Why Vitor Pereira left and what to expect from Dick Advocaat

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 16.08.2016 23:11

After his departure from Turkey, ex-Fenerbahçe coach Vitor Pereira made some crucial statements. He said: "Following the defeat against AS Monaco, Fenerbahçe decided to prevent me from exercising my role as the head coach, not respecting my employment contract. Due to threats and a tense environment, I traveled to Portugal expecting that Fenerbahçe would again assign me to the head coach role. My assistants followed me for the same reason. It is now up to Fenerbahçe to call me back." Now, given that Turkish football history, especially the history of the Istanbul giants, is full of betrayed and cursed coaches, I do not think Vitor Pereira lied to leave his club. In the end, he was managing one of the best clubs in Turkey and there is no reason for him to leave his job and fly to Portugal just because they lost the qualifier against Monaco. Here is the question, what could possibly happen to a coach that makes him leave his job and take the first plane to his country. The answer lies in the brutal and malicious football administration in Turkey.

First of all, it does not matter if you regard Pereira as a successful coach or not, if you make a contract with someone, you have to respect it, period. The official statement released from Fenerbahçe after Pereira's departure gave us some hints about the situation. The club said: "At the start of the season, our board talked with Pereira about planning for the season and the tactical system. Then we transferred players with that plan. But Pereira changed the system. He started the Monaco match [in the Champions League qualifying round] with a 3-5-2 system. And he averted the other tests on our players' aerobic capacity. We wanted an official explanation from Pereira about these things. But he chose to escape from Turkey."

Now, do you think it is reasonable to think a coach would leave the country because of these "tactical" issues? Fenerbahçe is probably the strongest club in social, political and economic life in Turkey, and has ties with many powerful people including chairman Aziz Yıldırım. On the other hand, Vitor Pereira is just a coach who has been here for only a year and has no connections and do you think he would escape in such a way if there were no serious threats against him? I do not think so. No one chooses to lose their job because they are afraid to make an explanation, because you at least make your point understood and then let your employers make a decision.

However, Pereira went down in history as the 12th Fenerbahçe coach in the last 15 seasons, the latest member of the broken-hearted coaches association in Turkey. Now, hopefully not a new member of this club, Dick Advocaat, the 68-year-old Dutch coach has come to save Fenerbahçe from their self-imposed chains.

The Dutch coach has not held onto a long-term club or national team job in recent years, and has changed his decision to retire from club football many times. The last time he managed a team for more than a year, our Brazilian friends started the journey to the 2016 Rio Olympics in 2009. Advocaat won the UEFA Cup and Super Cup in that year, but his career started to descend after his peak with Zenit St. Petersburg. After some unsuccessful attempts with Belgium and Russia and some European clubs, he chose to be an advisor for the Dutch national team and some Dutch clubs.

Nevertheless, Advocaat's recent history may not be promising, but the requirements of Turkish football is not that high either. Still, there is no team in Turkey that is capable of playing an organized, systematic and strategic game regardless of attacking or defensive priorities. Individual talents are the main engine of football and collective action only occurs by chance. This is also the reason why Vitor Pereira became the "persona non grata" so quickly at Fenerbahçe. He mostly emphasized the collective work of the team, but executives, fans and the media expected him to make Luis Nani, Robin Van Persie and Diego Ribas play as if they have been playing with each other for centuries.

Right now, Fenerbahçe is craving success because even though coaches can be changed and wasted like poker chips and new fancy transfers may occupy fans for a while, a long period of no success would mean the bells will toll for executives too. Therefore, they have zero-tolerance for bad results, and if Advocaat does not want to lose his "unbelievable offer," he will be extremely pragmatic to earn short-term success, which would sacrifice Fenerbahçe's tomorrow.

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