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Claude Makelele


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BREAKING NEWS: Makelele named new Bastia bossBastia have announced the appointment of former France international Claude Makelele as the club's new coach. "Bastia are pleased to announce that Claude M

Claude Makelele was not a glamorous sea-captain of any sort. His affable mannerisms and ever-present smile belied a combative, negative style of play that on first examination was far more destructive

Chelsea in the future.

Makalele = part of board

Zola= part of board

Lampard= part of coaching staff

Essien = part of coaching staff

Terry= assistant manager

Drogba= manager

What a dream this is.

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On 08/01/2016 at 11:09 AM, Azul said:

 

Chelsea in the future.

Makalele = part of board

Zola= part of board

Lampard= part of coaching staff

Essien = part of coaching staff

Terry= assistant manager

Drogba= manager

What a dream this is.

And Mikel = ground man ??

U have to give Mikel a job after all he's been at Chelsea for 10 years now ???

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On 08/01/2016 at 11:09 AM, Azul said:

 

Chelsea in the future.

Makalele = part of board

Zola= part of board

Lampard= part of coaching staff

Essien = part of coaching staff

Terry= assistant manager

Drogba= manager

What a dream this is.

It would be perfect if they became one of the best in those fields.

How many times have clubs gone down the sentimental route only for it to go badly wrong? Real Madrid could be the next club to fall victim in that department.

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Chelsea in the future.

Makalele = part of board

Zola= part of board

Lampard= part of coaching staff

Essien = part of coaching staff

Terry= assistant manager

Drogba= manager

What a dream this is.

It would be perfect if they became one of the best in those fields.

How many times have clubs gone down the sentimental route only for it to go badly wrong? Real Madrid could be the next club to fall victim in that department.

True but these guys know the club inside out.

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The Premier League 60, No 46: Claude Makelele

https://theathletic.com/1923878/2020/08/10/premier-league-60-46-claude-makelele/

The Premier League 60, No 46: Claude Makelele – The Athletic

Running each day until the new season begins, The Premier League 60 is designed to reflect and honour the greatest players to have graced and illuminated the English top flight in the modern era, as voted for by our writers.

You might not agree with their choices, you won’t agree with the order (they didn’t), but we hope you’ll enjoy their stories. You can read Oliver Kay’s introduction to the series here.


Claude Makelele tends to break into a smile whenever mention of the midfield brief with which he is still synonymous crops up.

Others would always draw the attention, from Real Madrid’s Galacticos to the higher profile characters in Jose Mourinho’s powerful Chelsea team from the middle of the last decade, but those stellar names always benefited from the Frenchman’s selfless industry, allied with a canny tactical reading of the play and shrewd positioning, at their side. Without his quiet, busy endeavour, those teams would have been considerably less effective.

That talk of “The Makelele role” endures is a source of pride.

His playing duties were distinct and conducted with the complete trust of management and fellow players. He was a master of bringing balance to a selection, freeing up those around him with his scuttling presence and ability to disrupt the opponents’ approach whether drawing markers out of team shape or, if left to his own devices, collecting possession and weighing up how best to spark his own side’s next foray upfield. When asked about his contribution to club successes in Spain, England and France, or even with his national side, he tends to bring up the need to be “generous”, to “give everything” for his team-mates. The legacy Makelele truly cherishes is the sense of appreciation for his efforts that lingered wherever he played.

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His team-mates at Real Madrid pined for him after he departed the Bernabeu under a cloud in 2003 to become the latest recruit swelling the ranks of Chelsea’s nouveaux riches. Zinedine Zidane bemoaned the loss of the team’s engine. Fernando Hierro claimed the club’s hierarchy had almost wilfully ignored the midfielder’s contribution and merely shrugged their shoulders at his sale, and warned they would regret ushering him towards the exit. Club president Florentino Perez had been dismissive of Makelele’s contribution at the time and quick to claim a replacement capable of contributing more would be found easily enough. As his team endured a four-year dearth of silverware following his £16 million sale, Perez must have contemplated the folly of those words.

A player who made his name initially as a winger at Nantes, winning Ligue 1 and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League in 1996, before briefer spells at Marseille and Spain’s Celta Vigo, had really finessed the more central midfield role at Real Madrid where he recognised the value in adding a further layer of security in front of the back four while a host of attack-minded free spirits made hay. They took the risks, he was the platform upon which they thrived, winning the Champions League in 2002 and a pair of La Liga titles among seven trophies in three years. Chelsea, even fuelled by Roman Abramovich’s first splurge of funds, must have pinched themselves at the ease with which such a key performer was prised away.

