Vranes shifted to position of technical director
With just three Digicel Pro League matches remaining and a good chance of lifting the 2014-2015 championship, Central FC head coach Zoran Vranes has been shifted into the role of technical director, in a shock move by the Couva-based club, making way for the return of Englishman Terry Fenwick.
According to Fenwick, who won three Pro League championships with San Juan Jabloteh among other Cups, he and his former employers, Central FC, had opened talks for his return since during the Carnival break.
The 55-year-old former England and Tottenham Hotspur footballer said, “I [initially] turned them (Central) down on Carnival Tuesday but negotiations went on for weeks. Now I am here and glad to be back.”
Central, under the charge of Vranes, led the standings for most of this season and continues to occupy the summit with 46 points from 21 matches, three points ahead of bitter rivals W Connection, who have 43 points from 20 matches.
“It’s obvious that the club wants to win the league,” Fenwick added. “That’s why I am here. I’m here to regain a bit of confidence and lift the players for the remaining three (league) matches. I had my first session with the players this morning and we have a great squad with a number of new faces. Vranes and Dale Saunders have done a great job earlier this season.
“But the club (Central) also wants to do well at the CFU (Club Championship) beginning with two tough [Group 1] matches in Guyana against Alpha United and Suriname’s Inter Moengotapoe in April.
“They (Central) have asked Vranes to oversee the club youth teams and so on as technical director and I will be in charge of the first team.”
Vranes, a former Trinidad and Tobago senior and youth team coach, had been installed as a replacement for Fenwick prior to the 2014-2015 pre-season.
Fenwick had signed a three-year agreement with Belgium lower division outfit CS Visé after guiding Central to last season’s First Citizens Cup and Lucozade Sport Goal Shield titles, and qualified the “Couva Sharks” to the 2015 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship with a runners-up finish behind champions W Connection in the Digicel Pro League.
However less than a year into his first season at Visé, Fenwick was forced to follow Willis Plaza, Rundell Winchester, Elton John and Kevon Villaroel back to Trinidad.
“I basically loved the experience in Belgium; the football club was great and fantastic facilities,” said Fenwick. “(…)until the money ran out to a degree that coffers were empty.”
Fenwick said that there are ongoing legal proceedings involving himself and players against the Visé for contractual compensation.
But while Fenwick was away, the 64-year-old Serbian, Vranes, was starring at Central.
Vranes led Central to the inaugural Rawle Fletcher (Round One) and Akeem Adams (Round Two) trophies along with retaining the First Citizens Cup and already qualified the “Couva Sharks” for the 2016 Caribbean Club Championship, the qualifier tournament for the CONCACAF Champions League.
Vranes, who was twice voted The Fan Club Coach of the Month this season, also leaves Central in front for the Kevon Carter (Round Three) trophy and atop the league standings.
Fenwick’s back! Feisty Englishman makes shock return to Central FC
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)
Call him the unsinkable Terry Fenwick.
The former England World Cup defender left Trinidad and Tobago Pro League club, Central FC, last year for greener pastures with Belgium lower division club, CS Visé, and took three of Couva-based team’s best players with him.
The Visé dream turned into a nightmare and the Trinidad and Tobago exports to the obscure club, Willis Plaza, Rundell Winchester, Elton John and Kevon Villaroel, returned with sad tales of broken promises and unpaid wages. At present, Visé, which imploded financially soon after Fenwick joined them, is in 16th place in the Belgium third division and in danger of relegation.
It is uncertain when the Englishman abandoned the Belgium club.
However, tomorrow morning, Fenwick will officially rejoin them at the “Couva Sharks” as their new head coach. Zoran Vranes, a native of the former Yugoslav republic, will step aside and take over the position of Central technical director with responsibility over the youth and women’s teams.
Vranes will essentially act in place of Central director of women’s and youth football, George Romano, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered last month.
Central operations director Kevin Harrison, who is also advisor to Sport Minister Brent Sancho, confirmed that the feisty Englishman was back in the driver’s seat.
“We are in the last furlong now and the results haven’t been spectacular,” Harrison told Wired868. “Maybe they were getting jaded and needed a little freshener. The players will have to try a bit harder now and refocus to get in the team under a new coach.”
The decision is arguably harsh on Vranes who, at present, has the Sharks at the top of the table and in line for their first domestic league title. Central also retained the 2014 First Citizens Cup under the former Trinidad and Tobago World Youth Cup coach.
However, the Sharks were experiencing a mini-blip after a 1-1 draw to Defence Force on Saturday and a TTFA FA Trophy semi-final defeat to bitter rivals, DIRECTV W Connection, last week.
Harrison admitted that it was not a unanimous decision.
“At the end of the day, the (Central) board did say the team was top of the league and doing quite well but it was more about getting the pieces in the right places,” said Harrison, who is also British. “With George not being there and our Easter camps and so on coming up, we needed more experienced hands to take care of our academy.
“Vranes’ developmental role has been pretty good and then you had Terry’s record last season of 17 games unbeaten. It seemed a better fit.”
Harrison said Central was not put off by Fenwick’s disastrous spell at Visé, which led to the Pro League team paying to bring its players back and then offering them stipends while they waited for the January transfer window to open.
“Terry was just an employee of the club, he wasn’t making decisions there,” said Harrison. “In fact, Terry was trying to intercede on behalf of the players… If I say ‘we will pay you this much money’ and the board runs out of money, it isn’t my fault. That would be blaming the messenger…
“I think the team is excited because a lot of them had a good relationship with Terry. If Vranes was fired that might be different because a lot of players like Vranes and enjoy working with him. They actually have an extra coach now rather than losing one.”
Harrison rebuffed rumours that Sancho personally signed off on Fenwick’s return, despite the Sport Minister’s claim he was no longer involved with Central so as to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
“Brent’s heart will always be with Central but we have a board in place and there is a degree of separation,” said Harrison. “I can’t say we will never ask for his advice or opinion… Central FC will always be his baby and it is hard to totally detach yourself.
“But there must be a degree of separation and, in this case, it was my decision.”
Harrison declined to name the members of the Central FC board.
“I’d rather not,” he said. “I think they’d rather sit in the background.”
Fenwick confirmed his return to Central FC but did not comment further up until the time of publication.
The Englishman, who captained Tottenham Spurs and Crystal Palace in the English top flight and is a former Portsmouth manager, first came to Trinidad in 2001. He led CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh to back to back league titles in 2002 and 2003 before returning to England for a short and unmemorable stint with lower league team, Northampton.
He returned to Jabloteh in 2005 and—despite walking off the job twice due to work disputes—helped the club to two more league titles in 2007 and 2008 and, even after the Clico turmoil, still helped the “San Juan Kings” to a FA Trophy before he left for good in 2011.
Two years later, he took over from compatriot and ex-Chelsea coach, Graham Rix, at fledgling club, Central, and led them to them to the First Citizen Cup and Lucozade Goal Shield crowns.
Now, he has rejoined the Sharks again with the team trying to stave off defending champions and bitter rivals, W Connection. Cue fireworks.