The newly appointed Super Eagles manager has a less than stellar managerial record, and this may be an indicator of rough times ahead
The Nigeria Football Federation on Tuesday announced the two-year signing of German Gernot Rohr to take over the vacant post of the Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser.
Rohr, having apparently met the NFF’s conditions for the job, is tasked with ensuring Nigeria’s safe passage to the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia from a qualifying group of Algeria, Zambia and Cameroon.
Rohr had a playing career that spanned 17 years, 12 of which were spent in France with Bordeaux.
The 63-year-old arrives as a little unknown manager, without much fanfare and, perhaps it is understandable given his past coaching record.
Rohr has managed a number of teams – club and country – from Bordeaux, Nice, Young Boys, Ajaccio, Etoile du Sahel, Nantes, Gabon, and Niger to Burkina Faso. He has stayed in his job for more than a year only three times, as his managerial career is punctuated by sackings and fall-outs with the hierarchy.
When he was dismissed by Etoile in 2009 after his team’s dire performance on the last day of the league season handed the title to their rivals Esperance, the Tunisian club emphatically condemned the manager.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we can’t even have one more training session with him, especially from the standpoint of player discipline and the style of play,” club spokesman Taoufik Gahbiche said in a radio interview.
“If we didn’t have the CAF Champions League obligations then he wouldn’t have even stayed this long.”
The Tunisian giants were especially critical of the German’s inability to grasp the realities of the league as well as failure to curb player indiscipline.
Nantes also pulled the plug on the coach’s time with them after just six months. The manager was appointed in June 2009 following its relegation to Ligue 2, and he arrived promising a swift return to the top flight. Things quickly turned sour and he was sacked in December.
Rohr, it turned out, had a major falling out with the sporting adviser Gilles Favard whom he accused of interfering with his squad and disrupting plans.
“Our work had been successful at first. We still had a run of eleven unbeaten games. We were on the right track before being destabilised by the actions of the sports adviser [Favard], who caused us problems. It completely disrupted our plans,” Rohr said two months after his dismissal.
There also appeared to be a fall-out with football administrators after his 2014 resignation from his post as Niger national team coach.
With two games to spare in the qualifying rounds for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, Rohr’s Niger had lost three of their four games, losing the other, and the German tactician resigned.
“I'm primarily responsible for these (bad) results. But I have not been happy with the means at my disposal to prepare the team, including logistical problems,” he explained.
Rohr, however, has had some fine moments as a manager, with the highlight coming in 1996 when he led Bordeaux to the final of the Uefa Cup which they lost 6-1 over two legs to Bayern Munich.
That Bordeaux side had the talents of the great Zinedane Zidane, Christophe Dugarry and Bixente Lizarazu. The high point of that run was the quarterfinal defeat of AC Milan 3-2 on aggregate, which was more impressive given Milan won the first leg and Rohr oversaw a stunning 3-0 home win.
Rohr was also manager of Gabon when they hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 and made it to the quarterfinal before being eliminated by Mali on penalties.
The German led Burkina Faso to the final phase of World Cup 2018 qualifying before departing for 'personal and professional reasons', which suggests he has a reasonable grasp of African football.
History suggests Rohr might struggle as Nigeria boss given his chequered past in his previous jobs, but it would be unwise to simply judge his book by its cover. If it turns sour, however, we should not be surprised; his CV has told us all we need to know.