In the final installment of the series The Panenka looks at the coaches of Group F containing Austria, Hungary, Iceland and Portugal. This crop of managers contains a footballing visionary who is literally writing the book for the future of football in his country.
Marcel Koller, Austria – Koller played his entire career for Swiss club Grasshoppers where he won the Swiss title seven times as a player. The figurehead of Austria’s resurrection was greeted with skepticism due to his Swiss nationality. After World Cup 2014, Koller actually rejected an offer to manage his native Switzerland instead choosing to sign a contract extension with Austria. In doing so he has dragged Austria to an all-time high in the FIFA rankings. Strangely, after securing qualification for Euro 2016 he turned up at the following press conference munching on a baguette wearing a beret (pictured above). Errr, I don’t get it either.
Bernd Storck, Hungary – With his experience coaching in Germany, Greece and Kazakhstan, Storck was tasked in 2013 to implement and evolve an existing strategy to improve the standards of Hungarian football. Storck co-wrote the strategy document entitled ‘The Decade of Revival’ with the target of qualifying for the 2020 European Championships. As part of the changes, Hungary copied academy models from France and England, but Storck hopes to emulate a German model with high-quality coaching available through regional football centers. He is a visionary in the mould of the great Hungarians from the 1930s when ‘The Danubian School of Football’ inspired the nation to produce some of the greats of the pre-and-post war game – like 1954 World Cup finalists Ferenc Puskas and the original ‘false-nine’ Nándor Hidegkuti. We at The Panenka are desperate to see how this pans out.
Lars Lagerbäck and Heimir Hallgrímsson, Iceland – We are not exactly sure when co-managers became a thing again but in a boardroom at the Icelandic Football Association it must have seemed like a good at the time, it hasn’t let them down yet so hats off to them. The relationship sees Largerback wear the trousers while Hallgrimmsson is very much a supporting actor in this Oscar nominated underdog tale. Lagerbeck, formerly an international coach with Sweden and Nigeria, has already announced he will be leaving his post after the Euros.
Fernando Santos, Portugal – Despite being banned from the touchline for eight competitive matches for a verbally abusive outburst while in the Greece dug out during the 2014 World Cup last-16 knockout matchup against Costa Rica, Santos was appointed the Portugal boss in September 2014. Santos did mange to keep his temper when he witnessed his side lose 2-0 to Cape Verde at home in a charity match.