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Staff Roundup: 8-21 June

Staff Roundup: 8-21 June

Since 14 June, the European Championships have been underway, the eyes of the footballing world firmly fixed on the action taking place across Germany’s 10 host stadiums. In the opening games there have been goals, upsets and wonderful pieces of individual skill that underline why international football is so popular. But the club game does not cease to exist during this period. Behind the scenes, football clubs across the land are using this break in the domestic calendar to hire and fire, fill any unwanted gaps in personnel and ensure their staff line up is as strong as possible going into the new season. 

In this article, the third of our biweekly summer staff roundups, we'll be letting you know all the major appointments that have been made in professional football over the last two weeks, with a particular focus on the European and English games. A number of managers, coaches and tacticians have assumed new roles during this time, the most significant of which you can find below.

Fabian Hurzeler, Brighton & Hove Albion

The youngest-ever permanent Premier League manager (overtaking former Chelsea and Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas) has been confirmed as the new Brighton & Hove Albion manager. Following a successful stint at St Pauli, who he guided to the 2. Bundesliga title and promotion to the top flight last season, 31-year-old American-German coach Fabian Hurzeler has been handed the task of replacing outgoing boss Roberto Di Zerbi, who parted ways with the club due to differing views on transfer and player development policy. 

“From the start of the process to appoint our new head coach, Fabian was always a standout candidate and one who had caught our attention with his exceptional work at St Pauli over the past 18 months,” said Brighton owner Tony Bloom, discussing the decision to bring in Hurzeler. “He has a style of play that aligns with how we want a Brighton & Hove Albion team to play, and I’m confident it is one our supporters will appreciate and enjoy.” The Texas-born coach signs a contract that takes him until 2027. It will be fascinating to see what the prodigious young operator can achieve during that time. 

Steve Cooper, Leicester City

Ultimately, Nottingham Forest's decision to sack Steve Cooper last December following a poor run of form was vindicated by their Premier League survival. However, most people would agree that on balance, the 44-year-old coach performed well in the East Midlands, instilling an attractive style of play, inspiring the club's passionate fanbase, and dragging a faltering Championship side up to the promised land for the first time this millennium (before keeping them there in their first season back in the top flight).

Cooper has now been rewarded for his efforts at Forest — and at his previous club Swansea City — with an attractive new role. Following the departure of Enzo Maresca to Chelsea, he'll be taking the reins at newly promoted Leicester City as they look to re-establish themselves in the English top flight. His three-year deal with the club will take him until 2027, and fans will be boosted by the enthusiasm of his initial comments. "I am really excited and proud to be appointed Leicester City's First Team Manager," he told the press. "This is a fantastic club with a rich history and passionate supporters. I'm looking forward to the challenging of achieving our shared ambitions in the Premier League."

Fabian Otte, Spike Hulshoff and Ruben Peetetrs, Liverpool 

Besides the obvious big one — Jurgen Klopp's departure after almost a decade at the club — there have been plenty of comings and goings behind the scenes at Liverpool this summer. Following John Achterberg's decision to leave the club, it has been confirmed that the new goalkeeping coach on Merseyside will be Fabian Otte. The former Burnley Assistant Goalkeeper Coach under Sean Dyche will come on board as Head First Team Goalkeeper Coach at Anfield, after completing his current assignment as Head Goalkeeper Coach for the USMNT. In this capacity, Otte will be working at the 2024 Copa America in the States this summer, after which he'll join Liverpool.

Meanwhile, other members of Arne Slot's new Liverpool backroom team have also been announced alongside Otte. 49-year-old former Feyenoord number two Sipke Hulshoff (who has worked closely with Slot since 2022) will be the new First Assistant Coach, while Slot's Head of Performance at Feyenoord Ruben Peeters (who also worked in the Belgian top flight with Genk previously) will join up as Liverpool's new Physical Performance Coach. The message is clear; the new man at Anfield is relying on those he knows he can trust.

John Achterberg and Andy Firth, Al-Ettifaq

A big reason for all this staff movement at Liverpool is the mass exodus of coaches following Klopp's departure. On 19th June, it was announced that one of those leaving — former goalkeeper coach John Achterberg — will be heading to Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq.

He'll be joined there by former academy goalkeeper coach Andy Firth, as the Saudi side managed by Steven Gerrard continues to become filled with ex-Liverpool playing and coaching personnel. 

Will Still, Lens

English manager Will Still has gained plenty of attention in the last couple of years for his strong performance at Ligue 1 side Reims, who he joined in October 2022 at the age of just 30. The Belgium-born coach, who at this time became the youngest coach in European football's big five leagues, is highly rated within the sport and has been linked with numerous jobs in recent times.

