The Monday Profile: Uwe Rà¶sler
With Norwegian Stà¥le Solbakken having recently joined the managerial ranks of English football having cut his teeth in Germany; the similarly coiffeured Uwe Rà¶sler has taken the opposite track as a German who conducted his training in Norway.
Like Solbakken, Rà¶sler spent some of his playing career in England although his spell on these shores was a much lengthier and more storied one. Manchester City fans still idolise him as the scorer of a half century of goals for the club and his barnstorming, all action style was perfectly suited to a unit that needed to scrap, a world way from the newly crowned Champions of yesterday.
That spell at Maine Road was unquestionably the high point of Rà¶sler’s playing days; an injury-wracked interlude at Southampton and a decidedly picaresque tour of the byways of the old GDR were far less distinguished.
Having headed across the Skaggerak, he successfully vanquished cancer as his career drew to a close at Lillestrà¸m, leaving him free to gain his coaching badges before assuming managerial control at the à…rà¥sen stadium. With expectations high at the five times Tippeligaen champions, he was relieved of his duties before continuing at Viking and then Molde — this latter period was a bright one on a short term contract and he little deserved being asked to step aside in favour of Ole Gunnar Solskjà¦r.
So his arrival at Brentford a year ago seemed a far sighted choice from a club on the up. Despite finishing in a creditable eleventh place in 2010-11, the conclusion to the campaign had been a flat one and Nicky Forster failed to attain to the job permanently.
Boosted by the money of Matthew Benham and a burgeoning Centre of Excellence, the summer’s acquisitions were eye catching — Clayton Donaldson (aka ‘Donaldinho’) arriving from Crewe after tearing a strip in League 2, Niall McGinn joining on loan from Celtic, Marcel Eger taking a North Sea ferry from St. Pauli and, perhaps most significantly, Swindon captain Jonathan Douglas assigned to boost the midfield.
Brian Smith’s contribution to our seasonal preview had identified the need for one additional forward and the free transfer of Donaldson looked just the ticket. A year on, the Yorkshireman has been impressive in bursts but has only managed to hit the net 11 times despite playing the whole year — both now departed striker Gary Alexander and midfielder Sam Saunders have outscored him.
Eger has also struggled to command a first team place but McGinn has chipped in with a tidy five goals from wide areas and Douglas has been a success — missing only 26 minutes of the season and being allotted the accolade of Player of the Year for 2011-12. Add to that the extremely promising displays of Everton loanee Jake Bidwell and Brentford remain one of the division’s more dangerous contenders.
Ninth place constitutes progress and it’s clear that Rà¶sler has the Bees headed in the right direction — indeed, the team has been in the top ten all season. The failings have been apparent against the more accomplished — losses to both Sheffield United and Stevenage in the run in re-emphasized this and a thrilling Sky-broadcast 3-0 win at the Valley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy was anomalous in the light of the whimper with which Brentford surrendered at the same location on January 2.
Donaldson’s unconvincing attempts to impose himself lead one to suspect that the step up has been too large for a man reared to score goals in non-league at York and his manager has already been busy, procuring the services of Crusaders’ Stuart Dallas — the Ulsterman has netted 24 times in 67 for the IFA Premiershippers.
It’s a key signing for the west Londoners and Rà¶sler in particular. On moving to the west post-unification, he remarked that the presence of cliques, a more powerful press and the personal politics surrounding team selection came as a shock to a man who turned out six times for East Germany. That said, within a few short years, he had asserted his individualism, racing to the technical area to taunt his manager Alan Ball after scoring against Manchester United.
He has defined mental strength and experience as qualities that will be required next season and the loanees having departed, new players will be sought to supplement Dallas. Brentford don’t have the money of the Sheffield clubs but with one and perhaps both of those gone as well as a larger Charlton, next season’s League 1 looks less tough than it has for a few years now (financially stricken Portsmouth and Coventry can hardly expect to challenge). Could 2012-13 be the Bees’ season?