Not as many mourned Maxwell Konadu’s Friday morning departure from Asante Kotoko as celebrated his return to the Porcupine Warriors exactly a year ago — and that says a lot about how low the 48-year-old’s stock has fallen since his long-awaited second coming.
As Kotoko’s season went from bad to worse, it was inevitable that — if things eventually took a turn for the worst — Konadu would be shown the exit. Now he has — earlier than some had imagined, in fact — and it’s hard not to advance an argument that Konadu, perhaps, should have been afforded a little more time to sort out Kotoko’s fortunes.
But time, at Kotoko, has always been a scarce commodity. There is never quite enough of it, especially for a coach many deemed increasingly poor at his job, and Kotoko’s management — led by Nana Yaw Amponsah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) — felt the itch, scratching it quite brutally.
The disappointing results, and the accompanying uninspiring performances, were fast becoming an unnecessary distraction, even as Amponsah and his crew got busy burnishing and building and brushing and bulking up Kotoko’s brand.
This writer has, in the recent past, highlighted the distinction between Kotoko, the club, and Kotoko, the team. Still, there are ties that bind the two, however faint, and they become rather visible at the heights of glory and in the depths of despair.
The team’s health on the field needed to be in sync with all the fine work the management has been putting in elsewhere, even if only to avoid the agitation such struggles tend to generate among the fanbase. And so the switch has been flipped, the curtains drawn on Konadu’s second act, and Kotoko have a clean slate.
Well, Konadu’s departure is, effectively, strike one for Amponsah and Co. Hiring and firing head coaches so frequently — 30, I believe, in the last two decades — remains one of Kotoko’s more troubling excesses, of which they clearly haven’t grown weary even with the passage of time.
That, however, is an age-old habit Amponsah’s administration was expected to break, not sustain. And even if that’s the path the current administration decides to take, there are only so many coaches that could be sacrificed on the altar of Amponsah’s rather rash promise that Kotoko, with him pulling the strings, would “participate in the Fifa Club World Cup.”
Amponsah may not have appointed Konadu — eight long months separate the start of their respective tenures, after all — yet he wouldn’t exactly be absolved of the departed trainer’s ‘sins’. Konadu oversaw more games before Amponsah took charge than he did afterwards, but those initial 15 competitive fixtures were annulled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ultimately, then, it is safe to assume that only the games under Amponsah counted in arriving at this decision; sacking Konadu, hence, amounts to taking responsibility for what went wrong in all those games. And Amponsah doesn’t get to make many more mistakes, given there is a theory floating through the air in Kumasi that signings he made — or didn’t make — forced some of Konadu’s errors.
The coach is usually the fall guy when a team falters and fumbles but, even at a club with such a startlingly high managerial turnover, the gaze soon shifts to the fellow actually calling the shots.
And when it does — if the team’s lot doesn’t get any better, that is — even the firm pillars Amponsah has erected off the pitch might not be enough to prop up his regime.
Enn Y. Frimpong — Ink & Kicks