World Cup Coaching Isn’t Stable : Soccer: Nine of 24 positions have changed since tournament ended, but Germany’s Vogts is still employed.
Berti Vogts failed, but he still has a job.
Carlos Alberto Parreira succeeded, but he quit anyway.
Soccer coaching, it seems, is an uncertain and unpredictable profession.
Success is no guarantee of continued employment, while failure does not mean instant dismissal.
Take World Cup ’94. In the month since it ended, nine of the 24 national teams have changed coaches.
Some left voluntarily. Others were pushed out.
Brazil won the World Cup, but Parreira wasted no time in resigning, citing the pressure of the job and the continued criticism from fans and media.
Greece finished last among the 24 teams; Alkis Panagoulias will stay until his contract expires Aug. 31 and then move on.
After the Italia ’90 tournament, the post-World Cup housecleaning affected virtually every team. This time, the brooms have been more selective.
Europe, for instance, has been the model of stability and continuity, with 11 of the 13 national team coaches retaining their position.
But South America and Africa have been just the opposite, with all seven World Cup participants making changes.
Some big names have fallen by the wayside.
Argentina’s failure in the second round meant that Alfio Basile’s days in charge were numbered. He knew it as soon as his team was beaten by Romania.
“Argentina’s record since I took over (after the 1990 World Cup) is excellent,” Basile said. “We’ve won two Copa America tournaments and we worked really hard and put everything into this World Cup campaign.
“But, in Argentina, second place is not good enough.”
Think then, how Argentine fans must have felt about finishing 10th.
No successor has been named, but the favorite is Daniel Passarella, a member of Argentina’s 1978 World Cup-winning team.
In Germany, Vogts, too, might have been expected to resign or be kicked out after the Germans were upset by Bulgaria in the quarterfinals.
The cries for Vogts’ head raged, but the German federation, the DFB, decided to keep him without as much as a slap on the wrist. Vogts had threatened to quit if a single word was uttered against him by the DFB.
The federation remained silent, but that didn’t stop others from voicing their opinion.
“Whether Vogts stays or goes is not important,” said former national team player Felix Magath. “Whoever’s in charge faces a tough job. Success comes and goes in cycles, and we’re on the (downward) slide.
“I think Berti made a mistake by relying on experience. He didn’t introduce enough new blood. Now that (Rudi) Voeller, (Guido) Buchwald, (Andreas) Brehme and perhaps (Lothar) Matthaeus have played their last internationals, we’re left with a huge gap to fill. I’m worried. Continuity has gone out the window.”
Well, not quite. Vogts is still there, even though he bristles at the negative press he has received.
“It may have been easier just to get rid of me, but then they’d have had no focus for their criticism,” he said.
Parreira knows all about criticism and, having held firm in the face of an onslaught of negative publicity during Brazil’s qualifying campaign and its triumphant World Cup run, he decided enough was enough.
He resigned to become coach of Valencia in the Spanish first division, where one of his opponents will be Atletico Madrid, coached by Colombia’s World Cup coach, Francisco Maturana, who also resigned.
Shortly after leaving, Parreira fired some parting shots at his critics, including the fans.
“The population (of Brazil) is an echo without its own opinion,” he said. “It only reflects what it hears.
“Your average fan goes to Maracana (Stadium) and watches the game but always listens to a transistor radio. It is important that somebody tells him what he is seeing. He can’t analyze the game himself.”
Parreira also lashed out at former national team coach Tele Santana, who led Brazil in the 1982 and 1986 World Cup campaigns and who was one of Parreira’s most astringent critics.
“Nobody has ever had a team as good as his and failed to win,” Parreira said.
Replacing Parreira will be Mario Zagalo, 63, who played left wing on Brazil’s winning 1958 and 1962 teams, coached its winning 1970 team and was technical director of the 1994 team.
Zagalo, whose first task will be to build a team for the 1995 Copa America, or South American Championship, in Uruguay, says winning the gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics is his real goal.
Taking over for Maturana in Colombia, meanwhile, is assistant Hernan Dario Gomez, who was given the position even though he earlier had said he was not interested in it.
Gomez is a relative of Colombian national team midfielder Gabriel Gomez, the player whose family was the target of death threats during the World Cup.
Among the other coaches who have stepped down or been forced aside are Bolivia’s Xavier Azkargorta, who cited the chaotic state of Bolivian soccer for his decision to resign, and Russia’s Pavel Sadyrin, who might have said much the same thing.
Sadyrin has been replaced by Oleg Romantsev, formerly coach of Spartak Moscow, the country’s most successful team.
Russia failed to make it out of the first round, but it did succeed in defeating Cameroon, a 1990 quarterfinalist, 6-1, with Oleg Salenko scoring a World Cup-record five goals.
Salenko is now playing for Parreira at Valencia, while Cameroon has dismissed its World Cup coach, Frenchman Henri Michel.
In Michel’s place, the national soccer federation has appointed Jules Nyongha, the first Cameroonian to hold the position in two decades.
Another African team, Morocco, also hired a local coach to take over its national team, with Mohammed Ammari replacing Abdellah Ajri.
Nigeria has not renewed Dutch coach Clemens Westerhof’s contract and has not appointed a successor.
In Europe, meanwhile, stability reigns as the national teams prepare for the qualifying campaigns for the 1996 European Championship in England.
Arrigo Sacchi, the Italian coach whose team was beaten by Brazil in the World Cup final, has perhaps the easiest of tasks. Italy has been drawn in a group that includes lightweights Ukraine, Croatia, Lithuania, Estonia and Slovenia.
Given Sacchi’s luck in 1994, he should be able to book Italy’s ticket to England right now. One slip, though, and they’ll be calling for his head.
Soccer coaching is like that.
An update on coaches from World Cup ’94. Countries are ranked in order of their World Cup finish.
COUNTRY COACH COMMENT Brazil Carlos Alberto Parreira Resigned. Now coaching Valencia in the Spanish first division Italy Arrigo Sacchi Still in charge Sweden Tommy Svensson Still in charge Bulgaria Dimitar Penev Still in charge Germany Berti Vogts Still in charge Romania Anghel Iordanescu Still in charge Netherlands Dick Advocaat Still in charge Spain Javier Clemente Still in charge Nigeria Clemens Westerhof Contract not renewed Argentina Alfio Basile Resigned Belgium Paul Van Himst Still in charge Saudi Arabia Jorge Solari No change announced Mexico Miguel Mejia Baron Still in charge. Has been asked to stay on United States Bora Milutinovic Still in charge. New contract offer and expanded duties likely Switzerland Roy Hodgson Still in charge Ireland Jack Charlton Still in charge Norway Egil Olsen Still in charge Russia Pavel Sadyrin Resignation unanimously accepted Colombia Francisco Maturana Resigned. Now coaching Atletico Madrid in the Spanish first division South Korea Kim Ho No change announced Bolivia Xavier Azkargorta Resigned Cameroon Henri Michel Contract not renewed Morocco Abdellah Ajri Contract not renewed Greece Alkis Panagoulias Has said he will resign Aug. 31 when his contract expires