Madinda and Kaindu: Dynamic duo or rivals in the making? According to some sources, Ndlovu undermined Brito by challenging his tactical decisions and substitutions during matches

Stanford Chiwanga[email protected]> 

THE year 2003 witnessed the birth of one of the fiercest rivalries between two managers in football. The bitter and intense conflict was between Louis van Gaal and Ronald Koeman – two of Netherlands’ legends. 

It all started when Van Gaal was appointed as the director of football for Ajax in 2003, while Koeman was the manager of the first team. Van Gaal, who had previously coached Ajax to great success in the 1990s, began to interfere with Koeman’s training sessions, tactics, and transfers, without consulting him or respecting his authority. 

One of the incidents that sparked the rivalry between Van Gaal and Koeman at Ajax was when Van Gaal would go to watch Koeman’s training sessions and interfere with his coaching. According to Koeman’s biography, Van Gaal would take a chair from his office and sit next to the training pitch, where he would observe and judge the players. He would even applaud the ones he liked most, which annoyed Koeman, who felt his authority was undermined. 

Koeman complained to the chairman about Van Gaal’s intrusiveness, but Van Gaal did not stop. He also arranged meetings with Koeman to discuss tactics, which Koeman resented. Van Gaal claimed he was trying to help Koeman, who he thought was weak and needed advice, but Koeman saw it as a sign of disrespect and interference. 

Unsurprisingly, all this made Koeman feel undermined and frustrated by Van Gaal’s meddling and lack of trust.

The situation reached a breaking point in 2004, when Van Gaal sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ajax’s star striker, to Juventus on transfer deadline day, leaving Koeman with no time to find a replacement. Koeman was furious and gave the board an ultimatum – either Van Gaal goes or he goes. The board sided with Koeman and sacked Van Gaal, but the damage was already done. Ajax’s performances declined and Koeman resigned a few months later, after a humiliating defeat to Auxerre in the Champions League.

The feud between Van Gaal and Koeman did not end there, as they continued to clash and criticise each other in the media and on the pitch, whenever they met as rivals in different clubs and countries. Their relationship has never been repaired, and they remain one of the most notorious examples of beef and bickering between two great coaches. 

An almost similar situation brewed at Real Madrid from 2010 to 2013 when Jose Mourinho and Paul Clement were in charge. Mourinho was the head coach and Clement was his assistant, but they reportedly had a fallout over Mourinho’s treatment of some players, such as Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos. Clement also felt that Mourinho was too defensive and negative in his approach, and wanted more freedom and creativity in the team.

Fast-forward to Antonio Conte and Carlo Cudicini’s time at Chelsea from 2016 to 2018. Conte was the head coach and Cudicini was his assistant, but they had a tense relationship over Conte’s tactical decisions and management style. Cudicini was unhappy with Conte’s rigid 3-4-3 formation, his lack of rotation, and his isolation of some players, such as Diego Costa and David Luiz. Cudicini also felt that Conte was too distant and authoritarian with the players and staff.

Arsenal fans will tell you about Unai Emery and Juan Carlos Carcedo who were in charge of their club from 2018 to 2019. Emery was the head coach and Carcedo was his assistant, but they clashed over Emery’s communication and leadership skills. Carcedo was frustrated with Emery’s poor English, his indecisiveness, and his inability to motivate the players. Carcedo also disagreed with Emery’s tactical choices, such as playing Granit Xhaka as a defender or using a back three against Leicester City.

You might be wondering why such a long history lesson in 2024. Well, this is because over 12 000 kilometres from Europe, in a country sandwiched by two mighty rivers, the Limpopo River and the Zambezi River, a football club that is arguably the local equivalent of aforementioned Ajax, Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid recently appointed one of its former players and coach as its Sporting Director.

Madinda Ndlovu is Highlanders’ Sporting Director for the 2024 season. He will work closely with the new head coach, the returning Kelvin Kaindu, who is also a former Bosso player and coach. 

Ndlovu will complement Kaindu by providing him with his vast experience and knowledge of the club, the league, and the players. He knows the club’s history, culture, and philosophy, and can help Kaindu to implement his vision and tactics on the field. Ndlovu can also assist Kaindu in identifying and recruiting new talent, as well as developing and mentoring the existing players and staff.

However, Khathazile might undermine Kaindu by interfering with his authority and autonomy as the head coach. Ndlovu, as the Sporting Director, has the final say on all football matters, including transfers, contracts, and budget. According to the club, Ndlovu will embody the club’s culture and values, oversee strategic plans and provide guidance for the club. He will also manage club scouts and the technical staff of all teams, and serve as the custodian of the club’s philosophy.

In other words, Madinda is the boss. 

This means he imposes his preferences and opinions on Kaindu, and overrule his decisions on team selection, formation, and strategy. Ndlovu might also create confusion and conflict among the players and staff, by giving them contradictory or inconsistent instructions or feedback. He might also undermine Kaindu’s credibility and reputation, by publicly or privately criticising or questioning his performance or results.

To avoid this, Ndlovu and Kaindu will need to establish a clear and respectful working relationship, based on mutual trust, communication, and collaboration. They will need to align their goals and expectations and support each other in achieving them. They will also need to acknowledge and appreciate each other’s strengths and contributions and avoid any unnecessary or negative interference. By doing so, they can create a harmonious and successful environment for Highlanders FC. 

If this doesn’t happen, a repeat of last season might be inevitable. Ndlovu, who was the assistant coach and director of junior development at Highlanders, reportedly clashed with Baltemar Brito, the then head coach, over several issues last season. According to some sources, Ndlovu undermined Brito by challenging his tactical decisions and substitutions during matches. He is also alleged to have given conflicting instructions and advice to the players, causing confusion and division in the dressing room. 

These allegations led to a strained working environment between Ndlovu and Brito and ultimately contributed to Brito’s departure from the club at the end of the season. Ndlovu was then appointed as the sporting director, while Kelvin Kaindu was hired as the new head coach.

Madinda and Kaindu have a great opportunity to lead Highlanders to glory this coming season. They are both former players and coaches of the club, and they share a passion and commitment to its success. However, they also have different roles and responsibilities, and they might face some challenges and conflicts along the way. Therefore, they will need to work together as a team and respect each other’s opinions and decisions. They will also need to communicate effectively and support each other in achieving their goals. By doing so, they can create a positive and productive environment for the club, and inspire the players and fans to follow their example. 

 

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