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Hart meets TTFA today with job on the line; how coach compares to predecessors

The immediate future of Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart is likely to be decided this afternoon when he meets with a committee appointed by the TTFA’s board of directors.

TTFA president David John-Williams confirmed that this position was taken after a three and a half hour board meeting yesterday at Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant in Grand Bazaar, Valsayn.

“The board met until 9 last night [and] coming out that meeting,” John-Williams told Wired868, “it was decided that a committee of the board will meet with Mr Hart at 3.30pm today. Thereafter the TTFA will make a statement.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president and W Connection owner David John-Williams (left) has a word with Soca Warriors coach Stephen Hart during Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 November 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president and W Connection owner David John-Williams (left) has a word with Soca Warriors coach Stephen Hart during Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 November 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

It is likely to be a last chance for Hart to save his job after, on Monday afternoon, the TTFA’s technical committee recommended change in the technical staff, despite not meeting the coach or reading his report on the Honduras loss.

The head coach was also accused by two former medical staff members, Dr Terence Babwah and Dave Isaacs, of ignoring their advice on goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, which Hart and the remainder of his coaching staff and the player himself vehemently denied.

The Soca Warriors’ form has nose-dived recently with defeats in their last three successive outings—against Martinique, Costa Rica and Honduras—and seven losses in their last 10 matches.

The results leave Trinidad and Tobago second from bottom in the CONCACAF Hex with no points from two outings while, in 2016, they failed to advance to the Copa America Centenario tournament and the Caribbean Cup semifinal round.

In fact, eight of the Warriors’ 18 defeats—or 44 percent—in Hart’s three and a half year spell at the helm came in 2016.

However, the coach might argue that this statistic was influenced by a three match tour away to Peru, Uruguay and China with a second string team, as well as bad luck with injuries (Keron Cummings and Jan-Michael Williams), discipline (Kevin Molino, Joevin Jones and Mekeil Williams) and players losing form or contracts at their respective clubs (Justin Hoyte, Lester Peltier and Jonathan Glenn) or just not showing up (John Bostock and Gavin Hoyte).

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Orlando City playmaker Kevin Molino (right) hurdles a tackle against Panama during an international friendly in March 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Orlando City playmaker Kevin Molino (right) hurdles a tackle against Panama during an international friendly in March 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

A source close to the technical staff has indicated that Hart and assistant coaches Hutson “Barber” Charles and Derek King are considering notable changes to the current squad.

There are likely to be recalls for playmaker Kevin Molino and goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh—who missed out against Costa Rica and Honduras due to an internal suspension and injury respectively—while elegant England-born midfielder John Bostock will be invited to make his senior international debut again.

However, Hart is also believed to be musing over call-ups for 2006 World Cup players Cornell Glen and Carlos Edwards, who would be expected to fight for a place upfront and at right back respectively.

And 26-year-old Houston Dynamo right back Sheanon Williams—who was born in Boston and represented the United States at Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup level but has Trinidad and Tobago parentage—is also in the technical staff’s line of vision while rugged Central FC defender Andre Ettienne might also get a second look.

Although Williams’ apparent interest in the “Red, White and Black” might be tested now that former MLS coach Bruce Arena has replaced Jürgen Klinsmann as US head coach and hinted at more opportunities for players in their local competition.

Klinsmann was sacked on 21 November after two consecutive defeats in the Hex left them below T&T on goal difference.

Photo: Ma Pau Stars right back Carlos Edwards (right) takes on Morvant Caledonia United attacker Kordell Samuel during Pro League at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 22 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Ma Pau Stars right back Carlos Edwards (right) takes on Morvant Caledonia United attacker Kordell Samuel during Pro League at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 22 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Hart will have to convince John-Williams that an influx of new talent can make a positive difference to the Warriors’ fortunes in their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

In his three and a half year spell at the helm, Hart’s record stands at 16 wins, 9 draws and 18 losses from 43 outings, which means his team have played unbeaten in 58 percent of their match with a win ratio of 37 percent.

In Trinidad, the Warriors lost just twice (to Panama and Costa Rica) in 12 matches while there was one defeat from eight competitive matches on home soil. Eighteen of Hart’s opponents—or 41 percent—were Caribbean nations.

So how does that compare with Hart’s predecessors?

Wired868 combed through the data for Trinidad and Tobago’s last eight coaches—dating back to World Cup 2006 coach, Leo Beenhakker—and compared their win and unbeaten ratios in charge.

