Apprehension follows talk of Laurentiu Reghecampf’s hire by Al Ahli Jeddah.
Not, of course, from the Romanian’s side. More astute work by exceptionally connected agent/wife Anamaria Prodan has at worst landed a lucrative contract “until the end of the season”, at best another shop window to exhibit enduring worth either at King Abdullah Sports City or beyond.
The 45-year-old is not held in great esteem at the UAE’s Al Wasl and Al Wahda (despite leading them to the 2017/18 Arabian Gulf Cup, plus 2017 and 2018 Arabian Gulf Super Cups). Antipathy from Al Hilal supporters who experienced runners-up spots in the 2014/15 Saudi Crown Prince Cup – a game versus future employers which would be his last – and the 2014 AFC Champions League has further helped fuel a negative wave of reaction by Ahli supporters on social media, as reported by Al Madina.
It is now essential that searching questions are asked by Ahli, regardless of Reghecampf’s true worth. Only this can halt a questionable hire-and-fire spree.
How have one of Asia’s best-supported sides got themselves into a scenario where Vladan Milojevic’s fine reputation earned at Red Star Belgrade could not prevent him becoming on March 24 the club’s fifth permanent head coach since February 2019? Apt analysis of such a parlous situation must stretch beyond the basics of a five-match losing streak in the Saudi Professional League and probe why this has occurred.
A good starting point is the fact that the Serbian was their first tactician to last more than a year since Christian Gross from July 2014-June 2016. Milojevic’s stay was also indisputably lengthened by last year’s five-month stoppage because of coronavirus.
Ahli’s varied recruitment has witnessed them twice return to Gross, with diminishing returns. Bring in South Americans of contrasting tactical approaches in Jorge Fossati and Pablo Guede, sacked Ukraine legend Sergiy Rebrov in a season from which a second-placed finish was ultimately secured, plus have brief dalliances with ex-Persepolis supremo Branko Ivankovic and Portugal’s Jose Gomes.
Syria superstar Omar Al Somah’s torrent of goals since 2014 had helped temper the impact of this erratic approach. That is until nagging injury problems lowered his SPL goal return to 10 strikes in 21 matches this term, comfortably the 32-year-old’s worst ratio of his time in the Kingdom.
Ahli will hope Reghecampf can inspire an undoubtedly talented squad to advance from the 2021 ACL group stages and secure qualification for 2022 from seventh in the domestic standings.
What they then do next is of paramount importance. Either give the now-proven Reghecampf much of 2021/22 to build, or allow the same for a carefully selected successor.
If they don’t, this ceaseless cycle will keep spinning Ahli further away from sustained success.