To some it’s the ultimate act of madness. Why would you want to work for a football club owner who has sacked 38 managers and won’t flinch from doing it again to the next one.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink last week declared his interest in the managerial vacancy at Leeds United – even though managers who work for their controversial Italian owner, Massimo Cellino, have a life expectancy that averages seven months in the job.
Cellino was at his most ruthless at Cagliari, where he axed 36 managers in a 22-year period. It was there he earned the nickname Il mangiatore di direttore – or the “manager eater”.
It didn’t take him long to continue the pattern when he took control of Leeds earlier this year, sacking Brian McDermott within months and, most recently, the surprise appointment David Hockaday after just six games in charge.
It’s a record which should deter any wannabe manager from going anywhere near Elland Road but it doesn’t put off one of Leeds’ more famous former players, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Hasselbaink smiled: “Mr Cellino’s record for hiring managers doesn’t put me off. It’s all about whether you can do the job or not – and I am confident I can.
“If you’re successful, you don’t get fired, it’s that simple. From what I’ve read, Mr Cellino wants success and he’ll do everything it takes to try to achieve that. I know that’s the deal and I can buy into it.”
One thing’s for sure, Hasselbaink won’t be using the colour of his skin to help tilt the odds in his favour.There is currently only one black manager in the entire English football league – Chris Powell, once of Charlton and now recently arrived at Huddersfield.
In recent seasons Paul Ince, Chris Houghton, Keith Curle, Chris Kiwomya and Terry Connor have made the breakthrough but none of them are currently in managerial roles.
“I don’t want to be judged on the colour of my skin,” insists the former Chelsea, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Cardiff and Charlton striker. “I want to be judged on my ability to do a good job. It’s about being the right man on and off the field and that has nothing to do with anything else.
“I am an extremely proud black man but I’m not bitter. I’m not going to fuel a debate just because it gives people something to talk about.”
Hasselbaink understands, given the lack of black managers, that he is always going to be asked for his views on the subject. “It’s inevitable. I can only be honest in my assessment of the situation. I don’t know how many black coaches have applied for jobs, been interviewed and been turned down. I don’t even know how many are qualified.
“There needs to be far more transparency before I can make any comment. Besides, I think the fact that Chris Powell is the only black manager in all four divisions just gives people something to talk about.I don’t see things like that, I have never been a negative person.
“Even if it was a problem I wouldn’t make it a problem. I can’t do anything about being black and I don’t want too either, and in my eyes it’s completely irrelevant.”
Instead Hassailbank is far more comfortable talking about the positives of managing in England and why he feels he has so much to offer. “I want to pursue my career in England if the right job becomes available. I have an English wife and my children are being educated through the English system. I think people still see me is a foreigner but I have been in England since 1997 and most of my career has been spent in this country.
“Naturally I’m very ambitious and I believe I have a great deal to offer. I realise competition is very fierce but I believe I bring something entirely different to the table.
“I can speak five languages and I have worked under some of the top managers in the game. The likes of George Graham, Louis can Gaal, Guus Hiddink, Claudio Ranieri and Frank Rijkaard.
“It’s enabled me to study the way they manage and benefit from their valuable insight into the game. Needless to say I am very much my own man. Yes, I’m confident but I have worked hard to attain my coaching badges and I am continuing to learn and educate myself.
“I have a great deal of admiration for Steve McLaren, who I worked with at Nottingham Forest and consider to be one of the best English coaches in the game.
“I like his philosophy on football, the way his team plays, his faith in young talented players. He constantly analyses the way his teams play and has incredible attention to detail on and off the pitch.”
Hasselbaink’s early foray into coaching started at Conference side Woking in 2009. He went on to work with Chelsea’s under-16 squad and coached at the Nike Academy while taking his Uefa B and A licences.
In July 2011 he joined the coaching staff at Forest but left in January 2013 to become manager of Antwerp in Belgium, a post he left at the end of last season after turning down a new deal. “I worked at Antwerp under very difficult circumstances but it gave me invaluable experience and a greater appetite to manage.
“But in all honesty I was literally doing everything and without help, which the club couldn’t really afford to give me, it was difficult to do a really good job.
“Needless to say, if anything, it has made me even more ambitious,” he adds. “I’m not asking for any favours, I’m just simply asking for the opportunity to sit in front of the people that matter at football clubs and let them draw their own conclusions whether I’m good.”Reuse content