Ruud Gullit replaces Frank Yallop as LA Galaxy coach and Alexi Lalas had this to say "There certainly is interest in a high-profile, sexy kind of candidate," Lalas said, explaining what he meant by sexy as someone "with a personality, character, interesting, creative, innovative and that will bring something different to the Galaxy."
But if Ruud Gullit's life is any indication then he is more at ease fighting adversity and authority. It makes him a maverick. He has never been too comfortable with money or star power which accounts for his very short stints as player manager at Chelsea where he butted heads with the administration reportedly over compensation and was sacked without warning in his second season and then at Newcastle where he was at loggerheads with star players like Alan Shearer leaving him out of the starting squad. He resigned in his second season. He never established himself as a tactician relying more on his own personal charisma and strength of personality to achieve results.
One of his many admirers is the political activist and soccer writer Eduardo Galeano who lauded him for his principled stand combating racism and the obscene amounts of money corrupting the game. Gullit dedicated his 1987 Player of the Year award to Nelson Mandela and sang anti apartheid songs at concerts between matches. Gullit also suffered three potentially career ending knee surgeries and each time was written off except that he kept making comebacks because his desire to continue playing was so strong. Galeano points to a lifelong tendency of being headstrong and opinionated leading to frequent clashes with other players and managers.
One of the relationships that will be closely watched will be the one between Alexi Lalas, the bombastic and often combative GM of the LA Galaxy whose own tenure has been dogged by his over optimistic Beckham projections. Presently, Becks MLS career and 'damp squib' are synonymous. Lalas had a very intrusive relationship with Yallop which was marked with a lot of anxiety over Yallop's struggle with balancing out the rest of the no name team with the star power of Beckham.
Ruud Gullit is a strong personality who obviously cherishes his independence and Lalas and the AEG management will have to respect that. Any amount of perceived intrusion and the relationship will go south rapidly. Another factor is that Gullit's stature as a player was second to none and he remains a huge fan favourite in Netherlands and in Europe. He is used to receiving adulation and it will be interesting to see how his association with Beckham plays out. If history is any indicator then Becks will receive no favours.
All said and done, the LA Galaxy is now on steroids as one of the most recognized names in soccer and the progenitor of "sexy football" is the coach of a team that boasts one of the most recognized names on the planet. In a city whose paparazzi live on adrenaline drips and doses of never ending gossip. How does this translate to taking an average LA Galaxy out of the doldrums? Time will tell. For Alexi Lalas, one warning note- higher the climb, steeper the fall.