It’s my team, I want my girl in

IndependentSportview By Darlington Majonga

PERHAPS one of the only things Roman Abramovich can’t do with his billions is to bribe the international football body Fifa to guarantee Zimbabwe a place at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Afr


Yet Abramovich could have bought thousands of Russian vodka casks with the 30 million pounds he splattered to prise Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea.

But even if he imbibed all the vodka, it would not have sloshed the billionaire enough to make him forget Sheva — at least according to a report I read in the British media some time ago.

It would not shock anyone if Steaua Bucharest owner Gigi Becali were to order the club coach to field his mom and girlfriends or even donkeys and cats in the team.

It’s my team and a coach I pay so much money can’t dare disobey my instructions, Becali has said in the past.

Indeed money talks.

The hullabaloo stirred by Jose Mourinho’s exit from English Premiership giants Chelsea last week seems to have quickly subsided, but not before bringing to the fore the influence of club owners.

The severance of ties between Chelsea and Mourinho was hardly unexpected, with only the timing being the shock.

A day later, while the football world was still immersed in the blues at Chelsea, the exit of former Romania midfield kingpin Gheorghe Hagi from Steaua Bucharest could have passed unnoticed.

Hagi’s “honourable decision” to quit was hardly unexpected — a few weeks after Becali had threatened to fire the coach if he defied his orders on who to field in the team.

The Romanian legend might have won little as a coach, but Mourinho’s credentials are well known the world over.

The self-styled Special One was as charismatic as he was controversial. His barbs just marked him out:

* “Please don’t call me arrogant because what I am saying is true. I think I am a special one.”

* “(If) the club decides to sack me because of bad results that is part of the game. If that happens I will be a millionaire and I will get another club a couple of months later.”

* “Maybe one day when I become 60 and maybe one day when I am in the same league for 20 years and I know everybody and everybody respects me a lot I will have this power to speak and people tremble a little bit.”

You can describe Mourinho’s barbs as witty, but to the Chelsea bosses and in other quarters the remarks could have been perceived as arrogance.

If Mourinho — who managed to break Manchester United and Arsenal’s dominance of English football since his arrival at Chelsea in 2004 — could be so easily dispensable, then what kind of a coach do clubs want?

Not one who is as charismatic and controversial as Mourinho?

A former star who has played at the highest level like Hagi?

I thought a good coach basically ought to be patient and tolerant because any team is bound to have lazy and unruly players. The players are also usually not at the same level skill-wise.

The ability to motivate and inculcate discipline in a team is a key attribute that a coach should possess.

Above all, a good coach should be able to teach and be competitive.

Yet clubs still expect more than that from coaches — even if they bring success to the club.

In June, Spanish giants Real Madrid expelled Italian coach Fabio Capello less than a fortnight after he delivered them the La Liga championship that had eluded them for three years.

Although he delivered, Capello’s crime was that Real Madrid were not playing an attractive brand of football, so we were told.

Yet that’s not all.

Becali never made his instruction to Hagi a secret: field the players I tell you to or else I will fire you because I own the club.

In Mourinho’s case, Chelsea’s explanation that their relationship with Mourinho had broken down did little to dampen speculation that the Portuguese coach was not doing things his boss’ way.

While Mourinho preferred to seek fame with the no-so-big names — who presumably are self-motivated to prove themselves — Abramovich seemed fascinated by bringing some kind of galacticos to Stamford Bridge.

Probably because Mourinho was stubborn, Abramovich appointed his Israeli friend Avram Grant as football director to breathe down the Portuguese coach’s neck.

It must be frustrating for any coach to be paid to do things the way he doesn’t know them. And the moment the coach tries to do it his own way it’s called arrogance or insubordination.

I’m not sure if we have such a sad situation in Zimbabwe football.

But if Eric Rosen tells his coaches who to field why can’t he sit on the bench and do the work himself?

If Twine Phiri can order his coaches to field a player in a certain position, why can’t he direct the team from the touchline?

If Beable Gwasira and Irvin Mereki can tell their coaches who to field what can stop them from ordering their sisters fielded in the first team?

If Henrietta Rushwaya can tell Norman Mapeza who not to field, that’s not football.

For ages coaches have been victimised if a club is not doing well. But now it appears coaches can be fired for trying to do well without doing it the way the bosses want it.

What we don’t know is whether those who pay the piper know the tunes to call.

It’s unfortunate clubs have rushed to fire coaches willy-nilly without looking at other factors that might be obstructing success.

For example, does anyone believe Caps United could have won the league if they had a coach better than Moses Chunga?

How did Keagan Mumba, who almost won the championship with Dynamos in 2003, leave Motor Action in the throes of relegation?

Until Mourinho was fired, I had not realised how difficult it is for coaches to be successful. Or better still to impress their employers.

At least no coach would ever tell their children that they have been fired for incompetence.