Al Ahli have fallen off the pace in the title race with a 4-0 loss to Al Wasl the latest humiliation. This campaign, the difference is considerable: marooned in seventh, 13 points adrift of co-leaders Al Jazira and Al Ain, with five defeats and just 23 goals in 16 goals.
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In light of this, today's debate is: Is it time for Cosmin Olaroiu to go?
James Piercy, Deputy Editor, says YES
It’s never nice to call for the termination of someone’s employment, but either Cosmin Olaroiu should step down or Al Ahli should encourage him to, because the reigning Arabian Gulf League champions are, right now, looking like a broken side.
Olaroiu’s place in UAE football history is assured, his work and success at Al Ain and the Rashid Stadium in such a relatively short space of time is almost without peer. His impact to the league has also been significant, helping grow the stature of the competition and there’s no doubt he is a huge personality on the sidelines and his departure would make the league a poorer place.
However, his time at Al Ahli looks to be drawing to an ugly end with the Red Knights nowhere near the standards they have set themselves under the Romanian.
Ahli won the league last season by a considerable margin of 16 points, they lost just two games and averaged more than two goals a game. This campaign, the difference is considerable: marooned in seventh, 13 points adrift of co-leaders Al Jazira and Al Ain, with five defeats and just 23 goals scored in 16 games. Where is the progress?
In the temperamental world of the AGL, managers – as recently-dismissed Al Wahda boss Jose Peseiro will testify – have lost their jobs for far lesser declines in form.
'In the temperamental AGL, managers – as Jose Peseiro will testify – have lost their jobs for far lesser declines in form' – James Piercy, Deputy Editor
Olaroiu has built up considerable currency among the Al Ahli hierarchy for his work last season and some credit must go to chairman Abdullah Al Naboodah for his patience, but it would take a brave man to suggest they are going to mount a consistent challenge to Jazira and Al Ain.
The 4-0 loss to Al Wasl did not resemble an Al Ahli side. The players looked disorganised and disenfranchised from the system. A title-winning team no longer in-tune with each other.
Olaroiu’s willing acceptance of the Saudi Arabia job, albeit on a temporary basis for the Asian Cup, also displayed a manager perhaps not all that comfortable in his surroundings any more. That attitude appears to have permeated through to his players and once that happens, the end can only be nigh.
Matt Monaghan, Reporter, says NO
A rupture is undeniable in the relationship between Cosmin Olaroiu and Al Ahli. It appears the parties have reached the ‘Blood on the Tracks’ stage and divorce is inevitable.
But it does not have to be this way.
Questions have to be answered about how a side that raced to the treble last term can now be so limp. A portion of the blame is clearly the Romanian’s, the way his defence disintegrated during the 4-0 thumping by Al Wasl on Friday alarming.
He has been provided with excellent footballers by the Ahli management in Everton Ribeiro and Oussama Assaidi. Only the sale of veteran centre-back Basheer Saeed can be questioned.
'A great manager doesn’t lose the winning touch overnight and Olaroiu certainly fits this description' – Matt Monaghan, Reporter
A great manager doesn’t lose the winning touch overnight, and Olaroiu certainly fits this description. He is a colossus in the Middle East, winning a combined 10 trophies since first arriving at Saudi Arabian giants Al Hilal in 2007.
Few know football in the region better than him. His repeat successes earn him the right to weather a stormy period.
The 45-year-old does not hide a thing, his body language and choice words in recent press events telling.
He has felt marginalised this term. When grilled on new signings, Olaroiou has appeared disinterested and hinted he was not always behind their acquisition.
His capital took a blow with the destabilising summer purchase of long-term acolyte Mirel Radoi at the expense of Hugo Viana. This was a cataclysmic call.
Repercussions were inevitable. But with such an incredible C.V., common ground must be found as soon as possible between the various factions.
When discussing whether to dismiss a coach, the main thing to determine is whether a better man can be found. Olaroiu has shown himself to be fallible this term after dominating UAE football since arriving at Al Ain in 2011. The wretched performances make his long-term future seem untenable unless rapid change occurs.
But is anyone of appropriate standing available to fill in now? This is the scenario the Ahli hierarchy are currently discussing. Correctly, they are showing sound judgement to hold fire. For now.
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