It may seem weird to liken Datuk Ong Kim Swee to Mauricio Pochettino but both have been victims of their own success.
While Pochettino guided Tottenham to its first Champions League final in June and top four spots in four of his five full seasons, failure to replicate that form these past few months saw him get the boot two weeks ago.
Similarly, Ong, who won the SEA Games gold medal in 2011 and the silver two years ago, was “fired” after Malaysia failed to get past the group stage of the ongoing Philippines SEA Games.
Although technically still on the FA of Malaysia’s (FAM) payroll, Ong was told he can start looking for a new job even though his contract expires at the end of the year.
Such is football and such is life. Hero one day, villain the next.
In Ong’s case, he was the coach for five SEA Games, a record that would probably be unmatched.
But should he have left the job two years ago after winning a silver medal? And what went wrong this year?
To many, it was his favoured 3-4-3 formation but as he rightly pointed out, no one questioned him of the formation when the team was winning.
Still, defeats to the Philippines on Nov 29 and to Cambodia on Wednesday have been deemed unacceptable and Ong paid the price.
They have been allegations the footballers were just not motivated despite 10 of them having played for the senior team.
Some even said the team looked tired and were tactically naive. These question need to be answered and FAM must not sweep anything under the carpet.
While we Malaysians fume over the team’s inability to make it out an easy group, spare a thought for Thailand.
Champions in 11 out of 13 SEA Games, the Thais too failed to qualify for the last four.
It looks like the other nations in the region have caught up with the traditional powerhouses as Cambodia qualified to the semifinal for the first time in history while Myanmar also made it through.
They join Indonesia and Vietnam in tomorrow’s final four.
So what now for Ong? It seems he has a few offers so good luck to him.
Separately, there’s a vacancy at Everton as Marco Silva has just been fired – the fifth English Premier League (EPL) manager to get the boot this season.
Besides Pochettino, the other EPL bosses who were asked to leave were Arsenal’s Unai Emery and a double from Watford – Quique Flores and Javi Gracia.
In fact, 26 English clubs from have sacked their managers this season. It’s a thankless job and Ong will know this too well.
All the best, coach!
EPL fixtures (Malaysian time)
Everton vs Chelsea (8.30pm)
Bournemouth vs Liverpool (11pm)
Tottenham vs Burnley (11pm)
Watford vs Crystal Palace (11pm)
Manchester City vs Manchester United (1.30am)
Aston Villa vs Leicester (10pm)
Newcastle vs Southampton (10pm)
Norwich vs Sheffield United (10pm)
Brighton vs Wolves (12.30am)
West Ham vs Arsenal (4am)