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Anthony RougierSTOP PLAYING  - 

A lot of people want to see Russell Latapy do well as Trinidad and Tobago head coach, but not everyone is convinced it was the right time to appoint him to the position in the wake of Wednesday's resignation of Colombian Francisco Maturana.
And Latapy's former teammates Anthony Rougier, Brian Williams and Clayton Morris all agreed unanimously that he has to give up playing and concentrate on his new coaching role, while Everald "Gally" Cummings, who coached Latapy on the 1989 T&T Strike Squad, welcomed his appointment.

Cummings said "removing" Maturana in the midst of a World Cup qualifying campaign was normal and that Mexico had fired Sven-Goran Eriksson last week.

"This is the first promise I know the TTFF (Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation) to ever keep because they promised Russell the position under (Leo) Beenhakker," said Cummings, referring to T&T's head coach at the 2006 World Cup.

"I don't know Russell as a coach, but he must have picked up some knowledge considering the level of football he played. I would hope that with the help of the players he would do the job," he added.

"By the way, it's ironic that when these foreign coaches (Maturana) are released we say they resign, but when Gally Cummings get it, they say he was fired."

Rougier agreed that Latapy will know the players better than a foreign coach, but also believes the appointment is a major change that may have come too soon for his former teammate.

Known for his straightforward manner, Rougier is also unsure what leadership qualities "Latas" brings to the Soca Warriors.

Thirty-eight-year-old Rougier, a former national captain, played with Latapy since 1987 with Trintoc. They also lined up together on the national team, including the 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign under Englishman Ian Porterfield.

While wishing his former teammate success, Rougier felt it was a very big job.

"Russell and (T&T captain) Dwight Yorke are in a position where they can bring their experience to the Trinidad and Tobago team and also put forward a vision of how they would want to see Trinidad and Tobago play," said Rougier.

"The problem I have is that when they were players their example off the field was not professional. Now they will have to tell these players, for whom they would have been mentors, not to do the same things they were doing.

"Russell was also part of the team under Maturana as the assistant coach while the team was not playing well. Therefore, I am not sure what new he is bringing to the team. I have gone to training sessions and the team was flat," stated Rougier.

"Not because you were a great player automatically means you will be a great coach. The last time we brought in Leo Beenhakker to save the campaign he brought a lot of structure to the football. We were losing some and were not beating people 5-0, but there was a lot of structure.

"I think Russell now has to concentrate on coaching and not playing. He also needs to put people around him who will assist in bringing structure to the team because that is what we do not have at the moment."

And Williams, right back on the Strike Squad and now assistant coach at T&T Pro League club W Connection, is begging for support for Latapy, who he also says needs to be strong on team discipline.

"It always concerns me about our approach and our preparation when it come to World Cup qualifying. We are always looking for a quick fix. We always move with this kind of desperation," Williams declared.

"But I want to wish Russell all the best in his new appointment. We have to rally around Russell, although it is clear that he is only now beginng his coaching career and is a relative rookie.

"I do not know that Russell was at anytime in any major coaching or administrative position and we may not enjoy the success we did under Mr Beenhakker, who came in at this same stage and saved the campaign.

"And if that turns out to be the case, we will still have to back Russell and begin immediately to prepare for 2014."

Morris skippered Latapy during his days with the Strike Squad some 20 years ago and considers the "Little Magician" a personal friend. But he too has his reservations.

"Yes, the players will respect Latapy for what he has done on the field. But in terms of leadership qualities Russell is not one who players generally would be expected to emulate," said Morris.

"We have to also look at how team preparation will change...I have never been pleased with the team preparation. We usually start preparing the locally-based players two weeks before a match and we get the foreign-based a week before-five days is not enough time to prepare a team for World Cup qualifying.

"I know Russell personally and have a lot of love for him, but this appointment shows that our football has not grown. Mr Beenhakker came in and rescued the campaign, but three years later our football is in the same mess," stated Morris.

"We are really guessing. What are we expecting from this? Are we expecting to save the campaign again, while our football continues to deteriorate? Yes, we have a new coach, but with what our players are lacking at the moment, I can't see them drastically turning around the campaign."