Larsen sticks to his guns

Former Celtic coach says ex­pe­ri­ence taught him not to give in to ul­ti­ma­tums

CityPress - - Sport - TIM­O­THY MOLOBI tim­o­thy@city­press.co.za

Past ex­pe­ri­ences at Mar­itzburg United made Clin­ton Larsen walk away from his job at Bloem­fontein Celtic this week. The 44-year-old was given the ul­ti­ma­tum of work­ing with re­serve team coach Dun­can Lech­esa and ditch­ing his as­sis­tant Lehlo­honolo Seema, or fac­ing the exit door. Larsen chose the lat­ter. “When I went to Mar­itzburg, I did not have my own as­sis­tant and found my­self in an un­com­fort­able sit­u­a­tion. To me it is not about money, never has been and never will be. I am just do­ing what I love most and will not com­pro­mise my prin­ci­ples,” he told City Press this week.

A week af­ter walk­ing out on Celtic, Larsen does not re­gret his de­ci­sion to quit. He said he would do the same if put in the same sit­u­a­tion again.

“It is be­cause of my prin­ci­ples and the love for what I do. I even said I didn’t need a con­tract. I know a lot of coaches are wor­ried about con­tracts, to know what is in it for them when they get fired. I have worked with­out pack­ages, be­cause for me it is not about money...”

He said he was still con­fused about what the club was try­ing to achieve.

This af­ter they pro­moted Seema to in­terim head coach, with Lech­esa com­ing in as his as­sis­tant.

“They wanted to de­mote [Seema] to the de­vel­op­ment side, and that was what I was fight­ing. But the next thing, he is now in charge of the team. I am not sure, in the big­ger scheme of things, what they were try­ing to do.

“I ob­vi­ously wanted a longer stay, and even tried to come to a com­pro­mise to say they should bring Dun­can as my sec­ond as­sis­tant. But when given an ul­ti­ma­tum like that, I had no other op­tion.”

He said he did not have a prob­lem with Lech­esa, but felt he needed Seema. He said he did not want to break up his tech­ni­cal team, as they had a good un­der­stand­ing.

“I don’t think I was wrong. I thought chang­ing the tech­ni­cal team was not go­ing to ben­e­fit the team. Why fix it when it is not bro­ken? Ours was not bro­ken.

“I be­lieved we had a great team, as we worked well to­gether. I had con­fi­dence in Seema and I could trust him with any­thing, know­ing he was ca­pa­ble. He is not a yes man and I had no rea­son to let him go.”

Larsen ac­knowl­edged re­sults had not been forth­com­ing, al­though he be­lieved they had been do­ing well, con­sid­er­ing their po­si­tion on the log.

The Dur­ban-born men­tor said he would al­ways be in the foot­ball in­dus­try, re­gard­less of the di­vi­sion.

“To me, the PSL is not the land of milk and honey. If I work there, it is fine, and does not mean the end of the world if I’m in an­other di­vi­sion.”

He said he was not in a hurry to find an­other club.

“Any­way, there’s still one game be­fore the Christ­mas break. I will wait and see what the new year brings, but I won’t rush into mak­ing de­ci­sions. I have to cal­cu­late first, do my home­work thor­oughly and con­sider all the op­tions.”

He said he still woke up early in the morn­ing, as was his rou­tine.

“It only dawns on me when I have to go that I don’t work any more.”

He has a house in Bloem­fontein, his wife works in the area and his daugh­ter still at­tends school there. Larsen still has a Celtic ring­tone on his phone.

Celtic’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Khum­bu­lane Konco, said they were dis­ap­pointed by Larsen’s be­hav­iour when they sug­gested Lech­esa’s pro­mo­tion. Konco said they had to act and in­ter­vene af­ter go­ing six games with­out a vic­tory.

“What sur­prised us was his re­sponse when we made our sug­ges­tions. We were pre­pared to en­gage with him,” said Konco.

PHOTO: IAN MAC­NI­COL / GETTY IM­AGES PHOTO: YVES LOG­GHE / AP

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PHOTO: LEE WAR­REN / GALLO IM­AGES

PRIN­CI­PLE Clin­ton Larsen walked out of his coach­ing job

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