S.League: Stewart out, Salim back with Rams

S.League: Stewart out, Salim back with Rams
Darren Stewart.

Their performance raised eyebrows, the result shocked everyone at the Jurong East Stadium, and the subsequent fallout after Woodlands Wellington's 7-1 capitulation to Albirex Niigata has had an even greater impact - it has turned back time.

Darren Stewart has bowed out of the club, with the Rams reverting to the pre-2014 era of former coach Salim Moin, who resigned from Tampines Rovers in April.

"When you get poor results, you don't sack the team - you sack the coach. I'm taking responsibility for the results that haven't quite worked out for us, and I'm sacking myself," Stewart (right) told The New Paper.

Woodlands have lost three of their last five fixtures in the Great Eastern Yeo's S.League, including the hammering by Albirex last week.


"I'm always honest with myself, and it seems that I couldn't get the best out of the players - I wasn't the right choice for Woodlands, who have been good to me, and I thank the club for giving me the opportunity to take the team."

A lot was made about the former Australia international's departure at half-time of last Wednesday's thrashing, but the 48-year-old had little to hide.

"I was ill the day before the game, a fact that Luca (Lalic, Woodlands assistant coach) was made aware of. I turned up on matchday to give it a go, but felt worse, and I just needed to get out of there," said Stewart, who revealed that club officials were informed before he left the stadium.

Stewart had earlier this year been linked to the job at A-League side Newcastle Jets, and the Aussie club revealed in April that he had turned down their offer of an interview.

Stewart told TNP then that he did not want to walk away from his commitment to Woodlands.

Woodlands sit in 10th spot in the 12-team standings, ahead only of two of the S.League's young, developmental sides, the Courts Young Lions and Malaysia's Harimau Muda B.

Before Wednesday's collapse, the Rams boasted the best second-best defensive record in the league (19 conceded), behind only leaders DPMM FC's miserly 12 goals.

Woodlands are not standing in the way of a Stewart exit, and have already moved to bring Salim back.

"The club has no intention of terminating (Stewart's) contract, in fact, he requested to step down himself," said Rams' team manager, Bruce Tan.

"Salim was with Woodlands these last few years before going to Tampines, and he knows the boys well," Tan added.

Despite his resignation from Tampines, club chairman Teo Hock Seng had promised to pay out the remainder of Salim's one-year contract.

"I really have to thank Teo, who called me from Australia to give me his blessings, to go to Woodlands," said Salim.

"I can confirm that I have joined Woodlands and it is time to turn the club around and move forward. The first step is to regain self-belief, after a very demoralising 7-1 thrashing."

Salim took two of his staff, Clement Teo and Matthew Tay, to Tampines at the end of last year, but he revealed they will not be following him back to Woodlands.

Having already met the team over the weekend, Salim will lead the Rams out against second-placed Warriors in the S.League on Friday.

This article was first published on June 16, 2014.
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