More in this category
It’s now a third manager this season alone, a familiar occurrence in the top European and South American leagues, not in the Ghana Premier League. Kenichi Yatsuhashi, Sergio Traguil, and now Yaw Preko. Very difficult to understand how the Phobians have capitulated this badly in the second round of the League after a dream start to this season.
The fortunes of the side in the past half-decade have been nothing to write home about. For a side with such history and pedigree, honours should naturally be their hallmark at the end of every season one might think. The generations before this current Hearts setup brought so much glory to the side. Such was the dominance of the side in the late ’90s and at the turn of the Millennium, and that to be honest was the result of blood, sweat and tears by players and management alike. Six successive league titles, a CAF Champions league title, a CAF Super Cup honour, a top eight ranking by global media giant CNN, a CAF Confederations Cup victory over eternal rivals Kotoko in Kumasi of all places and you would have to say the Phobians were on the verge of some dominance locally and on the international front. You would have to go back to 2009 though to recall the Phobians landing any colour of trophy. Now, that is seven long years and for a club with such pedigree, this is totally acceptable.
The management of any organisation comes with a certain level of expertise as standards always have to be improved going forward. Hearts of Oak have benefited from the expertise of some of the finest administrators around. His Excellency the late Prof John Evans Atta Mills, Henry Plange Nyemitei, Ato Ahwoi, Harry Sawyerr, Harry Zakkour, and Nii Ayi Bonte (Thomas Okine) but to name a few come to mind. These gentlemen contributed immensely to the success story of the Phobians for years. A number of these gentlemen though have over the years either passed on, aged, or paid a lot more attention to other pressing demands.
Enter the revered chief Togbe Afede XIV and you have to say that despite all the massive finances injected into the club, the results to be fair have been nothing to write home about but it would also be most unfair for anyone including myself to blame the financial guru for the side’s current slump. I have not been amused at the constant barrage of criticisms directed at the Executive Board Chairman for his apparent dictatorial tendencies in the administration of the club with a lot of these criticisms coming from individuals who know him a lot more than I do. Some of these same individuals for whatever reason decided to focus on a “lot more pressing things” when they decided there was little or no need to purchase any of the shares that were being traded as far as the new ownership structure was concerned. How then do you expect an individual to pump in millions of cedis only for you to sit back and literally instruct a majority shareholder on how a club should be run? Strange.
Some of the actions and inactions of former Managing Directors (Neil Armstrong and Gerald Ankrah) and the current boss Vincent Sowah Odotei could have been better. Their failure to exercise the right judgements at key times have ultimately hit the club very hard. How this will be reversed though remains to be seen, as there is a big chance Odotei could be gone by league’s end to focus on his ambitions on being elected representative of the people of La Dade Kotopon.
COMICAL COACHING MUSICAL CHAIRS
For a side that has been desperate to get back to its glory days, I find it baffling to see the club hiring a massive six managers in the last three years alone. Yes, managers are hired and fired depending on results. Football is a result-based business these days and, boy, do you need to earn your wages as a manager by the day.
Herbert Addo, David Duncan, Mohammed Polo, Kenichi Yatsuhashi, Sergio Traguil, and now Yaw Preko have all been given the chance to reclaim the club’s lost glory in the last few years but to no avail. Inasmuch as results may not be coming through, the short-, medium-, and long-term ambitions of a club should ultimately be considered in the choice to keep or fire a manager. Some of these managers have left under a cloud and with hindsight, you would have to say the decision to dispense with their services has been poor to say the least. The intolerable actions of some of them may have also led to a parting of ways. The big question though is whether these issues could have been managed differently to get the best out of these employees.
THE KENICHI FACTOR
I first heard of this gentleman after a friend sent me a picture of a supposed Japanese-American who had been hired to turn around the club’s fortunes following their near Premier League relegation last season. His CV was honestly not a blockbuster one. He wasn’t a Pep. Simple. Managing college and youth sides was surely not one that appealed to the die-hard fans of the Phobians.
The club’s performances in the Top Six before the commencement of the new season didn’t help, not to talk of their results from their pre-season friendlies. Even the most passionate Hearts fan would have had his confidence sunk to very low levels at the start of the new season. A not-too-inspiring 1-0 win over New Edubiase on Match Day 1 did little to appease the fans. For some, the new gaffer was nothing more than a liability. Such were the low levels of confidence they had in him. How things changed very quickly as results on the road against Medeama, Ashgold, Inter Allies, Berekum Chelsea interspersed with decent results against Techiman City, Dwarfs and Bechem United got the fans believing again. A surprise 3-1 setback at home against Wa All Stars and losses to eternal rivals Kotoko and Liberty at home did not seem to do much to harm the newfound belief of the Phobians. They were still far better off compared to last season where they battled to beat the drop. He had taken the side to a decent level and that had to be appreciated. He had brought the fans back to the stadium which ultimately had a positive impact on the club’s revenue streams.
Despite this relative success, there was talk of a palpable discord between management on one hard and the gaffer on the other. These things happen in any employment space. It was clearly getting messy at some point. With the manager set to undergo a training programme in India and with all the goodwill and “transformation” of the club, a mutual agreement was reached which saw him leave the club. 26 points from a possible 45 from 15 league results was probably not good enough to allow him undertake the course and come back, never mind the verbal agreement Kenichi claimed to have had with the previous club MD. He had succeeded in winning the fans over as some threatened not to go to the stadium to watch the team play. That was how angry they were.
THE TRAGUIL ERA
With all the talk focused on how the Phobians were going to better their lot in the second round, management decided to fall on little-known Portuguese Sergio Traguil. To be fair, the Portuguese was a lot more familiar with the African terrain, having managed in Nigeria – never mind the fact that he was initially only brought in to transform the youth side, Auroras – that is, if any Hearts fan believed that story in the first place.
His first interview was an interesting one. All the talk about a certain tiki-taka and all. Sounded all too familiar I guess. 12 long games into his tenure failed to improve the fortunes of the side. 16 points from a possible 36, and 3 from the last five games has led to the decision by management to revert to the position for which he was employed: to manage the youth side of the club.
I am not too sure what exactly the club legend can do in the last three games to overturn the tide. He may become an instant hero if Wa All Stars and Aduana capitulate in their games with the Phobians taking advantage by winning all three. Miracles they say do happen but one wonders how this change with only three games to go would really make any difference. Aduana and All Stars have been the most consistent sides in the league all season. They cannot possibly blow it at this late hour. Hearts could possibly win their last three games against out-of-form Dwarfs and Medeama and New Edubiase, who are already relegated. Wa All Stars play Liberty, Aduana and Sekondi Hasaacas with Aduana playing Techiman City, Inter Allies, and Wa All Stars, sides who desperately need the points. Preko, you bet, will give his all for the club. Time would definitely tell if that would be enough.
The coaches are being fired for failing to deliver the results. The managers would have to take these decisions sometimes. Question though is, ‘Have they acted in the interest of the club over the period they have been in charge?’ These are very difficult times for the entire Phobian fraternity as they grapple with yet another season without silverware. For a once dominant giant, it must hurt the fan base and anyone attached to the tricolours in any way of form. The smartest thing to do in my opinion is to focus on preparations for next season at the earliest. One thing for sure though is that compared to last season though, this has been a massive improvement. They can only build on it.
Let the faithful say NEVER SAY DIE
Source: Ghana/ClassFMonline.com/91.3FM/Kwame Dwomoh-Agyemang