In 2004 Claude Anelka put out an offer to football clubs. He would give them a £300,000 investment to become their manager.
The brother of the rather better known Nicolas, Claude was a football agent and a DJ, with some semi-pro experience as a player in France. He was quoted at the time as being fed up with the “crazy things” he saw as an agent in football and wanted to go into management. He had no senior coaching experience.
So, with no track record to speak of, only one Club was stupid enough to accept – Raith Rovers FC – and his appointment, along with other factors, was nearly the death of them.
All hail King Claude – East Fife hero!
Appointed both Manager and Director of Football at Starks Park for the 2004/2005 season, he was in the hotseat for a grand total of 8 games, managing just one solitary point in the process, leaving them firmly rooted at the bottom of the Scottish First Division (they eventually got relegated, thirty points away from safety).
There were a slew of strange signings. Unknown players, with no pedigree that anyone in Scotland knew of. Some of them were even from the Paris 7-a-side League!
He was removed from his role as Manager of Raith in September but continued in his role as Director of Football. This itself only lasted a matter of a few more weeks and by the end of October he was gone from Stark Park, the Club was in serious trouble and the Rovers Board was in turmoil.
His departure was much to the relief of the Raith fans and the hilarity of the East Fife ones.
When he left he was quoted as saying “It has been very hard to listen to the abuse and jeering that the fans showered upon me, week in, week out”.
He then pretty much disappered from the radar, although did pop up to manage French youth side FC Trappes. I’m sure there were others dotted about.
In May 2008, the Guardian newspaper named him as one of the ten worst football managers of all time (see HERE).
Quite an accolade! Surely with that kind of track record no one would give him the chance as a manager again. Well, apparently someone would!
Step forward new NASL expansion side AC St Louis.
Anelka was appointed their new Head Coach in December last year. He hasn’t brought over a bunch of Frenchies to the new St Louis squad, like I thought he might, but he has already made his hilarious mark in the team’s first competitive match at the weekend away to the Carolina Railhawks.
So let’s look at the situation. It’s your team’s first ever League match. In fact, it’s the team’s first every competitive match in their history. You want to make an impression. Well, Claude certainly did that!
With the game approaching kick off and the teamsheets already handed in, the referee was checking each players ID cards (as required in the League there). Slight problem. St Louis player, the experienced Manuel Kante, had left his ID card at the team’s hotel!
So Claude was faced with some decisions.
As the teamsheets were already submitted with Kante’s name on them it was too late to switch players and have Kante on the bench. He could be subbed out though as soon as the match kicked off, leaving St Louis at full strength. In the NASL/USL each team is allowed five subs anyway, so no big deal.
The other, ridiculous, option would be to start the game with ten men until Kante could recover the ID from the hotel, return to the stadium and join in the game.
I know, I know, it’s a no brainer.
Well, apparently not, as Claude chose option two!!!
Kante eventually got his ID, satisfied everything to the ref that he could play and came on after around thirty minutes! Yes, THIRTY!!! By the time he came on, Claude’s masterstroke had seen his team go two down after goals in the 4th and 28th minutes, and they went on to lose their first match by that exact 2-0 scoreline.
You couldn’t make this up! It looks like it’s going to be a fun season in store for St Louis fans. You’ll need to follow him!
Claude and his team will be coming to my Vancouver Whitecaps a week on Saturday. I don’t know whether to abuse him or sing his praises for fucking up Raith.