Simon McMenemy is confident that he will be able to prevent Dong Tam Long An (DTLA) from being relegated from the top flight of the V-League.
The Briton signed up with Dong Tam less than three months ago, after a successful stint as the chief coach of the Philippines national team at the last AFF Suzuki Cup.
With 11 games still to play in the V-League, the two-times champion of the V-League risked being relegated to the First Division after nine years at the top if they fail to pick up more points in the coming months.
QUESTION: DTLA are still at the bottom of the table after you have been in charge for nine matches. What is the reason?
ANSWER: The situation is now very difficult but the team is getting better. There were issues at the club before I came here and I inherited some of those issues that were created by previous coaches and players. I had to take them on and am just left to deal with these issues.
We are starting to be difficult to beat, starting to have a good defence, conceding only two goals in our last four games. Song Lam Nghe An only scored one goal against us.
We are taking a step but we are running out of time. So we have to work harder this week. And when it comes to the game on Sunday, we have to give everything because we are playing at home.
Q: If your team cannot win their next two games at home, is there any chance of staying in the V-League?
A: We will have a chance until the mathematics says we cannot. If physically not possible to be relegated, we will keep fighting, fighting, fighting. I do not want to be the head coach of a team that is relegated. I did not come from England to do that.
Players have to believe they are good players and the coaches have to believe they have good players. Maybe we are not as gifted as other teams who spent more money bringing in expensive players, but we have spirit and we have to fight.
We cannot afford to think we need to win this and not that. We will go for every game. We need to work hard and cannot afford to lose. The only thing we think about right now is what happens on Sunday (in the match against Khanh Hoa).
Q: You were successful at the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010, guiding the Philippines to the semi-finals for the first time in their history. The Philippines team was a combination of foreign and local players, just like DTLA. Why can’t you do the same here?
A: Because there are expectations at DTLA. People expect the club to play a certain way. But nobody expected the Philippines to be good. Nobody expected them to draw Singapore, beat Vietnam, or even make past the qualifiers. They did not expect us to come back against Laos who led 2-0 at half-time in the last qualifying match.
I think it is easier in the Philippines because they have good players who would have been coached properly. Here it is difficult in that we have some good players but also others who have not been coached properly.
Players have to learn, so my job is much harder. I am teaching players. I should be managing them and just helping them, organising. I have to teach, I have to coach. Players learn new things every day which is very difficult.
We have a small amount of experience in the team. When we are playing with young players, sometimes they play well; sometimes they play very badly and make mistakes. They do not even know how to react when the team or the opposing team have a player sent off.
I also have nothing to do with the transfers. I do not have a say. The manager makes all the decisions.
Q: There have been many foreign coaches in the V-League but many have not been successful. What difficulties do they face in the V-League?
A: Coaching in Vietnam is difficult. If you can coach and succeed here, you can coach and succeed anywhere because the way Vietnamese football is set up, it is very difficult for incoming coaches.
In Europe, a coach has control over the team, over transfers, over contracts, when players train, how they are trained, how they travel and when they travel. But here the responsibility is shared. I have some responsibility, the manager has some responsibility. Sometimes it does not work.
Q: If DTLA are relegated to the First Division, do you fear the club will sack you? If they do keep you, will you continue?
A: I know where I stand in the club and I think that over the last four weeks I’m hoping that people who know football can see the difference in how the team is playing. They started to fight, motivated that they do not want to lose. They are fighting for everything. I hope people out there to see that.
Whether I am good enough to keep my job that would come down to some personal opinions – it is not down to figures or targets.
I do not know. As much as you have to think about the team, I also have to think about myself and my family and if other offers come in or something gave me that option, I would have to consider it. But as of today I am 100% committed to saving DTLA from relegation.
CURRENT V-LEAGUE 2011 STANDINGS
|1||Sông Lam Nghệ An||15||11||2||2||27||9||+18||35|
|5||Hà Nội T&T||14||6||3||5||20||18||+2||21|
|7||Hoàng Anh Gia Lai||15||5||4||6||23||21||+2||19|
|8||Hòa Phát Hà Nội||15||5||4||6||20||19||+1||19|
|10||The Vissai Ninh Bình||15||5||3||7||16||19||−3||18|
|11||Khatoco Khánh Hoà||14||5||3||6||13||17||−4||18|
|12||Hà Nội ACB||15||5||1||9||22||30||−8||16|
|14||Đồng Tâm Long An||15||2||5||8||11||26||−15||11|