Tuesday, November 8, 2011

8 November 2007 - Ruud Rules The Galaxy

On 8 November 2007, Ruud Gullit took over as head coach of the LA Galaxy, becoming the highest-paid manager in MLS history. But his tenure lasted just over nine months.

Gullit, the 1987 Ballon d'Or winner who starred as a player for PSV Eindhoven and AC Milan, had a checkered past as a manager, with short spells at Chelsea (1996-98), Newcastle (1998-99), and Feyenoord (2004-05) all ending in disappointment. He had been out of football for two years before joining the Galaxy, noting in his initial press conference that "Just a week ago I was on holiday in the Dominican Republic when I was asked if I would like this job, so it's happened very quickly." Nevertheless, LA signed him to a 3-year contract worth $2 million per year, the highest salary of any MLS manager up to that point.

It was later revealed that the decision to hire Gullit originated from the camp of newly-signed David Beckham, via his personal manager Terry Byrne and his management company, 19 Entertainment, bypassing the club's general manager, Alexi Lalas.

It did not take long for things to start falling apart. In January 2008, on Gullit's personal recommendation, the Galaxy signed Newcastle left back Celestine Babayaro to a 3-year deal. But the club waived him two months later after the Nigerian international proved unable or unwilling to adapt to his new surroundings. He had made only one appearance for the Galaxy, a preseason friendly against FC Seoul in which he conceded a penalty and received a yellow card in only 45 minutes of playing time. Gullit's relationship with other players--including Abel Xavier, Peter Vagenas, and star Landon Donovan--soured and the club's performances began to suffer as well. They endured a seven-match winless streak that culminated with Gullit's resignation on 11 August 2008.

In January 2011, Gullit returned to management, signing a 1.5-year contract with Russian Premier League club Terek Grozny, but was sacked just six months later after winning only three matches.


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