Newly appointed coach of CLICO San Juan Jabloteh, Earl Jean, says that his team has what it takes to successfully defend their League Championship.
Earl Jean was signed last season as a player under coach Terry Fenwick after his contract with rival club W Connection expired.
But in his second season for Jabloteh, the St Lucian has found himself in a much greater spotlight having been awarded the position of coach, as the club suffers a financial strain and unable to cover the salaries of their star English coach, Fenwick.
Fenwick guided the San Juan based club to three League Championships during his seven seasons among other titles, including the CFU Club Championships but with the Government’s takeover of the club’s major sponsor CLICO, the 2007 and 2008 back-to-back League champions are unable to finance their most rewarding coach.
With a smaller budget from CLICO, Jabloteh were forced to scrap a number of things, including a pre-season trip to Miami. And further to that, out of contract inspirational captain Trent Noel opted to sign with United Petrotrin.
“While Terry was here, we were confident that the players we have in the squad can defend our title,” said Jean. “And now that he is not here, we can still safely say that we will defend our title.”
Although without Noel, Jabloteh are still with a number of youngsters of last season groomed by Fenwick.
Striker Jerol Forbes, midfielders Devon Jamerson, Elijah Manners, Elton John, Ataullah Guerra and Jason Marcano and defenders Sheldon Bateau and Robert Primus are among the names this season.
“I think we have enough talent to get the job done,” continued the St Lucian. “We are about development at the club whilst defending our title and maybe that will help us attract other sponsors.”
Jean, a prolific striker with his former club, W Connection says that his services on the pitch will be available if needed.
“I am registered as a player and I have to make sure everything possible is done to defend our title. I will be keeping fit and will be available if needed. Although I am confident that our players will do their part; we will have to be ready for challenges such as injuries.”
“I know what it takes to win,” he added. “I’ve won a lot with W Connection in the past as a player and they have taught me the discipline of defending titles. So rest assured, I will be doing my best as coach and Jabloteh will defend its League Championship.”
Jean remains interim Jabloteh coach.
By: Lasana Liburd (T&T Express).
Defending T&T Pro League champions, CLICO San Juan Jabloteh, seem set to start the domestic 2009 season with major uncertainty regarding their technical staff as their unpaid technical director Terry Fenwick kept his distance from the training ground, while 37-year-old striker Earl Jean continued his dual role as player and interim head coach.
Jean, who joined Jabloteh last season from rivals W Connection, steered the Pro League outfit on Monday as they whipped Inter Moengotapoe 3-1 in Suriname.
The 5-2 aggregate result sealed Jabloteh's spot in the semi-final round of the Caribbean Club Champions Cup, which will be staged in Trinidad next month.
Fenwick coached Jabloteh for the first leg against Inter on Easter Monday but did not accompany the club to Suriname.
Jabloteh chairman Jerry Hospedales and CEO Azaad Khan confirmed that Fenwick, who led the club to four titles including consecutive league crowns in the past two seasons, was not paid since the 2008 Pro League season ended last December and had worked without pay up until Easter Monday.
Fenwick has refused to speak on his position with Jabloteh thus far but Khan confirmed that the former England World Cup player has not rejoined the Pro League squad.
"Terry Fenwick is our technical director," said Khan. "But we are not seeing him and Earl Jean is our coach at this point of time."
Khan told the Express that Jaboteh held a technical meeting on Thursday night to decide on an assistant for Jean. But, with Fenwick still contracted to the club for another two years, he was unwilling to say further on Jabloteh's coaching dilemma.
"Terry hasn't said he is going and he is still legally contracted to us," said Khan, "but we can't pay. It is a legal 'Catch 22'.
"It is not as if we are not trying to pay him. We have told him our situation and it is up to him to decide what he wants to do."
No club has ever won three successive Pro League titles since the professional era was born, ten years ago, and Jabloteh endured a nightmarish 2009 pre-season as their chief sponsor, CLICO, imploded, team captain and 2008 MVP Trent Noel left for United Petrotrin and assistant coach Angus Eve left for Ma Pau before the latest stand-off with their technical director.
Fenwick did leave a parting gift as Jean revealed that the Englishman fully briefed him before his first assignment as coach in Suriname.
The St Lucia-born Jean, who is arguably the most impressive striker of the local professional era, is not a certified coach although he can draw from nearly two decades of experience as a player in the Portugal, England, Scotland and Trinidad and Tobago leagues.