Anxious coaches settle down for Champions League draw

As the coaches of the 16 qualifiers for the Champions League last 16 prepare to watch Monday’s draw in Nyon, they might ask: what price success.

Five of the clubs who have made it to the knockout stages did so even though they axed the men who were in charge when the draw for the group stage was made.

Valencia started the trend by giving Marcelino the boot six days before their Champions League opener at Chelsea, bringing in Albert Celades, who had never been a club head coach. They then beat the Blues and went on to top tight Group H, dumping out Ajax on the final day.

Even though Mauricio Pochettino had guided Tottenham Hotspur to a first ever Champions League final last season, he was in danger as soon as Spurs lost 7-2 at home to Bayern Munich. What is more remarkable is that the winning coach that day, Niko Kovac, has also gone.

Sylvinho led Lyon to a 2-0 victory at Leipzig on the second matchday, but when he lost at home to derby rivals Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 four days later, the club said “au revoir”.

Napoli finished Group E with a 4-0 route of Genk to qualify behind Liverpool and promptly fired a multiple Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti.

Even among the eight top-seeded group winners, only Reds boss Jurgen Klopp can feel that he is at a club that he wants to continue managing and which is equally committed to him.

Even a favourable draw might not be enough for coaches whose seats are growing warm. And good results may only encourage moves by those whose feet are growing itchy.

The unpredictable way some of the groups played out means that there are more potential traps than usual in Europe’s toughest club competition.

Most of the usual suspects are seeded: Barcelona, Bayern, Liverpool, Manchester City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. But the top pot also contains outsiders Leipzig and Valencia.

The two Madrid clubs, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund and last year’s runners up Tottenham, now under “serial winner” Jose Mourinho, lurk in the second pot.

Mourinho, as ever, insists he is confident.


This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
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