How Long Can Samuel Boadu Hold on at Hearts?

Folded arms… scowl across the face… thousand-yard stare.

That was the picture fans of Accra Hearts of Oak saw far too often when they turned to their head coach, Samuel Boadu, as the club’s 2021/22 Ghana Premier League campaign went irreversibly south.

It all ended with a 4-1 home defeat to Real Tamale United (RTU), their fourth loss in a row, and they eventually finished sixth on the log, 19 points off the top. It was the worst their form got all season, but at no point were there really much better.

Hearts had some serious problems in recreating the winning formula that worked so well for them in the preceding season, huffing and puffing with precious little to show for their exertions. And much of the responsibility for such great disappointment, not unsurprisingly, has been borne by Boadu.

The distrust and suspicion around him only grew as the slump continued, with the number of doubters only multiplying. There was one more chance with which Boadu could plead his case, however – the FA Cup final against Bechem United, due a week after being humiliated by RTU.

Some wondered if Boadu would even make it that far, and yet he did, going on to pass the test with rainbow flying colours. Hearts won 2-1, playing with the sort of gusto and resilience that saw them win that same trophy and the Premier League last year. Fine strikes from Caleb Amankwah and Daniel Afriyie Barnieh dragged the Phobians from a goal behind, and they emerged triumphant.

Boadu made sure nobody missed the significance of what he’d achieved, pointing to the trophy as he walked past it after collecting his winners medal, a fourth in five competitions since joining Hearts in March 2021, as proof that he is the best man to carry Hearts forward.

Many remain unconvinced, though, not least one of the club’s leading figures, Board member Dr. Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe. The Hearts chief, not known for pulling punches, has offered a prescription to cure the team’s malaise, recommending some rather radical changes – of the kind he (in)famously oversaw some three decades ago.

“I have a problem with Hearts of Oak’s technical direction. Most of the players appear to be indisciplined in the team and are either aged or lazy,” he diagnosed, speaking to Accra-based Angel FM this week.

“I believe the current technical team can’t carry us far.”

This may be the opinion of just one man, true, but Dr. Nyaho-Tamakloe is as influential a figure at Hearts as anyone, surpassed only, perhaps, by the club’s Chairman, Togbe Afede XIV. At best, his remarks suggest a schism in the boardroom regarding the fate of Boadu and his bench; at worst, well…

Not that Boadu himself is overly worried about what any of this means, though. The 36-year-old has consistently stated that he’s not scared at all by the prospect of losing his job. He believes in his worth, yes, but he also concedes the fact that no coach – not even the very best – is indispensable.

The ball is no longer in his court, anyway. He has made his move, by adding another piece of silverware, a 12th FA Cup, to the Hearts cabinet. It’s his employers’ turn now to pick up and throw the dice, in his favour or otherwise.

Godfred Budu YeboahInk & Kicks

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