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Sports Features of Thursday, 23 May 2019

Source: Kwame Dwomoh-Agyemang /Class fm

Gyan’s Black Stars adventure – A confusing debacle that could have been avoided

Gyan is Ghana's all-time top scorer with 51 goals in 106 games Gyan is Ghana's all-time top scorer with 51 goals in 106 games

Communication can be done brutally but can still be done effectively. It was not too long ago that German Manager Joachim Loew and General Manager Oliver Bierhoff made that infamous trip to Munich...

Communication can be done brutally but can still be done effectively. It was not too long ago that German Manager Joachim Loew and General Manager Oliver Bierhoff made that infamous trip to Munich. Their mission? To inform three players, Jerome Boateng, Thomas Muller and Matts Hummels, a trio with over 250 caps and serial winners with club and country that they were no longer needed for the Mannschaft. Now that was strikingly brutal communication for the trio.

They were livid at the decision but smart as these guys are, they respected it. Jogi Loew and Bierhoff could have spoken to these gentlemen on phone or just literally ignored them. After all, every player good enough with a German passport could play for them. He chose a more effective and Managerial option. Speak man to man. Speak like men and face to face.

I am sure you get my drift by now. In the last forty-eight hours, we have been subjected to a painful but avoidable cacophony as a commonsensical approach was strangely overlooked.

This has been building up for some time, to be honest. Depending on who you spoke to, Yaw Asamoah Gyan, the nation’s all-time top scorer with fifty-one goals from one hundred and six appearances was going to be in Egypt or otherwise. Concerns at club level had been built up against him. More like a dossier.

He was not fit enough to be there. Gyan does what he does best to silence his critics though. Three goals in two games and all of a sudden he was AFCON bound. Thanks, Ridwan Ibrahim for this terminology. It appeared he had done enough to be there. That was more like Gyan. Then we self-destruct.

Apparently, the gaffer had decided, whatever time frame it was, that the nations all-time top scorer was no longer good enough to lead from the front and would better serve the team as General Captain. Whatever that means.

Been trying to understand what this concept is all about and every time I googled that, I rather had stories on Gyans’ decision to retire popping up. Funny, isn’t it? Gaffer Appiah barely gives any soundbites on issues. Not at pressers, not during one on one interviews and certainly not at this time.

One thing is for certain though. He would have been brooding over this decision for some time. Why he chose to exercise that option now has raised all kinds of eyebrows.

He would probably never go public on this but you have to say from a managerial point of view, this could have been better handled. Gyan’s statement clearly attests to that. The manager does not necessarily have to explain to anyone the decisions he makes concerning the team if he strongly convinced it would serve the team well but when it concerns a player who has consistently made things happen for the last 16 years, the approach should have been an elevated one. Travel to Turkey. Speak to him. Lay all the cards on the table. He is not foolish. Gyan would be smart to read between the lines. The disappointment would have been felt but a conclusion, satisfactory to both parties, would have been reached. Body language is everything in such tense moments. It is not the same when these delicate conversations are done on the phone as we are told. Never.

Did Mr Appiah underestimate the reactions of the pro and against factions? Was it a calculated one? For a country that has been waiting to win the AFCON in the last 37 years and ready to spare no expense in achieving this goal, this was an unnecessary distraction to the pre-tournament camp in the UAE and the tournament proper.

Gyan's statement which captured his disappointment at the decision of the gaffer was telling. He made his feelings clear on the decision to strip him of the captaincy and that which considered him for the role of general captain rather than substantive captain.

You would, however, have to say though that granted he was unhappy about the gaffer’s decision, his decision to ‘end’ his Stars romance appeared to be one too quick. He was upset. Normal. The reaction? There were still channels of communications that could have been used to resolve the situation methinks.

Such a palpable discord had to be managed delicately. Team Gyan probably did not consider those channels before the infamous statement.

A lot has however happened in the last 24 hours with the Presidency very much involved in this very ‘nationalistic’ story. The result? Gyan has decided to make a return to the team. I don’t have any issue with the Presidency getting involved in such an issue of national interest. Football is the passion of the nation and the sentiments attached to it cannot be ignored. With the player now making himself available for selection, loads of questions would surely arise. How influential would he be as General Captain vis-à-vis his role as substantive skipper of the team? For a player as important as Gyan, this would be a difficult one. His relationship with the gaffer Appiah has surely taken a beating following his “retirement”. Can this relationship be handled amicably and professionally?

Obviously, they do not have to be friends to work together but that would surely help with his experience. The biggest challenge would be his relationship with the Ayews. Only an ignorant follower of the Stars over the years would deny how this issue has led to simmering tensions between the two.

If Gyan is made to believe that Andre has finally succeeded in taking over the armband, the effect could be disturbing on the pitch. I have been around the team numerous times to know where the loyalties of certain players lie regarding these factions. It could cause huge craters in the ranks of the playing body.

Gaffer Appiah has a huge job on his hands to get the lads working professionally in UAE for the training camp and in Egypt for the competition proper. He knows his job is on the line.

Only a good performance would get him a new contract. Anything less and he is out. He has got to get everything right and only a result would do. Only a result, Mr Appiah, would do in Egypt.

Being Ghanaian means I would back the team all the way but these distractions could have been avoided and handled in a more professional manner than this chaotic and amateurish way. And to those who believe in oracles, we respect it wai. We hope it was authentic though.

God help the Stars in Egypt.