Since there's one managerial candidate out there that we now know we've had actual discussions with, we figured we better prioritize getting everyone up to speed on him.
Murat Yakin, manager FC Basel
Career record: 107 W - 63 D - 54 L for a career winning percentage of 47.8%.
Accomplishments: At just 39 years old, Yakin has climbed the coaching ladder quickly. He started out managing a fifth division team in Switzerland before he was hired to coach Grasshopper's reserves, who play in the third tier of Swiss football. He then coached FC Thun and FC Luzern before taking over at Basel in 2012. He's already won a Swiss Super League title, made a run to the Europa League semifinals -- beating Spurs in the process -- and just barely missed out on advancing from a very tough Champions League group this year while recording a win over Chelsea.
Before he was manager: Yakin's playing experience outside of his home country was minimal, but he was thought of as one of his nation's best central defenders while he played and was capped 49 times by Switzerland. Besides his runs with Grasshopper and Basel, he had a long spell at Fenerbahce and season-long stints at Stuttgart and Kaiserslautern, both while they were playing in the top flight.
Tactical analysis: Yakin doesn't have a signature and adjusts his formation and tactics based on the personnel that he has available to him and what his opposition does well. He's used 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 formations on a very regular basis. It's my guess -- though I certainly can't know this for certain -- that he only uses 4-4-2 as frequently as he does because target man Marco Streller is best suited to playing with a partner. He also has a couple of extremely versatile midfielders in Fabian Frei and Marcelo Diaz that allow him to do just about anything he wants to do.
In the Champions League, against teams stronger than them, Basel has done a lot of sitting back and looking to play quickly on the break. Against Steaua Bucharest and average Europa League opposition, they get some numbers forward and keep the ball in their opposition's half pretty well.
If your biggest problem with AVB was that he was dogmatic in his approach and not great at changing his tactics based on his opposition or the personnel available to him, you'll like Yakin.
What else can he bring to the table? This is a great question, but one that our staff is admittedly unqualified to answer. We've seen Basel play in Champions League and Europa League enough to have some idea of what we'd expect a Yakin-coached team to look like week-to-week on the pitch, but his talent-spotting and youth-developing credentials are tough to verify. Basel has signed some excellent under-the-radar players, but how much of that has to do with him and how much has to do with the system the club has in place? He has experience coaching youth teams, but is he a developer of young talent? If Tim Sherwood keeps his job, does this matter? Hopefully we learn a lot more about Yakin's non-tactical credentials if he really is a candidate for the job.
What's the catch? He's never managed outside of Switzerland and has limited playing experience at what we could truly consider the highest level of the game. He played in Turkey, but certainly isn't as worldly in his footballing experience as other potential candidates who have been mentioned. The good news is that Switzerland is about as good of a country for a one-country coach to be from. He's played with and coached Swiss players who are culturally French, Italian, German, Slavic and who knows what else. It's a melting pot of the surrounding cultures, and therefore also a melting pot of the surrounding footballing cultures. He might have trouble adjusting to England, but he probably has enough experience with varying cultures that he can figure it out.
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- Waving goodbye to Andre Villas-Boas, who was never the best man for the job