Silverware, Ambition, and Wanderlust: A History of CSKA’s Juande Ramos

New CSKA boss Juande Ramos is starting his 13th managerial position

New CSKA boss Juande Ramos is starting his 13th managerial position

From 1998 to 2001, Juande de la Cruz Ramos Cano coached Rayo Vallecano, leading them into Spain’s Primera División after the 1998-99 season. In the first season of Rayo’s return to the top flight, they finished ninth. The next season they fell to fourteenth, after which Ramos took the job at Real Betis – a bigger club that had just been promoted from the Segunda.

Though Ramos did a good job with Rayo, the remarkable aspect of his stay was the number three. That’s how many seasons Ramos stayed in Rayo, which still serves as the longest tenure of a coaching career that is on its thirteenth stop, only having started seventeen years ago. In eight of those stops, he’s lasted one season or less. Sevilla is the only place besides Rayo where he saw the start of a third season.

It was in Seville that he had his greatest success. Most people remember his back-to-back UEFA Cup championships in 2005 through 2007, but Ramos was responsible for winning three more trophies in his two season stay with the club: the 2006-07 Copa del Rey, the 2007 Supercopa de España, and the 2006 UEFA Super Cup.

Emboldened by this success, Ramos left Sevilla after the start of the 2007 season and moved to London, taking the reigns at Tottenham. Again, Ramos would win silverware, winning the Carling Cup in his first season. Tottenham, however, would disappoint in league and finish in eleventh place, six spots and fourteen points behind their previous season’s finish.

The next season (2008-09), Tottenham got off to their worst start in club history, earning only two points in their first eight matches, mired at the bottom of the English Premier League table. On October 25, 2008, Ramos was fired, two days short of his one year anniversary at the club.

Amongst the main complaints about Ramos was his unwillingness to assimilate into English football culture. The most prominently evoked exemplar: Ramos had not bothered to learn English, with players (after his firing) going on record to say communication with the manager was a problem because he spoke only Spanish.

In his next job, language would not be a problem, as Ramos was hired to replace Brend Schuster at Real Madrid. In his first 17 league matches, he lead Madrid to 49 out of a possible 51 points and pushed them to within four points of league-leading Barcelona. Madrid, however, would be eliminated in the Round of 16 during Champions League, a 5-0 aggregate loss to Liverpool (England).

Because of a La Liga’s schedule, Ramos did not face the league’s elite after he began his tenure with a draw at home against Barcelona. Most of those first seventeen matches were against the mid-to-bottom of the Primera División. When the schedule came around to facing those elite clubs, Real Madrid crumbled. They lost 6-2 at Barcelona in a match that, if won, would have move Madrid within one point of first. It was the first of five consecutive losses to close the season by Madrid. In that time, Ramos’s club was outscored 17 to 6. When Florentino Perez returned to the club’s presidency, Ramos was not retained by Real Madrid.

Now Ramos has been hired by CSKA Moscow, one of the Russian league’s most storied clubs. Provided CSKA does not consider this a long-term solution, this could be a good fit. Ramos plays an open style and demands an ambitious approach from his players. If he sees players falter in that ambition, he will rotate them. Over a long stretch of time, this can become tiresome. For a club like CSKA that has become complacent over the last two months, Ramos might be a perfect fit.

He will shake-up the club to determine which players are ready to contribute. If CSKA continues to be the club that can both beat league-leaders Rubin Kazan (twice) and trip against the league’s minnows, Ramos will tinker until he finds a combination that will consistently put up performances like the ones that enabled CSKA to beat the reigning champions.

The downside: Ramos will not be a long-term solution. He will not stay in Moscow long, and this job is most likely a spring board back to a Spanish club that can justify Ramos’s short-term solutions. But for CSKA Moscow, a club that wants to finish in the top three (at a minimum), that short-term benefit is worth it.

Ramos’s aggressive approach might cost CSKA in Champions League, where the talent of the opponent could lead to more results like today’s 3-1 loss to VfL Wolfsburg, but it will also push the team to wins like this weekend’s 3-0 result against Krylia Sovetov Samara. At this point, if CSKA Moscow can get the league results that will keep them in Champions League, the Ramos hire will be successful for the club.

Whether that accomplishment would make Ramos (the individual) successful is debatable. Ramos has had his successes at Tottenham, Sevilla, and Rayo, but his legacy is that of a journeyman – some would say mercenary. His short stays have been ladder rungs, and having ascended to the heights of the Santiago Bernabeu, he has nowhere else to go. Of late, he’s been knocked off those rungs, having been dismissed at Tottenham and Madrid. Even if that fate can be avoided at CSKA, can any realistic result a six month, twelve month, two year stay be considered successful? At this point, his wanderlust overshadows his silverware.

It’s difficult to see this man – this profile – settling in Moscow. If he is with the club through the next season, it will have to be considered a long stay, but if CSKA can stay near the top of the Russian Premier League table, Ramos’s agent will likely start calling each side in La Liga, asking when their coach’s position will be available.

Richard Farley/The Kartik Report