ABU DHABI // Subait Khater, the Al Jazira midfielder, says the board were justified in firing Franky Vercauteren, claiming the Belgian's unrealistic expectations led to a breakdown in the relationship with the players.
Vercauteren had his contracted terminated last week after just seven months in charge and was replaced by Caio Junior who took charge of his first league game on Thursday night. Jazira's head of professional committee said the club "had no choice" but to fire Vercauteren as "he did not get along with the players". Khater, who has been at the Abu Dhabi club for four years, concurred.
"We have given him [Vercauteren] 100 per cent all the time but the club management had to intervene when things were not going well within the team," Khater said. "I have worked under several coaches at both the club and national team. Their methods may wary a little bit but ... a good relationship between the coach and players can go a long way.
"The coach must sometimes understand players have also got limitations. Here every player is trying to do their best to help the coach but not every player can reach levels that they are not able to reach. Sometimes players can't reach certain levels but it is up to the coach to make best use of them in such cases."
Khater denied player power has forced Vercauteren out - "I don't think the players turned against Franky's handling of the team" - but did acknowledge there was "some drama involved in his dismissal".
"Things will return to normal once the new coach [Caio Junior] settles in," Khater said. "Whoever is in charge can only achieve good results with the help of the players. It is a collective effort at the end. We are all working for the success of the team and it is important for the coach to understand and acknowledge it."
The 1-0 victory over Diego Maradona's Al Wasl on Thursday went someway to erasing the memory of the humiliating 4-0 Etisalat Cup semi-final thrashing at the hands of Al Shabab in what was Junior's first game in charge.
"It was important to get this game out of the way," Abdulsalam Jumaa, the midfielder, said. "For us, we are ready to work under any coach and now we are happy to work on a system where we feel more comfortable and confident."
Matias Delgado, the Argentine playmaker, did not want to comment on the dismissal of Vercauteren - "it is best dealt with by the club management" - opting instead to focus on Jazira's three-pronged assault on silverware. Jazira are still confident of retaining their Pro League title, are still in the President's Cup and won their opening game in the Asian Champions League.
"We have a new coach and we have to work and help him to achieve good results for the remainder of the season," Delgado said. "The teams in both the domestic and the continental competitions are at the same level and any team can lose a game on any bad day," said Delgado. We still have three titles to play for and our target would be to win as many of them as possible."