Now, it has been confirmed that his next challenge (after leaving Reims by mutual consent following a disappointing end to the season) will be with another French side, Lens. The club finished seventh in Ligue 1 last campaign, guaranteeing them a play-off spot for the Europa Conference League, which Still will be keen to make his mark on. According to Lens sporting director Pierre Dreossi, as soon as it became clear that former manager Franck Haise would be departing to join Nice, Still was the "top priority" for the job. He'll be assuming a three-year contract.

Robbie Savage, Macclesfield

Ex-Leicester City, Blackburn Rovers and Derby County midfielder Robbie Savage developed a reputation as a bit of a bruiser during his playing career, known for his leadership skills and combative playing style. However, in recent years he's been a far more benevolent figure at Lancashire non-league phoenix club Macclesfield, who he has worked with as Director or Football following their 2020 reformation (after the sad demise of Macclesfield Town). Now, the club have announced that Savage will be moving into a new role as Head Coach of the club, who narrowly missed out on a third successive promotion last season. 

"As a result of achieving two promotions as well as reaching a play-off final and FA Trophy semi-final within the club’s first three years, it came as no surprise when Robbie was offered a senior role elsewhere recently," read an official club statement. "Robbie subsequently agonised over this on numerous levels as it would have meant him relinquishing his role at Macclesfield FC – in addition to his shareholding." In the end, a solution was found that would keep Savage at his current club but in a brand new capacity that will pose a serious challenge to the former Premier League star. Whether he has the mettle for management remains to be seen.

Thiago Motta, Juventus

In a move that fans have been expecting to be confirmed for some time, former Bologna manager Thiago Motta has been appointed as the new boss of Italian giants Juventus. The 41-year-old has just completed a seriously impressive season with Bologna, in which they secured Champions League qualification for the first time since 1964/65.

Having started his coaching career as PSG’s Under 19s boss, he worked his way up the Italian system with Genoa, La Spezia and Bologna; now he’s preparing to guide Italy’s most successful club back to the top. "I am really happy to begin a new chapter at the helm of a great club like Juventus," said Motta. "I thank the owners and the management, who can be sure of my ambition to keep the Juventus flag flying high and to please the fans."

Paulo Fonseca, Milan

Milan may have been Serie A runners-up last season, but their arch-rivals Internazionale finished a whopping 19 points ahead of them, and the club have taken action to try to address this chasm. On 14th June, they brought in Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca to replace Stefano Pioli, handing the 51-year-old a three-year contract after being impressed with his work at Ligue 1 side Lille.

Fonseca guided his former club to a 5th-place finish in 2022/23, before taking them on a strong Europa Conference League run (they were ultimately knocked out by Aston Villa in the quarter-finals). This recent record, as well as the fact that he'd come to the end of his contract with Lille and therefore was an affordable option, convinced Milan to make a move for the former Porto, Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk boss.

Kosta Runjaic, Udinese

World Cup-winning former Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro stepped in as Udinese boss during the final six games of last season, after the sacking of former manager Gabriele Cioffi. Despite keeping the team in Serie A, Cannavaro wasn't been given the role permanently, with the club opting to bring in experienced Austrian coach Kosta Runjaic instead.

Until April, Runjaic was manager of Legia Warsaw, who he steered to the knockouts of the Europa Conference League during 2023/24. Previously, he's also managed various German clubs including Darmstadt and 1860 Munich. 

Alberto Garrido, Watford

New head coach Tom Cleverley has continued the process of assembling his staff at Watford by bringing in a well-regarded former Real Madrid man as first-team coach. Alberto Garrido, who has spent the last 15 years working with Real Madrid’s reserve team in the Spanish third tier, will play a key role in helping to change the culture and playing style of a team that has underperformed in recent seasons.

The Spanish coach joins assistant head coach Damon Lathrope and first-team development coach Armand Kavaja in the team working closely with Cleverley at the Championship club. 

Ben Petty, Birmingham City

According to reports, Ange Postecoglou was gutted about the departure of his highly-rated assistant coach Chris Davies, who Birmingham City brought in to replace Tony Mowbray earlier this summer. Since his arrival, Davies has been determined to appoint some familiar faces within his backroom team, the latest of which is Ben Petty.

The 47-year-old coach has spent the last eight years as Leicester City’s Under 21s coach, where he struck up a relationship with Davies (who has worked with Brendan Rodgers at Leicester, Liverpool, Celtic and Swansea).