Coach Hired for New AC St. Louis Soccer Team Had Dubious Tenure in Scotland

Jan 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm
click to enlarge Claude Anelka - Via the The Herald
Via the The Herald
Claude Anelka
Updated: Friday, 7:20 a.m.

For the second day in a row it's a balmy, 40-something degrees and Daily RFT is thinking, naturally, about springtime and soccer.

Okay, not really, but we are rather fascinated about the following little tidbit we found online this week in Scotland's The Herald. It's an article about the new coach for the AC St. Louis -- the professional men's soccer club that's planning to debut here this coming March as part of a new league.

Last month AC St. Louis (a.k.a. "Athletic Club St. Louis" and not to be confused with "Air Conditioned"), announced that Claude Anelka would serve as the team's coach. If the last name "Anelka" sounds familiar, it should -- at least to soccer fans of the English Premier League. Anelka's brother, Nicolas Anelka, is a striker for Chelsea F.C. and a member of the French national team.

Unfortunately, St. Louis' Anelka doesn't have the soccer skills of his brother. In fact, he's down right abysmal at the game, according to adherents of the sport in the U.K.

In 2008, London's The Guardian newspaper included Anelka in its list of "10 worst football managers".

This week in Scotland's The Herald, fans of the Kirkcaldy "Raith Rovers" are wishing Anelka best wishes in the states and hoping he never returns to their parts again. According to the paper, Anelka served as a player agent (his brother is one of his clients) and a dee-jay, when in 2004 he decided to make a go of it as a coach. And in an unusual move, Anelka paid the Kircaldy club 300,000 British pounds for the right to coach the team.

As The Herald recounts, it was an "unmitigated disaster" with the team winning just one game under his tenure.
During his five months in Kirkcaldy, Raith picked up just one point, and lost two assistant managers, Dave Martin and John Hollins, who both walked away before their reputations were entirely soiled. Anelka's recruitment policy, picking up players from midnight football leagues in Paris and other inauspicious settings, did not go down well with supporters. 
He stepped down as manager, to be replaced by Gordon Dalziel, in October of that year and then left the club shortly afterwards, donating his investment to Raith's youth development programme.
Anelka had fallen off soccer's radar until last month when AC St. Louis named him manager.

On Wednesday I left a message with the AC St. Louis to ask the following:
  1. Did Anelka strike a similar deal to pay for the privilege of coaching the St. Louis team?
  2. How/why did the St. Louis team arrive at Anelka?
  3. Any chance of getting Anelka's famous brother to play for the team.

Here's the answer I received late Thursday from AC St. Louis:
  1. No.
  2. Claude and our Director of Player Development Francisco Filho have a working relationship.
  3. Nicolas? Unfortunately not.
No matter what, here's the good news: It's unlikely that Anelka and the St. Louis AC will be as bad as St. Louis' other football team, you know, the woeful Rams.