Carlos Queiroz appointed Iran Coach: A step forward for Iran, a step back for Queiroz

On Monday it was announced that the former Portugal Coach and Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz had agreed a three-year contract to take charge of the Iran national team.

Queiroz, who has also previously been in charge of Real Madrid and South Africa, confirmed he will be leading Iran through to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and will be reportedly earning approximately $2m a year. It is thought that the deal was first confirmed back in February, but personal issues, chiefly his family’s reluctance to relocate to Iran delayed the decision.

Football in Iran has taken a backward step in recent years, having qualified for the World Cup in 1998 and 2006 and narrowly missing qualification in 2002, Iran failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and struggled in the 2011 Asian Cup. This slide has seen Iran fall behind Australia, Japan and Korea Republic in the FIFA world rankings.

The appointment of a coach with Queiroz’s experience is a move designed to bring success back to Iranian football with qualification for the 2014 World Cup the clear goal. However this move has to be seen as a step in the wrong direction for Queiroz, who struggled during his most recent tenure as Portugal Coach.

Queiroz’s record as a manger is mixed. He won the World Youth Championships in 1989 and 1991 with Portugal’s U-20 side, and has been credited by some for bringing through Portugal’s golden generation of players, which included the likes of Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Joao Pinto. He also had moderate successes with teams in the United States and Japan, and led South Africa to qualification to the 2002 World Cup. Yet despite these successes Queiroz struggled during both his tenures as Portugal manager and Real Madrid boss, and was perceived to have underachieved while in charge of Sporting Lisbon.

The most recent success Queiroz enjoyed was at his time as assistant manager at Manchester United. He helped change the tactical philosophy at the club from a side that made use of an aggressive attacking 4-4-2 to a more tactically aware 4-5-1. At first the Portuguese faced a lot of resentment from fans who had watched their team win seven titles in nine seasons with 4-4-2 transformed into a team that won one in five with 4-5-1. However these changes bore fruit with the emergence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and the acquisition of Carlos Tevez. United played with a fluid front three, without a defined striker leading the line, and were one of the most exciting and tactical sophisticated sides in Europe.

The side Queiroz helped build was to dominate English football at the end of the last decade, winning 3 consecutive domestic titles and back-to-back appearances in the Champions League final – although United were only to win one European Cup.

Queiroz’s stock has fallen after his time with Portugal, but masterminding World Cup qualification for Iran would demonstrate not only that Queiroz is still one of football premier tactical thinkers but can be a successful manager as well.

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