At 101 caps for the Super Eagles and over 250 club appearances, Vincent Enyeama cannot be labelled a novice in any form or manner but Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, can be described as a novice manager, even though that description does not evaluate whether his actions are wrong or right.
The gently brewing rain that started last month escalated into a full-scale storm on Tuesday in Belgium as both Oliseh and Enyeama finally went frontal with their aggro and the Nigeria Football Federation president, Amaju Pinnick, had to step in before the whole episode descended into total chaos.
The issue of the captaincy
Enyeama took over the captaincy of the team after Joseph Yobo retired but he has been unable to feature for the Super Eagles since Oliseh took over the reins of the team. So in his absence for the qualifier against Tanzania last month, Ahmed Musa was named as the captain, in a temporary capacity, it was interpreted at that time.
At the team’s gathering in Belgium for friendly matches this week, Enyeama came late to camp – because of the burial of his mother, a death which prevented him from answering Oliseh’s first call-up. Apparently miffed at this insubordination, Oliseh was said to have named Musa as the substantive captain of the team – an issue Enyeama took offence with and asked the coach for an explanation on why he was being stripped of the captaincy. “I was surprised,” Enyeama told ESPN FC.
Enyeama continued: “I insisted on speaking because I felt that with the years of dedicated service I have given to the country I deserve at least the respect of giving my own side.
“But he [Oliseh] told me that either the whole team would leave the room for me, or I would have to leave the room for the whole team.”
The issue of decorum
While it has to be acknowledged that respect begets respect, it is more appropriate for the manager to show that respect beforehand. Because of the extenuating circumstances, Oliseh would have been best advised to keep his captain’s nomination to a time when he would have had a conversation with Enyeama, preferably away from prying ears and eyes.
But after the deed had been done, it would have been better for the Super Eagles coach to have informed the former captain that the captaincy would be taken away from him – unless it was on the spur of the moment decision. Even a retort such as “Skippo, let us take a walk” would have ameliorated the toxic situation.
From reports, which can be wrong, it was revealed that Enyeama interrupted the coach’s briefing. This was very wrong for Enyeama – he wouldn’t do that in Europe and Oliseh has the prerogative to choose a new captain for his team and this happens whenever there is a general makeover of a team and the need for the new manager to create a new line of structure.
But the situation should not have been allowed to exacerbate to the point where Oliseh called for security to throw the goalkeeper out of the camp.
The issue of leadership
What does this issue do for Oliseh’s leadership stand with the other players? He could be seen as being petty, and someone who does not listen to others or someone who believes he has all the answers. A leader, Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “get someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Yes, Oliseh could have all the answers but he must wisely show the path to his players so that they can all come to the same conclusions.
That is what is meant by all pulling in the same direction. The role the NFF has played is the good role of trying to reconcile the warring parties, even though the Super Eagles may invariably have lost the services of Enyeama, who wrote on Twitter that he had been thoroughly insulted and embarrassed by what transpired.
For Oliseh, he should take a cue from the experiences of coaches like Pep Guardiola, who ousted Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovich from Barcelona. He would have paid the price of being sacked if results had gone against him but he ultimately succeeded because of his results. As one man said, the life of a football manager is thus, with a job, about to be sacked or sacked. Most of the time, the manager will carry the can for bad results but the players will stay.