Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Egil Olsen Day Redux

Long-term TSP fans may remember the short lived July 1st phenomenon of paying tribute to the Norweigan manager who brought gumboot wearing Marxism to British football, and promptly got relegated. You may have pined (like a parrot for the fjords) for news about what the man affectionately known as Drillo was doing these days.

Good news. Egil is back. Bad news, he’s in trouble. As an additional bonus the article contains a last line that makes me want to simultaneously cry and throw up.

Norwegian Egil Olsen has yet to be informed whether he has been fired as coach of Iraq and remains keen to continue working with the Asian champions.

“I’m still waiting to hear I’ve been sacked, I haven’t heard a word yet, no phone call, no email, no letter,” Olsen told Reuters by telephone from his home in Norway on Monday.

“I was told last week that the speculation was nonsense. I would like to continue working with Iraq, we have a good team, we have come so far.”

Basem al-Rubaie, the deputy head of the Iraqi Football Union (IFU), told Reuters on Sunday the IFU board had unanimously agreed to dispense with Olsen for refusing to coach the team in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Olsen, who was in charge for only three competitive games — none of which were defeats — said Iraq had agreed he would not have to train the team inside the war-torn country.

“In the first meeting we had, we agreed, many times, there would be no need for me to go into Iraq,” said the 65-year-old, who steered Norway to two consecutive World Cup finals and second in the FIFA rankings.

“It’s strange, because most of the players are outside Iraq.”

He poured scorn on suggestions by Rubaie that the IFU board were concerned about his health.

“I’ve never felt so fresh, this is not true,” he said. “I had minor back surgery but I have no health problems at all.”

In a recent interview, the former boss of now-defunct English side Wimbledon FC said he was prepared for the cut-throat hire-and-fire culture of Middle East soccer and knew he had a only limited time to prove himself.

If you ask me, and speaking of Iraq as we were, the Americans went after the wrong people. If only they’d invaded, captured and killed everyone who was responsible for Wimbledon being moved to Milton Kunt then the world would undoubtedly be a better place.