Ghanaian trainer Maxwell Konadu is no equal of the German great, of course, and his fresh dismissal by Asante Kotoko would have done little to boost the Olympic medalist’s chances of ever reaching Heynckes’ lofty level.
Konadu’s single-season stint as Kotoko’s coach during the 2011/12 calendar, culminating in an excellent run procession to Ghana Premier League triumph, left fans craving more. But Konadu was already off to write the next chapter of his blossoming coaching career, taking up an appointment to assist former teammate Kwasi Appiah at the helm of Ghana’s national team.
Konadu’s immediate successor at Kotoko, Mas-Ud Didi Dramani, extended and even diversified the club’s stream of success — adding two more league titles and FA Cup glory — but the fans, amid all the turbulence that followed those golden years, pined ever more for Konadu’s return. That wish, in December 2019, came true: Konadu was back… happily ever after, surely?
In his defence, Konadu could advance a few legitimate arguments. Of the 12 months he lasted this time, his team spent over half cooling its heels and marking time, as the COVID-19 pandemic froze — and ultimately truncated — one season and delayed the start of another.
No little upheaval was shovelled into that void, too, as Kotoko’s administrative setup got reshuffled. The new management, led by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nana Yaw Amponsah, helped Konadu wriggle free of a rather short-lived, shackling transfer ban imposed by Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Kotoko’s Owner and Life Patron.
Amponsah and his crew would feel, though, that Konadu didn’t quite return the favour, even as the former focused on [re]building Kotoko’s structures — literally and otherwise — on several fronts; poor results and underwhelming displays on the pitch thus far this term have proven needless, unwelcome distractions.
Konadu’s Kotoko won just one game from five played this season — only 8 of 20 matches in all (excluding the second leg of Kotoko’s 2020/21 Caf Champions League preliminary round tie against FC Nouadhibou that the latter forfeited) — and lies in the bottom half of the league table, six points off the top.
On Friday morning, news broke that Konadu had been fired, a day after Kotoko lost 1-0 to unfancied Accra Great Olympics in one of two outstanding league fixtures. It was the sort of result that bruises — and performance that batters — so bad that it gets Kotoko’s demanding fans baying for blood. Even more worryingly, this was just the latest in a series of disappointing outings.
And in Kumasi, when the pressure ramps up, someone — the head coach, typically — has to be sacrificed for immediate appeasement, however momentary. Even so, few would have seen this coming. Konadu must have felt — and, well, I certainly did — that he still had a fair chance of turning things around, asserting after the admittedly stinging defeat to Olympics that his team would “bounce back.”
Konadu didn’t know it then, but the sword was already hanging over his head; in one fell swoop and without warning, as often happens at Kotoko, he was gone. However unfair that seems — Konadu did have a game in hand and, like he pointed out after his final match, the season is “still young” — the call has been made.
Konadu’s second spell won’t be remembered nearly as fondly as his first. It was lit up by, among other unpleasant memories, an entirely avoidable tussle with Felix Annan, his popular goalkeeper and captain.
Oh, and the football?
Well, it wasn’t exactly of a brand that sent pulses racing, was it?
When it’s all said and done — between the school of thought that he stayed a game too long and those who argue that he could have stayed a little longer — there might not be many who’d be so eager to see Konadu back for a third try.
For all of this to make sense, though, Kotoko’s fortunes, going forward, would have to improve to prove that Konadu’s exit was, truly, a stitch in time — not further evidence that the only thing that really ever works at this great club is the revolving door.