In sport, coaches know failure means departure. It has happened all over the world. Once you fail, bye bye.
We see it very often. Coaches of national teams, and coaches in the English Premier League are given the boot when they fail.
So what’s all the fuss over Stephen Hart, the last coach of the national men’s senior football team?
Hart’s last contract with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), began on July 1, 2015. It was signed by Hart and former TTFA President, Raymond Tim Kee, and witnessed by William Wallace, then Manager of the men’s senior team.
What was Hart’s financial package as a coach?
From July 1 to December 31, 2015, Hart received US $20,000 a month. From January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018, Hart would have been receiving US $25,000 a month. For taking Trinidad and Tobago to the CONCACAF Final Round of Qualification for Russia 2018, Hart will receive a US $10,000 bonus. If he had remained as coach and took Trinidad and Tobago to the finals in Russia 2018, Hart would have received a further US $200,000 bonus.
In the agreement signed with the TTFA, there is a clause headed HOUSING, where the TTFA provided him with a house. He was also entitled to air travel four times a year to Canada where his family lives. He was also afforded a vehicle.
Under Clause 8, there was a provision for termination of the agreement for various reasons, including non-performance. The TTFA, under that contract, can terminate the contract for non-performance, by giving one month’s notice, and one month’s salary.
In November, the TTFA and Hart agreed to part ways after the national men senior team’s dismal performance for 2016.
It is true that Hart took Trinidad and Tobago to the CONCACAF Final Round of Qualifying, an achievement of sorts. But look back at 2016.
Trinidad and Tobago played Haiti in Panama on January 8 for a place in the Copa America Tournament. The national team lost 0-1 and out of that tournament and some much-needed funding for the TTFA.
The new TTFA President David John-Williams secured important internationals on the road against Peru, Uruguay, and China.
We lost 2-4 to China; 0-4 to Peru; and 1-3 to Uruguay.
We beat St Vincent and the Grenadines twice in the World Cup Group Stage in March, 3-2 and 6-0. We needed just a draw in the final two matches to reach the Hex. We battled to a nervous 2-2 draw with Guatemala before a sold-out crowd in Trinidad on September 2, before we were thrashed 0-4 by the United States in Jacksonville, Florida, four days later.
For the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, we easily disposed of the Dominican Republic 4-0 at the Ato Boldon Stadium on October 5. We needed to beat Martinique on October 12 for an automatic spot in the Gold Cup in 2017. But we lost 0-2 and now have to win three more games to reach the Gold Cup finals. From an automatic spot, to now trying to win three matches including a team from Central America.
We started our World Cup Hex Qualifiers in November, losing 0-2 to Costa Rica at home, and then 1-3 to Honduras away.
In other words, the national team won three matches and lost seven in 2016. With no points after two World Cup matches, we sit at the bottom of the standings with the Unites States, who have gotten rid of their coach, Jurgen Klinsmann. The US also have no points after two matches.
The Unites States wasted no time in getting rid of Klinsmann. So, Trinidad and Tobago wasted no time in getting rid of Hart.
During the past year, Trinidad and Tobago dropped from 49th to 78th in the FIFA rankings.
Remember the road to Germany 2006. We had one point after three games and we went for a foreign coach, Leo Beenhakker, who took us to the World Cup Finals for the first time. The TTFA have gone for Belgium coach, Tom Saintfiet, and time will tell how good he is.
TOMORROW – PART 2
COACH STEPHEN HART
RAYMOND TIM KEE, RIGHT, AND FORMER FIFA PRESIDENT, SEPP BLATTER