It’s Pep

After what feels like weeks of speculation, we finally have a new manager.

A good appointment? Time will tell. A logical appointment? That’s the most you can hope for in any recruitment. One way of looking at it is to assess those who didn’t get the job, and why.
The English manager – Alan Pardew
Clotet’s background is more as a coach than a manager, Darryl Eales knows that he has a successful infrastructure in place already, what he wants is a key cog in the machine, not the machine itself. The English tradition of an all-consuming team manager, like Alan Pardew, has become increasingly outdated. The issue is not so much about the manager, but what might happen after he leaves. Look at Nottingham Forest after Clough, Manchester United after Ferguson or us after Wilder. Despite standing by his side for 5 years, it seemed that Mickey Lewis hadn’t even caught onto the idea that James Constable was a goalscorer, such was the degree of control Wilder had. The manager model promotes rollercoaster of revolution after revolution as new styles, backroom staff are introduced. What Eales wants to do is build on the Appleton legacy and benefit from the corporate knowledge that already exists in the club.
It is easy to slip into the idea that a Catalan called Pep has somehow been born with the Barca gene, but there’s more to it than that. The idea of the manager being a cog in a corporate structure is much more common on the continent. The Barca gene, if such a thing exists, results from a long period of cultural stability which can be traced back to Johan Cruyff and the Ajax team of the 1970s. If we can establish a similar rolling programme, then we’ll be in really good shape.

Facebook, which is beginning to make Yellows Forum look like the Ecclesia from ancient Athens, lamented the idea of a foreign coach. I understand the whimsical idea of English teams being managed by English managers, but for the club to limit its search to less than one percent of the globe seems a bit like complaining that you can’t buy mackerel at the butchers.

The superstar – Frank Lampard

For a period, Frank Lampard was the name on everyone’s lips. There’s something seductive about attracting a name like Lampard. It says something about your club as he offers an instant media profile. But, as many bankrupt TV reality stars have found out, media coverage is rarely an end in itself. The risk with Lampard is that although he’s played at the highest level, does he remember what got him there in the first place? There are stories of Glen Hoddle at Swindon getting frustrated that his players couldn’t spray forty yard balls across the pitch like he could. His ability had become so subconscious and natural, he couldn’t break it down to the point where he could teach it to others. While Lampard is generally considered to be one of the more intelligent ex-professionals out there, there are far too many cases of those with the most ability off the field, floundering off it.
Lampard might like to consider the route Patrick Kluivert has taken since giving up the game. His name appeared from left-field shortly before Clotet was announced. It was probably the result of a large speculative bet rather than too much concrete evidence, but at least Kluivert has done his time as a coach. It might have been a surprise to see him at the Kassam, it would have been a logical selection.

The journeyman manager? – Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is both a former international and foreign, but his managerial career currently teeters between upcoming coach and journeyman manager. At Burton, he sustained the momentum which took them out of League 2, but at QPR he looked more limited. It’s unfair to instantly label Hasselbaink a hired gun, but we don’t want to become just a notch on anyone’s managerial bedpost.

Clotet’s managerial career is complicated; he’s 40 but has been managing and coaching for 17 years. But, this appears to be his first proper management role. Some point to failures elsewhere as a concern, but it’s difficult to tell whether they’re comparable to the situation at Oxford. In the end, as we found with Michael Appleton, it’s the mix of the right person in the right place which defines success. Darryl Eales should be able to give Clotet the environment he needs to be a success.

If Darryl Eales wants to sustain success at the club, then his coaching appointments should follow a similar pattern to the club’s recent player recruitment successes. Find someone on an upward trajectory, utilise their skills while you can, accept that they will eventually move on and be ready to replace.

The general regard for Clotet among Leeds fans seems to be that he very much fits the profile of the man he’s replacing at Oxford. It is easy to think when starting a new job that you’ve been brought to fix something broken, but that isn’t the case with us, what we do works, Clotet is there to build on that.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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