Coach Thinh vows to stand by ailing SLNA
HA NoI — Song Lam Nghe An (SLNA) are well-known in the national arena as a football training mecca where many talented young players get their start. However, the team managers see many of their best players – Le Cong Vinh, Nguyen Minh Duc and Le Quoc Vuong – leaving the club for teams which offer higher salaries and benefits.
SLNA are ‘bleeding’ talented players and the club’s future is being called into question. Coach Nguyen Van Thinh shares his worries about the team as the new season approaches.
As the coach of famous footballers like Vinh, Duc and Vuong, what did you think when your best players said good-bye?
Honestly, I felt deep grief. We were together for nearly ten years with a lot of care and love. I felt regret, because it took time, labour, sweat and blood to build those players, but now they belong to other teams; we will be opponents in the coming matches. But, it is professional football. We have to accept it. I know them. Their careers are indispensable. The life of a player is short; they have to think about their future.
I did not object to their departure, because I know that before deciding they gave it careful consideration.
What would you do if you were in their place?
I would stay here. It is true that they will receive better salaries and treatment at their new destinations, but they should be thinking long-term. They are still young. They think about the future, but only the immediate future. What about further down the road? When they are in their 30s, when their careers are winding down, when the clubs can no longer use them, what will they do?
The best hope a player can have is to continue with football as a trainer after retiring. In other words, contributing labour to their home and being loved by their fans are invaluable things, but they have not thought it through.
People said, in SLNA, players are not treated well, but they were treated right. In my opinion, what we offered them was reasonable, but they still wanted to leave.
Can you explain further?
Take Minh Duc, for example. The club promised to pay him a salary of VND30 million (US$1,800) per month and a VND2 billion ($119,000) signing bonus for a two-year contract. But, Duc did not agree.
It is difficult to say how much a player should earn, but in this case the offer was fair.
Does it seem that the cost of the players is exaggerated beyond their true value?
Viet Nam do not have many talented football players. We lack good players, so people inflate the price [to get them]. It is also a fact that we are indulging them, we are praising them too much. Many players have their heads in the clouds, and they are spoiled.
We have learned many lessons about this. Following this trend, I believe that signing bonus records will reach even greater heights.
Clubs who train good players will suffer bad losses and inferior teams. I think we need to reconsider the rules about this issue.
In V-League 2009, SLNA will play with young members. How do you think the team will place?
Next season? Avoiding being relegated to First Division is our goal. Last year, I had four key players – Nguyen Huy Hoang, Nguyen Nhu Thuat, Cong Vinh and Minh Duc. Now I have only two. We will encounter many more difficulties.
We do not have enough money to buy qualified foreign players, so we have to look at reality and can not dream.
In the past, SLNA performed very well, even when most of its members were young players. When the team’s results started falling, many people said it was the team’s own fault. Is that true?
It is hard to say. When their youthful power breaks out, my young players can beat any rivals, but when the excitement wanes, losses come easily.
You have mailed your letter of resignation to the team’s managers more than once. Do you feel helpless and want to leave?
I have never wanted to leave SLNA, honestly. When I wrote those letters, I simply felt that I was not powerful enough to train the main team. I wanted to coach the youth team, so that I could help produce the next generation for the main team. That’s all.
SLNA are a well-known centre for good players, but it always has a bad reputation and has been a disappointment. Why do you think that is?
We have built a perfect foundation that none of the national clubs have, but we do not have the thing that everyone wants – cash.
It is very difficult. We cannot blame anyone but encourage each other to overcome these challenges. Hopefully, everything will be okay and Nghe An’s football will take back our position in the V-League soon. All of us, from leaders to players, believe this. — VNS
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