There will be a familiar English accent and piercing whistle at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva this evening as former England World Cup defender and ex-San Juan Jabloteh coach Terry Fenwick takes up the reigns at Trinidad and Tobago Pro League club Central FC.
Fenwick, who won three Pro League titles and several Cups in seven years and five full seasons with Jabloteh, will led Central out in today’s Couva derby against defending champions DIRECTV W Connection from 6 pm. The game is the first of a double header as Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA tackles North East Stars from 8 pm in an eagerly anticipated rematch.
Stars whipped Caledonia 3-1 in the season opener back on September 14 but the defending Caribbean champions have not lost since and have barely put a foot wrong in the Pro League.
In contrast, Connection and Central have been off the boil and they start today’s contest in fifth and sixth place respectively.
But there would be interest in the return of a fierce competitor in Fenwick, a former Tottenham and Queen’s Park hardman whose outspoken, combative style has not made him a favourite of local referees either.
He replaces another Englishman, former Chelsea assistant coach Graham Rix, who failed to adjust to the local game and was homesick.
Fenwick, who is part-owner of Northern Football Association (NFA) outfit Football Factory, told Wired868.com that he is happy to be back in the domestic top flight.
“I think I should be in this (Pro League) because I’m the best and most qualified coach on the island,” Fenwick told Wired868.
The Sunderland-born coach has agreed terms with Central but has not signed his contract yet and that is unlikely to be done until Monday at the earliest. But he is not the sort to shirk a challenge and was happy to face Connection, despite having held just one training session with his “Sharks.”
“It would have been easy for me to sidestep Connection and step in for Central’s next game,” he said, “which would have been against Shiva Boys in the FA (Trophy). But I have ambitions for Central for the rest of the season and those ambitions can only happen if I get in quickly.”
Fenwick declared his immediate goal was to add discipline and structure to the Sharks.
“They have some gifted players but they lack structure and they can’t defend,” he said. “I will bring that organisation and discipline so that we become tough to beat.
“I will like us to be competitive and have a go at one or two of the Cups. What we do in the League is a bonus.”
Fenwick credited Central managing director and World Cup 2006 “Soca Warrior” Brent Sancho and marketing manager Kevin Harrison in bringing him to the club and praised their work behind the scenes.
“Jabloteh never tried off the field initiatives to make the club bigger than it was,” he said. “But Sancho and Harrison are doing that here and they have a lot of bright ideas and ambition. I’m very pleased with Brent because he stood his ground in a very difficult time for Trinidad and Tobago’s football when the Latapys and Yorkes went missing because they didn’t want to upset Jack Warner.
“Brent has put a team in the Pro League whereas Warner took his own out as soon as the FIFA money stopped. So I’m proud of him for doing that.”
The Sharks won their first two League games but their last triumph in this competition came in October while they conceded eight goals in their last two outings against Defence Force and Caledonia AIA.
Central made several acquisitions this month before agreeing terms with Fenwick as Hector Sam (St Ann’s Rangers), Wesley John (Police), Osei Telesford, Justin Fojo (both Puerto Rico Islanders), Rennie Britto (W Connection), Rundell Winchester and Omari Charles (both Stokely Vale) were already signed.
Winchester scored on his debut last month in a 5-2 loss to Caledonia in which Telesford also featured.
Connection has also struggled in recent times as the “Savonetta Boys” drew with Police and were thrashed 5-1 by Defence Force in December while they were also eliminated by North East Stars in the first round of the TTFF FA Trophy competition.
Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier will no doubt try to rouse his men this evening to dispatch a rookie club led by an old foe.
Editor’s Note: Another Englishman, Ricky Hill, was Jabloteh’s coach for its only other Pro League title, which came in 2003.
Today’s Digicel Pro League fixtures
W Connection vs Central FC, 6 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium,
Caledonia AIA vs North East Stars, 8 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.