Mixed bag for new bosses


A change at the top is generally regarded as a positive thing in football, heralding the dawn of a new era, the chance for a fresh start and so on. The first two 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying matchdays in Europe featured seven well-known coaches who took charge of new teams for the first time, and two bosses who returned to former stamping grounds. However, a distinctly mixed set of results underlined the fact that change in itself is no guarantee of success. FIFA.com turns the spotlight on a raft of newly-installed but familiar faces in national hot seats. A total of 48 points were at stake for England, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Serbia, Czech Republic and Switzerland in the two rounds of matches. A haul of 32 points would appear more than respectable for the new supremos, but one man in particular will be wringing his hands in despair after his tenure got off to a nightmare start. Horror for Hitzfeld Ottmar Hitzfeld was already ruminating on the fairness of it all after his Swiss side tossed away a two-goal lead in Israel at the weekend, conceding a last-minute equaliser in a frustrating 2-2 draw. But that was nothing compared to the agony of Wednesday’s 2-1 home defeat to Luxembourg, the tiny state’s first FIFA World Cup qualifying win in 36 years. "I learnt from Ottmar never to give up, because all you can do is keep going. That’s the situation he finds himself in now," commented former keeper Oliver Kahn, Hitzfeld’s captain for many trophy-laden seasons at Bayern Munich. As if he did not know it before, the hugely-respected 59-year-old coach has been handed a stark reminder of the yawning difference between managing at club and international level. Two further coaches would also have wished for better starts to their new jobs. The Czechs’ scoreless draw with Northern Ireland will have disappointed international rookie Petr Rada just as much as the fans in the nation ranked eighth in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, but Carlos Queiroz’ return to the Portugal helm coincided with a nasty shock. The Portuguese routinely won 4-0 away to Malta, but then contrived to lose 3-2 at home to Denmark despite taking a 2-1 lead with four minutes remaining. It was Portugal’s first home defeat in FIFA World Cup qualifying since 1993, when the man in charge was also a certain Carlos Queiroz.

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