Ab’dallah: The burden of being Enyimba’s Head Coach

While there is still no word from the club via any of its official channels, we now have word from the horse’s mouth. Usman Abd’allah has been given a new one-year contract, and will stay on as coach of Enyimba.

First things first: this is very richly deserved. He stepped into the breach to remedy one of the worst decisions the club has made in recent times, and allowed the team maintain a level of stability. He deserved, at the very least, the right of first refusal. So, credit where it’s due.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s address the man himself. Whereas last season he pretty much had nothing to lose, due to the coaching situation, this time it is his neck, and reputation on the line.

He will have the chance to both prepare the team the way he sees fit, and start the season on the right note. So, any success or failure will come down purely to him and his decisions.

He has a unique chance to make a name for himself here. While it is not ideal for a relatively inexperienced coach to start, as it were, with such a high-profile job (see, Thierry Henry), there will be a lot of attention on him from the start. If he fails, it is his reputation that will suffer. If he succeeds, it will soar.

With that in mind, it would be in his best interest to do things his way. That can be easier said than done, especially in a club like Enyimba where everyone feels like an expert because of two Champions League titles won 15 years ago. But he has to try.

No one can claim to know how every variable will pan out. So, if a man is to make a mistake, it is better for him to do so from a place of personal conviction. If you follow external influences and fail, you get the boot anyway. Those people whose “advice” sunk you will remain. If you don’t follow, and fail, at least you failed doing what you’re convinced is right. That way, he can learn from it.

Hopefully, he is given some input in the player recruitment process. We know the club has a policy of not letting coaches sign players they want, in order to restrict the influence and control they have. That’s alright. But at least let the coach have a say at the end.

The club owes him an enabling working environment, and he owes the club something too. Success in football is hard to define these days, but there has to be more to it than just a token trophy. I, for one, would like to see a team with a recognizable style. I’d like to walk in and, even if the TV is in black and white and there is no scoreboard on the screen, tell that I’m watching Enyimba play.

Abd’allah is a coach who is very well read, and has a lot of qualifications on his CV. Now, he has the chance to back that up, and put a stamp on the history of Enyimba. He will succeed doing it his way, or not at all.


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