Claudio Ranieri saw Makelele as a ball winner and defensive organiser, “our safety barrier”. “I have a fantastic watch,” explained the Italian. “It is run by battery. Claude is my new battery.” When Mourinho arrived a year later he waited for Makelele, granted a little more time post-Euro 2004, to join the squad on pre-season tour in the US before calling a team meeting in which he pointed to the midfielder as “the only one of you that’s won anything significant”. That may have been harsh on Paulo Ferreira, a UEFA Cup and Champions League winner under Mourinho with Porto in the previous 15 months (another, Ricardo Carvalho, would join a few days later), but Makelele was setting the standard to which the likes of Frank Lampard and John Terry, Petr Cech and Arjen Robben had to aspire.

He fitted Mourinho’s 4-3-3 to perfection, all economy of tidy possession, excellent technique and a master of interceptions. In a team of giants, up and down the spine, Makelele went about his duties unnoticed. And yet everything revolved around his metronomic contribution. The manager, so eager for his linchpin’s impact to be recognised, even prompted the club to add a players’ player of the year trophy to their end of season awards in a blatant attempt to ensure Makelele was honoured while others hogged the limelight. The midfielder duly claimed the inaugural trophy in 2006, by a landslide.

He made 217 appearances over five years in London, a spell that yielded two league titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups. But his impact upon a hungry, ambitious squad was immeasurable. He was revered within the set-up, and his contribution was never under-estimated. On the pitch, the defensive surety he provided — not with crunching tackles, but smart interceptions and that ability to read danger — liberated Lampard to become such a free-scoring force of nature.

Off the pitch, he went out of his way to help Didier Drogba settle in new surroundings, not least with the card school he ran among the squad’s French contingent. His team-mates christened him “Papa Claude”, taking on board his advice and guidance. For Michael Essien and Mikel John Obi, very different players but his heirs-elect, every training session was an education.

There were defensive midfielders before Makelele, and plenty since who have added other elements to the role — not least quarterback-like long-range passing and creativity which would have gone against the Frenchman’s more careful, calculated approach — but his impact on Chelsea and the Premier League was profound.

His last appearance for the club was the defeat, on penalties, to Manchester United in the 2008 Champions League final. At 35, and with Paris Saint-Germain — a very different beast then, pre-Qatari takeover — offering him a route home on a long-term deal which would eventually incorporate a role as a coach, he left on a free transfer.

“He will always be welcomed back to Stamford Bridge in the future, either as a player or friend of the club,” read a Chelsea statement. Last summer, they finally came calling.


The new Makelele role at Chelsea comes with a jazzy title — “technical mentor” within the junior set-up — but is arguably far less well defined. The 47-year-old had once been advised by his manager at Nantes, Jean-Claude Suaudeau, that nothing beats working with youth teams to broaden a coaching repertoire so, in the latest twist to a nomadic post-playing career, there was no decision to make when offered a brief back at Cobham with one of the most progressive academies in England. It remains to be seen how long the job he accepted last August satisfies his desire for self-improvement.

There had been an initial assumption that a figure of Makelele’s vast playing experience, and a coach who had cut his teeth under Carlo Ancelotti at PSG before managing at France’s Bastia, briefly, and Eupen in Belgium, might also play a role overseeing drills with the senior squad. One would assume both N’Golo Kante and Jorginho might be keen to learn from the master, not least with the former having been employed as the midfield pivot, when fit, of late. That advice could even be delivered in his native tongue to a compatriot.

Yet Lampard’s first-team staff has remained distinct and unaltered, the head coach comfortable with its make-up. Makelele works across the road in the academy building at Chelsea’s plush training complex in Surrey, his desk in the loans department office alongside those of former team-mates Ferreira and Carlo Cudicini and another early-millennium old boy in Tore Andre Flo. There is a small element of coaching tied into his duties, but largely focused on when those players designated to his “loan group” are back at HQ, either in pre-season training or awaiting a mid-season switch to a new club. More normally, he watches the youngsters under his supervision at their respective clubs, analysing their displays either in person or on Wyscout and the like, and offering on-going assessment and advice.

