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Dugout Blues: Former Chelsea striker sacked as Modena manager

Chelsea players turned managers had a tough two weeks, none more so than Hernan Crespo who received his walking papers from Modena F.C.

Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

CRESPO GOES!

Hernan Crespo's playing career saw him fighting for trophies at Italy's elite clubs, along with Chelsea and his hometown River Plate. However, at his first managerial post — when faced with a battle at the opposite end of the table — Crespo struggled (much like he did in front of goal only when playing for Chelsea).

Crespo was fired by Serie B outfit Modena on March 26th, a day after the team lost 2-1 to league leaders Cagliari (who are also Gianfranco Zola's favourite team). Being sacked after a close loss to the potential champions may sound harsh, but this was Modena's third loss in a row and the result saw the team drop to 18th place in the table. If the season ended today, Modena would play Vicenza with the loser being sent to the wilderness that is the Lega Pro Prima Divisione.

The Canarini (Canaries) found themselves in such trouble in part because of their failure to pick up points versus their fellow relegation strugglers. On March 19th they lost 2-1 at home to bottom club Como and earlier this month they lost to 17th placed Ascoli.

The northern Italian side are now looking for a new manager to save their Serie B status. For whoever comes in; it will be a tough ask, as Modena's run-in features numerous promotion chasing teams and only one opponent currently in the relegation zone (Salernitana).

With a woeful record at Modena, it may be a while until we see Crespo manage again in Italy's second tier, or a competition of equal standing. Hopefully the Argentine will find a new club; where he can hone his managerial skills with fewer expectations placed upon them. Until then, let's enjoy his greatest moment in a Chelsea jersey.

ELSEWHERE

Gianfranco Zola's Al Arabi fell further back in the race for an Asia Champions League berth when they lost 3-1 away at Al Ahli Doha on March 15th. Zola's men, who are 6th in the Qatari Stars League, will look to leapfrog 5th placed Umm-Salal when they play on April 2nd.

In Greece, Gus Poyet and AEK Athens secured a spot in the play-offs, to decide Greece's second entrant into the UEFA Champions League, with a 3-0 victory at home to Panthrakikos on March 14th. With the pressure off, AEK put in a lacklustre display away at Panetolikos on the 20th, where they lost 1-0.

Dan Petrescu is still top of the league in China (through goal difference) after just two games played. In the Asia Champions League Petrescu's Jiangsu Suning sits second in Group E after a bore draw at FC Tokyo on March 15th.  Next up for Jiangsu is a clash with Henan Jianye, which has Gael Kakuta, Gervinho, and Ezequiel Lavezzi in its ranks.

QPR and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink were pegged back in the dying seconds in their 1-1 draw with Preston on March 19th. The Hoops are 11th in the Championship, 11 points back from the play-offs.

Slavisa Jokanovic's Fulham drew 1-1 to Birmingham City on the 19th. The Cottagers are 21st, just one point from the relegation zone. Fulham, who have now gone six games without a win, have only won twice in 2016 (to QPR and relegation battling Charlton).

In the lower leagues Frank Sinclair continues to struggle. Two weeks removed from Sinclair's bizarre walkout/comeback Hednesford Town lost to Stockport 2-1 at home. On March 26th the team drew 0-0 to Corby. The Pitmen have gone 11 games without a win, amassing a paltry 5 points in that spell. Currently they sit 21st in the Vanarama Conference League North, 7 points from safety with just six games left.

Faring much better in the Conference North is Kevin Wilson and Nuneaton. The 5th placed team drew 2-2 away at 3rd place Fylde on the 19th. The wild game saw Nuneaton go 2-1 up after goals in the 82nd and 89th minute before conceding an injury time equalizer. On March 26th they saw off Lowestoft 1-0, at home.

In International Friendlies: Didier Deschamps' France beat an emotional Netherlands side 3-2 in Amsterdam, on March 25th. Ukraine, with assistant coach Andriy Shevchenko, beat Cyprus just 1-0 at home on the 24th.

RUMOUR MILL

According to a report from Calciomercato, Chelsea favourite Roberto Di Matteo is a leading candidate to take over at Lazio, where he once played. Current manager Stefano Pioli may be on the hot-seat after the Roman side crashed out of Europe courtesy of Sparta Prague.