Sports Features Mon, 22 Sep 2014

Drawing A Line Under Kwesi Appiah Saga

A few years ago, Jose Mourinho, then having been relieved of his job as coach of Chelsea, was offered the England manager's post. He refused the offer. He felt, that at that point in his career, he had loads more to achieve as a coach at club level and he was going to wait till he was about to retire before considering a job anywhere as a national coach. He then went on to win the European cup with Inter Milan, coached Real Madrid and then returned to Chelsea. It is believed that someday he will become the coach of Portugal. And what experience he would bring to the job.

The national coach job is hardly ever a reward for being a 'nice man'. It is a job given to men with proven competence at club level. In the exceptional case when the job was given to Jurgen Klimsman who had no experience before becoming Germany coach, he was surrounded by some of the best and most experienced coaches in Germany including Joachom Low, who subsequently went on to win the World Cup with Germany recently. And Jurgen Klinsmann, with his vast experience as a player, including multiple World Cup appearances with Germany and his personal charm and intellect, could certainly be made an exception.

Be it as it may, the wishes of a people cannot be ignored. If it is the wish of Ghanaians, at this point in our history, to have Ghanaians coaching our national team, then a clear policy has to be drawn and stuck to. The fact of the matter,is that our whole team consists of players plying their team in Europe and exposed to modern trends and world class coaches. To believe that these players would be happy to accept substandard coaching methods from a man with no European experience was, in hindsight, a huge mistake. At a point, some of us started to believe, quite wrongly, that a strong bond had developed between players and their manager and that would somehow make up for the coach's obvious deficiencies. Subsequent reports of rifts have proven that this was not the case and that top class professionals can simply not be controlled by a man not equipped to manage at that level.

Following the inevitable dismissal of Kwesi Appiah, applications have been accepted from coaches all round the world and over thirty people have applied, without a single Ghanaian. So clearly, there is no policy as yet, to persist with Ghanaian coaches. So why Kwesi Appiah in the first place? Only God knows. Like most other things in our country, there is no clear thought, and impulsive decisions are made at the whim of individuals, who judging from events at the World Cup, have nothing but selfish motives.

There are no Ghanaians coaching in the Champions League. Therefore, if we want a Ghanaian coach, then the best available Ghanaian globally has to be sought to coach the team. As a basic prerequisite, the said Ghanaian, as long as our playing body continues to be dominated by Europe-based players, must have had some experience in Europe. Looking round, there is only one Ghanaian who currently fits the bill perfectly. He is Chris Houghton. Chris is the son of a Ghanaian postman and an Irish mother. He played his football for Tottenham and played international football for Ireland. But he is still Ghanaian.


Chris Houghton at the moment is one of the most respected coaches in the UK. All professional footballers he has worked with have nothing but praise for his methods and human relations. He learned his trade as assistant coach at Tottenham for several years and then took up the job at Newcastle, bringing them into the premiership in a year. He then went on to coach Birmingham City and then Norwich where, in the opinion of many, he was unlucky to have been dismissed last year. But then again, the politics of blacks coaching in the premiership is a topic we could revisit later. He is currently available and with all his experience, humility and excellent human relations would be the most ideal person for the job.

I stand to be corrected, but currently, I see no other Ghanaian better qualified to do the job than this man. If on the other hand, we want to simply select the best man irrespective of nationality, and there is no clear policy to want to appoint a Ghanaian, then I have nothing to add.

Papa Appiah


Source: Papa Appiah