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Claude Anelka: The man who paid to become a football manager

Jonny Keen

Claude Anelka
Claude Anelka

Claude Anelka was a man living in the shadow of his little brother. Nicolas Anelka was the star of the family, the world-class striker who had starred for the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea, whilst also winning the European Championships with France.

Claude, meanwhile, had worked as a DJ and even as Nicolas's agent. But he wanted some of that footballing glory for himself. And so in 2004, he made an offer to the football world at large; he would invest a modest sum of money into any club willing to appoint him director of football.

As might be expected, things did not go well. Claude claimed he would turn Raith Rovers into Scotland's 'third force' able to compete with Celtic and Rangers. It was something of an over-optimistic goal for a club who had struggled to stay up in the Scottish second tier the season before.

Anelka's lack of experience became immediately apparent. He brought in a series of signings from the lower French leagues, claiming that the French fifth tier was equal in quality to the Scottish second tier.

He was quickly proven wrong, as his new side struggled to compete and were knocked out of two competitions by lower league opposition. Not only were his foreign signings unsuited to the physical rigours of Scottish football, but they also found it difficult to communicate with one another as not all of them spoke English.

Claude never managed to be as successful in football as his famous brother Nicolas
Claude never managed to be as successful in football as his famous brother Nicolas

The inept Frenchman developed a reputation for deploying players out of position, and his unpredictable manner caused two experienced assistant managers to quit the club in protest.

Things were going from bad to worse; the board was disintegrating, the fans were protesting and all the money Claude had brought into the club had been used up on expenses for the foreign signings. It was no surprise then that after the first 10 games, Anelka's side had managed only a single draw, along with nine defeats.

In a statement, he admitted to having underestimated Scottish football and 'overstretched himself'. But he was not finished with football management. He had a brief spell in the US second tier with AC Saint Louis, but left after ten games, leaving the club bottom of the league.

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