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Getting the axe

Recent researches into sports team’s performances has shown that across many sports and league competitions, a team that changes its coach after a decline in performance do in some ways rebound. Particularly, every club or national teams have strategies consisting of three choices; the length of the honeymoon period during which it will not consider sacking a new manager, the level of the performance trapdoor through which the manager gets the sack and the weight, the owners give to more recent games compared to earlier ones.

In the ongoing 2019 AFCON games, most that have participated have sacked their coaches following their results at the competition. For instance, Cameron became the latest country to sack their coach Clarence Seedrof and his coaching staff. South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Egypt, Morocco and Guinea Bissau have also sacked their coaches. From the teams that bowed-out, all four top earning managers in this year’s Africa cup of nations have already been knocked out of the tournament.

Former Nigerian international, Emmanuel Amunike became the first coach to lead Tanzania to their first AFCON appearance in over two decades. However, Emmanuel confirmed that his contract was terminated after losing three games.   

All in all, every club or a national team sacks its coach because of the results not being good enough and patience run out. Based on their target, be it player management or maximizing profit, the cornerstone of these are ‘results’.

Having said this, the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) and the Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) clubs have been following various ways to appoint and sack a coach. Ethiopian football clubs, following the trend set by other clubs, have started sacking their coaches after their promotion to the EPL was secured. Recently, the newly promoted Welkite City has sacked Coach Dereje Belay. 

A sport journalist and analyst Zeray Eyasu believes that many clubs are not professionals in evaluating and analyzing coaches that fit their clubs. “Our clubs are not well managed in appointing coaches. Appointments are through favors between club management and the coach.”

Nonetheless, according to a research find in European level football, managers are never more than six games away from getting the axe, although occasionally, the trigger may be pulled after a victory or may be prompted by something other than results.

Zeray disagrees that sacking coaches immediately following a promotion to the EPL is not reasonable. Managers at the higher league and super league have a good experience compared to the EPL coaches due to the challenges faced at that stage.

It is to be recalled that regional clubs faced direct interference from city administration officials with the appointment decision of staff. Regarding this, the board members or administrations are not fully aware of the follow-ups and detailed report of matches.

“Assigning a coach without evaluating major skills of coaching, needs to be stopped. Besides wining a trophy, the clubs should develop professional ways of appointing coaches and build a proper club structure,” Zeray concluded.

Over all, changing managers does not ensure how well the club does over the long term. The research is not suggesting that a club should never change its football manager.

Considering the massive hindrances in Ethiopian football, in the past season, the existence of the EPL across the region and capital city is under threat. The competition format will be changed which allows for regional clubs to compete in the region’s leading up to the final.