When the 2022/23 abridged Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season kicked off last year, there were optimism and belief from the each of the twenty coaches that they will hit the ground running and perform well during the season.
As it is often said that “Man proposes but God disposes” is apt in the recent results from some of the clubs as some clubs like Bendel Insurance, Remo Stars and Rivers United are doing well while clubs like Wikki Tourist, Enugu Rangers, Nasarawa United and a host of others are performing poorly.
Expectedly, the administrators of these underperforming clubs ‘swung into action’ to issue ultimatums to the coaching crew to return to winning ways or be booted out with just five games into the ongoing season.
Among those given ultimatum was Kabiru Dogo was told to win his following two games but rather than doing that, he left his role as the head coach of Wikki Tourists.
Prior to his resignation, the club management had given him two-match ultimatum to turn around the fortunes or be shown the exit door following a dismal start to the season. He didn’t wait to be sacked.
The club’s fortunes had been declining with just a point in four games which came from a home draw with Doma United.
With three losses and one draw, the club’s administration gave a two-game deadline for the technical staff to get their season back on track, but Dogo left the pressure to the rest of the crew before he was sacked.
It will be noted that Dogo joined the Bauchi side at the end of the 2021 season, when they placed 15th in the table, three points above the relegation zone. In the 2022 season, he led Wikki to a tenth-place finish.
Dogo was not the only coach to be troubled by the ultimatum threats as reports filtered in that the coaches of Rangers International, Nasarawa United and Kwara United, Abdu Maikaba, Bala Nikyu and Mohammed Abdulazeez respectively were given match ultimatums or be sacked.
Kwara United had drawn two and lost two of their opening four games but won their first game against Akwa United after the ultimatum was issued but nothing has changed for Nasarawa United as they remain winless.
However, Rangers International management said its coach remained in charge after it was reported that Maikaba had offered to leave the club on mutual consent if that would help the Flying Antelopes to end their poor run and regain rhythm.
In an exclusive chat with Trust Sports, Maikaba said since he was given the ultimatum, he has not lost the following three games and as an experienced coach, he spoke with his players to intimate them of the situation while urging them to perform on the field of play.
According to him, the poor run of results shouldn’t not be placed solely at the feet of the coaches by the administrators who want to save their jobs as government appointees.
“In club affairs, everybody has its own responsibilities from the management to the technical crew and players and even the supporters for the club to succeed. But the truth is these clubs are government owned clubs and any time there is a poor run of results, the coaches will be looked at the scape goats so as to defend themselves.
“They quickly push it to the coaches even though sometimes, the problem is not technical. But an experienced coach will continue with his job even with an ultimatum. I was given two-match ultimatum and for the last three games, I have not lost. I think the most important thing for a coach is to have the loyalty and commitment of his players. The coach won’t play but the players will. I let my players know about the ultimatum and I cannot go into the pitch and play,” he said.
In the same vein, Enyimba’s assistant coach, Yemi Daniel Olanrewaju is not comfortable with the ultimatums as they put the coaches in very dicey situations.
Also speaking exclusively to Trust Sports, the young tactician, also known as Yema said the club administrators to should take a cue from the Manchester United and Arsenal who didn’t give their coaches ultimatums as they are now performing despite slow starts.
“It is not the best way to go for me. Everything cannot go well all the time and when it is going wrong, the management can sit down with the coaches and seek for the solution.
“Sometimes, the problems are not even from the coaches. A lot of things contribute to a team’s performance. You saw the way Manchester United started. Did you see where the coach was given ultimatums. That is not the best way to go. If you want to sack him, sack him or else sit down to discuss the way forward. Arteta started poorly in Arsenal but now he is topping the table.
“Our people need to do better even though I am not exonerating the coaches. The coach will be at the mercy of the players and the management,” he said.
With Match Day 6 fixtures looming, the affected coaches especially Bala will have their last chances to save their jobs or will be jobless for a couple of weeks or even months.