Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
NORTHERN Irishman, Sean Connor, has taken full responsibility for CAPS United’s woeful start to the Premiership season and conceded he made a mistake in making too many changes without taking time to understand the culture at the club
and the dynamics of the domestic game
Connor is in his maiden dance with local football, and the African game at large, having arrived at the start of the year on a two-year contract to try and revive CAPS United’s waning fortunes.
But seven weeks into the championship race, Connor has watched in horror as CAPS United have failed to register a win and, crucially, score a goal from open play.
Their only strike to date came from goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda’s penalty in the 1-1 draw against debutants Harare City.
Yesterday, the Irishman was back to face the media for his weekly briefing on the goings-on at CAPS United.
But this time Connor, who normally brings either a member of his technical department or a selected player, broke with tradition as he appeared alone insisting it is he who should take the flak for whatever has gone wrong with the Green Machine.
Connor also made a passionate appeal to the CAPS United supporters to desist from abusing the Makepekepe directors, coaches and players for the Premiership giants’ false start, arguing that he was the man to blame.
Club vice-president Farai Jere has already been a victim of a torrent of abuse from a section of the CAPS United fans who appear to target him whenever the team fails to win with some even, surprisingly, questioning his commitment to the Makepekepe cause despite the fortune that the Harare businessman has spent to keep their ship afloat.
But Connor, who also took at swipe at the pair of Chris Samakweri and Darryl Nyandoro, describing them as a “disgraceful pair of cheats’’ reckoned that CAPS United will soon come good.
He maintained that he would not walk away before he fulfils his mandate, which is to turn around the team’s fortunes and revive the glory days of 2005 when they were last crowned champions.
The CAPS United manager, however, stressed that he was being pained by the pressure that his charges have been subjected to by the team’s supporters, which he felt was weighing on his troops to an extent that “the players have become so afraid of losing that it’s affecting their performance’’.
“There is a very important message I want to send to the CAPS United supporters.
“I think the players have been put under a lot of pressure, the administrators of the club and my staff have been under pressure and even the owners of the club but I want to assure the CAPS United family that everyone at the club is working hard for the re-establishment of the club.
“We have not won the league since 2005 although we have won a few cups in between so when I look it at it . . . maybe I came here and tried to make too many changes too quickly.
“So from now on I am slowing down on the changes we are going to implement as we build,’’ Connor said.
Connor also revealed that he had under-estimated the challenges he would face in his new job especially in trying to introduce a “European culture in an institution that has its own beliefs and ways of doing things’’.
“I underestimated the difficulties I was going to face trying to introduce a new culture and I will need more time to understand the culture that is here first.
“I came here to develop as a coach and manager and to develop CAPS United but I have been shocked by how difficult it has been for staff and players to change and adapt to the European ideas.
“But we have to realise the strengths and weaknesses of the players and realise that we are not going to do it (the changes) at a much faster pace’’.
Connor said although he would be scouting for a striker to deliver the goals at CAPS United he was happy with the squad at his disposal.
The Irishman said despite not believing in superstition or juju, he was still baffled at why CAPS United were failing to find the target and revealed that he had spoken to his players and emphasised the need for them to be patient.
“I am from West Belfast and I am a Catholic and I am able to withstand pressure. I believe in fighting for what I stand for but I think the pressure that is being put on the players is too much and unfair.
“I know that we will get things right, I appeal to the fans to desist from abusing the owners of the club who put their hands in their pockets to get this club running and they gave me a two-year contract because they realised that it is not going to be a six-week exercise.
“I am also now working closely with the youth structures so that we also groom players who know what it means to play for CAPS United’’.
But one of the mistakes that Connor appears to have made was on his choice of captain and the Irishman admitted as much when revealing that midfielder Edmore Chafungamoyo had stepped down as team captain.
Chafungamoyo appears to have struggled to handle the huge responsibilities that come with being a CAPS United skipper and also delivering on the pitch.
“Edmore this week stepped down from the captaincy because he wants to concentrate on his game so David Sengu is now the captain with Tapiwa Khumbuyani as the co-captain’’.
Despite reports linking CAPS United with such coaches like Norman Mapeza, Connor said he has been enjoying the support of the club’s directors.
He insisted that there had been no indications from club president Twine Phiri and his deputy Jere that they were about to show him the exit.
Connor also said he was under no illusions that he would be judged, not by what he promises on the table but, on the team’s results.
“I cannot control their thoughts but from conversations I have had with them I think I have got their support and everything I have done has been professional.
“I have not been given any ultimatum by those who run the club.
“I am disappointed with the results, I am disappointed with the pressure they have been put under and at the end of the day I am a manager and I know I will be judged by results but has the chopping and changing of coaches helped CAPS United in the last few years?
“We have spoken about getting the ball into the back of the net because I think we have been doing everything right except score and I think the players are now even afraid of losing.
“I just think we have been unlucky and we just need one goal and then we will be up and running again.
“What I want to do now is take the pressure off the players,’’ Connor said.
CAPS United will resume league action on Monday after their game against Quelaton pencilled in for the National Sports Stadium tomorrow was rescheduled.
Chicken Inn v Buffaloes (Luveve); Motor Action v Hardbody (Motor Action Sports Club); Gunners v Blue Rangers (Lafarge) Harare City v FC Platinum (Gwanzura)
Highlanders v Monomotapa (Barbourfields) Hwange v Black Mambas (Colliery)
CAPS United v Quelaton (National Sports Stadium)
Shabanie Mine v Dynamos (Maglas).