What will 'Tornado' bringing to the table? Pulse Sports' Thomas Freeman Yeboah breaks it all down
The former captain was among a list of former Black Stars players who got a slot in the backroom staff of returning Ghana coach James Kwesi Appiah.
Appiah’s office is indeed a new one in the technical team of the Black Stars. The institution used to have Team Manager as the person in charge of the welfare of players and coordinated between them and the technical team.
However, under the new technical structure, the role of Team Manager has been abolished and two new positions created to play that role: Technical Coordinator and Equipment and Welfare Officer (the latter used to be just Equipment Officer).
For those wondering - and judging by the response on social media, there seems to be too many of them - Appiah, the FA has explained, is supposed to liaise between the technical team and the playing body of the Black Stars to ensure smooth coordination of affairs.
That said, let’s look at what the beloved Appiah brings on board in his new role.
First and foremost, Appiah has player management skills. He has proven to be good in dealing with players. The former Juventus midfielder captained the Black Stars for eight years and during his time as the skipper, the team witnessed consistent peace in camp.
In recent years, the team has suffered an apparent prevalence of tension within its ranks, with chronic reports having emerged that there are factions: The Asamoah Gyan faction and the Andre Ayew faction. Although the Ghana Football Association always vehemently rubbishes the claim, the truth is, anything that has a name likely exists. I believe Stephen Appiah's presence will have a tension-calming touch that would mend the current divisions.
Moreover, Stephen Appiah will help coach Kwesi Appiah and his assistant Ibrahim Tanko control the egos in the camp of the Black Stars. During his first stint as coach of the team, Kwesi Appiah was criticized of losing his dressing room, of failing to keep players in check, of failing to enforce discipline and order. This, many believe was one of the major challenges he faced. The infamous events of the 2014 World Cup are now well known: the boycotts of training over the delay of appearance fees, Kevin Prince Boateng's verbal abuse of Kwesi Appiah, Sulley Muntari's assault of a Black Stars management committee member.
Although Stephen Appiah was part of of the technical team during the tournament in Brazil, I believe his inability to help prevent things from getting out of hand was due to the fact that he was without a portfolio, thus rendering him powerless. Now that he has a portfolio, he has the authority to act, and I believe that will be critical in keeping star players with egos in check.
And he has what it takes too, having fraternized with superstars like Alessandro Del Piero, Edgar Davis, Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram, et al during his playing days. He was even the roommate of Pep Guardiola during his time at Brescia. At the Black Stars level, he led high profile players such as Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essien and Samuel Kuffour, as well as inflammatory ones such as Sulley Muntari and Laryea Kingston. He knows the turf. Appiah certainly is not one to be starstruck or intimidated. He has a lot of leverage in star-player relations.
Another thing that cannot be ignored is Appiah's vast international exposure. As a footballer, he spent many years playing abroad; In Italy, Turkey and Serbia. He sampled many cultures, encountered a lot of renowned football stake holders, and was educated within world class environments that deepened his understanding of the game as well as the different people, systems and environments that characterize it.
His experience has given him a depth of substance that the Black Stars will benefit from. More than 90% of the playing body of the national team ply their trade overseas, and so having a man like Appiah - who can relate to their experiences - within the technical team is key.
There's also the tactical edge that he brings as a link between players and the technical team. Appiah, as a player, was exposed to variations of top notch tactics, having played under technical brains like Marcello Lippi - the UEFA Champions League cum FIFA World Cup winning coach, as well as Fabio Capello, another Champions League winner. Off the back of this, I expect Appiah to bring some tactical sophistication to the Black Stars, in terms of his advice to his boss, head coach Kwesi Appiah. This complementary role would be of immense help to the team especially as Kwesi Appiah, during his first spell in charge of the Black Stars, was widely criticized for sometimes lacking tactical ideas in challenging situations.
Let's have a look at the Zinedine Zindane-Carlo Ancelloti relationship at Real Madrid for instance. Zidane, with his deep knowledge of the game amassed over many trophy-laden years, gave Carlo Ancelotti the needed backing when he was handed the opportunity to assist the Italian as the gaffer of Real Madrid. Despite the fact that the French man hadn’t acquired any highly regarded coaching certificate then, he was a good lieutenant and the two side by side helped Real Madrid to win the revered but elusive La Decima - their 10 UEFA Champions League title. Indeed, when the mantle of coaching fell on Zidane later, he led Real Madrid to win the UEFA Champions League.
Admittedly, Stephen Appiah’s situation is a bit different since he is not a direct assistant coach to Kwesi Appiah, but I still think his place as part of the technical team will enable the transmission of his ideas and opinions that will help the team shine.