Littbarski’s ‘unfinished business’ at Sydney

SYDNEY FC chairman Scott Barlow might not know it but arguably the best candidate for the club’s vacant coaching job is only a phone call away.

Fairfax understands that Pierre Littbarski, the man who guided the Sky Blues to their championship triumph in season one of the A-League, is willing to make a move back to the harbour city.

Sydney FC’s board will meet on Saturday morning in Brisbane where a list of candidates will be presented by chief executive Tony Pignata, who has been flooded with inquiries from around the world.

Names linked with the vacant position so far include former Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick, ex-Chelsea boss Avram Grant and one-time coach of the Socceroos Frank Farina.

However, Littbarski boasts the rare combination of understanding the demands of coaching Sydney FC, an international pedigree and a desire to work here.

After being informed the Sydney FC position had become open following Ian Crook’s departure, Littbarski said he was “very interested” in returning to Sydney and – most tantalisingly – that he had “unfinished business”.

Getting the 1990 World Cup-winning midfielder to come back would be a significant coup for the club as he remains a well-regarded coach with a reputation for being highly-organised and for having a strong tactical background.

He would need to negotiate a release from his contract at Bundesliga club Wolfsburg, where he is chief scout. However, this is

thought to be a formality should Sydney FC make an offer. The 52-year-old was assistant coach at Wolfsburg between 2010 and last year. When manager Steve McClaren was sacked in February last year, Littbarski briefly took over in a caretaker role before Felix Magath was appointed.

After leaving Sydney, the former FC Koln star coached in Japan, Switzerland and Iran before joining the staff at Wolfsburg. Still regarded as the best coach to have taken the reins at the Sky Blues, Littbarski made a surprise exit after the first season, despite agreeing to new terms on a return for the second campaign.

In season one, he turned a squad brimming with big names – which earned the club the tag ”Bling FC” – into a battle-hardened unit, one that would go all the way and win the title.

Ironically, his assistant at the time was Crook, whom he would replace this time around.

Crucially, Littbarski was able to handle the hype that came with managing Sydney FC and embraced all elements of the role, including the off-field distractions that accompanied being the A-League’s glamour club.

The German coach proved a deft touch at handling the larger-than-life personality of Dwight Yorke and got the best out of the former Manchester United star – so much so that the club was able to sell him for $500,000 to Sunderland after one season.

If Littbarski were to take the job, that experience would hold him in good stead to deal with the interest surrounding Italian star Alessandro Del Piero, who has put Sydney FC on the global map since joining the club at the start of the season.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block is money. Littbarski earned $700,000 in his first season with the Sky Blues but would have to accept much less this time around.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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