What is really happening? Pulse Sports brings you the lowdown on Great Olympics, a club heavily divided between two Head Coaches
The Accra-based club on Tuesday confirmed Swede Tom Strand as the club’s new Head Coach, but some supporters of the club have pushed against this development and backed erstwhile coach Godwin Attram to continue in his role.
Attram, a former Ghana international striker who played at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, was the Player-Coach of the club until Strand’s appointment.
The club’s management said they had offered the 36-year-old a role as assistant under Strand, but he has since refused to be demoted, vowing not to abide by the changes within the technical team.
“I will not work under Tom Strand as an assistant coach,” Attram said, plainly.
“Two years ago when he was coaching Medeama I (with Great Olympics) beat him 2-0 when Yaw Acheampong was the head I was the assistant coach. So I can’t be an assistant for Tom Strand.”
Meanwhile, as expected, this standoff has left a huge schism within the ranks of the team.
On Wednesday, about 14 players trained under Attram at the Ghana Fire Service Park, while 13 others reportedly trained under Strand at the St Thomas Aquinas Park.
Loyalties split, confusion and unrest reigning.
“I told my assistant coach we would be training but he did not turn up,” a visibly aggrieved Attram told the press at his training session. “It’s made me realize that that’s just how the world works. He called me and I told him we are training right here, no matter what they (the club’s management) say.”
Some supporters, charged and chanting, red cloths tied to their heads, had gathered behind Attram as he spoke, expressing solidarity. They insisted he is still their head coach.
“I had initially decided to leave,” Attram explained, “but I realized when I do so, Olympics would lose. The supporters asked me to stay, so I’m staying put for Great Olympics whatever the case.”
Attram accused the club’s management, led by majority shareholders Metropolitan Television (Metro TV), to be the main cause of the club’s problems, fingering them for interfering in his job.
“Since the beginning of the season, I’ve had cases of “place my player here, place my player there” and it’s been frustrating the team,” he complained.
“If some supporters don’t know and they are supporting them (Metro TV management) then I want them (supporters) to know that they (management) are killing the team, not me. I know their (Metro TV management’s) mentality, so I will stand and fight for Great Olympics.”
The coach, whose playing career was spread across Ghana, the Netherlands, Denmark, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Oman, said the management had no right to make such arbitrary decisions because they owe players.
“If they (management) want to bring in a new coach, then they should also come and pay all the enticement fees they owe the players as well as all the monies they promised to pay last year. only then can they can then take their team away,” he fired.
“If they won’t come and pay, then I will come and train and divide the team. They should come and pay all the arrears owed the team. I don’t want to say a lot of things but if they want me to get angry, then I will speak out so loud that they would run away.”
He threatened to take matters into his own hands if the need arises, threatening to usurp Metro TV – which bought the club in 2014.
“They are the shareholders, but when the worst happens, I will bring people to take over.”
Oloboi Commodore, the General Manager of the club, explaining why they sought the services of Strand, says “it’s clear for everyone to see” that Olympics is in bad shape, and that he blames the incompetence of the Attram-led Olympics technical team for their woes.
“There is a clear indication of incompetence on the part of the technical team,” Commodore told Accra-based radio station Happy FM on Wednesday, “and even some of the players, so we decided to bring Tom to help out. But it seems the decision did not go down too well with him (Attram),” Commodore told Happy FM.
Commodore, in March, had told the same radio station that he felt Attram’s qualifications merited an assistant coach position, and that the club was speaking to some coaches to superintend over him.
Meanwhile, Tom Strand – a former coach of Bechem United and Medeama SC – seems focused on his job despite crisis that has engulfed the club.
“What I will bring to the team is experience and develop the tactical situation and develop the attacking side of the team,” the 36-year-old, a Ghana FA Cup winner in 2015, said upon his appointment.
“I believe we can work together with the supporters because we need them to back up the club. I hope the supporters will do that for the team and I know we will get the desired results.”
The problem, though, is that most of the supporters look set to starve Strand of support as Attram – who played for the club as a teenager in the mid 1990s – remains a cult hero.
Attram, who describes himself as a “son of Great Olympics” who wants “the best for the club”, is loved by fans who credit him for single-handedly masterminding their qualification from the second tier into the top flight last season as player-coach.
Great Olympics qualified back into the Ghana Premier League after winning Zone 3 of the Division One League last year.
The club, formed in 1954 after a split within the ranks of Accra Standfast club, were Ghana league champions in 1970 and 1974. Oly Dade, as they are affectionately known, also have three FA Cup triumphs – 1975, 1983 and 1995 – to their credit.