Why will a club which is lying 5th on the league table after 9 games virtually hound its coach out of office? Is it a case of poor technical ability, an impatient club or both?
Until he [was made to] quit Kotoko on November 1, 2010, Ebo Mends was probably the only coach who did not know that he was never going to succeed at Kotoko. They say that ‘the son does not dare to play under the tree whose branch killed the father’. The least Mends could have done was to seek council from his numerous predecessors what was ahead of him when he received his instruments of appointment on June 29, 2010.
Knowing how the desperate Kotoko family who are eager to return to their glory days of the 1980 [of which Mends played a key part] will not tolerate piss poor performances, Ebo could have done better with Kotoko.
Every draw back a typical Kotoko coach would normally complain of was cleared for Mends. First, he had the opportunity to shop for players he thought will fit his philosophy. Again, the entrance of new club chairman, Dr. K. K. Sarpong came with the injection of both financial and morale support into the club. Several financial packages are always dangled before the team to entice them to give off their best. Thirdly, Mends had relatively enough time (June to October, 2010) to build a good team.
At least from the perspective of the technical team, the Kotoko squad was playing to Mends’ instructions. Mends himself was not silent about the bright future of the squad he was constructing. Hence, one would have expected a glittering Kotoko team.
Yet, Mends could not forge a consistent squad after a disappointing pre-season and a 9 match days. Under Ebo Mends, what was once an invincible home grounds had been turned into the clubs own ‘Waterloo’. Kotoko managed only 2 wins in 5 games at home and lost as many, conceding 3 goals and scoring 3. Their away performance under Mends was no different.
Beyond the statistics, Kotoko played some of the tactless football the club had witnessed in ages under Mends. Their form in the last five games has been everything but impressive (D-X-W-L-L). They were lucky to have recorded a home win versus Real Tamale United against the run of play.
We are yet to find what explanation Mends has for ‘the poor turnout’ he seemed to have had with Kotoko. Of course one can speculate that given some more time, the former Kotoko star could have found his rhythm with the club. After all, with a game in hand, Mends’ Kotoko were 5th on the league table and were in line to finish 2nd by the end of Match Day 9. Whatever he has to say in his defence, the facts are clear, that he could have done better.
Mends’ [forced] resignation however raises a number of concerns about Ghanaian football. First, in an era when Ghanaian coaches are struggling to impress the nation in the ‘Local-or-Foreign-national-team-coach’ discourse, one would have expected coaches like Mends to lead the way with their tactical skills on the pitch. Watching Kotoko play under Mends however, there was only one conclusion I always came to; a reputable club like Kotoko deserves a better coach. But the question is, is Kotoko manageable? How many coaches must Kotoko change to feel they are ready to settle down? Any rational follower of Ghana’s game will surely have course to question what exactly is on the Kotoko seat which makes it too hot for coaches – local or foreign.
Already there are talks of signing Dutch tactician Hans van der Plume. Is Dutch man going to be the first Kotoko coach in two decades to have at least 3 uninterrupted seasons to build a solid squad capable of winning titles in Ghana and Africa?