Wed, Oct


The Oxford dictionary’s definition of schizophrenia is a “mental disorder marked by disconnection between thoughts, feelings and actions.” So forgive me for feeling a bit sorry for myself since I find the headline used by our Wired868’s founder and head honcho, Lasana Liburd, as a bit harsh.

But, since I am not thin-skinned, I welcome this challenge especially since Liburd has proved his loyalty to objective journalism by his willingness to allow my response.

Given the fact that I operate in a unique partnership of coaches that does not yet have a clearly defined veto power, my thoughts, feelings and even actions are not a result of a mental disorder marked by disconnection. Instead, it is a work in progress as operating with a joint head coach and under a technical director is very different from my roles with Guyana and Caledonia AIA where I was chief, cook and bottle washer.

So, my position within the Trinidad and Tobago football set-up is not the ideal one for a national coach aspirant. But it is a challenge I have opted to take up as it checks my ego, my sense of patriotism and my ability to blaze a new trail at a very critical time in our country’s football history.

Hutson Charles and myself have decided to use the warm-up matches to build the Gold Cup team by keeping a core of players while, for each game, giving an opportunity to see two or three new faces. As far as possible, we have agreed that we will try to use players who perform at the highest level locally. But we will keep the door open to any player who, based on his talent, fitness and circumstance, can be an exception to the rule.

This is the case of Marcus Joseph who plays for Point Fortin Civic Centre in the Southern Football Association.

Lack of ambition is not a correct assessment of his decision to play for Civic but rather his ambition to get the southern team back to the highest level of football.

Joseph was paid a monthly salary to play for Civic while others got jobs and received a stipend. He had a choice to play with one of four Pro League Clubs and, even as recently as January, he had a choice between playing for Civic in a TTFF FA quarter final or jumping through the transfer window deadline to play in the Pro League.

I plead guilty to advising Marcus to stay and help Civic to reach the Super League and the FA final and I encouraged him to commit to coach Reynold Carrington and take up the challenge to help an important part of our football history climb its way back up the local football ladder.

Where are the southerners when you need them? Help me out here: Mr Mayor of Point Fortin, Cro Cro, Steve David, Iwer George, Super Blue. Rescue me please.

Marcus’ progress has been monitored by Hutson Charles and we are satisfied that this Under-23 standout can be given the opportunity to show he can be an exception to the rule. Only in the experiment will we be able to determine wisdom from folly.

Regarding Jason Marcano’s exclusion, I think he is in our radar and his time will come but we need a genuine left-sided player on the left flank  who will go on the outside of the defender to cross the ball and we see Joseph as a good candidate to try out in these games against Belize and Peru.

Chris Birchall has been a committed soldier every time he wore the red, white and black and this is not the final list for the Gold Cup but an opportunity to see how he fits into our set-up. What better opportunity than these two matches?

Of course we want him to be playing every week but after seeing him in these two matches we will be in a better position to narrow down our list for players in that position.

These are warm-up matches and the arguments put forward by Liburd would be more potent if the Gold Cup was next week.

Enter Keon Daniel: the guy who went missing for the Tobago leg of the CFU, much to the disappointment to his teammates, fans and the staff.

Keon contacted the Manager and expressed remorse for his disappearance and, as a staff, we understood that he dealt with a challenging period in his life in a manner that he felt was best.

Should he apologize to the nation as a prerequisite? Maybe it is not too late for him to do that.

Does it affect team spirit including him now that he says he is ready to commit? This we will know in the next couple days but we have chosen to give this player a chance.

Are we singular in giving errant players a chance without a public apology? Even if we are, we stand by this in the same way as we stand by Cornell Glen’s re-inclusion into the squad.

International football presents a national coach, in this case joint coaches, with a wide variety of players to choose from, locally and overseas. We aim to build our team for the Gold Cup with a core group of players while continuing to leave a couple spaces open for trial players in the friendly matches.

Thus, players will be in and out of the national team, which is a fact of life playing at this level.

The squad that we pick today will have the Gold Cup in mind but it is a step towards our final conclusion and nothing more.

Consequently, Jan-Michael Williams is not blacklisted. But maybe his recent circumstance gave an opportunity for Marvin Phillip and Cleon John to get a look in and widen the pool of goalkeepers that we can call upon for July.

The player I know has the mind-set to claw his way back into contention and his move to St Ann’s Rangers is smart and admirable.

It will also take more than this string of exclusions to leave Clyde Leon out of the running.

I welcome opinions like Liburd’s because it provokes thought and forces you to operate on your P’s and Q’s. This is the thing about football and team management; I bet Terry Fenwick or Stuart Charles-Fevrier will select teams that would differ from ours.

But where are the people who attacked me when I said only Pro League players will be selected? They have gone silent. It shows that damned if you do damned if you don’t. But revolutionaries always do.

The old Shabazz would cuss at the schizophrenic reference. The new Shabazz would take it in stride and try to explain his viewpoint.

Thank you, Wired868. Where else in the world would a media allow such interaction?