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Four under-the-radar managers to keep an eye on at Euro 2020

Kasper Hjulmand has added bite and energy to Denmark's attacking play
Kasper Hjulmand has added bite and energy to Denmark's attacking play

Didier Deschamps, Roberto Martinez, Joachim Low, and Gareth Southgate will all be under the managerial microscope at Euro 2020, which kicks-off on Friday.

And we can’t wait.

Other familiar faces will also be looking to conjure up glory, including defending champion Fernando Santos, Luis Enrique, and Roberto Mancini, but here at The Sack Race we’ve steered away from the cluster of favourites in order to bring you four under-the-radar bosses who could potentially cause a stir this summer.

While the selected quartet probably won’t win the tournament, they could conjure up an upset or two...

Kasper Hjulmand (Denmark)

- Tournament Winner: 28/1

- Group B Winner: 11/4

- Qualify for knockout-stages: 2/9

Denmark have only reached the European Championship knockout-stages once since they famously won the tournament in 1992 under boss Richard Møller Nielsen, but Kasper Hjulmand’s current crop of stars certainly have reason to be optimistic as they head into Euro 2020.

Hjulmand’s Denmark squad is packed full of familiar faces, many of whom have enjoyed triumphant seasons; from Serie A victor Christian Eriksen, FA Cup winner Kasper Schmeichel, Champions League gold medalist Andreas Christensen, and Brentford’s promotion-duo Henrik Dalsgaard and Mathias Jensen to the likes of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Jannik Vestergaard, Joachim Andersen, and Barcelona’s Martin Braithwaite.

In terms of Hjulmand’s backstory, the 49-year-old previously led Nordsjælland to their first ever Danish title, he succeeded Thomas Tuchel at Mainz, he holds a degree in Sports Science, and has studied Sports Management in Florida.

He’s only been in charge of Denmark since last summer - he replaced Åge Hareide - and has so far recorded nine wins from 13 games; that’s a 69% win rate. He’s only lost to Belgium (twice) since taking over, has grabbed four points off Gareth Southgate’s England en route to finishing 2nd in their Nations League group, and a few months ago his side thumped Austria 4-0. 

Hjulmand inherited a strong and experienced team who remain defensively sound but he’s crucially added energy and excitement to their attacking play, which has obviously gone down very well in his homeland. 

Denmark don’t lose often, in fact they’ve only come unstuck three times in their last 28 games spread over the tenures of Hareide and Hjulmand, and went unbeaten in qualifying. Plus, they have a 100% winning record from their three 2022 World Cup qualifiers to date.

At Euro 2020, they favourably have home advantage in each Group B game - against Belgium, Russia, and Finland - which not only enhances their hopes of securing a place in the last-16, but makes them a juicy bet at 11/4 to win the group; given their stubbornness in defence they could go on and prove to be a real thorn in the side in the knockout-stages. 

Interesting Fact: Kasper Hjulmand’s Denmark prevented England from scoring across 180 minutes during two Nations League clashes.

Senol Gunes famously fired Turkey to 3rd at the 2002 World Cup
Senol Gunes famously fired Turkey to 3rd at the 2002 World Cup

Senol Gunes (Turkey)

- Tournament Winner: 66/1

- Group A Winner: 11/2

- Qualify for knockout-stages: 8/15

Senol Gunes famously fired Turkey to third at the 2002 World Cup and now the veteran boss, 69, is back in the hot-seat overseeing a young and adventurous side who will fear no one at Euro 2020.

Gunes is a former school teacher who has enjoyed various levels of success managing in his homeland at Trabzonspor, Besiktas, and Bursaspor. The former, his boyhood club, even named their stadium after him.

Turkey’s progress this summer will depend entirely on which side will turn up for the showcase tournament as they’ve been brilliant and frustrating in equal measure.

The Turks beat and drew with World Champions France in qualifying and thumped Netherlands 4-2 during an unbeaten start to their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign.

Yet, Turkey slipped up during a poor Nations League group, in which they finished bottom behind Hungary, Russia, and Serbia.

However, confidence should be high with the country’s skipper Burak Yilmaz, Mehmet Zeki Celik, and Yusuf Yazici all heading into the tournament after lifting the Ligue 1 title with Lille.

Leicester’s Caglar Soyuncu and Juventus’ Merih Demiral are paired together in a strong defence which recorded an impressive eight clean sheets from 10 qualification games; they conceded just three goals. However, they have at times since been very wobbly at the back, which is a concern.

If they can regroup defensively it will put Gunes’ men in good stead ahead of tournament football, while AC Milan’s playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu has the potential to weave his magic.