And, for additional context, we pointed out what percentage of their games in charge were played against Caribbean teams, as opposed to stronger opposition in North and Central America and beyond.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart (centre) and players (from right) Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus, Kenwyne Jones, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Sheldon Bateau at a national training session. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart (centre) and players (from right) Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus, Kenwyne Jones, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Sheldon Bateau at a national training session.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images)

(Games—Win Ratio—Unbeaten Ratio—Ratio of matches played against Caribbean teams)

Stephen Hart                                    43 games—38 percent—58 percent—41 percent

Hutson Charles/Jamaal Shabazz  19 games—42 percent—57 percent—63 percent

Otto Pfister                                        7 games—71 percent—71 percent—85 percent

Russell Latapy                                  23 games—34 percent—47 percent—56 percent

Francisco Maturana                        32 games—53 percent—81 percent—65 percent

Wim Rijsbergen                               18 games—33 percent—55 percent—44 percent

Leo Beenhakker                               21 games— 38 percent—61 percent—9 percent

Bertille St Clair                                35 games—51 percent—60 percent—60 percent

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Editor’s Note: What do you think of Stephen Hart’s record so far? Can the suggested influx of talent help turn around T&T’s form? Should the Warriors coach get another chance?

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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233 comments

  1. Lets analyse the FACTS guys, 13 games for 2016, 8 are losses, 3 wins & 2 draws… is that good performance to justify keeping a coach ??…the games we won were SvG home and away and DR . DR ranked 126 , SVG ranked 177 and well TnT rank 78….nithing special there….lets analyse the stats and remove the emotions in our thinking Lasana Liburd Brian Springer Lyndon Pk Williams Earl Mango Pierre Keith Look Loy

    • The FACTS and STATS you quote would read VERY differently Trini Don if you were to extend your research to include 2015 where off the top of my head I can recall us NOT losing in regulation time to PANAMA as well as drawing TWICE with MEXICO…ALL AWAY FROM HOME incidentally…and I SPECIFICALLY chose THOSE 2015 results because those are the SAME two countries we play NEXT in the Hex…AT HOME… but hey don’t let MY STATS and FACTS prevent you from drinking your Hart-Haterade…

    • Brian Springer he was supposedly fired for the the 2016 stats, not the 2015 or 2014 or any other year….please analyse the stats, only teams ranking over 100 we can beat ???? I honestly like the guy, but its not about my liking, but on the facts/stats

    • Really Trini Don can you please provide me with evidence of exactly where it is stated that Hart was fired for the 2016 stats?

    • I said “supposedly” Brian Springer….but the issue here is there results !!! Deal with that !!!! SVg and DR is the only team we can beat in 2016 ???? I mean under latapy we might have struggle to beat them…but it says nothing for the level of our game

    • You’re missing my point Trini Don what I believe we should look at is what are our most recent results against our next opposition in the Hex and I provided those FACTS…we drew twice vs MEXICO and lost to PANAMA… THAT is what we should be focusing our attention on.

    • Thats your problem Brian Springer, look at the ENTIRE year and analyse it, dont pick and choose to make your reference….we scored 21 goals and conceded 29, talk about that

    • But you doing the same thing Trini Don picking and choosing 2016 only you ignoring the WHOLE tenure of the man and focussing on ONE year… WHY? Because it suits the point you trying to make do don’t criticize me for looking at a LONGER term than you.

    • The moral of the story is Brian Springer is that good performance should be rewarded, but clearly 2016 is not good a year of good performance….unless you want to predict the future for 2017, and prove that Hart would have an exceptionally great football year….

    • And bottom line Trini Don one way of predicting the future is to look at the last results against the SAME opposition…SO if Hart was fired because his team was drawing in regulation time with BOTH of his NEXT opponents then he better be replaced with someone who has a history of BEATING those same two opponents otherwise we would be losing them two home games and kissing Russia 2018 goodbye.

    • Steups….u not making any sense whatsoever….in analysing data/stats you look at periods, not pick and choose…

    • You contradicting yourself I AM NOT picking & choosing YOU are because you want to leave out 2015 results and I want to INCLUDE them so it’s you who picking and choosing Master Don… Furthermore if YOU dont think you should look at our team performance vs the teams we about to play then I could understand why you confused about what I’m saying.

  2. Prob didn’t might give him some season passes and a pat on the back

  3. As long as he get his cheque he good.

  4. ..I hear you Kelvin. Indeed, you never know. But you also don’t just pick and hope. Is not a lottery. A coach, at any level, should be selected based on, 1) his formal resume, 2) his experience, 3) his achievements, and 4) the subjective judgement of his personality and “fit” for the job. After Hart they better being somebody who is clearly better..

