Should Oliseh take a leaf from McCarthy’s book?

On the Nigeria icon’s 48th birthday, GOAL asks whether the ex-Super Eagle should imitate the Manchester United first-team coach

Nearly everyone has an opinion on Sunday Oliseh, owing to his fierce personality which means you are unlikely to show apathy when discussing the former Nigeria captain.

For every recognition of his managerial talent, there is a reminder of the combustible and divisive character who left the Nigeria job after a public falling out with the Nigeria Football Federation in 2016 before leaving Fortuna Sittard acrimoniously two years later.

The job he did with the Dutch side demonstrated his talent in guiding an unfancied and relatively inexperienced group to the playoff positions in the second tier before his suspension and subsequent departure.

That success is further venerated when considering Fortuna’s past and recent events.

The club from Limburg had to make do with 19th and 16th-place finishes in the two full campaigns before Oliseh took charge in January 2017. They ended that 2016-17 season in 17th, outdoing only three sides in the division.

While the former Super Eagles trainer did not finish what he had essentially started in Sittard, he deserves credit for helping to lay the foundations for the club’s eventual promotion and current Eredivisie spell entering its fifth year.

Be that as it may, a four-year hiatus from coaching raised eyebrows and the ensuing spell with SV Straelen in the fourth tier of Germany’s football league system confused somewhat, especially as he had been linked with a return to Nigeria in April this year.

That was met with mixed reactions but a disastrous five-game winless run did not go unnoticed, and neither did how he departed in August.

Sunday Oliseh - Fortuna SittardGetty Images

It left a bad taste and sporting director Kevin Wolze’s dissatisfaction was quite evident.

“Sunday obviously had the feeling the team’s target for the season could no longer be reached,” the director said after the former midfielder reportedly resigned via a phone call. “It doesn’t make sense to try to persuade him to continue.”

Oliseh’s managerial past means he is something of a pariah after his ill-famed fallings out with the Nigerian federation and Fortuna, while a recent return in the semi-professional space in Germany went awry no sooner after it started.

It should be noted, though, that Straelen have scored only once since Oliseh’s resignation, losing their subsequent three since the 48-year-old left (taking their losing run to eight on the trot) and remain the competition’s cellar-dwellers after eight gameweeks.

Some will say that is vindication for the ex-Borussia Dortmund midfielder who probably left voluntarily knowing he was fighting a losing battle. Others will even question why he took the job in the first place.

The enduring question on most observers’ lips remains: “What next for Sunday Oliseh?”

Sunday Oliseh

He was out of the public eye for an extended period and an underwhelming return to coaching threatens to leave the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations winner in the managerial wasteland.

Should he even bother persevering knowing full well his cantankerous manner will lead to clashes with the higher-ups wherever he goes?

Taking up a coaching role — where he could retain some influence behind the scenes and theoretically avoid the unsavoury headlines — has been posited, essentially taking a leaf out of Benni McCarthy’s book.

The former South Africa midfielder was named first-team coach at Manchester United in July, joining Erik ten Hag’s staff in pre-season to secure a move to a club he has supported all his life.

Manchester United coach Benni McCarthy.Manchester United

Following McCarthy’s example seems straightforward in theory but will be more complicated for Oliseh.

There has been a clear career progression for the 44-year-old, in which he has taken up brief coaching roles at Hibernian and Sint-Truiden before making the jump into management at Cape Town City which preceded a largely successful 15-month stint with AmaZulu.

McCarthy has been in the public eye to varying degrees since 2015, while the structure of the PSL meant there was hardly going to be a dearth of opportunities as a head coach when he was ready.

Contrast this with Oliseh who missed the opportunity to use the Fortuna job as a stepping stone and has instead fallen off the radar somewhat since 2018.

Sunday Oliseh, Fortuna Sittard, 01192018PROSHOTS

A return to the Nigeria Professional Football League may be unappealing for the ex-Dortmund midfielder owing to the competition’s flawed organisation while the federal government’s recent dissolution of the League Management Company raises new questions regarding the administration of the domestic leagues.

Oliseh may be one of the bright minds among Nigerian coaches but acrimonious departures in two of his biggest jobs reveal an unattractive pattern.

Treading McCarthy’s path is easier said than done and you have to wonder what comes next for one of the nation’s esteemed midfielders in the 1990 and 2000s.

Oliseh’s managerial future

Should the former Nigeria international imitate Benni McCarthy by taking an assistant coaching role?


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Publish date : 2022-09-14 09:57:57

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