Dick Advocaat, FC Zenit and High Expectations Threshold

Dick Advocaat in Zenit As I was pondering on the recent leave of Dick Advocaat from FC Zenit [source 1 | source 2], the football (American English: soccer) team that I root for, I couldn’t help but look at it through my own prism — that of a manager. To me the football team’s manager job is very similar to that of an affiliate program manager (frequently to that of an OPM, or an outsourced program manager). Both often come into the picture at moments when help is desperately needed, and both leave the team (be it a football, or an affiliate one) either when something is not going right, or when a better replacement is found for them.

In the case with Dick Advocaat there was no better coach to come in his place, and his contract had to run through the end of this football season. However, he was asked to leave the club before the end date on that contract. The media told us that it was “a string of horrific performances that … prompted the Dutch tactician’s firing” [source]. My personal opinion is that it were not those two lost games that caused the Zenit’s higher management to make such a decision. The problem was with the success that Dick Advocaat became almost synonymous with. Under Advocaat’s management, FC Zenit St Petersburg won it’s most impressive trophies ever:

  • 2007 Russian Premier League Championship
  • 2008 UEFA Cup (final: Rangers-Zenit — 2-0)
  • 2008 UEFA Super Cup (Man Uni-Zenit — 1-2)

After such a victorious history under the management of the “The Little General” anything less than a win would not be deemed acceptable. It was a classic example of the expectations bar raised so high that only considerable progress would be accepted, and everything else would be equaled to failure.

Lesson to learn? Move on to the new opportunities, and help others succeed under your management. We’ll miss you, Mr. Advocaat. You’ve written your name into the history of St. Petersburg, and the city will forever be grateful to you for the three years you coached Zenit. Onwards and upwards!

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