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#Tamakloe’sTake; A tale of three coaches; Boadu, Barreto and Ignatius

Atsu Tamakloe runs the rule over Boadu's start to life in Accra, Barreto's and Osei-Fosu's Wonder-ful marriage of convenience

Barreto’s baby steps…

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When Mariano Baretto got the Kotoko job, he had two choices; rip it all apart and introduce his own ideas, working with players who could quickly assimilate and deliver. Or. Simply guide the team through the cycle of torpor and create an enabling environment for the players to thrive without any sophisticated tactical changes.

He chose the latter. Of course, there have been changes; the major tactical tweak being the introduction of Mudasiru Salifu into central midfield, and the decision to push Gama into a more central role. Since his return from injury, Mudasiru has been the difference between what would have previously been a safe pass, and the pass that sets things in motion for the team to create openings. When in defense, Mudasiru’s pass selection and his ability to dribble out of traffic, take pressure off the team. From then on, it’s Emmanuel Gyamfi’s pace, and Gama’s creativity that has provided the cutting edge for Kotoko. Quite basic, but effective.

Under normal circumstances, playing a well-defined choreographed attacking brand of football would be the minimum requirement for a Kotoko coach. But would it be fair to expect that from a man who took charge midway through the season? Absolutely not. Barreto needs time and thankfully, the results have bought him that; ten points from a possible 15, with eight goals, scored while conceding four goals in five games.

However, there are issues that need to be addressed immediately. Much of the team’s build-up depends on Mudasiru. In the games when he has been shackled, Kotoko has suffocated. It happened versus Olympics, Medeama and in the first half of the 3-1 win over Dreams F.C. While he enjoyed relative freedom in the match versus Eleven Wonders, his impact on the game was minimal. Goes without saying that Baretto needs to fix that.

Even though Barreto’s men have the enviable ability to stay in games, there is a distinct lack of control. On more than one occasion, they have ridden on luck, or the opponent’s profligacy to stay in games. For a title-chasing team, they cannot afford this.

For now, though, Baretto’s men are in a good place.

Boadu

13 points out of a possible 21. They have scored ten goals and have let in four. These are numbers from Samuel Boadu’s first seven games in charge as Hearts coach.

Beyond the numbers, the performances have not been great. Hearts have looked good in spurts but have struggled to play the high octane football Boadu demands. On the few occasions where they have tried to – as they did in the 2-0 win over Aduana Stars and the 1-0 win over Inter Allies – they could not cope with the intensity of the game and were forced to recoil into their shell.

The individual errors which characterized Nuru Sulley and Mohammed Alhassan’s performance have not gone away. In fact, Sule’s mistakes led to goals in successive games versus Karela United and Dreams F.C. Patrick Razak is still his erratic self.

In Boadu’s defense, injuries have robbed him of the chance to train the full complement of the squad. Prior to Boadu’s arrival, the Hearts midfield trio of Benjamin Affutu, Fred Ansah-Botchway, and Abdul Manaf Umar worked a treat. Ansah-Botchway has been out of action for four weeks, while Affutu has been in and out due to injuries and suspensions. Manaf is badly off-color and looks leggy. Ibrahim Salif, however, offers a glimmer of hope. The playmaker has taken to life, like a duck to water, at Hearts.

There is no suggestion that Boadu has to work magic. Far from that. The football Boadu prides himself with; coordinated pressing, expansive attacking brand of football, takes time to produce. It is not something you can teach mid-season. At best, you can only lay the building blocks.

It is however worrying that Hearts seem to have slipped back into the inconsistency that ended Kosta Papic’s stay at Hearts. The timing of this could not have been worse; when Hearts are in a title chase.

There are no suggestions that Boadu’s job is under consideration. Not, for now. But as many have found, job security is never a permanent state of affairs at Hearts of Oak. Boadu needs to turn the corner before he gets turned over.

Koo Fosu

On April 20th, Ignatius Osei Fosu became the latest to find out just how ruthless the coaching profession can be. With results wavering, Eleven Wonders asked him to ‘step aside’. Outside of Techiman, ‘Koo Fosu’ is seen as an ambitious, motivated, and intelligent coach with a bright future. His ability to add value to players and quickly improve teams has not gone unnoticed. He was responsible for Ibrahim Salifu’s transformation from a precocious talent to an elite performer in the Ghana Premier League. Clement Boahene and the highly-rated Rashid Mohammed are other success stories. Goes without saying that Koo Fosu is not a shabby coach. It was and is still hard to comprehend the rush to get rid of him.

Worse still, was the fact that Fosu’s contract with the club did not permit such an action. In fact, such an action could have cost a hefty compensation had Fosu taken them on. All this happened when the club Chief Executive, Albert Commey was in Benin.

However, after three games and two defeats, the club beat a retreat and reinstated him. On his return, he led the team to a 1-1 draw with Ashgold in Obuasi. The result keeps them three points above the drop zone on 26 points.

‘It tells me that in football, there are no friends. Once you don’t win, there are no friends. There are no permanent friends, there are no permanent enemies. That is the main thing I have learned’ Ignatius Osei Fosu tells me moments after the game.

Beyond that, the episode has given him a first-hand experience of the dirty politicking, that sometimes, includes players. To some extent, his longevity at this, and future jobs, will depend on how he plays his cards.

More importantly, Fosu knows exactly which cards to play keep the club in the league.

‘It helps to have experienced players in the league. Being in this situation does not shake them. The pressure can be unbearable for some. But they – the experienced players – can take it all in and still go out there to express themselves. And at this moment, we need that’ he tells me.

Perhaps, Fosu worries more about his players because he knows he will hold his end of the bargain. His method has beaten Olympics, Bashir Hayford’s Legon Cities, while picking points off Kotoko twice already. He may be young, but he is the man they turned to when the night was darkest; when Nana Ameyaw Manu’s cashew export business plummeted, forcing the club to settle for a manager who could deliver but at minimum cost.

Beyond his tactical acumen, their precarious economic situation is partly why they cannot afford with him. The situation is why they had to sell Ibrahim Salifu midway through the season. It is also why Wonders have struggled to pay salaries to players all season. For a club that is cash-strapped, it is hard to imagine making a decision with such implications.

Perhaps Koo Fosu deserves a club that would better appreciate his talent. Perhaps Wonders deserve someone they like. But for now, it is a marriage of convenience both employer and employee must see through until the end of the season.

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