New Men at the Top

Managerial changes are frequent in Turkey. Many clubs have around three changes in a single season and it is rare for a club to stick with just one manager for a single season. Reasons for this recurring hiring and firing include club mismanagement and pressure from the fans. Managers in Turkey are often expected to work miracles in a very short amount of time. However at the start of the season, most teams will be optimistic and appoint long-term options, hoping these managers can carry them to success.


Fenerbahce – Aykut Kocaman

Just one of Turkey’s ‘Big Three’ has changed their manager this summer, and in doing so kept up a tradition of hiring a new manager every off-season. Since the summer of 2013, Fener have appointed a new man to lead their team every summer. Each has only lasted a year. Ersun Yanal won the league with the Yellow Canaries in his first season but in the summer of 2014 he was replaced with long-term Fenerbahce assistant manager Ismail Kartal. Kartal’s side finished 2nd and reached the Cup semi-finals and he was replaced by the Portuguese tactician Vitor Pereira in 2015. Pereira had a side filled with investment, featuring Nani and Van Persie. He led the team to a second-place finish as well as finishing as runners-up in the Turkish Cup. It looked as if he would manage to make it further than just one season with the team, after taking charge of Fenerbahce’s UEFA Champions League qualifiers against Monaco. However the 2 legs would be Pereira’s only games in charge of the team, before he was forced out of the club. This decision was welcomed by many Fenerbahce fans who disliked Pereira’s defensive style of play and his decisions to keep star players on the bench. This put the Yellow Canaries in a precarious position, the beginning of the league just round the corner. Enter Dick Advocaat. The Dutchman signed a one-year deal with the side and not much was expected of him having taken over a team so late in the summer. A disappointimg season followed, Fenerbahce only managing to get 3rd, their worst finish since 08-09.

So in this off-season, Fenerbahce re-signed the man who Ersun Yanal had replaced in the summer of 2013. Aykut Kocaman was Fenerbahce manager from 2010 to 2013 and scored over 150 goals for Fenerbahce in the nineties. Well known to the fans, Kocaman won 1 league title and 2 Turkish Cups in his time managing Fenerbahce, as well as guiding them to the Europa League semi-finals. In his time away from Fenerbahce, Kocaman enhanced his reputation as one of Turkey’s greatest managers, guiding Konyaspor to a 3rd place finish in 2015-16 and then winning the Turkish Cup with them in 2016-17, their first major silverware.

Aykut Kocaman is a wise appointment by Fenerbahce. The club is under FFP, so need to get the best out of the players they have, as well as making shrewd signings. Kocaman knows the Fenerbahce team and the Super Lig, so can do well if given the time he needs. Winning the league is something the Fener fans expect but will be a very tough task for Kocaman. His defensive style of play and the lack of a trophy come the end of the season could lead to many of the fans calling for his resignation.


Konyaspor – Mustafa Resit Akcay

At Konyaspor, there are some big boots to fill. Aykut Kocaman has left, the man who guided the Anatolian Eagles to their highest-ever league finish and their first piece of silverware in their history, in less than 3 seasons. Whilst the team know that someone replicating the success of Kocaman will be unlikely, they will hope that their new manager will be able to build on the success and the team that Kocaman has left behind.

With the appointment of Mustafa Resit Akcay, Konya have shown once again how they are one of the few Turkish teams that is managing their team well. With a career resembling that of a journeyman Turkish manager, Akcay’s breakthrough came in 2015. Appointed manager of the newly promoted Osmanlispor, Akcay lead the team to 5th, resulting in the team qualifying for Europe. The next season he then took the team through three qualifying rounds to reach the group stages of the Europa League. Osmanlispor then topped a group containing Steaua Bucharest, FC Zurich & Villarreal, before being knocked out to Olympiacos in the Round of 32.

Mustafa Resit Akcay is an ideal manager to lead Konyaspor in Europe and should do well with them in the league also and will likely play a more attacking style than Konyaspor were previously known for. He has the experience to lead Konya further in Europe, although how difficult a task this will be will be apparent once the group stage draw is made.


Bursaspor – Paul Le Guen

After a period of fluctuation, things have gone downhill for Bursaspor since their Super Lig title win in 2010. Last season they dramatically avoided relegation, managing to win away at Trabzon to ensure survival. In the 2014-15 season, current Besiktas manager Senol Gunes led Bursaspor to a 6th place finish and a Cup final playing some great attacking football. The team looked well placed to build on this hit the heights again. However many key players were sold, and Senol Gunes left for Besiktas. They were not adequately replaced. Bursa appointed former title-winning manager Ertugrul Saglam to the helm. His spell was short-lived, just 14 games. Ersel Uzgur was then brought in for 4 games before they appointed former Galatasaray manager Hamza Hamzaoglu. Hamzaoglu led Bursa to an 11th place finish and continued in his position through to the next season. He stayed until late January, theclub parting ways with him with the club hovering around 8th in the table. However this was a mistake, the team then rapidly began to drop. By the final day they were in the relegation zone, needing to pull off something special to escape. They achieved this, but now the target is to rebuild.

Bursa have appointed the well-known French manager Paul Le Guen. Le Guen is an experienced manager having won Ligue 1 three times in a row with Lyon and the League Cup with PSG. He has most recently been involved in international football, as manager of Cameroon between 2009-10 and Oman from 2011 to 2015. A newcomer to the Super Lig, this appointment is a risky one but could work out for Bursaspor if Le Guen is given the time he needs.


Yeni Malatyaspor – Ertugrul Saglam

Keeping up a Turkish tradition of sacking the coach who got the team promoted, Yeni Malatyaspor are looking for Ertugrul Saglam to guide them through their first ever season in the Super Lig. After his term at Bursaspor, in which he won them the league, Saglam followed this up with short unsuccessful stints at Eskisehirspor and then Bursaspor again. He had been out of football for almost two years prior to signing for Yeni Malatya. Given his history, if he starts the season poorly, he could be the first manager in the league to part ways with his club.


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