How can Macedonia attract a quality manager?

The starters versus BelarusMost of the coaching candidates being linked with Macedonia are has-beens who are not in tune with the modern game.

Being a football coach is like other professions. You must keep up with the latest trends and innovations, or face becoming irrelevant. The game is constantly evolving and it takes a coach who is not afraid to admit they don’t know it all to be successful.

Take into consideration Safet Sušić, one of the names being linked with Macedonia. Sure, he took Bosnia to the World Cup, but he was despised prior to his sacking. He simply refused to adapt. Bosnian media reported that he was against watching tape on opponents. How can that be? This is the 21st century. There are few pushovers in world football, even so called minnows like Andorra, Faroe Islands and Luxembourg play organized football and can be difficult to break down. Sušić paid for his arrogance by losing at home to Cyprus. Keep in mind he was leading a Bosnian side that had many players in the top five European leagues, while Macedonia has none (Noveski plays in Germany but he is retired from the national team).

That’s a big problem for the old guard among coaches in the Balkan region. They feel that a simple pep talk will be enough to motivate the team. But, it doesn’t work that way, at least not in today’s game. You can’t underestimate any opponent, or you will be humbled as we have seen over and over again.

That’s why I bring up the question, “what’s the point of hiring a retread as manager?” That’s what many of the names being linked with Macedonia are. How can they grow with Macedonia when many of them view this as a money grab, similar to John Toshack. He was never serious about the job. He refused to scout players and only came to Macedonia several days before a game. I mean that’s disrespectful to the game and the country you’re managing. The national team is the pride and joy of any footballing fan. You can root for Vardar, Pelister or Rabotnichki, but those same fans will ALL root for Macedonia. The same can be said for other countries around the world.

Besides Sušić, other names being linked are Hristo Stoichkov, Ivan Pudar, Zlatko Kranjčar and Dragoljub Bekvalac. Pardon me, but these guys look like John Toshack 2.0. They are 50+, know little about Macedonian football and are stuck in their outdated ways.

Being a good player doesn’t translate to being a good coach. And, it’s easy to see why. When you’re a great player, things come easy. So, it often leads to frustration when you see that players can’t do the things that you are accustomed to. In other words, most of the time, that coach who was a great footballer can’t relate with every player on the roster. Meanwhile, a player who worked his tail off just to make a roster understands the importance of hard work and grinding. That’s why many of the successful coaches in sports happen to be guys who were never good as players.

Macedonia needs a long-term answer, someone with energy who can grow with the team. It needs someone who is all in and will work tirelessly to improve the fortunes of the national team. An up-and-comer in his late 30’s/early 40’s would be better than settling for a retread hire. It’s tough for coaches in their 50’s or 60’s to relate with today’s players. It’s a different time and environment with the growth of social media and personal branding. The old-school approach can really backfire.

Now, what can Macedonia offer to a coach that fits those requirements? Money always plays a major factor, but look at it this way. It’s better to pony up some extra money to get the right coach, than opt for a cheaper option. That usually leads to an early termination and you will still owe the coach the rest of his salary, ala what has happened with Boshko Gjurovski. The Macedonian federation has reported that financially they are doing fine (mostly by receiving their share from FIFA and UEFA), so getting this coaching hire right is paramount.

How do you guys feel on this issue? Do any of the coaches mentioned above excite you, or do we agree it’s better not to hire a retread? If the latter, what are some younger coaches that would be realistic targets for the job?

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