Ambrose Rachier has been going around telling everyone who will listen how he rescued this club from near oblivion to the great heights it has scaled recently. Indeed this very blog has praised Mr. Rachier as a breath of fresh air compared to the dark days of Erastus Okul when the club was relegated twice and looked like it might go extinct.
That being said, leaders are judged based on what kind of leadership they provide during a crisis. A good ship captain is one who is able to steer his ship to safety in stormy waters. An excellent ship captain is one who is able to foresee coming storms and steer his ship to safety, away from the storm. Rachier has fallen flat on both counts.
The club is currently going through a string of bad results. The play has been extremely poor for a long time. Before beating arch rivals AFC leopards 3-1, the club was playing poorly yet posting a series of lucky wins. Fans expressed dismay at the dissapearance of the flowing football that the Kenyan public had come to associate with Kogalo. But the results after the AFC match are what has sent fans into a panic. Teams that are battling relegation and are full of unknown players are easily handling Kogalo which is stacked with national team players. With seven matches left, Gor Mahia has all but thrown its chances of winning the league into the dustbin. Player morale appears low. Fans are dejected. And worse still, so called club security has turned on fans, beating them with whips.
While all this is going on, Rachier has shown very little leadership. He is living on past laurels. As the club burns, Rachier is busy talking up his past record. No respectable club keeps a coach after a long string of poor results. The reason for this is simple. Coaches who stay at a club for a long time almost always run out of ideas when other teams figure out how to stop them. It is at this point that a club must make a coaching change. Some clubs do not even wait long. Inter Milan recently fired their new coach after 5 games.
When a club is seen to be unresponsive to the fans, the fans usually react by staying away from games. This has already started to happen. Once the green army dissappears, the sponsors will see no reason to stay with the club and will folllow suit. A club that is not winning, has few fans and is mostly associated with hooliganism is toxic to sponsors. And the fan anger and resulting hooliganism will continue unless something is done. And worse still, the club cannot survive without fan support. Even with sponsorship, Kogalo is highly dependent on gate proceeds.
Don’t take the green army for granted
Fans of Kenyan football who are watching the KFF/FKL elections closely are observing Rachier’s lack of leadership and wondering if he will act the same way as KFF chairman. What if the national team coach is under-performing. Will Rachier stick to his guns and keep the coach. Will he show this kind of indecisiveness. It is only recently that Harambee stars fans had to endure Antoine Hey and his incompetence. They will not be keen to go through another such episode.
Other teams have made coaching changes and are now reaping the benefits. You need not look further than arch rivals AFC Leopards for an example.
Further to that, Mr. Rachier must come forward and shed light on all the rumours surrounding the club. These stories reflect poorly on the club and must be immediately addressed. Key players who feel slighted might start to leave for rival clubs. Others might leave to escape the attendant stone throwing that occurs during a string of poor results.
Rachier must not sit back and assume that he single-handedly rebuilt the club. Fans played a pivotal role as well by organizing themselves using online forums, social media, in bars and other areas to rally behind the team. They deserve as much credit as anybody for the revival in fortunes of the club. And dont forget the efforts of other officials most notably James Sianga who built a young team that started the clubs rennaisance. The capital that Kogalo has built over the past 3 years should not be wasted.