OPINION | Why has Zamalek’s season gone from bad to worse?
It doesn’t take a hard core Zamalek fan to see how the season has gone for the 12-time league champions.
It’s been a bad season.
There’s no other way to describe how the White Knights have faired. Unfortunately, it was easy to see this coming, but no one was able to prevent the train wreck that has occurred. It’s very easy to point fingers and argue about who is to blame for another poor season. At the end of the day, the board and players are to pick up most of the responsibility for this season.
There have been periods during the season where the board was more spoken about that than the club or players. Led by President Mortada Mansour, who was re-elected in 2017, the board has been at the forefront of the drama surrounding the club. Known for his high-charged statements and press conferences, Mansour has continued to rile up fans, players, and pundits alike. But even more astonishing, the 65-year-old president has yet to organize a board meeting since his re-election in November.
A persistent issue with this board is the freezing of the club’s assets. The club has received many letters from FIFA warning them of point deductions and other penalties if late payments are not made to various players – something the club hasn’t been able to deal with due to the asset situation. Mansour also recently attributed the situation to Zamalek’s performance against Ismaily stating, “the team’s defeat came after the players were informed about the detention of four of the Zamalek’s financial management employees by the club’s administrative staff at half time.”
With the start of the season, the board hired Nebojša Jovović to bring back the glory days to the club. He lasted 129 days, the longest serving coach since Jesualdo Ferreira took charge of the club for 285 days. In his 18 games in charge, Jovović won 10 games, 56 per cent of the matches he managed, lost four matches, and drew another four. A shocking 3-1 loss to Misr El-Makkasa on November 27 led many to question the former Al Faisaly coach.
However, Mansour was adamant that he would not sack Jovović.
“Football is both winning and losing, that is its nature in the entire world,” Mansour said after the loss to Zamalek’s official website.
Another loss two matches later to Ismaily led the board to “sack” Jovović, before finally giving him his marching orders after losing to El-Geish on January 3. Was he the best man for the club? Probably, not. But were 18 games enough time to determine that? Also, probably not.
Since Ferreira left Zamalek in November 2015, there has been just one coach who has managed 20 or more games for the White Knights. One. For comparison, Al Ahly have had four coaches since November 2015 including interim coach Abdelaziz Abdelshafi.
Of course this wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last instance of the board taking rash decisions.
The decisions being made are not just in concern to the direct operation of the team this season. The saga with Abdallah El-Said signing for the club and Mansour’s vocal disagreement with Turki Al-Sheikh is a prime example. The board’s ability to put itself in positions where publically the image of the club is being destroyed has affected the players and coaches.
The comments are not just directed at managers and those outside the club, but also players. Mansour has been a constant critic of players’ performances, going as far as transfer-listing players because of one poor performance. He also famously blasted elected vice-president Hany El-Attal due to his support for Mansour’s opponent Ahmed Soliman.
How can a club thrive if the President is constantly making a scene on-air and insulting everyone he doesn’t agree with?
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