Sometimes the only way you can fully comprehend certain issues is to laugh about about them. Often they defy logic, are too strange and too shocking to understand.
Tuesday morning provided one of those scenarios. David Duncan had set up base at the Adarko Jachie training grounds of Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
He was alone, set up his cones and training materials before taking a seat on a wooden bench; deep in thought to wait.
A lot must have been going through his mind as he escalated this messy divorce between himself and Asante Kotoko. The club have effectively told Duncan they don’t need his service again. Like his predecesor Didi Dramani, he has been asked to step aside while Michael Osei takes over.
Osei, a fantastic midfielder in his time is caught up in an embarrasing situation. He must show loyalty to a club that nurtured and gave him a big stage and taken him on after his playing career. But as a coach too when he strips the selfish streak that we all need to achieve the highest levels in our chosen fields, he must be wondering why his former boss’ departure has become so messy.
Duncan’s contention is simple; he has no clause in his contract that provides the sort of ‘step aside’ directive that the club has issued. It is his usual bold way of telling the club to sack him if they want.
Normally it should be that simple. A team plays poorly, coaches pay for that and take the hit. If they consulted very good lawyers before signing up, then they hit the jackpot too.
And from all indications, it seems Duncan won’t go down without a fight. He has a contract with Kotoko that runs till the end of the season. A sack will mean an abbrogation of that deal by Kotoko which will in turn mean that the club must pay him off.
The ‘step aside’ then has become Kotoko’s crude way of solving the problem. They picked the wrong guy. Duncan walked out on a lucractive job in South Africa because they had employed a technical director above him that was not written into his contract. He dragged Hearts of Oak through the courts when they fired him and won. And he knows that per labour and basic human rights laws, you can’t employ someone and not give them the work you employed them for. Duncan signed up as Kotoko coach. Unless he has been sacked, he wants to work as one.
His presence at the training grounds was simply to emphasise that point. It was to remind the Kotoko management that he still considers himself the coach of the club. We all know that he isn’t and while legally he may be within his rights and could end up walking away with a handsome reward, this is embarrasing for all parties involved.
The sight of Duncan at the training grounds, waiting on the bench when it was obvious no player was going to show up suggested a man masterful at playing the role of a drama king. He wanted to make a show of it and he did not miss his chance.
It should not have come to this in the first place. Any strong management team would have sacked Duncan without hiding behind the weak shield that Opoku Nti and his team are seeking.
Maybe Duncan’s contract is so weak it does not provide for termination clauses. That would be a collosal shame. If they exist then this whole drama is needless and pointless.
It is embarrasing too. A club like Kumasi Asante Kotoko caught up in this mess. A coach at a training ground, club forced to switch training base on a specific day in order to avoid him. Even colts clubs are not run this poorly. Even they don’t provide this much drama.
Maybe it is exposing Opoku Nti’s suitability or lack of it for this huge task. Leader on the field and club legend, he is revered by many. But he has made too many decisions that leaves uncoomfortable questions over whether he is fit to lead this club going forward.
The decision to fire Didi Dramani last season and replace him with Duncan was one of them. When it was pointed out that Duncan’s lack of trophies and crucially personality could make this a marriage made in hell, Nti responded by claaiming the coach is one of the best things to happen to Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
The disastrous decision to create divisions in the team through the winning bonus policy was yet another telling commentary about Nti’s ability to to lead a complex organisation like Kotoko. He may have been a master ball player but does not clearly posses the qualities required to lead Kotoko, market it efficiently and grow it. It needs more than a good ex-player.
That is why no one will come out of this episode looking good. Duncan, who got to sign his players, enjoyed a full pre-season and has still taken Kotoko to the bottom of the league looked like the guy who stalks a girl because she gave all indications she was no longer in love with him. He wants the words said, not infered. Opoku Nti looks like that guy who has not got the balls to look a girl in the face and say we have come to the end of the road. He would rather dance around the subject and hope that the girl’s pride drums the point home.
Both deserve each other. None of them deserve an institution as huge as Kotoko. Maybe Tuesday morning was a blessing. Maybe Otumfuo whose decision making has contributed to this will finally realise that this can’t go on any long. Maybe too he won’t. For all the rhetoric, the actions of everyone involved has suggested this club is not involved in the serious business afterall.
By Michael Oti Adjei|TV3 Sports|Ghana