Monday, March 1, 2010

Dutch Manager for Rent, US-Netherlands, Red Bull Arena

Generally it's not good to fire your coach right before the season or a big tournament starts. You stick with what got you there. But the Côte d'Ivoire said to hell with that conventional thinking, firing Bosnian manager Vahid Halilhodzic.

The rumor mill speculation is that Dutch gun for hire and football nomad Guus Hiddink will take over for the World Cup. How is that possible, seeing as the man currently under contract to the Russians will be taking over for Turkey on July 1? Well, seeing as neither team will be partaking in the South African festivities, Mr. Hiddink's schedule has some open dates in June.

Recognized as a brilliant manager for his work with the South Koreans, Australians, Russians, and Dutch (not to mention winning the treble with PSV Eindhoven just over a decade before Man U completed the feat), Hiddink has quite the CV and has surely amassed enough frequent flyer miles to travel the world a few times over.

I suppose Hiddink likes a good challenge, taking on these numerous jobs. That and the money up and coming federations are willing to give him to get their national teams to the next level.

So, the question is, does this move push the Ivory Coast further up in the realm of World Cup favorites. They've been fancied for some time with all their talent and playing in their home continent, but a disappointing showing at the African Cup of Nations must have given their federation something to think about with the Group of Death staring them in the face this summer.

Enter Guus. He likes short jobs, as evidenced by his two and half year contracts with Russia and Turkey. But will this give him enough time to make a difference with Drogba and company? One shudders at the thought of Hiddink getting the powerful Ivorians to play Oranje football. Of course if you don't have a rooting interest, one would be shuddering in delight at that thought. I just have that feeling like he'll get them out of the group, probably to the disappointment of the Portuguese. Either way, it will be exciting.

Speaking of the Oranje, Wednesday will see the US-Netherlands at the Amsterdam ArenA. Big match that will see the closest thing to a full US World Cup squad prior to the actual thing. I'm looking forward not only to seeing Donovan cross over his good form, but to seeing Maurice Edu, the ex-Terp finally healthy and playing well. Big time goal this weekend to win the Old Firm match in extra time. Very happy to see him back in the fold.

Another link I wanted to provide was this piece updating on Red Bull Arena. If you want to see pictures, just Google it. Grant Wahl puts it plainly, the Red Bulls have gotten nothing right with the on-the-field product but it appears they've gotten everything right with the field itself and the arena. Color me very very jealous. I hate you Adrian Fenty for screwing up the Poplar Point deal in DC.

Last, a word of concern for HalaMadrid and any family or friends of his in Chile. Hope everything is all right.

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