Many of the managers and coaches at the World Cup are experienced campaigners who’ve seen it all before. The likes of Capello, Lippi and Eriksson had successful club careers before taking on the challenges of international football.
Paul Le Guen, on the other hand, probably didn’t expect to be in charge of a national team at this stage of his career. Whether he will remain in the job after Cameroon’s early exit from the competition remains to be seen.
Just five years ago, Lyon had won their fourth straight Ligue 1 title, the third in a row with Le Guen in charge. Considered to be one of Europe’s top young managers, Le Guen reportedly had offers to move to Benfica or Lazio, but instead decided to take over at Rangers in 2006.
What may, on paper, have looked like a stepping stone to a top job in England proved to be anything but. At Lyon, Le Guen’s focus was solely on coaching the first team, and he had no involvement with the signing of new players. Le Guen’s inexperience in the transfer market was shown at Ibrox, with some poor signings including a bizarre triple swoop from Austria Vienna, and Rangers quickly fell behind Celtic in the title race.
Some shocking results were compounded by Le Guen clashing with captain Barry Ferguson , striker Kris Boyd and even the club doctor. Le Guen’s position became untenable and he left after only 7 months in the job.
Next was a season and a half at Paris St Germain, where Le Guen starred as a player in the 1990’s. Despite helping PSG to avoid relegation, his contract was not renewed in 2009.
So where does he go from here? It looks likely that Le Guen will leave the Cameroon role, and already there is talk of him taking over as coach of Australia. Given the battering his reputation has taken since leaving Lyon, Le Guen has to ensure his next move is the right one, particularly if he has any aspirations of returning to the top level of European club football.
It’s difficult to comprehend that a man who, only 5 years ago had such a bright future, is now battling to save his career.