Between now and when the new season kicks off in early August, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see managerial changes at Sunderland and Blackburn. Both Steve Bruce and Steve Kean underperformed in 2010-11. And I believe that Sunderland and Blackburn both deserve managers with a better pedigree who can push these clubs on to greater glory instead of near relegation. With the Premier League still being the most popular league in the world, there will undoubtedly be some experienced foreign managers who would love the opportunity to enter Premier League management via Sunderland or Blackburn and build on the foundation that has already been built. With both of those clubs not being as big as many of the other Premier League sides, it affords a new foreign manager a longer rope to get used to the British system and to turn things around before the pressure mounts to unbearable levels.
Now that Martin Jol has triumphantly returned to Premier League management, I look forward to the prospect of seeing other managers entertain the notion of coming to England. A few that come to mind include Frank Rijkaard, Andre Villas-Boas (although a move is unlikely right now) and Marco Van Basten. And there’s always the decision of where to place the other “foreign” manager, Mark Hughes. While I’m not sure whether he would want to go back, it’d be great to see him return to managing Blackburn Rovers. Or better yet, to manage Sunderland and to push them into a Europa League spot.