Coaches want to be left alone

Coaches want to be left alone
PHOTO: The Straits Times

When the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) released a statement on Wednesday about its review of the SEA Games failure, one particular point raised eyebrows.

A line that was in the 10-paragraph statement read: "Efforts will be made to: review the team management decisions before and during the tournament, and tactical decisions taken by coaching staff during the tournament."

This suggested that in the future, the tactics and management decisions of FAS coaching staff can be altered by other FAS officials, leading to questions if this means that coaches will now lack autonomy.

Most coaches whom The Straits Times spoke to vehemently opposed the idea .

SEA Games assistant coach S. Subramani said: "It is not fair to local coaches if they are going to intervene in a team's preparation or tactics.

"If you appoint a coach, then it is only fair that you give the full responsibility to him.

"If I was the coach , I wouldn't feel so good and, in fact, I would feel like I am being undermined."

FAS' statement has also raised further questions on how such reviews are going to be implemented and whether its senior management and heads of department tasked to conduct such reviews will intervene mid-way during a tournament should problems arise. It is also unclear how much autonomy its coaches will have.

The FAS did not respond to The Straits Times' queries at press time.

Malaysia national coach Dollah Salleh said: "It is not right at all.

"If you appoint a coach, you have to give him the full freedom in terms of preparation and tactics.

"A football association should never ever interfere in the decisions a coach makes."

Former Lion and current Hougang United coach Salim Moin was equally livid.

"How can you tell a coach to play a certain way or even advise him tactically?" he blasted.

"Every coach has his own philosophy and unless you are Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger, don't waste your time in telling me how I should line up my team."

The current Hougang tactician also added: "If a 'panel' wants to give tactical advice, why don't they be the coaches instead?

"If the team lose the game, the blame goes to the coach and not the FA. So my advice is to let the coach do his job."

Former Singapore national coach Jita Singh, now the technical advisor to Kuala Lumpur academy Frenz United, however, welcomes the FAS' decision.

He believes that such a decision-making process will help streamline Singapore's senior and age-group national teams to play in the rapid, short-passing style favoured by national teams' head coach Bernd Stange.

"But at the SEA Games, our U-23 team were playing a lot of long balls," Jita noted.

"Maybe the FAS saw that and now they want to intervene and ensure our national teams have a uniform style of play going forward."

Warriors FC coach Alex Weaver accepts input from fellow officials, like a technical director.

However, he believes coaches should be the ones who ultimately call the shots.

The Englishman said: "You can have opinions from people in the coaching set-up but someone has to take the decision in the end."

For Geylang International coach Jorg Steinebrunner, the news of FAS' plans to directly involve itself in team tactics is baffling.

"You look at Barcelona and the managers they have appointed over the years. They know their philosophy and they ensure they bring in someone who will follow that," explained the German.

"You would not expect Barcelona to appoint someone like Sam Allardyce (the former West Ham United and Bolton Wanderers manager who had advocated a long-ball style of play).

"Singapore football does not have one identity like Barcelona, so what is the fuss over tactics?"

"If FAS wants its team to play a certain way, then that should be a criteria before it appoints a coach, and not make a coach a scapegoat for failed tactics after a tournament," he noted.

This article was first published on July 31, 2015.
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