St George FC and Dedebit FC (1st against 2nd in the league table) locked horns today afternoon in this week’s biggest match of the Ethiopian Premier league. While league leaders St George with 50 points and a game at hand obviously targeted extending their lead to six points, Dedebit FC were determined to beat the leaders and level with points.

To be fair, this long-awaited and much expected game was dominated by some outstanding and gutsy performance from Dedebit FC who took St George by surprise by playing some direct attacking football. Dedebit did not have any serious challenges to reach in the final third of their opponents with well worked out moves. Current top scorer of the league, Dedebit’s forward Temesgen could easily beat both St George defense and the goalie 3 times in 7 minutes but not the post.

Dedebit’s absolute supremacy in the first 10 minutes was clearly and evidently assisted by Coach Micho’s tactical flaw’s and some slack defending in the center and on the left back. Micho’s decision to put the Cameroonian Maestro, Janclaude, on the right part of the midfield and to give his proven role of defending midfielder to Michael Desta who is a proven play maker is probably the biggest factor that contributed to Dedebit’s dangerous attempts on goal’s in the first 10 minutes or so.

When these players exchanged their positions after ten minutes St George were able to stop at least the shots on their goals if not the domination in midfield. Despite being outplayed, St George took the lead on 15th minute when their formidable in-form striker Adane Girma put Salahadin’s left-footed text-book cross in the back of the net with almost a free header. However, Dedebit continued to enjoy both a better ball possession and threatened by breaking into the box more often than not.

On the 25th minutes Salahadin Seid missed an open net from about 15 meters when his shot went wide on far the right post. The two teams went into the half time break with St George’s 1-0 lead with Dedebit dominating the ball possession and the shots on target as well.
In the second half, St George looked a little better mainly due to the substitution of Janclaude, who clearly lacked match-fitness, with the young talent Mintesnot who helped St George with some better fluid passes and win 50-50 balls much better than they did in the first half. The young-man ably carried out his role of bay-sitting the defense and he was perhaps the most important thing for the defending champions in the second half.

Dedebit’s domination in possession coupled with Micho’s failure to take any corrective actions earned Dedebit the equalizer on 64 minutes when number 2 sent a low-drive shot home after exchanging some neat one-two play. Dedebit continued to threaten by pressing St George, who made themselves an easy-prey by sitting back.

Coach Micho evidently made himself and his side the underdog of this game contrary to the expectations of St George fans and the wider sport public, relied on counter-attacks as his main strategy which some how bore fruit when man of the match, Adane Girma, headed the winner home on 78th minutes to send the quite arena into a wild and rapturous celebrations. Adane’s determination spirited-performance won St George the match.

But Why Was St George Outplayed and Why do they fail to perform Often times despite having a much better quality Squad?

These questions are often debated and discussed among St George fans or even the management for quite a while now. Although different people forward different reasons or provide different explanations, there seems to be agreement about one element-that there are two seemingly insurmountable problems on the part of Coach Micho: a tactic or game plan that does not seem to work any more (the diamond formation in the midfield) and most of all his very poor player management skills and his far from just player administration.

To be fair, Coach Micho is workaholic and never gets tired to work on the training field and have won titles through out his time here. And many would tend to argue that it would be unfair or would fail to see the reason to critique a coach who secured the winning formula, won several titles, and is currently league leader. But the answer for this is quite simple: Micho is not here just to win titles. Winning local titles is just part of the club’s tradition and all coaches in the history of the club won titles except Kassahun Teka who managed St George just for one season. And many would take for granted that any other coach would have won all the local titles Micho won in the last five years; and who would say they wouldn’t.

So, club, fans and the wider Ethiopian Football Public expect a lot more from a European Professional Coach in terms of contributing to the qualitative growth and betterment of Club and Ethiopian football. But many have frustrated by now and are convinced that Micho is not the guy to do that job.

Below are some of the outstanding criticisms and/or misgivings about Micho’s Coaching abilities.

1. Micho did not introduce any new tactics of play or brought about behavioral and attitude changes on individual players on the way the play; instead his is just sticking to one formation ever since his arrival (the diamond formation in midfield); All cubs in the country now know this formation and easily outplay him by making the midfield very compact
2. In his approach to competitive games, he gives too much weight both to opponents and games and this has made St George Lions of Ethiopian football loose the” fear factor”; Every team in Ethiopia would shake and sweat on the day they play St George; but that’s not true anymore. Micho communicates low-expectations to his players through his actions and words before games (that’s why he sticks to counter attacks and predominantly explains how his players destruct their opponents play rather than build one of their own). Micho should realize that no one rises to low expectations. Because he expects less from his players they fail to perform.
3. Micho has terribly failed to put a meritorious system in his player administration and/or management skills. In simple terms, delivery of good performance and ability will not necessarily guarantee a player a place in his starting 11. Although many examples can be cited for this, Mohmmed’s case would just be good enough to illustrate this. Striker Mohammed is currently the club’s top scorer and the league’s second top scorer; but he is just thrown to the bench despite scoring in an international game and delivering a lot better than any of the strikers in his place. Just look at what happened today with Dedebit? Can any one explain why Mohammed did not come on as a substitute striker when Salahadin disappeared through out the game?
4. Micho fears some players and snub others; he will never put some players on the bench despite their poor performance and suffers a lot to substitute some. Two examples: Patrik begging him to be substituted in the game against insurance and Micho insisted on playing him through out. In that game his decision to put Patrik on the line/the wing was simply laughable, when there are players who are natural wingers. And His failure to substitute Salah and Suleiman for over 80 minutes today
5. Last but not least, Micho seem to have made it clear that he does not really care about beauty of play; a factor that’s most needed and valued by fans. His principle is just winning even playing two or more skimmers against any team/opponent both at home and away.

There is a famous Ethiopian saying about getting to the bottom of problems; “One cannot make the donkey move by beating the load” (Ahyawin fereto Dawlawin). Micho, just face the music.

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