Bert van Marwijk has emerged as a potential target to become the UAE’s next coach if a sizeable difference in wage demands can be bridged, his work successfully transforming all levels of Saudi Arabian football making the beaten World Cup 2010 finalist of particular interest.
Van Marwijk, 65, surprisingly became available two weeks ago after a serious fracture in the relationship between himself and the Green Falcons hierarchy followed the attainment of World Cup 2018 qualification. This led to Argentine Edgardo Bauza’s shock defection across the border from the Emirates following only three mixed competitive matches in charge.
A job swap is now possible as the UAE Football Association’s three-man panel attempt to identify the man to lead the nation on home soil at the 2019 Asian Cup. If the ex-Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund and Hamburg tactician is recruited, a takeover could occur in a bid to replicate the success experienced by the Saudi Football Federation under technical director Jan van Winckel and Under-23 boss Adrie Koster – a post that is also empty after Hassan Al Abdouli failed to make the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship.
The main competition comes from ex-Al Wahda, Japan and Mexico boss Javier Aguirre. Former United States and Germany supremo Jurgen Klinsmann was also a target in the wake of Mahdi Ali’s March resignation, along with Peru tactician Ricardo Gareca.
Their pursuit of No1 pick Cosmin Olaroiu of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club has proven impossible once again. They are unable to match the reputed €6.5 million (Dh28.5m) to be paid in the final year of the Romanian’s deal at his current employers.
Remuneration is a significant hurdle for the Whites.
All their main European options demand a rate far higher than the $4m agreed with Bauza, which would have paid him and his staff until February 2019.
Van Marwijk alone earned €2.2m (Dh9.7m) a year with the Saudis and wants a raise to €3m (Dh13.2m). Klinsmann is holding out for a €5m (Dh22m) annual package.
But a deal with Van Marwijk is a tantalising one. The highlight of his spell with the Netherlands from 2008-12 was leading them to a 1-0 extra-time loss in the global showpiece against Spain seven years ago.
The Saudis were transformed by him upon arrival in August 2015. He earned a first World Cup entry since 2006 this month, also edging the UAE out of the picture.
But the SFF’s unilateral sacking of several staff members and Van Marwijk’s refusal to spend 23 days a month in the Kingdom saw talks about a contract renewal terminated.
Former Al Wahda and Mexico coach Javier Aguirre has emerged as a potential option to lead the UAE on home soil at the 2019 Asian Cup.
The Whites are currently searching for a new boss after Argentine Edgardo Bauza shockingly moved to World Cup 2018 qualifiers Saudi Arabia last Thursday after only three competitive matches.
An emergency board meeting was held by the UAE Football Association on Tuesday, the identity of a successor one of several issues up for discussion. Trophy-hoarding Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club supremo Cosmin Olaroiu remains their No1 pick, but the Romanian both distanced himself from the job at the weekend and has one year remaining on his contract worth a reputed €6.5 million (Dh28.5m) per annum.
This has presented an opportunity for other candidates. Aguirre, 58, is unattached following an exit from the Clarets in the wake of May’s victory in the President’s Cup final and ex-Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka, 44, has also expressed an interest through his agents at DNN Sport.
According to Spanish media, the pair have turned down the chance this week to takeover pointless La Liga-strugglers Alaves.
Aguirre fulfils much of the criteria laid out when the governing body was searching for a successor to Mahdi Ali in the wake of March’s resignation. They coveted a Latin American coach, with experience of international football.
The ex-Atletico Madrid tactician led Mexico to second-round exits at the 2002 and 2010 World Cups. He would go on to resign from Japan in the wake of the UAE’s quarter-final victory against the Samurai Blue at the 2015 Asian Cup.
His candidature is further strengthened by a firm grasp of English and time leading Wahda from 2015-17, a run including victories in the 2015/16 Arabian Gulf Cup and 2016/17 President’s Cup.
