Vipers Sports Club on Saturday, 28th December 2018 officially parted ways with head coach Javier Martinez Espinoza. The news came shortly after the goalless draw at home against Tooro United FC.
Whereas the Mexican tactician has had his shortcomings and doubts about what exactly he would offer, his sacking is only a scapegoat but Vipers SC problems seem to stretch beyond Espinoza.
There is no doubt that Vipers SC is one of the best clubs in the country currently and the owner/patron Dr. Lawrence Mulindwa harbours dreams of transforming Vipers SC into a competitive and giant club on the African continent.
During the unveiling of the newly refurbished St.Mary’s stadium in September this year, Mulindwa emphasized the aforementioned target.
” As Vipers SC, we have a dream of becoming one of the best clubs on the continent. It is a target that we think is possible to achieve. TP Mazembe and others have also had a humble background and they are an inspiration to us that this can be achieved.” He said.
Achieving such a target requires a lot including investment, patience and setting proper structures. Whereas Vipers SC have made the investment, they seem to lack in the other areas.
His appointment on 6th August 2018, in the first place left many wondering what the Mexican would bring to a team that had just won a league title, reached the final of the Uganda Cup and were supposed to play on the continent. It was always going to be a tough job.
Just like his predecessor Miguel Da Costa, Espinoza’s background was as faint as a hum of distant bees. Some reports indicated he had stints at Juventus in Nicaragua and Cruz Azul in Mexico. Some reports indicate Espinoza had cone to Uganda to start a football academy in Mbale but was recommended to Vipers SC by Mubarak Wamboka who later become his assistant.
15 games in charge, winning nine, drawing three and losing three which equates to a winning percentage of 60% wouldn’t be a bad return but the fact that the performance wasn’t convincing left a lot to be desired.
The doubts indeed were perfectly met by the unconvincing performances that Vipers SC put despite walking away with maximum points. His first game in charge required a late winner against debutants Ndejje University FC. The trend kept on in the subsequent games against Maroons FC, Nyamityobora FC, Paidha Black Angels, Police FC among others.
A disappointing display in the CAF Champions League against CS Constantine coupled with a start- stop performance in the league clearly indicated that Espinoza was living on borrowed time.
Why Espinoza Was not the only Problem?
With all Espinoza’s failures and weaknesses mentioned above, the problems at Vipers SC go beyond him. Mr. Mulindwa has done well to invest immensely by establishing a stadium, transforming the image of the club but it is high time he left technical matters to technical people. Currently this is the biggest challenge to any coach that takes the charge of the Venoms.
On several occasions, there has been talk of the club President influencing who makes it to the starting lineup. This in the end renders the coach powerless and you either dance to the tune or dance your way out. It is upon this background that some football enthusiasts think Vipers SC is in Auto Pilot. In the end this has prompted some players to grow wings. A case in point is Halid Lwaliwa who at the start of the season was not playing and fell reportedly fell out with the coach until he was reinstated in the starting team on orders from above.
Similarly, defender Bashir Asiku fell out with Espinoza and a reliable source indicates, the player had a verbal attack on Espinoza after the 1-0 loss to Al Merrikh in Khartoum, Sudan.
In addition, coaches at Vipers SC have minimal or no influence in the signing of players but instead you are required to use what is made available.
There is a deception that there are structures at the club with a club secretariat and several people appointed to play different roles but that is not the case. Vipers SC is Mulindwa and Mulindwa is Vipers SC.