Barring unforeseen circumstances, the man they call Fatih “the Emperor” Terim will be coaching the Galatasaray Lions next season. No official announcement has yet been made yet, but serious negotiations are taking place behind closed doors.
With plenty of money at his disposal, Fatih Terim, if he eventually re-signs with Galatasaray, will be able to purchase the players of his choice and form not only a championship-chasing team but also one that will be able to revive the 2000 spirit by staying the course in Europe in the 2012-13 season
And Terim himself would not deny it. “I can't say anything until the deal is signed, sealed and delivered,” he told reporters on Tuesday, May 17 -- the 11th anniversary of Galatasaray's UEFA Cup triumph.
“As a matter of fact, everyone will know about it when everything is done. And it is also worth pointing out that when Galatasaray is at issue, one cannot resist, the rest are just details,” he noted.
“I entered that [Galatasaray] dressing room in 1974 and it's now 2011,” he said, alluding to his transfer in 1974 from Adana Demirspor -- which has now sunk into oblivion -- to Galatasaray, where he played and captained until 1985, when he decided to bid adieu to professional football.
“We went through a lot, and this is our home. Something will surely emerge from the family meeting [with the club's new administrators]. And hopefully everything will be good for us all,” he asserted.
The spirit of 2000
If, as expected, Terim accepts the Galatasaray job, it will be his third coming to the İstanbul club. “The Emperor,” an assistant to Turkey's German coach Sepp Piontek before leading Turkey to Euro 1996, first coached Galatasaray between 1996 and 2000, and not only led the team to four straight league championships but also helped Galatasaray win the UEFA Cup in 2000.
That same year Galatasaray, under the tutelage of Romanian Mircea Lucescu, won the European Super Cup, beating a Real Madrid team that included ex-Fener defender Roberto Carlos 2-1 in Monaco.
Terim then moved on to Fiorentina that season (2000-01), and his success in the rough-and-tumble Italian Serie A earned him the coaching job at AC Milan. Terim lasted only nine games with Milan in 2001 before being replaced by Carlo Ancelotti.
The second coming of “the Emperor” to Galatasaray was in 2002, but he was sent packing two years later because of dismal results not worthy of Galatasaray.
He was appointed national coach in 2005, replacing the underachieving Ersun Yanal, whose strategy is always based on all attack and no defense -- forgetting that defense does win championships.
However, the Yanal team Terim inherited had almost outlived its usefulness and was experiencing a freefall despite having reached the semifinals at the 2002 World Cup. Turkey failed to qualify for Euro 2004 and then lost to Switzerland in a playoff for a spot in the 2006 World Cup.
Terim and his men, however, rebounded to make it to the Euro 2008 semifinals. But when Turkey missed out of the South Africa 2010 extravaganza last summer, Terim had to go and was replaced by Dutchman Guus Hiddink.
Tough times for Galatasaray
The Lions are going through their worst season ever in domestic league history, having already lost 16 matches this season, with only one game to go. Terim, therefore, will be facing the Herculean task of completely overhauling a team that has hit rock bottom.
He must make a list of the players he wants to retain and those he wants to offload as quickly as possible. Looking at Galatasaray's performance this season, only captain-playmaker Arda Turan and maybe defender Servet Çetin are worthy of avoiding the axe.
Bring on the money!
Luckily, Galatasaray now has a new administration led by successful businessman Ünal Aysal. The new chairman and his aides seem ready to do what their predecessor didn't -- dip deep into their pockets to raise the necessary funds needed to make Lions roar again.
With plenty of money at his disposal, Terim, if he eventually re-signs with Galatasaray, will be able to purchase the players of his choice and form not only a championship-chasing team but also one that will be able to revive the 2000 spirit by staying the course in Europe in the 2012-13 season. This, indeed, is something the Galatasaray followers need like mad.
The Galatasaray rulers got it all wrong this season. They should have been buying good players in preseason instead of selling them.
They also should not have retained mediocre Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard after a dismal 2009-10 season, only to fire him after eight matches, or rehire Romanian Gheorghe Hagi and then fire him, or rehire Bülent Ünder -- an assistant to Terim during the team's glory days in 1996-2000, who had been jobless for a decade.
“The wise man does at once what the fool does finally,” said 17th century Spanish philosopher and writer Baltasar Gracian.