FREEKICK: WHO’S TO BLAME FOR A TEAM’S FAILURES?

Should a coach be blamed solely when a team underwhelms, or might his players be held primarily responsible?

It doesn’t take much to get a coach/manager fired, whether for not meeting expectations on the pitch or off it; it is a universally accepted job hazard alright.

When the issue has to do with results, however, some opine that the coach alone shouldn’t be burdened.

Would it be asking too much that the players involved be made to feel the heat as well?

Join our writers debate the topic!

JIMMY AIDOO‘It’s the lads’ fault, charley!’

Much gets made of football coaches’ touchline antics and gesticulations which, frankly, I feel are massively overrated.

Coaches dramatise a lot — punching the air, forming weird geometric shapes, [pretending to be] taking down notes (the very smart ones, presumably), barking at perceived refereeing injustices and intermittently screaming out instructions that probably no-one on the field hears or understands in a stadium packed with 60,000 teeming fans — and get paid humongous wages to do just that.

From the sidelines,  they have arguably the poorest view of proceedings and yet are trusted with the responsibility of calling the shots for the team. Mostly, the narrative is that players are playing to instructions if the team is winning and, when the team loses, the post-match press conferences gets punctuated with instances of players’ insubordination.

To illustrate, recall Jose Mourinho’s second stint with English champions Chelsea. Barely two months after winning the Premier League with the London club, everything went pear-shaped and ultimately led to the Portuguese’s dismal dismissal. Strangely, he was basically working with the same set of players.

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Jose Mourinho oversaw the worse title defense in Premier League history this season

At a point, it seemed almost impossible to watch Chelsea and buy into whatever it was the team was trying to do, with each mind-numbing error the team kept cataloguing. Little wonder club owner Roman Abramovich, shifting awkwardly in his seat after every deflating defeat, had to write the final chapter and give the ‘Special One’ the boot.

What prompted that, though? Did Mourinho, in some miraculous move, lose all of his swagger or could it have been something more nuanced?

And isn’t it a tad suspicious that Chelsea’s form picked up, albeit just a little, after his departure?

Well, your guess is as good as mine

SAMMIE FRIMPONG ‘Flog the big man!’

When, last week, Kumasi Asante Kotoko asked head coach David Duncan to ‘step aside’ (whatever that meant) — effectively ending the outspoken gaffer’s spell at the helm of Kotoko’s technical affairs — the poor fellow must have felt quite hard done by. But had he? Granted, Duncan had successfully pulled the Porcupine Warriors out of the mire he found them in a year ago, dragging them, albeit with some difficulty, to second-place on the league log and a Cup final appearance.

However, this term, he’s failed to fulfil the hopes such positive outcomes and a great pre-season raised, subsequently paying the hard way for underachieving. The obvious problem was a loss of form, but why not consider the possibility that said slump had been suffered by, not Duncan’s team, but himself? Coaches, even the very best ones, aren’t immune to the odd drop in s

tandards; when the opposition is tough enough, the occasion daunting, or when hemmed in by other factors, many a coach could be overwhelmed swimming against the tide.

Really, if a coach would want to be hailed and carried shoulder-high when successes are chalked, he shouldn’t be any less willing to bear the brunt when a slide turns inexorably bad. Those coaches who meekly acknowledge that fact — like Frenchman Remi Garde who departed imperiled Aston Villa recently — walk away with their pride intact; the more stubborn ones — like Jose Mourinho, at Chelsea earlier this season — are pushed out anyway.

A good manager wields considerable influence over his squad, the matron, the team doctor (hello again, Jose!), the groundsmen and — if he’s powerful and/or polite enough — the owners as well.

Being privileged to call all these shots (the most decisive ones, at least), the buck, in seasons good or bad, should stop with him.

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