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Rediff.com  » Sports » First season, first impression: European football's successful coaches in 2010

First season, first impression: European football's successful coaches in 2010

Last updated on: May 21, 2010 09:47 IST

First season, first impression: A coaching success story

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Jose Mourinho did it last year.

So did Pep Guardiola. And Dan Petrescu as well.

Steve McLaren missed it by a whisker.

The first three above-named coaches won league titles in their first season (2008-09) with their respective clubs.

While for the Portuguese, his triumph with Inter Milan was his second such experience, having guided a high-profile Chelsea side to their first league title in 50 years in his first season in charge in 2005, for the Spaniard it was an even bigger success considering it was his first season at senior-level coaching.

McLaren may have missed out last year but he ensured his second and final season with Twente ensured the club from Enschede their first ever Dutch Eredivisie title last month.

However, if the Englishman's maiden league success this season took two years coming, the litany of coaches who won titles in their first season in charge is a long one.

As the domestic season across Europe comes to a close, Associate Editor Bikash Mohapatra takes a look at an elite list of coaches who tasted league success in their first season in charge.

Carlo Ancelotti (Chelsea)

As the Premier League season drew towards a fantastic finale, Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea's coach, made an honest admission.

"We have to win the league to make it a successful season," admitted the Italian.

A forgettable February had witnessed Chelsea exit from the Champions League and allow Manchester United and, even Arsenal, to recover lost ground in the race from the Premiership.

And no one understood the implications of failure more than Ancelotti.

The Italian, Serie A's longest-serving manager before his move to the Premiership at the start of the season, had paid the price of failing to win the league in Italy.

Ancelotti, in his seven-year stint at AC Milan, had guided the club to three Champions League finals and two triumphs but had won just a single domestic title in that period.

And that cost him his job.

Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich's impatience as regards coaches was all the more apparent.

However, to his credit, Ancelotti got things in order just in the nick of time to ensure the London club a first league title in four years and followed it up with an FA Cup triumph a week later.

Thus, in his first year in charge at Stamford Bridge, the Italian had ensured an unprecedented double.


Image: Carlo Ancelotti
Photographs: Reuters
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As regards titles, he prefers going Dutch

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Louis Van Gaal (Bayern Munich)

The 58-year-old Dutchman's career as a coach can be broadly divided into three periods.

Between 1991-98, he won three league titles, the Champions League, the UEFA Cup and a host of other trophies with Amsterdam and two La Liga titles with FC Barcelona.

The second phase (1999-2008) was downhill, nothing significant so to speak.

The third (ongoing) phase has so far witnessed a Dutch title with the unheralded AZ Alkmaar, followed by a high-profile Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich in his first season in charge.

A season which started on a tentative note saw Bayern off the pace at the start but going for a double. Bayern also won the DFB Pokal (German Cup). The German giants are in contention for a treble, as they are playing the Champions League final against Inter on Saturday.

And there is one man who masterminded the turnaround -- Louis Van Gaal, the first ever foreign coach to lead Bayern to the Bundesliga title.


Image: Louis Van Gaal
Photographs: Reuters
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A winner all the way

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Didier Deschamps (Olympique Marseille)

Didier Deschamps was a magnificent captain, having led France to triumphs in the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 Euro Championships.

When Olympique Marseille had last won the French league title in 1992 they were stripped off their title in 1993 following fixing allegations... it was Deschamps who led the club.

And now, 18 years on, when Marseille lay their hands on the Ligue 1 trophy, it is Deschamps in charge, on this occasion as a coach in his first season in charge.

The former defender not only ensured a complete turnaround of fortunes in the league for Marseille, as defending champions Girondins Bordeaux were leading the standings going into the winter break, but also helped them capture the French League Cup at the expense of Bordeaux.

The League Cup was Marseille's first major title in 18 years. And they celebrated the success by adding a bigger trophy to the cabinet.


Image: Didier Deschamps
Photographs: Reuters
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Success with Latin American flavour

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Jorge Jesus (Benfica FC)

Benfica is by far Portugal's most popular club.

The popularity though hasn't quite translated into success in the last decade or so, with Giovanni Trapattoni's 2005 title being the Lisbon club's lone league title in the period.

However, the appointment of journeyman Jorge Jesus at the Estadio di Luz, at the start of the season, ensured Benfica a 32nd domestic title overall, only the fourth in the last two decades.

The 55-year-old not only created a team with a distinct Latin American flavor, with Argentines Angel Di Maria, Javier Saviola and Pablo Aimar and Paraguayan Oscar Cardozo, but also ensured the success-starved fans of the club a much-cherished success.

A League Cup triumph at the expense of arch rivals FC Porto and a run to quarter-finals of the inaugural Europa League, where they beat a high-profile Liverpool side at home but lost the away tie, have been the icing on a supremely successful first season for Jesus.


Image: Jorge Jesus

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Not quite the proverbial turkey

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Ertugrul Saglam (Bursaspor)

When you talk of Turkish football it is usually about the big three from Istanbul -- Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas.

The trio dominated the domestic scene for the last few decades and the only club to break their dominance is Trabzonspor who last won the league way back in 1984.

Cut to 2009-10 and the Turkish Super Lig has a new name inscribed on its trophy.

That of the thus far unheralded Bursaspor.

And the man responsible for guiding the club to glory is Ertugrul Saglam, a former Besiktas coach who was in his first season in charge.


Image: Ertugrul Saglam

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This Greek didn't have to endure tragedy

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Nikolaos 'Nikos' Nioplias (Panathinaikos)

Nikos Nioplias won two league titles in the 1990s as a Panathinaikos player.

He then enjoyed a good stint as the coach of the Greece junior team.

But when the Athens club released Dutchman Henk Ten Cate, who had done all the hard work early on in the season in December last year, it was left to Nioplias to ensure Panathinaikos only their second domestic title in the last decade.

And he did it without much ado.

Lastly, Andrea Mandorlini also helped CFR Cluj win the Romanian League in his first season in charge.

And spare a thought for Manuel Pellegrini (Real Madrid) and Martin Jol (Ajax) who came so close to winning their respective leagues only to suffer the fate McLaren had suffered a year before -- an agonizing second place finish.


Image: Nikos Nioplias

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