Butlerís tenure thus far: the good and the bad

The progress of the senior national team under the tutelage of Englishman Peter James Butler continues to evoke mixed reactions among football loving Batswana. Without a doubt he is under the microscope and the jury is still out. Success in football is mostly measured on results and at the moment, results are not coming.

However he is still relatively new and is been given a chance to prove himself. Having said that, time is ticking and he cannot use the ‘I’m building a team’ line forever. At one point, that line will pass its sell by date and we will demand results.  After all football, at senior level is not about ‘building’ but about results.

I will however give him the benefit of the doubt as there hasn’t been much ‘building’ at junior levels. Ideally, the U20 and U23 teams are used to ‘build’, expose and prepare players for the senior National team. Unfortunately that is not the case here in Botswana as we tend to ‘build’ at the senior national team. And that is rather cock eyed. That being the case, and results aside, Butler has made major strides forward. Atleast now, it looks like everyone has a fair chance and fair crack at National team selection.

Although some selections have been rather surprising if not expected, Butler has shown that anyone and everyone can play for the national team, no matter which team they play for. He has been rather brave in his selections, in most instances picking unknown novices and over-looking big name players who were expected in the national. I cannot tell him who and who not to pick, but can only support whoever he picks. For me, it is a positive that he has exposed so many players and now everyone knows they have a fair crack at the national team jersey, as long as they play well at their clubs. Some selections have been rather controversial, but he has stood up and defended them. One thing I will give him is that he has instilled some discipline in the senior team and its either you toe the line of go home. In terms, of his style of play, I’m still confused and unconvinced. He is an Englishman and typically we would rely more on hard work and direct football rather than fancy, cosmetic carpet football.  

Butler’s tenure has indeed given many players exposure to international football, but we have to be careful that we don’t splash out international caps like confetti. We would want a situation whereby each and every player has an international cap, with not much continuity. In other countries, Managers/coaches identify about 30 players or so who they work with for a period of a year or two. They form the crux of the team. This does not however mean that he only picks from the 30, but can also at intervals introduce new, fresh faces. Having different faces for every national team camp won’t get us any far, and the results have shown. Butler now needs to settle on a group he will work with and shuffle it around. We have the COSAFA Cup coming and the coach should now have an idea of who his core is, rather than still trialling players at National team level. I however appreciate the introduction of the younger players, some of who have shown hunger and glimpse that they will take us somewhere. They need to old heads, the likes of Mogorosi, Gabonamong, Ncenga, Ngele, Nato to guide them.

On the downside, the results have not been any good. We haven’t won any games that matter since Butler took over. At one point or another, we will start demanding results. Surely we can’t ride on the ‘we are building a tem’ excuse forever. Butler had the 2015 AFCON qualifiers as his induction and in that campaign I did not expect much as he was new and still getting to grips with conditions and variables here. Now he needs to start competing.

I read somewhere that the coach says he is building a team that will compete for qualification to the next AFCON and World Cup Finals in 2017 and 2018 respectively. But that doesn’t in the meantime we should be the whipping boys and use the proverbial ‘we are still building a team’ excuse.  As for the coach himself, he needs to ease up of twitter wars with supporters. He should be the bigger man and ignore jibes aimed at him on twitter.

As national team coach he should be the bigger man and not engage in twitter wars with supporters. I have witnessed such and was disappointed to say the least.  Having had a chat with a couple of football journos, Butler seems intolerant of interrogation and often snaps at journos. Someone needs to remind him that not many win wars with the media and he should rather endear himself to media rather than alienate.  

On the whole, there has some positives. However we need to start winning games that matter as we cannot build forever. Football is about results and we need results.  

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