Inspired by the news last week that former England and Arsenal defender Tony Adams has accepted an offer to oversee Gabala FC (a hitherto unknown Azerbaijani club currently ranked 6th out of 12 in the Azeri league tables), Esquire has compiled a list of the oddest football management signings in recent times…
1. Luize Felipe Scolari
The hot-tempered Brazilian and Super Mario clone forged a successful career off the back of his emotional managerial style. We can thus only assume he was thinking with his heart when, in 2009, he signed a deal to manage obscure Uzbek team FC Bunyodkor for the token sum of €13 million.
2. Egil Olsen
Despite proving to be a supremely prosperous manager for Norway, Olsen’s scientific approach to the game did not mesh well abroad. After being sacked from Wimbledon (where his defence-based approach was about as popular as Vinnie Jones’ impromptu hernia test), he eventually resurfaced in Iraq, where his aborted tenure saw him lead the national team to new heights of mediocrity (two wins, one loss, three draws). Today, he’s back in his happy place, overseeing the Norway national side - albeit in a caretaker capacity.
3. Claude Anelka
Football managing is a demanding job, and one that requires a passion for the game. And nothing quite says “I’m passionate about football” like offering teams money for your services. £300,000, to be precise. That’s what erstwhile DJ and agent Claude Anelka (elder sibling of dove-fingered Chelsea striker Nicolas) did in order to become manager of Scottish First Division team Raith Rovers. After leading Raith to an inspirational 7 losses and 1 draw, Anelka’s passion strangely waned and he resigned. Though, much to the horror of supporters and staff, he would stay on in the dubious capacity of “Director of Football”.
4. Peter Reid
Following a successful career as a midfield enforcer for Bolton, Everton and Manchester City, Reid moved into managing. Following tenures at Leeds United and Coventry City, Reid took a slight sidestep and spent 2008-2009 managing Thailand’s national team. Referring to his players by their numbers rather than their names, Reid enthused that “this is pure football and I love it”, before promptly leaving for an assistant position at Stoke City.
5. Claude Anelka
Yes, Anelka succeeds in appearing twice on this list by dint of his subsequent move to the USA. After tiring of the perennial charms of “The Lang Toun”, Claude shifted his sights to the USSF Division 2 Professional League and debutant outfit AC St Louis, immediately impressing his new employers by admitting he knew little about the American game or its players. When his side recently turned out against the Carolina Railhawks, Anelka debuted a state-of-the-art formation comprising just 10 players. It’s hard to decide which is the more surprising: that his team only lost 2 – 0, or the fact he’s still in charge today.
Words by Max Olesker