Monday, May 22, 2017


Persib Fall-Out Continues As Umuh Has His Say

Manchester United, Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid. These clubs are giants in their countries, someone sneezes within the stadium or training ground and the whole world knows in seconds. Persib are on the same level, at least within Indonesia. Different media are always hanging round the club because they know stories are clickbait, especially when things are going wrong.

But are things going wrong? Yes, they drew 2-2 with Borneo at the weekend and are three points behind leaders PSM. They are still unbeaten. Young players like Febri Haryadi, Gian Zola and Billy Keraf have come through and made an impression on the notoriously hard to please Bobotoh. So why is so much of the news gloomy?

Twice, Persib have gone into the final seconds of games leading 2-1 only to see the ref blow the final whistle and they end up with a single point to show for their efforts. First it came away to PS TNI when they led 2-0 with a few minutes remaining. Drew 2-2. Then the Borneo game. Trailing 1-0, they clawed themselves back into contention, led 2-1 only to miss a penalty and concede a late, late goal and drop more points. Those four points irk. So does the manner of the final 20 minutes against Borneo.

Persib manager Umuh Muchtar is usually good for a quote or six. In the headline greedy English media he would be on a par with Jose Mourinho for a go to person by journos looking for some words of wisdom. 

Following the disappointment of the Borneo draw Umuh didn't disappoint. He was angry Michael Essien, the team's star marquee signing, missed the penalty. Hell, he was angry the Ghanaian had even taken the spot kick with Vladimir Vujovic the clubs appointed taker. Essien's kick was high and wide, this video shows it from a number of angles.

Umuh wasn't finished. He then slammed Indonesian international midfielder Raphael Maitimo who was alleged to have been laughing on the team bus after the game. Umuh feels Maitimo wasn't being contrite enough and sharing in his team mate's disappointment at dropping two points. In response to criticism on social media Maitimo did an Eric Cantona and said 'Big trees catch a lot of wind' which hasn't done much to endure him to the faithful.

Coach Djadjang Nurdjaman didn't escape either. Umuh warned the coach's position could be evaluated if there is a poor performances in their next game, away to Bali United.

Just a reminder, Persib are second and are unbeaten this season. They also have the best defence in Liga 1. They have kept clean sheets in five of their seven games. They are also seven points ahead of rivals Persija. So it's not as if Persib are having a poor season.

Umuh went on to express his disappointment with Carlton Cole hinting the former England international striker could be released when the transfer window opens. Cole arrived in Indonesia carrying an injury and according to Umuh he doesn't seem to be recovering going on to suggest when he does play it seems like Persib only have 10 players on the pitch. 'I will now take control,' he said as quoted by fan website Simamaung. 'I will get involved with the composition of the team...we can see we are not sharp addition Cole won't be played again. We can see why, he is injured. I won't play him again.'

All this of course begs the question why the club went ahead and signed a player they knew was carrying an injury.

I am often asked what Persib fans expect and sadly the only answer I have is to win every game or sweat blue blood doing so. Persib fans expect their side to win, win well and play with a swagger. I think there is also an element of frustration with team selections so far this season. Essien and Maitimo won't come cheap, neither would Carlton Cole, and coach Djadjang is perhaps under pressure to play players he may not have had a role in signing. That means other players, terrace favourites, are getting overlooked as the coach seeks to juggle his expensively assembled, and very talented, squad.

Coaches have an unenviable task at the best of times. In Indonesia their duties lie beyond picking the best XI as they seek to accommodate the whims and fancies of powerful figures at the football club and the dreams and aspirations of the fans on the terraces at the same time as winning games. 

Djadjang won the Indonesia Super League in 2014. This is the first chance they have had to defend that title and while the team may not have started as spectacularly as the Bobotoh would like surely he deserves the opportunity to try and get his team of all stars to perform at the highest level week in, week out over a sustained period of time and not just seven (unbeaten) games?

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