Sport

Will Maxwell answer the Lion's roar?

BY OSHANE TOBIAS Observer staff reporter

Friday, December 07, 2012    

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MAY PEN, Clarendon — Red Stripe Premier League club Humble Lion is on the hunt for its third coach in four seasons, with the hope that their next appointment will be a charm.

The struggling Clarendon side parted ways with Lenworth Hyde and his assistant, Max Straw, after the pair tendered their resignation on Tuesday morning following a topsy-turvy two years at Effortville.

By noon the same day, former national coach Geoffrey Maxwell was being linked to the job. Both Maxwell and club president Mike Henry have since indicated negotiations are ongoing.

In the interim, former assistant coach Linval 'Pala' Wilson will guide the team, while Henry, the Central Clarendon Member of Parliament, will assume the role of technical director.

As a coach, Maxwell never backs down from a challenge and this latest opportunity will certainly serve up a few bouncers.

Should he be given the nod, the much-travelled coach has the urgent task of lifting Humble Lion from the lower half of the 12-team table (10th on 16 points) and will have critical house-cleaning matters to attend to.

Maxwell would not only have to repair a fractured dressing room, but also satisfy a demanding boss and a tough group of supporters from Effortville.

But Maxwell is renowned as a coach who dances to his own beat and might feel his only priority is to produce results on the field. He openly criticises club executives who tend to interfere with coaching.

At the same time, he knows how to work in communities which sometimes harbour unrealistic expectations. He has succeeded at Waterhouse FC, where he is still revered, before going on to similar communities of Tivoli Gardens and Arnett Gardens.

Maxwell also faces the challenge of committing long-term to a club, which might just be what a fledging outfit like Humble Lion needs. Outside of Waterhouse, he has never really had an extended stint with any of the teams he has coached.

Like his coaching idol Jose Mourinho (a 'project manager' who comes in to do a job, then leaves), Maxwell is a man in demand, and he knows it.

He, therefore, doesn't tolerate interference from superiors because, as his track record shows, he doesn't stay unemployed for long.

In addition to Waterhouse, Tivoli and Arnett, Maxwell has had stints with Seba United, Reno, Wadadah, Village United, St Georges SC, Highgate United, Constant Spring and more recently, Manning Cup runners-up Hydel High.

Maxwell has often said he is in it to win — a philosophy that might appeal to Henry, who earlier this season said anything less than last season's fourth-place finish will be unacceptable. However, Henry is not the only figure Maxwell would have to satisfy at Effortville.

One of the biggest challenges Hyde and Straw faced was the demands of a very vocal community which felt Hyde wasn't much of a "people person" as he doesn't stick around after training or match days to mingle with the man on the ground. His reserved personality paints a picture of a coach who detached himself from the community and as a result, they felt as if the man expected to transform the image of Effortville wanted nothing to do with them.

Conversely, Hyde felt supporters weren't doing enough to help motivate the team. They turned out to provide an intimidating atmosphere, but ironically, their frustration and anger was often directed towards their own players and coaching staff, instead of the visiting team.

It created a septic environment, which Hyde thinks is part of the reason players generally performed better away than at home.

Hyde and Straw also felt their authority was being undermined. "Whenever we drop players from the team, they would run to Mr Henry and complain and then he would come to us like a union leader.

"When he does that it's like he doesn't trust us to do our jobs and it sends the wrong message to the players," Straw told the Jamaica Observer.

Maxwell has first-hand experience with these types of supporters and previously told this reporter he is among the few coaches in the country who withstands that type of community pressure due to the respect he generally commands.

Without a doubt, the name Geoffrey Maxwell will excite the Humble Lion faithful, but for now, it's a wait-and-see game if the outspoken tactician will indeed arrive at the Effortville Community Centre.

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