Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Angus Eve resumed training on 23 September with 21 new additions to his 28-man squad since the July 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
However, neither Eve nor the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), run by a Fifa-appointed normalisation committee, mentioned the biggest change of all, which happened on the sidelines.
In a surprise move, Eve—in his first major decision since being handed a two-year deal as Soca Warriors head coach—has apparently dropped assistant coach Hutson ‘Baba’ Charles from his technical staff.
Wired868 understands Charles’ omission came down to finances, as the Robert Hadad-led normalisation committee allegedly refused to allow Eve to add a data analyst to his staff unless he let someone go.
At the Gold Cup, Eve had two assistants, Reynold Carrington and Charles. He opted to keep Carrington, who is a former international stand-out as a player but has very limited international coaching experience.
Contacted for comment on the technical staff shake-up, Eve responded with a question: “Who said he is not [on the technical staff]?” Up to the time of publication, he had said no more on the issue.
However, Charles confirmed the change, which he said was made via a Zoom call.
“I am not with the national team anymore,” said the Strike Squad stand-out, whom Eve once described as his childhood hero. “As the manager (Richard Piper) and the coach explained, they wanted to bring on another technical person and I don’t think the normalisation committee had funds to keep us all on board. So they sacrificed me.”
The other members of Eve’s coaching staff at the Gold Cup, exclusive of managers and team doctor, were Clayton Ince (goalkeeper coach), Adaryll John (strength and conditioning coach), Saron Joseph (performance trainer/massage therapist), Roger Ryan (physiotherapist), and Michael Williams (equipment manager).
Charles, a former soldier, said he had no hard feelings and remains ready to serve if and when required.
“They said probably later on they would need my services again—so I am just waiting,” Charles told Wired868. “You know that I don’t let anything stress me… They explained everything and I said ‘okay’ and I wished them all the best going forward.
“Anything that can enhance Trinidad and Tobago football, I am all for it. The stint in the Gold Cup was good and I enjoyed it. Whenever they want my services, I am ready.”
A versatile midfielder, Charles won the Concacaf Champions Cup with Defence Force in 1985 and was a playing member of the units that were runners-up in 1987 and 1988, while he helped Trinidad and Tobago to within a solitary point of the Italy 1990 World Cup.
As a coach, he enjoyed international success too. He was assistant to Anton Corneal and then Zoran Vranes as Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the 2007 and 2009 Fifa World Youth Cup at under-17 and under-20 levels respectively.
And, in 2012, Charles was co-head coach when Trinidad and Tobago ended a six-year spell in the wilderness to qualify for the 2013 Concacaf Gold Cup. He remained as part of Stephen Hart’s technical staff as the Soca Warriors enjoyed their brightest spell since the Germany 2006 World Cup, with successive quarter-final finishes in the Confederation’s showpiece tournament.
He played his role too in getting Trinidad and Tobago to the group stage of the 2021 Gold Cup. But it looks to be his last job with the national team for the foreseeable future.
Charles said his second-place finish at the 2012 Caribbean Cup—despite the TTFA’s crippling financial issues, being without the majority of their overseas players, and following their shock preliminary round World Cup qualifying elimination under German Otto Pfister—remains his most treasured memory as coach.
“There were some challenges but we were able to overcome it and, with the help of Jamaal [Shabazz], we were able to qualify for the Gold Cup,” said Charles. “I got real support from the players and the staff at the time. That stands out for me. [Russell] Latapy and [Francisco] Maturana failed to qualify the team twice for the Gold Cup [before then] and I was able to get them there.
“I would say that was the highlight of my coaching career so far.”
Charles remains head coach for Defence Force FC in the TT Pro League and Fatima College, whom he steered back into the SSFL Premier Division in 2019. However, both teams have been inactive for over 18 months owing to Covid-19 restrictions.
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*Seems to me that the Hadad led normalisation committee is engaging in some possible scenarios :
A) ‘Corporate bullying tactics’ – trying to squeeze as much profit from their limited assets. The message is clear and has been repeated to several local coaches (not the foreign ones, by the way) who have / had a good track record – “do well and we will keep you on, make the country proud, make us look good, gain investor confidence.
B) A performance appraisal with punitive clauses:
– Perform creditably at initiating stage (temporary appointment): Consideration for long term.
– Perform well as a permanent appointment with lesser resources : possible consideration of requests if invited.
I just hope that if /when Eve gets positive results, he would come back to the bargaining table and exercise more leverage.
Why is the exclusion of Charles made out to be such a big issue?
I even get the impression that a subtle objection to his exclusion is advanced in highlighting his achievements and stirring emotions with “who Eve once described as his childhood hero”.
I must admit though that the story is sensational and perhaps that’s what sells.
Just an observation expressed.