Who would be a football manager, eh? You land a risky role at a sleeping giant, which has chewed up and spat out a number of experienced coaches in recent years, and despite the odds being stacked against you, you manage to unite a seemingly broken club.
Then you get sacked.
The axe hasn't fallen on Stefano Pioli just yet, but it is being sharpened as we speak. The Italian coach's appointment back in October was used as a measuring stick of just how far Milan have fallen in recent years, but he has shoved that stick where the sun don't shine, turning I Rossoneri into a competitive top side once again.
Stefano Pioli is the first AC Milan coach to put 4 goals past Juventus since 1989 ??⚫ pic.twitter.com/dnmEdwqPLr— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) July 7, 2020
His reward for his sterling efforts? Ralf Rangnick. The German guru is waiting in the wings to take over at San Siro at the end of the season, meaning Pioli will be left out of a job - but with his reputation very much enhanced by his ability to put out yet another blazing fire.
And after doing a solid job in tragic circumstances at Fiorentina, guiding an extremely young and raw Viola squad through the sudden death of their captain and leader Davide Astori, the 54-year-old has earned himself another fair crack at the top level of European football.
But which clubs should be eyeing a swoop for the Milan boss this summer? 90min takes a look at five teams who should clear the path for Pioli to guide them to glory next season.
Paulo Fonseca’s future is not in doubt. He has my full support. Forza Roma pic.twitter.com/CpYyfV4tKM— Jim Pallotta (@jimpallotta13) July 4, 2020
A club in decline, AS Roma need a miracle to save their wretched season. Coach Paulo Fonseca started brightly in the Italian capital, playing some adventurous and swashbuckling football, but performances have dropped post-Christmas, and with that, results have nose-dived.
The faults of the club do not lie purely at the feet of the Portuguese boss, but there is a sense he will be the one to pay for the general decay in Rome. I Giallorossi are in danger of becoming the new Milan in the coming years, and they could avoid the half decade of heartache by appointing the saviour for next season.
Pioli will be keen to test himself in the Champions League, and if he's sure he could bring Roma back to those glorious European nights under the Olimpico lights, then it may be the perfect challenge for the Italian coach.
West Ham United is a club forever stuck in purgatory, desperate to smash through the pearly gates and join football royalty in the good place. But one Manuel Pellegrini and two David Moyes' later, the Hammers find themselves closer to hell than heaven.
The West Ham board are unlikely to reward Moyes for ensuring survival by giving him the sack (again) but deep down, they must know he is not the man to guide them to the promised land. Pioli however, may be the chosen one. The Italian is tactically adept to deal with the demands and pace of the Premier League, and he has proven time and time again that he can steer a team through choppy waters, and find that rainbow at the end of the storm.
There is plenty of talent in this West Ham team, and if Pioli's spell at Milan has taught us anything, it's that he can squeeze every drop out of whatever squad he finds at his disposal. it may not be the end of Felipe Anderson and Pablo Fornals' miserable stints in east London, after all.
Another English club aching for success, but doing very little about it, is Newcastle United. The Magpies are attracted to the shiny flickers of light from the top half of the table, but that glory remain firmly out of their grasp.
And there is a growing sense among the fanbase that while the reliable yet unfashionable Steve Bruce is at the helm, the club's fortunes will not change.
Pioli could help them break through that glass ceiling, and backed by wealthy owners who want to drive the club forward, Newcastle could finally return to the perch they once occupied, among the Premier League elite.
Yet another basket case. (You're beginning to spot a running theme here, aren't you?) Valencia should be a top six club in Spain - no doubt about it. Given the quality within the squad and the size of the club and fanbase, there is no reason for them to be languishing in eighth place.
In fact, coach Alberto Celades has paid the price for their poor run of results, and los Murcelagos are once again on the hunt for a new manager. With options limited at the top tier in Italy, a move to Spain could be the ideal switch for Pioli, whose organisational skills and desire to play attractive football would go down wonderfully well with Valencia supporters.
David Wagner will remain as Schalke head coach after a team-record 16 games without a win, confirmed on Wednesday at the Bundesliga side's end-of-season news conference. pic.twitter.com/U1OAgH4EQO— Sports China (@PDChinaSports) July 1, 2020
Pioli could go from one sleeping giant to another this summer. It's easy to forget, but Schalke are genuinely one of the biggest and most heavily-supported clubs in world football. So it's even more disappointing to see them sitting closer to the relegation spots than European success.
The David Wagner experiment may recently have been backed, but he is living on borrowed time, and the Bundesliga outfit will be keen to be challenging at the top end of the table next year. If the Schalke owners need any evidence that Pioli is the man for the job, they need look no further than his heroics over the past nine months, lifting a club from off its knees to now puffing out its chest in defiance.
The man is a miracle worker, who laughs in the face of a crisis. Sign him up, all of you.
Source : 90min