Friday, August 04, 2017


Mixed Messages Damage Persib's Image

Persib are never far from the headlines. They are Indonesia's Barcelona, Bayern Munchen, Newcastle United. Whatever comes out from Bandung makes for good copy. I've said it before and I'll say it again. If ever an Indonesian team is to conquer South East Asia it is Persib. Just don't hold your breath.

Persib finally, reluctantly, allowed coach Djadjang Nurdjaman to step down recently after the coach, for the second time, had asked to quit. The first time his request was refused and Persib were left with a coach who didn't want to be there. But you have to ask yourself how much power the coach really has.

Earlier in the season, when Persib were struggling for results, the manager Umuh Muchtar announced he would be getting more involved in team selection. Former England international Carlton Cole recently gave an interview to an English media outlet where he claimed the reason he wasn't getting game time was because Umuh didn't fancy him and preferred to have his 'own' players involved.

Umuh had in fact once declared Cole was finished at the club until a meeting with top management forced him to recant those words and say the striker would be given another chance.

This week Umuh was at it again telling the local media that Milomir Seslija, currently with relegation threatened Persiba, would be the next Persib coach and would start work by the end of this week. The media of course went with the story as they would be expected to when a leading club official makes such a pronouncement. 

The problem with the announcement was that no one had told Milomir or Persiba and of course they were quick to come out with statements saying that in fact he was happy to stay in Balikpapan.

The way Djadjang has been handled and the allegations over interference in team selection means that whoever takes over the Persib hot seat will be inheriting something of a poisoned chalice. A squad filled with big names, big egos, promising youngsters and a manager who wants his share of the attention. 

Persib are massive in a way no other South East Asian side can dream of. Muang Thong United and Johor Darul Ta'zim for example are much better managed football clubs but lack the stardust quality Persib and their millions of followers bring to the table. I compared Persib with three European clubs earlier deliberately because they share similar qualities not least a powerful regional identity that sets them apart from other clubs in the country. Catalonia, Bavaria, Geordie. Add Sunda to that mix. 

Persib have been getting so much right in recent years. They were light years ahead of other Indonesian clubs in sales and marketing of their football club for example. They have facilities other local sides can only dream of. To conquer South East Asia they need to get the football side of things right and if they can do it there is nothing to stop them. But the best football clubs have everyone singing from the same songbook and recent events seem to be showing that is not quite happening at Persib yet.

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