Former Trinidad and Tobago World Cup 2006 defender Dennis Lawrence has done a U-turn and will be unveiled as the new Soca Warriors coach, after he agreed terms with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) on Saturday morning.
“I feel very honoured and humbled by this opportunity and the confidence placed in me by the Association,” said Lawrence, in a press release. “I have given my all for Trinidad and Tobago as a player and now relish this moment to contribute as head coach of the National Team.”
It is uncertain at this point whether he eventually agreed a two or three year deal.
Lawrence, who was employed as a scout for the Belgium National Senior Team at present, pulled out of talks on Friday morning after the football body amended their initial deal with controversial termination clauses and then seemed unable to explain them.
The TTFA wanted the right to sack the six foot seven Lawrence for gross misconduct if the Warriors slipped six places in the FIFA ranking or had less than a 40 percent success rate. But, in a subsequent phone call, Lawrence’s agent, Mike Berry, claimed TTFA president David John-Williams did not know if draws counted as success and promised to get back on to him.
John-Williams’ failure to do so in a timely fashion added to a growing unease about the sudden direction of the negotiations and Lawrence announced that the deal was off.
The scuppering of the talks led to a furious response from some TTFA board members who blamed John-Williams for bungling the talks.
John-Williams, who is the co-owner of W Connection football club, was allegedly keen to have his own employee, Stuart Charles-Fevrier, take over the National Senior Team.
It is uncertain what role, if any, was played by the board and the angry public response to John-Williams’ perceived meddling. But the TTFA president is believed to have subsequently applied fresh zeal to the pursuit of the 42-year-old coach.
And, by Saturday morning, the deal was concluded.
Remarkably, the TTFA tried to take credit for the supposed speed of the appointment, which came two months after the replacement of former head coach Stephen Hart and almost two weeks after the departure of his shambolic replacement, Tom Saintfiet.
“The TTFA has worked diligently to complete the selection process ahead of our intended next Monday deadline, and this press release is now being made in order to quell further speculation and keep our stakeholders informed.
“Dennis will arrive in the country next week where he will hold a press conference and meet with members of the local football fraternity to determine the rest of his support staff.”
Lawrence has never worked as a head coach although he served as assistant to Roberto Martinez at Wigan Athletic—where they edged Manchester City to the FA Cup title in 2013—and Everton FC.
Intriguingly, like his predecessor Tom Saintfiet, Lawrence was not the first choice of the TTFA’s technical committee. Or the second.
Fevrier was the coach who the technical committee felt was the best man for the job of leading the Warriors. Ex-Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh coach Terry Fenwick, a former England international defender, was next on the list.
However, in a meeting on Wednesday night, the TTFA board of directors decided to overrule its technical committee’s recommendations in favour of the lanky defender whose goal took Trinidad and Tobago to the 2006 World Cup.
Lawrence played or trained alongside several current Warriors including Kenwyne Jones, Marvin Phillip, Carlos Edwards, Khaleem Hyland, Jan-Michael Williams, Cornell Glen, Hughtun Hector and Radanfah Abu Bakr.
He has included former club and international teammates Stern John, Angus Eve and Hutson “Barber” Charles as potential assistants for his technical staff, along with two unnamed England coaches and one from the Netherlands.
Charles, a Strike Squad standout who played with Lawrence at the Defence Force, was a member of Hart’s coaching staff, which steered Trinidad and Tobago into the Concacaf Hex.
Eve, Trinidad and Tobago’s record appearance maker, is Club Sando head coach and a former National Under-23 Team head coach while John, the country’s all-time leading scorer, is assistant coach at defending Pro League and Caribbean champions, Central FC.
TTFA press statement (signed by president David John-Williams and new head coach Dennis Lawrence):
The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is pleased to announce that Mr Dennis Lawrence has accepted the position of head coach of the Men’s Senior National Team.
The TTFA has worked diligently to complete the selection process ahead of our intended next Monday deadline, and this press release is now being made in order to quell further speculation and keep our stakeholders informed…
Dennis will arrive in the country next week where he will hold a press conference and meet with members of the local football fraternity to determine the rest of his support staff.
In accepting the appointment, Dennis Lawrence stated: “I feel very honoured and humbled by this opportunity and the confidence placed in me by the Association. I have given my all for Trinidad and Tobago as a player and now relish this moment to contribute as head coach of the National Team.
“Of course I am coming into a difficult situation and we have to take each game very seriously and put our best foot forward. The experience I gained working under different coaches during my 89 international caps for T&T and my exposure in coaching has all helped to shape me. I intend to give my very best towards this national effort.”