There are louder ways to announce your exit from a football club, especially one of Asante Kotoko’s magnitude.
But in keeping with his low-key, attention-repellent, under-the-radar nature, Dr. Prosper Narteh Ogum went for a more muted approach.
Sometime on Monday, Ogum – or whoever handles his social media accounts, if not himself – crept onto Twitter and quietly dropped slipped a six-letter bombshell in front of the unpunctuated ‘Head Coach Asante Kotoko’ job title in his bio: Former.
For good measure, the images decorating his profile – which had him in Kotoko-branded gear – were also replaced with a picture that sees him smartly-dressed in dark colours against a white background, smiling as though without a care in the world.
With a following of over 16,000 – the vast majority of those being Kotoko faithful, needless to say, but with the club itself curiously off that list – Ogum’s amendment of his employment status (with respect to Kotoko) and his timeline’s makeover weren’t going to go undetected too long, were they?
This comes less than a month after it was first speculated that Ogum had served notice of his desire to leave, for reasons that are still anybody’s guess. There was no official communication from either party to confirm or deny that development, with Ogum busy on national team duty as assistant coach of the Black Galaxies, while Kotoko kept giving off business-as-usual vibes.
That was possibly because, as rumoured, attempts were underway to reconcile and iron out any differences that must have informed Ogum’s sudden decision to part ways with the club he’d just made champions of the Ghana Premier League for the first time in eight years.
Now, it isn’t exactly out-of-the-ordinary that one of Ghana’s two biggest clubs (or both, at the worst of times) undergoes a shift in technical leadership as they prepare for the start of a new season.
While both won major silverware last term, there was a general consensus that Kotoko had had a far better campaign than archrivals Accra Hearts of Oak, the FA Cup winners; if anyone stood at a real risk of losing his job, it was the latter’s head coach.
Doubts were cast over Samuel Boadu’s competence as a tactician and man-manager – by no mean a person than Dr. Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe, a dyed-in-the-wool Phobian and member of the club’s current Board (also a self-confessed Ogum admirer) – not many hours after he had lifted a fifth trophy in a little over two years as Hearts boss, a triumphant climax to an otherwise unremarkable season.
Ogum and Kotoko looked to have no such problems. They won the league at a canter, celebrated like nobody’s business, and embarked on a media tour that presented a happy, unified front.
Seemingly, though, it was nothing more than that – a front – with tensions reportedly bubbling beneath all along.
Not that the uncertainty about the club’s technical direction has obstructed transfer dealings, with departures being sanctioned and new recruits coming in. The club’s pre-season work, too, has kicked off rather smoothly, under the watchful eyes of caretaker Abdulai Gazale.
Kotoko are set to fly to Turkey for the now-delayed second phase of that exercise, where they’d also be engaged in some sufficiently high-profile friendly fixtures, to get in shape for the assignments that lie ahead.
Don’t be surprised, though, if – between now and then – a new trainer is appointed and/or unveiled, as Ogum’s not-so-subtle announcement of his departure is sure to force Kotoko’s hand in addressing a subject of genuine concern.
Most fans are upset enough to have lost a coach as brilliant as Ogum; hesitating any further in shedding light on the fact of his exit (never mind the reason(s) behind it) and – more relevantly – the identity of his successor wouldn’t exactly calm those agitated feelings.
Speaking of a successor, it would only make sense that Kotoko already have one lined-up behind the scenes, seeking his input even as they go about such vigorous and extensive off-season activity – otherwise the new man would just come in and probably end up whining about being handed a squad not cast in his image, undermined before he even took up the role.
And that, needless to say, is a route the Nana Yaw Amponsah-led management – already under intense scrutiny after burning through three substantive head coaches in two years – wouldn’t want to go down, would they?