    • Add availability and cost to that actually put cost first

    • Totally agree.. we are stuck with people within the TTFA who do not understand football and will never understand football. I’m astonished that some of those guys have the future of our football in their hands. My 7 yr old are better than some of them. But it’s what we have Keith.. we do have to hope that somehow they make a good decision going forward.

    • This is about more than having someone in TTFF who understands football. I hate to read this absolute nonsense! We need people in TTFF who understand business, understands running global competitive organizations, who understands governance . It’s as nonsensical as pan men saying that pantrinbago must have people who understand pan etc . Let the coach and the technical staff see about the technical and tactical items and let management do management. Kelvin Jack as much as I respect you I strongly disagree with that statement

    • Totally agree.. we are stuck with people within the TTFA who do not understand football and will never understand football. I’m astonished that some of those guys have the future of our football in their hands. My 7 yr old are better than some of them. But it’s what we have Keith.. we do have to hope that somehow they make a good decision going forward.

      Have u read that above statement Brian? I have clearly referred to the people entrusted in hiring and firing of managers. They don’t understand football and in my opinion are capable of selecting quality. I need no lecture about football administration as a business or football governance; that is beyond obvious.. I have been talking to specifically about football on the pitch matters.. in one of my earlier statements, if you took the time to read it, I clearly stated that administrators need to administrate professionally and leave football matters on the pitch to the manager. The manager is the most important person in any football set up..

    • kelvin, yes I understand but I’m saying that the people running the TTFF do not have to know about football to select a good coach. I’m an executive search consultant and executive coach so I do this for a living. What is required is (1) establish a vision for TT football (2). Set some goals/objectives which are broadly communicated (3) develop a strategy to achieve the vision and meet those goals (4) develop a governance process and some operating principles to guide the behavior of the TTFF and the member clubs or bodies.

      The selection of a coach is then done within this context. Because we now know the goals and we have a vision that people buy into we go to the market to find a coach – we are now looking for someone with a complete resume, who has worked at the level we want to get to (note that they’ve worked at where we want to get to), we look at where they’ve been and we find 25-30 references who we can call confidentially and get feedback on the candidate, yiu are looking for cultural fit, ability to collaborate broadly, ability to build team on and off the field, ability to generate measurable results and an ability to plan long term. This is what big corporations do and this is what I’ve said for a long time on wired868 postings that we need a corporate structure and I’m saying now we need professional executives to run it and they don’t have to know about football.

  5. There is one thing that’s guaranteed if you’re a football manager; the sack. There are only two managers that have been un sackable, Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.. the reason they were un-fireable was due to their successes. Football is a results driven business. Hart did a good job for this country and he could be satisfied with his work . He hasn’t had the quality players past managers had but he did a decent enough job. He is gone so football goes on.
    Whoever is given the job must feel the support from all. I’ve read some people already criticising possible replacements.. Terry Fenwick, Russel Latapy etc. I know Terry Fenwick very well. He is an outstanding candidate. He is passionate, he is tactically very very good and he is an obsessed winner. I’ve read some talk about his lack of experience.. hogwash. He is a former international, a premier league player, a World Cup quarter finalist. He also know our country and culture well. There are few better candidates out there – trust me in on this guys. This guy is very very good.. the only one on par or slightly superior I’ve worked with is Leo Beenhakker. Jamal Shabazz? A good coach.. does he have the personality? Maybe.. he is also a good coach. If he has the right staff he can do well. I don’t know Russel as a coach but he was our best ever player and have been going about his business in Scotland. Do not dismiss someone so easily guys. You just never know in football..you just never know.. he may be the one. Who knows? All I know is that the TTFA has to be decisive and intelligent when selecting the new manager.. our role? Pray they get it right and support your manager.

  6. Djw deserve cussing if he put latapy as head coach !!! A top foreign coach or nothing

  7. ..We will see. That would be a hard one to justify based on his previous tenure as senior coach and more recently as U17 coach..

  8. Lasana Liburd ruby tuesday Grand bazaar was gutted by fire last year, and this hart just got gutted by fire from a Ruby tuesday decision eh….dem really good yes

  9. He is a scout for Belgium I heard

  10. Don’t believe Dennis Lawrence went to Belgium with Martinez. I could be wrong though..

  11. Setting patriotism aside I cannot see Dennis Lawrence leaving his position of assistant coach under Martinez to come and take over the reigns of a struggling team. Maybe in a few years time I wud say yes.

