Despite qualifying for their first major tournament since the 2010 World Cup by topping a qualification group in which they were 3rd seeds drawn against Wales, Austria, and Ireland, Serbia have today confirmed that they have parted ways with manager Slavoljub Muslin.
An official statement released by the Serbia's football association claimed that after a meeting with the president both parties decided that a new head coach should be found for the World Cup.
The FSS, headed by president Slavisa Kokeza, convened and decided to part company with Muslin by mutual consent, with his assistant Mladen Krstajic taking over as the caretaker until a new head coach is appointed.
The timing is absolutely bizarre. A new manager will now have to adjust to his players, and visa versa, all while planning for a World Cup in the summer.
Reports from Serbia have claimed that while the official line is 'mutual consent', Muslin had come under a lot of pressure for not including young players in his squads, most notably Sergej Milinkovic-Savic who has been impressing for Lazio over the past 18 months. That said, Muslin included the talented attacking midfield in his squad for the November friendlies.
The new has come as a surprise to most.
FSS confirms that Slavoljub Muslin is no longer Serbia manager. His assistant Mladen Krstajic takes over in the short term.
— Serbian Football (@SerbianFooty) October 30, 2017
Slavoljub Muslin is said to have ignored the #Serbia FA's suggestion to call younger players which is the main reason for departure.
— Miloš Marković (@MiloseMarkovicu) October 29, 2017
Serbian FA confirm that, despite him winning automatic World Cup qualification from Ireland's group, they sacked manager Slavoljub Muslin.
— Aidan Fitzmaurice (@fitzmaidan) October 30, 2017
So Serbian FA confirm Slavoljub Muslin is no longer Serbia manager, got to feel for him. Qualified for the World Cup & treated like that
— Matt White (@Matt_CAFC) October 30, 2017
Martin O'Neill must be looking at that situation and feeling very grateful for the support the FAI have given him, even offering the manager a new contract before knowing where we would finish in the group.
It seems very unfair that after proving he can achieve success with his methods, he appears to have had the chance of managing at a World Cup taken away from him regardless.