Rather than staying with Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United, both Fabio Pecchia and Ian Cathro instead chose to step into the world of football management themselves.
Since leaving in June (Pecchia) and December (Cathro) last year, they have had very different experiences.
Fabio Pecchia has done a remarkable job since parting company with Rafa Benitez and heading off to Hellas Verona.
The Newcastle boss had been with his assistant at Napoli, Real Madrid and Newcastle United, but last summer Pecchia joined an Italian club in disarray.
Last season (2015/16) Hellas Verona didn’t win a Serie A match until February 2016, their 23rd match of a 38 game season – not surprisingly they finished rock bottom of the table and were relegated.
Rafa Benitez’ former assistant faced a huge task but just like his old boss, he has managed to turn his Italian club around.
There are three clubs competing for the two automatic promotion places to Serie A and it currently reads SPAL 74 points, Hellas Verona 72 and Frosinone 71 – the league leaders have three games remaining and the other pair have two each.
Saturday saw Fabio Pecchia’s team win 2-1 at Virtus Entella and victory in their final two games would guarantee them promotion, like Rafa Benitez and Newcastle, bouncing straight back at the first time of asking.
However, life hasn’t been quite so kind for Ian Cathro since joining Hearts on 5 December 2016.
At the time Hearts were in third place on 27 points after 16 matches, two points behind Rangers and 10 adrift of Celtic.
After picking up just 19 points in 18 league matches, Hearts are now a disappointing fifth, 48 points behind Celtic, 21 adrift of second placed Aberdeen, trail Rangers by 12 points, whilst even St Johnstone have a six point lead over Ian Cathro and Hearts.
Since leaving Newcastle, Ian Cathro has only picked up more points than the four clubs at the bottom of the league.
Former Newcastle defender Aaron Hughes was signed by Cathro shortly after his arrival at Hearts and the 37 year old has just agreed a further year’s contract, he thinks it is only a matter of time before the team clicks under Ian Cathro.
“Every manager is different in terms of how they play, what movements they want here and there. Once everyone starts getting used to the movements and they become more natural, it starts to flow a bit better.
“Sometimes it’s hard because the opposition don’t allow you to play. It’s physical, they go up against you and it’s the old cliche that you’ve got to win the battle first before you start playing.
“We have done some good things, just maybe not had the results we deserve. It’s not hugely different or overly complicated here. It just demands a bit of concentration on style, hard work, and I think we’ll see the rewards of it.”
Rafa Benitez official statement when Fabio Pecchia left Newcastle – 1 June 2016:
“Today I would like to congratulate Fabio Pecchia who, until now, has been my ‘assistant ‘ in my recent managerial appointments at SSC Napoli, Real Madrid CF and more recently – Newcastle United FC.
“Fabio Pecchia has just accepted an offer from Hellas Verona and leaves us to return to Italy. To the football league we both fondly know as ‘Calcio’, he returns to head up an interesting and exciting project in Hellas Verona.
“For this reason, I’d like to highlight two points:
“First, I am sad to see him depart as he has been an excellent professional from the first day and until the last in the years we have worked together.
“Second and most importantly, I am pleased because he been considered for this new position, he leaves to face these new and exciting challenges, both personally and professionally. I wish you all the best, good luck and I can only say thank you for everything, Fabio.
“In my opinion, Hellas Verona are right in choosing Fabio and Filippo Fusco, another person close to me. Filippo is an individual who is professional, diligent, capable and equally qualified as Fabio is. This is another reason to be pleased for Fabio’s departure and subsequent journey.
“I wish them both the best of the luck, strength and encouragement for their new and future endeavours.”