Only weeks earlier the rumors that persisted amongst Galatasaray fans was that former Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster was in the running to replace then current manager Bulent Korkmaz. Along with those rumors was the talk of a certain other Dutchman, Ruud van Nistelrooij, set to leave Real Madrid and sign for Galatasaray. Whether the Dutchman will be even more motivated to join his countryman at Ali Sami Yen remains to be seen.
Not to say the least, this past campaign has been a huge disappointment for “cimbom” fans as the club not only failed to defend its 2007-2008 league title, but finished fifth in the league and narrowly squeeked into next season’s Europa League via the second qualifying round. Certainly not the kind of pedigree for a Champions’ League winning manager.
Considering that only one year ago Rijkaard was managing FC Barcelona and had guided los blaugranas to the Champions’ League in 2006, one might be inclined to think “how the mighty have fallen.” Rijkaard was recently linked to his old club, AC Milan, and the job vacated by a departing Carlo Ancellotti. So for some, the progression from FC Barcelona, to potentially AC Milan and now to Galatasaray is seen more as regression.
Expectations were high and were further inflated when Spanish international (and understudy to Fernando Torres) Daniel Guiza decided to join his former international manager to Istanbul. Yet after one dismal season, Aragones’ high profile was ditched for a more pragmatic return to success by the appointment of a former manager who led the club to two consecutive league titles in 2004 and 2005, Christoph Daum.
Furthermore, Rijkaard’s reputation and his ability to manage players of varying temperaments could well attract name players that would normally not be enticed to play in the Turkcell Superlig. Having experienced the pressure cooker jobs of managing Holland in Euro 2000 and the daily scrutiny of the Catalan media in Barcelona, the similar media coverage of his every move in Istanbul by the Turkish daily newspapers and TV crews won’t phase Frank Rijkaard.
The Dutchman has his work cut out for him as he will have to address the leaky Galatasaray defense that on numerous occasions this past season simply went AWOL during matches. Galatasaray’s board or directors should also give Rijkaard a fair chance to rebuild this season and remember that not even at Barcelona did he win the league title in his first season.
Yet should Rijkaard and his new assistant, Johan Neeskens, implement his style of attacking football in Galatasaray, it sure will be entertaininig to watch the aforementioned talent put on display this philosophy of football in both the league and in the Europa League. And should Galatasaray’s squad adapt to this system, Frank Rijkaard will be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor with such vociferous support from the fans in the terraces of Ali Sami Yen that will make the cules at the Camp Nou seem like parishioners in a church.
Yet by hitting rock bottom, by Galatasaray’s standards, the only way is up and barring some unexpected results of the Juande Ramos kind at White Hart Lane, Rijkaard can quietly show Europe and potentially the world his attacking philosophy through Galatasaray.