Is the recently sacked Croatia boss due a return to Pride Park?
The former Derby legend has missed out on automatic qualification for the World Cup, and despite obtaining a play-off place has found himself out of the job.
The reason being for a number of ‘poor results’ but it was never an easy group and certainly not one Croatia should have expected to finish top with the likes of Belgium also in the same group. The loss to Belgium on Friday night was the final nail in the coffin as automatic qualification was concerned losing 2-1, with Niko Kranjcar scoring the goal for Croatia.
The result against Scotland would have been a bitter pill to swallow for the officials in the Croatian camp with a farcical 2-0 loss to down and out Scotland.
When the noises came out that Igor Stimac was finished with Croatia, the thoughts of many Derby fans and journalist took to social networking site about the possibility of Igor Stimac coming in as Director of Football at Derby County. The role had previously been linked to former Cardiff head of recruitment Ian Moody. There were people putting forward the idea of a coaching job at the Pride Park club, which all seems exciting but is it reasonable?
Ever since the Ted McMinn testimonial where the former Derby and Croatia captain said he had ‘’unfinished business’’ with Derby County he has been touted for just about every job that lined up at Pride Park.
There have been several cries for him to be manager on a number of occasions that were at their loudest when Paul Jewell was sacked. When Nigel Clough was sacked, people were still convinced he would be the man to take us forward but Steve McClaren was appointed within days of Clough’s sacking so that quashed the cries pretty quickly.
Since Steve McClaren was asked to do the Derby job he has seemed to have a ‘’let’s get the band back together’’ attitude. Firstly appointing Baseball Ground terrace favourite Paul Simpson who had been manager of several football league clubs and even more impressively, Eric Steele the former Manchester United goalkeeping coach who was at Derby back in the late 90s.
In the first couple of interviews McClaren has touted Stimac’s name and reminiscing about the days when he was assistant manager and Derby County were battling for a European place with ‘exciting’ players like Stimac in the side. He obviously has a lot of fond memories of the man, but would he want another ex-manager around? Too many opinions can lead to disruption.
Whether or not Igor wants to come back is another question. He has just left a very high profile job at one of the top footballing countries in the world. He has also managed large teams in his native country, so does playing second fiddle at a mid-table championship club actually seem like a reasonable move for the man?
There is no doubts that the relationship between player and club are very strong and have been for years. One of my favourite stories in football involved Stimac and a man who had fallen ill whilst on holiday in May 2011.
A 74 year old Derby season ticket holder fell ill while on a coach trip and had to undergo emergency surgery in Split. Unable to arrange travel his son wrote to Stimac as he was the only person in Croatia he knew. Stimac then travelled over 100 miles to visit the man in hospital and was quoted as saying ‘’It made me feel sad when I heard about it because they were supposed to be on holiday.
I went along to see if there was anything I could help with and perhaps pay a little bit back from my time at Derby’’ The fan and Stimac then spoke for hours about the club, the sport and memories of games he had played in. A very beautiful story that is considered unthinkable in modern game, and shows that some ‘clubmen’ are still about.
The club have done a lot recently to respect the memory of Igor Stimac and have actually put a 30ft poster on the side of the stadium with him donning the Derby shirt in 1998. He is also invited back a lot to watch games, and offer his opinion to the local media.
So, back to the original question – is it reasonable? I believe so, hopefully the romance of the game could bring him back to where his journey started in English football and Steve McClaren jumps at the chance to bring back a Derby legend.
Any opinion the possible return of Igor Stimac? please feel free to comment below.
image: © jasonparis