Flo may have visited Conor Gallagher at Charlton Athletic earlier this season, but it was Makelele who took the lead in monitoring the England Under-21 midfielder’s eye-catching progress. He was a guest of Charlton’s manager, Lee Bowyer, at the training ground in October. Once it was decided Gallagher might benefit from a mid-season switch within the Championship from a side facing a relegation battle to Steve Cooper’s promotion-chasing Swansea City, where Makelele had enjoyed a brief stint assisting Paul Clement in 2017, the Frenchman’s involvement stepped up. Gallagher has since spoken of the advice the mentor has offered him: of the need to look up and scan the scene when receiving the ball, or how best to press.

Makelele visited Gallagher and another Chelsea loanee, Marc Guehi, in Wales before lockdown. They will have benefited from the qualities Clement had pinpointed when bringing his former colleague at Chelsea and PSG to the Liberty Stadium three years ago. “He has a good feel for players, one to one,” said Clement, now manager of Belgian club Cercle Bruges. “He has great knowledge of the game having played at such a high level, and brings interaction to players in small groups, giving them little gems of information and what to do in certain situations. He really captures someone when he talks to them.”

Yet is the role Makelele now plays enough to satisfy his ambitions? Yes, he is a visible presence in the academy building, a full-time member of club staff and the latest in a long list of former players welcomed back to Chelsea in a non-playing capacity. Both Abramovich and key lieutenant Marina Granovskaia have championed such an approach as a means of maintaining the culture of success instigated early in the oligarch’s ownership. But Makelele, a strong-minded figure, has always suggested he is following a distinct pathway in his post-playing career.

The ultimate objective always appeared to be management and at Chelsea, where there are such high hopes for Cech as technical and performance advisor, or Ashley Cole within the junior coaching set-up, there is a temporary feel to this current arrangement.

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Perhaps that is born of Makelele’s willingness to explore different roles as part of an ongoing quest to gain experience since curtailing his playing days at 38.

He had coached at PSG under Ancelotti and alongside Clement, before taking up the reins as manager of the Ligue 1 club, Bastia. His stint there lasted a little over five months and 12 league games and, while he may have made mistakes, there were clearly mitigating circumstances to his toils. His best player, Wahbi Khazri, was sold to Bordeaux in pre-season. Two further attacking loanees were not retained, and his Brazilian striker, Brandao, was banned for six months in the September and later given a suspended jail term for headbutting PSG’s Thiago Motta. There were no funds to buy replacements.

In hindsight, it was hardly the ideal platform from which to launch a managerial career, although his claim that he had effectively considered his time in Corsica “an internship”, as expressed in an interview with L’Equipe two years after his sacking, was perhaps unnecessarily provocative. Bastia were outraged and claimed that, if that was the case, it was an expensive spell of work experience.

Makelele subsequently spent time with Mourinho, Vicente del Bosque, Ranieri and Suaudeau, observing their methods from the sidelines as a guest at training, then worked at Monaco, again briefly, as technical director. His remit there centred less on coaching and more on mentoring the playing staff, but he was always peripheral to the Portuguese core assembled around the head coach, Leonardo Jardim, at the club. He suggested he had no relationship whatsoever with the owner Vadim Vasilyev’s special advisor, Luis Campos, which probably rendered his stay in the Principality doomed from the outset.

He then rang Clement to secure the role at Swansea early the following year. But it was the struggling Belgian top-flight club Eupen, something of an outlier near the country’s German border but under the ownership of Qatar’s Aspire Academy since 2012, who eventually offered him another managerial role in November 2017. The side were bottom of the Jupiler League when he arrived but, with Makelele’s influence permeating through the club, avoided relegation on goal difference that season then finished 12th the following year. Three of Qatar’s starting XI that won the 2019 Asian Cup final were schooled under him at the Kehrwegstadion.

“Going there was not a step back,” reflected Makelele in an interview with French football website SoFoot last year. “In this profession, nothing is. All this experience has merely made me realise how passionate I am about coaching. At Eupen, people listen to me because of my past. But I convince them with the way I work.”

His stated ambition at the time was to become “as good a coach as (Pep) Guardiola or (Fabio) Capello”. “Success is the story of my life because I am a very patient person, a quality my father taught me,” he added. That much was evident in his playing style.

Now, back in London in his new Makelele role, he continues to learn with a view to embarking upon the next stage of a glittering career in the game.

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