(As I’ve said before, note the “Rumor Mill” tag at the end of this story, so take all of this with a grain- or two- of salt.)
Remember yesterday when I said that there was little chance that Ross County chairman Roy McGregor would not appoint a foreign manager given that he was already uneasy with former manager Derek Adams’ over-reliance on foreign players since the club entered the Scottish top flight? Yes, well, that may all have changed given the two most recent managers to throw their hats into the ring.
The first is Sergio Lobera. Lobera’s name may not ring a bell with you, but he was part of the Barcelona (yes, THAT Barcelona!) youth system for a decade (1997-2006) and then managed Barcelona’s “C” team in the Spanish Third Division after that. He briefly dropped down to be the sports director (and briefly manage) Tercera and CD San Roque de Lepe in the Fourth Division before moving back up to the Second Division to manage Cueta, a brief return to Barcelona as an assistant to Tito Vilanova, and then most recently off to UD Las Palmas who he brought to the playoffs, just missing out on promotion to La Liga. Did I mention that he won’t even turn 38 until next January?
According to press reports Lobera’s idea is to use his connections to Barcelona (and they are many and built over the long term) to bring some of the club’s young players to Dingwall for “seasoning” and to bolster the quality of the Scottish players at the club. Apparently he sees Ross County becoming something of a feeder club for Barca where it can test out players who might not be ready for its B/C clubs and, who knows, maybe the occasional Scottish player will pop up who merits a chance to make an impression at the Camp Nou?
Again, probably not going to happen, but…here’s a guy with a good pedigree who has bounced around in Spain since leaving Barcelona and might like the chance to take a job with no pressure (from his perspective) where he can try something different and, if successful, make a bit of a name for himself before going on to bigger and better things.
And now things are going to get REALLY weird.
Yes, that’s Patrick Kluivert.
Ajax, Milan, Barcelona, Newcastle, Valencia, PSV, Lille…Patrick Kluivert.
Second all time scorer for the Netherlands…Patrick Kluivert.
Eredivisie, La Liga, Champions League champion…Patrick Kluivert.
“FIFA 100″…Patrick Kluivert.
Yes, if press reports are to be believed, Dutch UBER-legend Patrick Kluivert (who is somehow still only 38 years old!) has been linked to the job at Victoria Park.
I’m going to put this down to internet (and Scottish Sun) generated nonsense for now, but let me throw two things at you that might- might– make this remotely plausible.
First, he has wanted to manage since leaving the game (prematurely and against his will) at the age of 32 and has been a bit frustrated in those endeavors. He was the striker’ coach at AZ and then at N.E.C., then the youth/reserve team coach at FC Twente for a season, then a Louis van Gaal assistant with the Netherlands for two years, then lost out on moving to Manchester United along with LVG because United had already promised a spot to the recently retired Ryan Giggs. I guess what I’m saying is that he’s been trying to get a managerial post since 2008 and has yet to succeed, so why not go to a club that would love to have you, see what you can make of it, and then move on to bigger and better things.
Second, for the last three years Ross County have been “building bridges” by holding their preseasons in the Netherlands (including a match against an FC Twente team) and signing Dutch players or players who have played in the Netherlands (including players who have been at AZ, Utrecht, and other big clubs. Kluivert may- directly or indirectly- be aware of County and its recent history and fancy that he might be able to take the club a bit further and, like Lobera, use it as a springboard. Taking County into Europe, winning the Scottish Cup, or even just finishing in the two 2-3 places in the Premiership for a few seasons running would probably get him a job in the English Championship and from there a shot at the big time with a Premiership club.
Then again, this could all be rubbish!