Emerging Emirati talents such as forward Mohamed Al Akbari, defender Ahmed Rashed and attacker Mohammed Al Hammadi featured regularly under him.
But he was let go by Wahda after he could only finish a distant fifth in the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League. Aguirre also stressed a desire to spend time with his family once he departed Abu Dhabi.
Another option is the combined team of Karanka and Spain Under-17 coach Santi. They would offer a project for the future, plus their joint wage would be less than the $4m a year agreed to by Bauza.
Karanka was assistant to Jose Mourinho from 2010-13 at Real Madrid, a club he previously played for.
Striking out on his own, he gained promotion for Middlesbrough while there from 2013-17. He departed by mutual consent in March after a difficult return to the Premier League.
The UAE currently have no friendlies booked for the next international break from October 2-10. Their failure to make World Cup 2018 was confirmed this month.
The UAE face a tough challenge once again to convince reluctant Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club coach Cosmin Olaroiu to lead them on home soil at the 2019 Asian Cup, following Edgardo Bauza’s shocking defection to Saudi Arabia late on Thursday night.
A surprise chain of events has led to tumultuous change in the Arabian Gulf. Enraged Dutchman Bert van Marwijk terminated talks about a contract renewal just a week since qualifying his adopted nation to World Cup 2018 after an epic fallout with the Saudi Football Federation about their reportedly unilateral decision to dismiss members of his coaching staff, plus a dogged reluctance to live in the Kingdom.
This astonishing development saw them move for Bauza. He took the UAE post in May on a one-a-half-year deal after his sacking by Argentina, with a press conference only held on Tuesday in which he mapped out the future alongside senior UAE Football Association officials in the wake of the disappointing failure to make 2018’s global tournament.
Without the knowledge of Van Marwijk, harmonious negotiations between the two governing bodies reached a swift conclusion that ensured El Paton’s spell in charge of the Whites has finished after three competitive games – June’s 1-1 draw in Thailand, plus this month’s 2-1 victory against the Saudis and 1-0 loss to Iraq. Into this vacuum, Olaroiu, 48, has emerged as the governing body’s overwhelming No1 pick.
ترسيخًا لمبدأ الوحدة الخليجية وتعزيز التعاون بين الاتحادين، وافق الإتحاد الإماراتي على طلب الاتحاد السعودي بالتعاقد مع المدرب إدغاردو باوزا pic.twitter.com/ms6PeGaZ1z
— uaefa (@uaefa_ae) September 14, 2017
He is held in the highest regard following stints with Al Ain and – the now defunct – Al Ahli which have seen 10 pieces of silverware lifted during six years in the Emirates.
Another advantage for Olaroiu is the deep links he has forged while successfully coaching the majority of the current UAE squad at various junctures. These include 2016 AFC Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman, 2015 recipient Ahmed Khalil and key centre-back Ismail Ahmed.
He was shortlisted as a replacement for Mahdi Ali once he resigned in March, although a concentration on club commitments prevailed.
This stance looks to be repeated less than six months later.
سعادة خليفة سليمان رئيس اللجنة العليا للدمج يشهد ختام تحضيرات # شباب_الأهلي لمواجهة حتا في دوري الخليج العربي مساء اليوم pic.twitter.com/tfoLDdCyMG
— نادي شباب الأهلي دبي (@alahlicclub) September 15, 2017
Olaroiu currently holds no desire to manage another national team. A group-stage exit was incurred when on loan with the Saudis for the 2015 Asian Cup.
An intent to explore heading back to Europe when his reputed €6.5 million (Dh28.6m) per annum deal expires at Shabab Al Ahli next summer was also cited at the time.
Such figures appear far beyond the budget of the UAE. Bauza was contracted for just $4m a year.
Frustrations about an inability to complete any incoming transactions at his merged club are not currently large enough to force an exit.
One alternative target could be respected ex-Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka.
Shabab Al Ahli today kick-off their 2017/18 Arabian Gulf League commitments at home to Hatta.