I spent my next few weeks of summer doing what any smart manager would do… throw their hat into the ring for literally EVERY single job going. Columbus Crew? Count me in. LAFC? I’m down for some MLS action.
Neither came to any fruition. I continued to search for more jobs, anything, just to begin my adventure. The main football season had kicked off already, the transfer window had shut in all countries, and the Carabao Cup was already heading into the 3rd round… I was beginning to lose hope, when suddenly, I had a brainwave… AFRICA!
I was so impressed with myself that I allowed myself a little celebration. I stuck Toto on the speakers and cranked the volume up. I did a little jig and hop, before settling down back into my comfy chair and began writing my applications. Yes, you heard me, applications, plural of application. It turns out most major African nations need U23 managers desperately. I applied for Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and the Ivory Coast, all of them for the U23 post. ‘Surely… surely I can get one of these‘ I thought. Jerry the cat walked in, rubbed up against my leg and curled up on my feet like a foot warmer. He may have been making himself comfortable at this point, but Jerry and I had no idea what adventures laid waiting for us.
“Jerry, you’d better not be scared of planes, or flying, or both” I exclaimed as I burst into the room. I picked him up and swung him around my arms, before dropping him back on the floor, and running around the room like a child at Christmas. I had 5 replies from the different FA’s… ALL 5 WANTED ME! I had never had so much variety in my life, I was giddy with choice! I decided I needed to sit down and work this one out, so I grabbed a pen and paper, and made some brief notes.
These guys are mostly well known for producing a certain Samuel Eto’o, and generally being a very good African team. Their current manager, ex-Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf is also new to the job, having been appointed the same summer, so it would be a complete rebuild adding me to the backroom staff.
Arguably the most recognised African team, the Ivory Coast was a very appealing case indeed. With players like Didier Drogba, the Touré brothers and most recently, players like Wilfried Zaha (albeit he switched allegiance from England), and Eric Bailly in the ranks, they have a reputation for producing talent. Could I continue the trend?
Senegal have emerged as a dark horse of sorts, with many predicting them to progress from their World Cup group, and they very almost made it. But back to the present day, and they have a strong side currently, with some more young players to come through. Senegal would be an exciting side to work with for sure, especially knowing Sadio Mané and Baldé Keita have established themselves on the world stage.
Two words. Hervé Renard. The current Morocco manager has won the most prestigious African tournament not once, but twice with two separate nations, firstly with the major underdogs of Zambia, and secondly with the Ivory Coast. To work under him would provide me with some crucial experience, plus a country that has produced Mehdi Benatia can’t be that bad at football…
Ever since the infamous ‘Luis Suarez’ incident in 2010 during the quarter-final of the World Cup, I have never seen Ghana reach the same heights. Asamoah Gyan is still the captain, and he has been hiding in and around the Arabian leagues for a while now. This would be a big rebuild challenge for me, I need to produce some fine youth talents to bring Ghana back to their former glories.
After sitting and considering the options, and mulling them over, I decided to begin a reply to Mr. Aliou Cissé, the current manager of Senegal’s national side. I began to pack my bags when I hear a ‘ping’ from my laptop. It read:
To: Thomas Bailey