After Frank Yallop’s departure as the manager of LA Galaxy, so he could return to coach the San Jose Earthquakes for the second time, his replacement has been world player of the year for 1987 and ’89 — Ruud Gullit. As well as the Galaxy’s poor form last season it’s been said that another contribution to Yallop’s leaving has been the added pressure of David Beckham’s high profile arrival.
The 45 year-old Gullit, who originally coined the phrase ‘sexy football’ whilst in charge at Newcastle, became the first overseas manager to win the FA Cup with Chelsea in 1997. In him, the Galaxy have appointed someone else with a big personality. Whilst in charge at Newcastle he was constantly at loggerheads with the star players, including Alan Shearer who was left out of the starting line-up a few times.
The key relationships that will come under the spotlight now will not just be between that of Gullit and Beckham or Donovan, but of Gullit and Alexi Lalas too. During the Dutchman’s short stint at Chelsea he fell out with the board and in Lalas, an optimistic and combative figure, the two could either lock horns frequently or start something special. Either way, the pair will have to learn how to cooperate and respect each others method of working for the good of the team. Gullit is flamboyant and an extrovert who has worked closely with the media in the last two years so his international status will bring even more coverage to the American team.
In his appointment Lalas was said to have told press that he was “looking to bring somebody who can do something different”. Another optimistic remark and a slight dig at Yallop. As a player, Gullit achieved nearly everything someone would hope for from their playing career. As a manager though his success has been limited, marred by the personality clashes he’s faced. He won the European championship with the Netherlands, won the European Cup twice with A.C. Milan and was voted the best player in the world on two occasions. His last managerial role was also short lived, in the 2004-05 season with Dutch side Feyenoord. Since then he’s been a commentator for Sky Sports in England and Tien TV in the Netherlands.
Although he’s not renowned as an expert tactician or his lack of great success as a manager, his achievements as a player and respectable status should help him to settle into his new role. He understands the game and he will have to become a leader to the squad and aid them as a team to really play for each other in order to gel as a unit. Also, he mustn’t be afraid to listen to the players. He will need to do so in order to keep some of his key players happy and bring out the best in them. Beckham and Donovan may be turned to for match-winning performances but it’s several of the other younger players who’ll he need to set an example to. If he fails to achieve any of this, besides the trophies, I think he may not see out the full three years he’s signed for.