Technical Director for What
At national and club levels, some teams opt to have a technical director or a director of football. The roles of these gentlemen behind the scenes are never that clearly defined. In some football clubs, the director of football simply serves as a link between the manager and the owners of the club, who often may not be around on the ground. The director of football may also have responsibility for negotiating contracts for players and dealing with other managerial issues to allow the manager time to concentrate on building a team.
At national level, a technical director may be appointed with the duty of helping shape the technical direction of the country as a whole. Their job may involve helping to plan and implement policies with regard youth development and coaching and to strategize for the future, not only for the national team, but for football in the country as a whole. The last time I checked Oti Akenteng was Ghana’s technical director, though to be fair, one would be taxed to identify any policy initiatives he has introduced to improve football in Ghana. But there you go. Clearly, a national technical director is hardly a person appointed just to take a team to a World Cup.
I strongly believe some of our countrymen are confusing the role of the technical director. We cannot, just for the purposes of the World Cup appoint someone at a higher level to dictate to Kwesi Appiah which player to pick, what strategy to employ for each match, what time in the game to change tactics and when to make substitutions. That is what competent assistants are for. If we should have any reason whatsoever to make such an appointment at any point, then we are better off employing a new technical team altogether.
We either have a competent national coach or we do not. But even a competent coach may require, or actually demand, on occasion, some technical assistance. So for instance, Kwesi Appiah should be able to ask the GFA, based on his assessment of his current bench, to appoint a defensive coach, goalkeeping coach or a fitness coach to be part of a technical team under him, and not above him. If such an individual with the requisite expertise and experience at the highest level happens to be a Klaus Toppmoller, then so be it. But he becomes one of Kwesi Appiah’s assistants and takes his instructions from him, and not in some exalted (apologies to Bawumia) role above him. He would, in effect, be the coach’s own appointment and he would have the right to have him fired if he noticed that rather than supporting him, he was engaging in activities that undermined his authority.
A man can only do what he has got to do, and barring a miracle, Kwesi Appiah will get the Black Stars to the World Cup. I personally have never believed Kwesi Appiah is the right man for the job. I believe he will come up short in the tactical battles at the very top. I am however, not naïve enough to overlook the power of the human spirit to transcend expectations. Neither would I attempt to disregard the role of team spirit and morale and the fact that we will actually be parading some of the best players in the competition. But there is absolutely no disgrace in asking for help.
Football is a universal game judged by the same standards everywhere. I am yet to find a football fan anywhere who believes Asante Kotoko is a better team than Barcelona because Kotoko happens to be an all Ghanaian team. So for instance, in addition to having a retired army masseur as fitness coach, it may be a good idea to employ somebody with experience at the highest level in managing the fitness of professional footballers. These are pragmatic decisions the coach must make, rather than pandering to gross xenophobic sentiments.
That said, we would be making a big mistake if we attempted to muddy the water with some unsolicited appointment of some World Cup technical director to challenge the coach’s authority. There would be divisions in camp. Some of the players would heed the technical director and ignore the coach, while others would remain loyal to Appiah. We are at a point where even those of us against Kwesi Appiah’s appointment would have to accept, that this is no time to rock the boat.