    Don’t know who they have in mind but I believe that t dis group expected or wanted Hart to fail.

    David Williams must have done his homework and they most likely had someone in mind long before making this final decision.

  12. The idea of Fenwick or a Dennis Lawrence taking over wouldn’t be bad ideas – but it would override what a terrible decision removing Hart is

    I would compare what Hart was potentially doing for TT to what Laars Largeback & Martin Olsen were doing for Sweden & Denmark as respective coaches who held job for close to a decade

    A safe, honest and trustworthy pair of hands leading nations who knew they had flaws, limited resources (they had better than TT in resources) and knew their limits in the world football arena

    A talented but flawed football nation like TT isn’t on the verge of dominating CONCACAF anytime soon – even if the MLS trio, Bostock, veterans Glenn & Carlos came in

    The end game was always trying to qualify for Russia with Hart and even if he failed – him extending contract had to depend on – a) how competitive team was in defeat since the HEX zone has no poor teams & b) his personal will to continue

    So trading away the aforementioned qualities Hart has to go for the unknown hope of a new coach who can inspire team is unnecessary

    Now the senior team which was the one thing in TT football that has been a shining light that Hart is solely responsible for reviving – will now become part of the other side show acts of confusion in TT football

  13. So DJW, bring a Leo Benhacker , a finisher and set out our football back for the next 5 years

  14. Quote” The decision to fire Hart was made by an ad-hoc committee headed by John-Williams, which is believed to have included technical committee chairman and Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene, technical director Muhammad Isa, Eastern Counties Football Union representative Sherwyn Dyer and vice-president Allan Warner”. So lets analyze this DMU : Dexter Skeene , pro league president , Ever since I know he was in charge of the pro league his success there is the same as him making the national team, and now he is a deciosion maker …????. Muhammed Isa, Technical Director , Square peg in a round hole , Technical arrangement involve a lot of models , analysis , objectives , strategies. implementation , control , etc. see where I am going with this ..Qualifications are absent . He is making decision also . Stephen Hart brings management to the national team , you could hear it when he speaks , but because of the lack of structure in place he is limited in his progress and must now coach . Coaching at a senior level? . Now DJW, W Connection Influence , he alread have Brian Willams , Ging and bring on Stuart , whatever his name is. This foolishness is on our politics, in West Indies Cricket and now TTFA football.

  15. I think a Brazilian Coach is coming

  16. Too much boss and massa and officials in sport. The coach and players should just get their tools and be left to do their jobs. The new coach won’t make a difference. Backstabbing will always prevail to the detriment of sport in this country.

  17. Hughtun Hector …….biiiiiach

  18. I hear since new TTFA President Williams came in he has not favored Hart. I think the culture of the region and egos are to our detriment check West Indies cricket Caricom etc. I no longer feel we care about the real issues..What will happen with the Bostock plan etc ??????

  19. Terry fenwick wanted it a long time ago. I’m not sure either possess enough experience especially at this stage of the Hex

  20. When a team does this badly it’s customary that the head coach is fired. What they have to do is get a better coach quick.

  21. I have a new word ” Babwahism.”

  22. Sure they gave him a post dated cheque

  23. SMH… Scapegoat. Buy as they say it’s easier to change the coach than all the players. But I still say we ain’t going nowhere with these bunch ah players. We simply don’t have the talent. We have to bring in at least 6-7 different players to have a chance.

  24. Now seeing this – so it’s true

  25. I95 reporting they have parted ways

  26. I wish that you yourself was also one of my Coach Hart confidential friends eh Brian Harry and please never stop sharing your expertise advise etc, etc, because I am still learning a lot from my wired family eh.

  27. Folks, just review these posts and appreciate the commess and intrigue that surrounds TT football. Think about the environment and the culture that is being created around the sport. Then ask yourself “is this healthy for national football and will it lead to sustainable high performance and winning?” I respect and admire Mr Hart’s resolute and unflappable posture but is he or the national team being set up for success? This is not good for anyone – including our dreams and ambitions. Again, I’m surprised that a country with so many bright people who know better in their heads can’t find it in their hearts to do things properly. At this level talent is 10% of the equation because everyone we play will have lots of it. The defining factors are leadership, tactical preparation and psychological preparation. Woe be into us in TT as we seem to like to make a mess of everything. I wish I could be a fly on the wall when Mr Hart is discussing this situation with his confidential friends