Football has a new sheriff in town and on his first day in office, Richard Tardy fired his opening salvo, telling reporters that it is his way or the highway.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced yesterday that it had appointed the 64-year-old Frenchman as the head coach of national youth teams.
The role will see him coordinating with the coaches of the National Football Academy (NFA) Under-13 to U-18 teams to prepare the content of the training programmes for their players.
When asked about the possible difficulties he faces in getting local coaches to adopt his philosophy, he replied: "I am the boss of the youth national coaches. They must do what I want... and if they are not okay (with that), I stay. They don't stay."
Tardy, who has also been tasked with preparing and implementing the FAS' football development plans, is the first addition to the association since Belgian Michel Sablon was installed as technical director in April.
The role of the head coach of national youth teams is a new one, created based on the input of Sablon, who advised that a high-calibre trainer was needed to groom good youth coaches in Singapore.
Tardy, though, was quick to emphasise that he is not merely a coaches' instructor.
"My job is not to instruct the coaches," said Tardy, whose previous stint prior to joining the FAS was a four-year spell with the Rwanda Football Association, where he was technical director and also led the Under-17 national team to qualify for the U-17 Youth World Cup in 2011.
"My job is to help the coaches to try to improve and help the best young players (in Singapore) to progress, to help the level of the youth national teams to improve.
"The target in the future is to push many young players into the national team."
Saswadimata Dasuki, who helms the NFA U-17 side, welcomed Tardy's appointment, saying: "This will be a great help to local coaches because we are always looking to learn."
When asked about the Frenchman's comments about coaches being shown the door if they did not comply with his methods, Saswadimata felt it was not a concern, saying: "I don't think it will be a problem at all because we worked well with previous instructors."
While Tardy is determined to push through Sablon's vision to improve the state of local football, the Frenchman, who has been here for two weeks, was circumspect about what lies ahead of him in his new role.
He said: "I know some players here have the talent but we must develop the motivation and the fighting spirit because I feel that some players play when they have the ball but they don't do too much to fight and recover the ball when they don't have it.
"In Africa and Lebanon, young players want to prove (themselves) because with football, they can assure their futures.
"Sometimes in Gulf countries and here also, football is not the first choice but I want to (reinforce) the mentality that football is something amazing and we can enjoy this game."
He cited the example of French icon Zinedine Zidane, whom he claims to have spotted when the player was just 12, saying: "At 12, he worked very hard and also if he didn't have a good coach, he wouldn't be at the level he is today."
He added: "The (Singapore) players' mentality must change and the coaches must help to do that as well."
Tardy comes with a wealth of experience having had coaching stints in Morocco, Ivory Coast, Greece, Algeria and the Middle East while also having been an assistant coach of the French national youth teams from 1979 to 1997.
Most notably, he was assistant to former Liverpool tactician Gerard Houllier, and the duo led a France Under-20 team to triumph in the 1996 European U-20 Championship.
This article was first published on July 22, 2015.
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