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Timing of Sanchez Flores axe at Al Ain is a mystery

  |  March 9, 2014

Al Ain, United Arab Emirates - October 31, 2013. Quique Sanchez Flores ( Head coach of Al Ain ) at their Arabian Gulf League match. ( Jeffrey E Biteng / The National ) *** Local Caption *** JB311013-Ftball12.jpg
Jeffrey E Biteng Staff Photographer
Al Ain, United Arab Emirates - October 31, 2013.  Quique Sanchez Flores ( Head coach of Al Ain )  at their Arabian Gulf League match.  ( Jeffrey E Biteng / The National ) *** Local Caption ***  JB311013-Ftball12.jpg

Al Ain should know better.

Certainly, every fan of Arabian Gulf League football realises that coaches come and (sooner than later) go ... but Al Ain's treatment of Quique Sanchez Flores, dismissed on Saturday, was particularly arbitrary and short-sighted.

So, Al Ain will not win the league. That was clear in September, when club officials grasped the enormity of their mistake in hiring Jorge Fossati to replace Cosmin Olaroiu as coach, touching off a campaign of uncertainty and instability.

It was a rudderless club for too long before Al Ain did something right -- hiring Sanchez Flores.

Where they went wrong was not showing any real patience with him. He is gone after 16 league matches. Barely half a season.

The man has produced results.

He won the Portuguese league cup with Benfica in 2009. He won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid in 2010. He won the UAE league cup in his first year at Al Ahli, in 2012, and in his second year Ahli won the 2013 President's Cup. The man is a serial winner.

But, apparently, while in Al Ain, he forgot everything he knew. Or perhaps all those previous successes were accidents.

Is he the cause for Al Ain's thoroughly mediocre season? Or could it be Al Ain investing in Ibrahim Diaky as a key figure in midfield, when anyone who has watched the league knows Diaky has been next to useless since Al Jazira's 2011 double. Or could it be Asamoah Guan's continuing issues with his weight? Or perhaps injuries to Hilal Saeed, unsung hero in the two recent championships, and now Omar Abdulrahman, probably finished for the season with a groin muscle injury?

The timing here is curious, too. After letting Sanchez Flores dangle for two weeks, waiting for the axe to fall, they announced he is gone only four days ahead of a Champions League fixture away to Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia.

New boy Zlatko Dalic took charge on Saturday. How much will he be able to change or refocus the club ahead of the match in Mecca? Should he attempt to change anything at all? And how can it possibly be good for stability and team coherence for the players to get a new coach just ahead of a competition that matters so much to Al Ain officials and fans?

Hard to figure how this makes the club better.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae