I doubt this scribe believes all A-League coaches should be fluent in English – he’s a fairly broad-minded chap who would know there are many foreign managers in many countries that struggle with the local lingo. But because all the translating slows things down, follow up questions are often lost as every other journo becomes more eager to get in next.
Throughout the process, however, Amor always seems remarkably unflustered.
It’s remarkable because it can’t be easy for him. After coming here just a year ago to be United’s technical director, Amor was thrust into the coaching role with the sudden departure of Josep Gombau.
We’ve imagined a seamless transition as the two men have the Barça philosophy; no need for a worldwide search for a replacement when someone from within allows you to just change the name and face.
But while that quiet comment in the media conference wasn’t about how the lack of fluency (or confidence) in English affects Amor, it is a reminder that it makes the coach’s job even more difficult.
I’m sure the players respect him. None of them will ever have a CV like Amor’s which includes winning five league titles, a European Cup and representing Spain at the World Cup.
Nevertheless, he hasn’t coached a senior team before. Suddenly he has to be part teacher, part motivator, part psychologist, part tactician, part manager. And he’s doing it in a foreign land with an imperfect knowledge of its language.
One can hardly blame him for using an interpreter when facing media vultures who will be quick to pounce on any verbal misstep.
Indeed, after Saturday’s loss in Brisbane, some ridiculed Amor for saying he was “very happy” with United’s performance.
And yes, I’ve been highly critical of what I’ve seen so far this season.
But I’m not interested in rolling a tripwire out for the coach. My concerns about the obsession with holding possession, and the Reds failing to win games when they’ve been leading, predate his appointment.
I’ve had doubts about some of the tactics used too but, on that front, his approach was better last night. Fine play from the visitors and defensive errors from the home team – rather than a questionable structure – were what gave Melbourne City a 3-0 lead. But then, instead of trying to chase the game by withdrawing defenders, Amor’s substitutions in the last half hour reshaped his midfield and attack. And then the Reds looked much, much better.
The result, a 4-2 loss, was still dreadful. But that last 30 minutes was the most encouraging of United’s season. The team was making chances, forcing sharp saves and scoring.
Perhaps that type of performance is closer to what Amor has been trying to achieve all along. Maybe it’s taken longer because he doesn’t express himself as well in English, or because he’s still learning the job, or both.
These things won’t excuse failure, however, he needs time and we need to be more patient.
And some of the team’s shortcomings simply can’t be blamed on Amor.
It’s not the coach’s fault the club never brought in a player to replace Sergio van Dijk. The Dutchman left three years ago and we haven’t had a forward with a strike rate like his since.
United has struggled to create chances in its first four matches but last night was more like one of last season’s games – the Reds having several good scoring opportunities but not converting enough of them into goals.
Amor mightn’t be responsible for some players’ dip in form either. Tarek Elrich, Marcelo Carrusca and Isaias certainly haven’t been bad but, thus far, they haven’t played as well as they did last season.
Unfortunately the unusual timing of the match, a Thursday night, means a wait of longer than a week before the team gets its next opportunity to record that elusive win and the rest of us will consume weekend action with the frustration of being bottom with just two points from five games in the backs of our heads.
But there was some encouragement last night. And maybe signs that our coach is getting the hang of his new gig.
Paul Marcuccitti is InDaily’s soccer columnist. He is a co-presenter of 5RTI’s Soccer on 531 program which can be heard from 11am on Saturdays.
Manton St Tales is normally published on Mondays during the A-League season.
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