It’s probably going to be an unpredictable ride, but Gunes has the nous and experience to take Turkey into the last-16 and beyond. Group A is sure to be very competitive - it contains Italy, Wales and Switzerland - but if the passionate and fiercely competitive Turks click and play to their defensive strengths then they have the potential to be one of the surprise packages of the tournament.

Interesting fact: Prior to his days in the dugout Gunes worked as a teacher at a middle-school in Trabzon.

Steve Clarke (Scotland)

- Tournament Winner: 250/1

- Group D Winner: 16/1

- Qualify for knockout-stages: 11/8

Intelligent, meticulous and a brilliant coach, Steve Clarke’s stock as a manager is unsurprisingly high right now following his exploits with Scotland, who he led to Euro 2020 after back-to-back penalty shoot-out successes.

Clarke certainty isn’t ‘under-the-radar’ in Scotland, yet anyone who underestimates Scotland at Euro 2020 could be in for a rude awakening.

Under Clarke the Scot’s qualified for their first major tournament this century - and their first Euros in 25 years - and while they’ve been placed in a tough group they will harbour hopes of reaching the last-16.

World Cup semi-finalists England and World Cup runners-up Croatia will be the favourites to finish 1st and 2nd in Group D, but Scotland have the chance to make the most of an ideal opening game at Hampden Park against Czech Republic, who they beat twice in the Nations League. 

They also play Croatia at the same venue which is a huge plus, while they will be gunning to stun England at Wembley, and in the process get revenge on when they were Gazza’d back in 1996.

Clarke previously enjoyed a superb tenure at Kilmarnock, whom he propelled from relegation strugglers to 5th in the Premiership, then 3rd; twice breaking the club’s record points tally.

Prior to that Clarke led West Brom to their highest-ever Premier League finish, 8th, and has worked under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and Sir Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool.

At the helm of Scotland Clarke has fostered a strong team spirit coupled with a new found mental resilience and a determination to make a statement this summer.

Momentum is on their side too following a five game unbeaten run which includes a 2-2 draw with Holland; a game they were minutes away from winning.

The boss has plenty of talent, industry, and hunger in a squad which contains Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney, John McGinn, Billy Gilmour, Scott McTominay, and Stuart Armstrong. There are concerns over a lack of punch up front but new addition Che Adams has bagged two goals from four caps. 

Interesting Fact: Ruud Gullit gave Steve Clarke his first coaching job at Newcastle in 1998.

Steve Clarke led Scotland to their first major tournament this century
Steve Clarke led Scotland to their first major tournament this century

Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)

- Tournament Winner: 100/1

- Group C Winner: 5/1

- Qualify for knockout-stages: 4/11

A high-profile player who has been quietly going about his business as a manager.

It’s remarkably been five years since the country’s all-time top-sharpshooter Andriy Shevchenko was appointed Ukraine manager, with the upcoming Euros his first major tournament on the touchline, and one he’ll be determined to make the most of.

It’s not been all plain sailing for the 2004 Ballon d’Or winner who was upgraded from his role as an assistant into the top job despite no outright managerial experience. He’s come under pressure at various points, most notably after a poor campaign in which Ukraine missed out on qualification to the 2018 World Cup.

However, he kept his job and bounced back in style as Ukraine booked their place in Euro 2020 after they accrued 20 points from eight unbeaten games - beating defending champions Portugal 2-1 and hammered Serbia 5-0 - to finish top of a tricky group.

Andriy Shevchenko: A high-profile player who has been quietly going about his business as a manager
Andriy Shevchenko: A high-profile player who has been quietly going about his business as a manager

Since then there’s no getting away from the fact that their form hasn’t been spectacular, coupled with the weight of never having escaped a Euros group. 

Shevchenko’s men will however, draw inspiration from an excellent qualification campaign, while they've beaten both Spain and Portugal.

There’s every chance they can re-group and take advantage of a group which contains a Netherlands side that haven’t convinced under Frank de Boer, an out-of-form Austria, and outsiders North Macedonia (although the latter shouldn’t be underestimated, just ask Germany).

Shevchenko, who dabbled in politics after retiring from playing, isn’t blessed with a sea of superstars but he’s moulded together an attractive and versatile team who switch between a 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 formation. 

17 of his 26 players come from Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk and while they may not be concrete starters in the Premier League, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Andriy Yarmolenko will play pivotal roles. Chelsea-linked Ruslan Malinovskyi will also be key.

Team-spirit, belief, and a sprinkling of panache could see Ukraine create their own slice of history this summer. Should they do so, expect to see Shevchenko’s name rocket into contention for various European club-level jobs next season.

Interesting Fact: Andriy Shevchenko is pals with fashion designer Giorgio Armani and met his wife, Kristen, at one of Armani’s post-show parties.

Draw
12/5
Odds correct as of 2021-04-23 09:10 Odds subject to change.
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