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New faces hope for improved fortunes

Published: Monday 1 October 2007, 18.21CET
Erik Gerets takes charge of Olympique de Marseille for the first time on Wednesday, one of four UEFA Champions League coach changes since Matchday 1.
by Michael Harrold
from London features

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Published: Monday 1 October 2007, 18.21CET

New faces hope for improved fortunes

Erik Gerets takes charge of Olympique de Marseille for the first time on Wednesday, one of four UEFA Champions League coach changes since Matchday 1.

Erik Gerets faces a daunting debut as coach of Olympique de Marseille when he leads his side out for the first time against Liverpool FC at Anfield on Wednesday.

All change
Gerets is one of four new faces at the helm of UEFA Champions League teams since Matchday 1 looking to make their mark as the competition resumes this week. Gerets replaced Albert Emon last Wednesday, the fourth change following the departures of José Mourinho, Gheorghe Hagi and Anatoliy Demyanenko from Chelsea FC, FC Steaua Bucureşti and FC Dynamo Kyiv respectively.

Grant chance
Mourinho stepped down after his side's disappointing 1-1 draw with Rosenborg BK and Chelsea were quick to appoint the club's director of football, Avram Grant, in his place. Grant has a difficult task following in the footsteps of the self-styled 'Special One' who led FC Porto to the title in 2004 before taking Chelsea to semi-finals in two out of his three seasons at Stamford Bridge. Grant starts with a difficult trip to Valencia CF for his first taste of the UEFA Champions League. Not that his players are strangers to Mestalla, Michael Essien's last-minute winner there last April taking Mourinho's then side through to the last four.

Pedrazzini role
New Steaua coach Massimo Pedrazzini will also take charge of a team in the competition for the first time after replacing Hagi on a caretaker basis. The 49-year-old has spent most of his career as a No2, notably to compatriot Walter Zenga then Hagi at Steaua, but the spotlight will turn on him when Premier League leaders Arsenal FC visit on Tuesday. Like Grant, Pedrazzini has little margin for error after Steaua kicked off their Group H campaign with defeat by SK Slavia Praha.

Szabó in
Dynamo, meanwhile, have turned to a trusted former employee after Demyanenko resigned following their 2-0 reverse at AS Roma. The 67-year-old József Szabó returns for a fourth spell at the helm, promising to bring "fresh ideas and leadership" to the role. Dynamo fans would like three points as well when Sporting Clube de Portugal come calling on Tuesday.

Gerets poised
Poor domestic form was a major reason behind all four coaching changes, nowhere more so than at Marseille where the optimism of last season's second-place finish was quickly quashed by the club's sluggish start to the new campaign. Emon, who will remain at OM in an as yet unspecified capacity, did at least bequeath his successor a strong platform to build on in Group A, where Marseille sit top after winning 2-0 at home to Beşiktaş JK on Matchday 1. Gerets will travel to Anfield quietly confident of pulling off an upset, having led Galatasaray SK to a 3-2 win against Liverpool in the group stage while at the helm of the Istanbul club last season.

Last updated: 01/10/07 19.24CET

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