Long An face relegation battle

Published: 28/05/2011 05:00



Two-time V-League champions Dong Tam Long An (DTLA) face the risk of relegation
to the First Division after nine years in the top-flight.

Viet Nam News spoke to
the club’s current coach, Briton Simon McMenemy, about their chances of staying
in the V-League and his future.

DTLA are still
at the bottom of the table after you have been in charge for nine matches. What
is the reason?

Bullish: Briton Simon McMenemy says
he is 100 per cent committed to saving his club from relegation after nine years
in the top-flight. (Photo: VNS)

The situation is now
very difficult but the team is getting better. There were issues at the club
before I came here and I inherited some of those issues that were created by
previous coaches and s players. I had to take them on and am just left to deal
with these issues.

We are starting to be
difficult to beat, starting to have a good defence, conceding only two goals in
our last four games. Song Lam Nghe An only scored one goal against us.

We are taking a step
but we are running out of time. So we have to work harder this week. And when it
comes to the game on Sunday, we have to give everything because we are playing
at home.

If your team
cannot win their next two games at home, is there any chance of staying in the

We will have a chance
until the mathematics says we cannot. If physically not possible to be
relegated, we will keep fighting, fighting, fighting. I do not want to be the
head coach of a team that is relegated. I did not come from England to do that.

That is what we say:
Players have to believe they are good players and the coaches have to believe
they have good players. Maybe we are not as gifted as other teams who spent more
money bringing in expensive players, but we have spirit and we have to fight.

We cannot afford to
think we need to win this and not that. We will go for every game. We need to
work hard and cannot afford to lose. The only thing we think about right now is
what happens on Sunday [in the match against Khanh Hoa].

You were
successful at the Southeast Asian football championship, guiding the Philippines
to the semi-finals for the first time in their history. The Filipino team was a
combination of foreign and local players, just like DTLA. Why can’t you do what
you did with the Philippines?

Because there are
expectations at DTLA. People expect the club to play a certain way. But nobody
expected the Philippines to be good. Nobody expected them to draw Singapore,
beat Viet Nam, or even qualify (for the tournament). They did not expect us to
come back against Laos who led 2-0 at half-time in the last qualifying match.

I think it is easier
in the Philippines because they have good players who would have been coached
properly. Here it is difficult in that we have some good players but also others
who have not been coached properly.

Players have to learn,
so my job is much harder. I am teaching players. I should be managing them and
just helping them, organising. I have to teach, I have to coach. Players learn
new things every day which is very difficult.

We have a small amount
of experience in the team. When we are playing with young players, sometimes
they play has well, sometimes they play very badly and make mistakes. They do
not even know how to react when the team or the opposing team have a player sent

I also have nothing to
do with the transfers. I do not have a say. The manager makes all the decisions.

There have been
many foreign coaches in the V-League but many have not been successful. What
difficulties do they face in the V-League?

[Coaching in] Viet Nam
is difficult. If you can coach and succeed here, you can coach and succeed
anywhere because the way Vietnamese football is set up, it is very difficult for
incoming coaches.

In Europe, a coach has
control over the team, over transfers, over contacts, when players train, how
they are trained, how they travel and when they travel. But here the
responsibility is shared. I have some responsibility, the manager has some
responsibility. Sometimes it does not work.

If DTLA are
relegated to the First Division, do you fear the club will sack you? If they do
keep you, will you continue?

I know where I stand
in the club and I think that over the last four weeks I’m hoping that people who
know football can see the difference in how the team is playing. They started to
fight, motivated that they do not want to lose. They are fighting for
everything. I hope people out there to see that.

Whether I am good
enough to keep my job, that would come down to some opinions; it is not down to
figures or targets.

I do not know. As much
as you have to think about the team, I also have to think about myself and my
family and if other offers come in or something gave me that option, I would
have to consider it. But as of today I am 100 per cent committed to saving DTLA
from relegation.

Nam News

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