Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1295, (12 - 18 May 2016)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1295, (12 - 18 May 2016)

Ahram Weekly

The Scotsman’s very short reign

Alex McLeish is out and Martin Jol tastes defeat for the first time, Marawan Zayed reports

 Jol and McLeish
Jol and McLeish
Al-Ahram Weekly

Not many Egyptian fans will be surprised to know that veteran coach Alex McLeish who was appointed as Zamalek coach, left the club after just 65 days in charge. In fact every football fan in the country predicted that a well-respected man in British football like McLeish would not last long at a club managed by the ever combative Mortada Mansour. McLeish is the fourth manager to leave the club this season but to last just over two months at the club must have been a personal record at least for McLeish.

Mansour did everything in his power to push the veteran coach out. First, he started criticising the Scot publicly, then started interfering in his decisions, then finally sacked his staff without even telling him beforehand.

Mansour replaced McLeish’s staff with distinguished Zamalek figures and gave them more authority and power than McLeish himself, after which he pushed the Scottish coach out of the club. Mido, the coach McLeish replaced, stayed in charge for just 37 days which makes McLeish’s 65 days look like an achievement.

McLeish surely left the club puzzled by his treatment after winning six games and drawing two from 10 games in charge as well as guiding the club to the group phase of the African Champions League. Mohamed Helmi has taken charge as interim manager with the board set to name a successor in the coming days.

Zamalek managed to record two wins from their first two games with Helmi, defeating Al-Geish 2-1 in the first game and Ghazl Mehalla 2-0 in the second.

On the other hand, Martin Jol lost for the first time since his appointment as Ahly manager as the league leaders suffered a shock defeat at the hands of in-form Wadi Degla who managed to score in the 93rd minute after being on the back foot defending for nearly the entire game. A counter attack in the dying seconds of the game saw Mapuku find the back of the net after a sublime run from the half way line. Ahly players and fans literally could not believe they conceded in such fashion as they put the visitors under huge pressure throughout the 90 minutes and seemed very close to scoring on several occasions, especially in the last few minutes, only to see Wadi Degla’s only shot on target beating goalkeeper Sherif Ekrami which resulted in the first defeat for the Dutchman Jol with the club.

The defeat, coupled with Zamalek’s latest win, means the gap is now cut to eight points between leaders Ahly and Zamalek with eight games left as of writing. Ismaili is third, 15 points from the top.

Jol was calm after the game and philosophical in defeat. “This is football. If you create chances but don’t score you concede.” He made it clear that the defeat did not worry him one bit and that he was sure that his players will wrap up the league title early and would not wait till the very end to win it.

Ahly’s next game will be away from home against Aswan while Zamalek will play Petrojet at home.

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