Monday, August 11, 2008

Gullit and Lalas exit LA Galaxy

Los Angeles Galaxy coach Ruud Gullit has resigned and president and general manager Alexi Lalas has been sacked.

Gullit cited personal reasons for leaving while Lalas has been let go as the club, without a win in seven games, initiates "sweeping changes".

Galaxy bought England midfielder David Beckham to the club with a five-year deal worth £130m in July 2007 and have been under intense scrutiny ever since.

Gullit has been replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach Cobi Jones.

With Beckham now fully fit after a series of injuries hampered the start of his career in the United States, Galaxy were supposed to challenge for the MLS Cup title this season.

But they are struggling to make the play-offs after taking only 23 points from 19 games, with Gullit failing to have any real impact on results after admitting difficulties in settling in California.

"In truth, it has proved a lot more difficult than I anticipated for my family to settle in the area and the club has been very supportive and understanding of my decision," said Gullit.

"I would now like to spend some time with my family before considering any other position in football."

Tim Leiweke, president of the AEG Group that owns the Galaxy, said both parties had agreed on mutually-agreeable terms to part company and paid tribute to the Dutchman's contribution.

"Hopefully, he has laid the foundations for future success for the Los Angeles Galaxy," he said.

In the case of Lalas, however, the club chose to dismiss him rather than wait for his contract to expire at the end of the season.

"With Ruud moving on, we believe that this is the right time to make more sweeping changes throughout the organisation," said Leiweke.

"Our commitment continues to be focused on not only winning the MLS Cup this and every season but to build a club capable of competing at the international level.

"This decision is the right one for the organisation, the right one for the players and the right one for our fans."

Gullit took over as Galaxy coach during the close season in November following the departure of Frank Yallop to the San Jose Earthquakes.

The former Holland international brought star credentials with him as the former Newcastle and Feyenoord coach - and one of the world's greatest players in the late 1980's - but he failed to turn around the fortunes of the commercially-driven Galaxy.

It is also thought to have been left frustrated by the limitations imposed by MLS regulations, most notably the salary cap.

Lalas was a highly influential figure at the club, the man who appointed Gullit and oversaw the club's policy of pursuing high-profile names - most notably that of Beckham, who signed for the club from Spanish giants Real Madrid in a landmark move for football in the US.

Source: BBCi

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