Big-name manager Michael Laudrup will take over the reins of Qatar Stars League champions Al Rayyan, the club’s management announced yesterday.
Former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Laudrup will replace Jorge Fossati, who was appointed as coach of Qatar’s national team over the weekend.
“The board of Al Rayyan football club have reached an agreement with Denmark’s Michael Laudrup to be the manager of the club,” read a statement on the club’s website.
“It is expected that Laudrup will arrive in Doha within the next few hours to officially sign the contract.”
Laudrup, previously the coach at English Premier League team Swansea City, beat off competition from former Tottenham manager Christian Gross, according to another statement on the club’s website posted earlier in the day.
With Rayyan returning to the Champions League for this season, Laudrup’s experience with Lekhiwya was seen as vital by the club management.
The 52-year-old had a successful outing with Lekhwiya in his previous stint as a QSL manager. He guided the Red Knights to the QSL title in the 2014-15 season where Lekhwiya wrapped up the title with one match day to spare. They finished five points ahead of second-placed Al Sadd and also finished with an impressive goal difference of 34. In the AFC Champions League, Laudrup’s boys reached the quarter-finals where they lost to Saudi’s Al Hilal 6-3 over a two-legged tie.
With the appointment of Laudrup, Rayyan have found an able replacement for Fossati. The Uruguayan had delivered the title in emphatic fashion last season, winning their first QSL crown in over 20 years, finishing 14 points ahead of second-placed El Jaish.
After that blazing run to the title, Rayyan seem to be suffering a slump in form and didn’t go on to claim all the silverware available last season, as was expected of them. This season they won their first match comfortably against newly-promoted Shahania. But they were held to a goalless draw against Umm Salal. Two matches and they find themselves two points adrift of the other title contenders – Lekhwiya, El Jaish and Al Sadd, who have a perfect record so far.
Of course, it’s ridiculously early in the season to be making any sort of inference but with the league title seemingly a four-horse race all the way to the finish, Laudrup will have little or no time getting the defending champions running like a champion mare.
Rayyan fans are a demanding lot and after having made a dramatic re-entry to the QSL last season, they will be expecting a second title and even a strong run in the Asian Champions League which will begin in February 2017.
© Gulf Times Newspaper 2019