Can Galatasaray’s “Great Captain” be a great coach?

March 5, 2009

Galatasaray took a gamble in replacing German coach Michael Skibbe with former captain Bulent Korkmaz just three days before their UEFA Cup tie against Bordeaux.

But there was jubilation at the Ali Sami Yen stadium on Thursday after the team clinched a place in the last 16 with Sabri Sarioglu’s 90th minute decider sealing a thrilling 4-3 win.

“There was a lack of motivation before I came,” Korkmaz said after the game, which ended a run of five matches without a victory.

“Tonight my players showed how they can play… We have done nothing yet, this is just the beginning.”

His side will play Bundesliga side Hamburg SV next.

Known affectionately to fans as the “Buyuk Kaptan”, (Great Captain), Korkmaz won eight domestic titles and the UEFA Cup in 2000 with Galatasaray. He was also capped 102 times by Turkey.

“He has brought us the spirit of 2000,” rejoiced a supporter on a Galatasaray blog. “Bulent is our boy.”

With his broad smile and coiffed black hair the Buyuk Kaptan certainly cuts a dash on the touchline.

But he has a patchy record as a manager. Since becoming a club coach in 2006 he has had stints with Kayseri Erciyesspor, Bursaspor and Genclerbirligi – all of them brief.

Fans see no better man to ferry their team across the Bosphoruous come May to a UEFA Cup final to be held in the stadium of bitter rivals Fenerbahce. But does Korkmaz risk joining the ranks of great players who fade into ineffectual managers?

PHOTO: Galatasaray’s supporters celebrate during their UEFA Cup match against Girondins Bordeaux at the Chaban Delmas stadium, Feb. 18, 2009. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

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