Sack the coach and save your skin
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Sack the coach and save your skin

The veneer has once again come to its denouement, perhaps the only denouement. Dancers have bowed but they would be back, and the whole charade will commence all over again from scratch.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2006 19:44 IST

The veneer has once again come to its denouement, perhaps the only denouement. Dancers have bowed but they would be back, and the whole charade will commence all over again from scratch.
If the latest twist in the sinuous albeit exhilarating episode of the All India Football Federation's modus operandi, when it sacked National coach Syed Nayeemuddin on Thursday, leaves you with a feeling of déjà vu, then the feeling is dead on. AIFF's top brass has been here before, too many times for their liking and every time they have chosen the easy way out, perhaps the only way out that could have covered their gaffes and saved their skin.

The game of musical chairs is on once again. But the only chairs that seem to be moving are of the coach and his accomplices, while the upper hierarchy of AIFF remains comfortably ensconced in theirs, making others sway to their symphony.

Remember Sukhwinder Singh, Nayeem's predecessor who was shown the door under similar circumstances after the National team's inexplicable performance against Fiji and Pakistan.

Well, now it's the turn of the reticent Nayeem. With his phlegmatic persona and adherence to unrelenting and archaic training methods as a necessary adjunct to his coaching, Nayeem was always an incident waiting to happen. And the incident occurred with a bang against Yemen, and suddenly the Pandora's box was opened, tearing the Hyderabadi to pieces.

But then why was he selected in the first place? The traits that has been cited as the reasons for giving him the boot are innate in Nayeem and he was never going to change or deviate from his stern tenets. It was a known and accepted fact, as he had coached the National side before also without budging from his dogma although without any astounding results as well.

So, why not people who selected him in the first place, kept this in mind while bestowing him with the powers?

Anyway, let's not dwell too much into history, which is Nayeemuddin, and look to the future. AIFF general secretary Alberto Colaco on Thursday proclaimed that the football's governing body in the country had decided to approach FIFA and AFC to help them find an able replacement; a foreigner, who can herald a new era in Indian football.

Fair enough, change is imperative to solve Indian football's latest conundrum, and going by the prospective candidate's credentials, a foreigner looks the best bet to improve the plummeting fortunes of the National side.

But then this also sounds vividly familiar, doesn't it?

Remember Stephen Constantine, the erudite Englishman who came with a bang but fell out of favour for no clear-cut reasons. Well except for his proclivity of gnawing the hand that fed him -- AIFF! Constantine did show promise and the National team did look like chiming well under him but his virulent criticism of AIFF did not go down well with them and he too was shown the door.

Now, as the AIFF once again goes hunting for the perfect man -- "a person who has excelled both as a player and a coach, has a decent pedigree and can handle the carping critics with some degree of maturity" according to Colaco -- what it has to ensure is that he is given his space.

The new coach will have his own ideas and notions, much like Constantine had, and he would like to have his own way, naturally, given the amount of pressure he would be under. What AIFF has to ensure is at least be receptive to his ideas and give him time and leeway to usher in the winds of change.

If they won't, then it will be the same old song and dance once again!

First Published: Mar 12, 2006 19:44 IST