Larsen sticks to his guns
Former Celtic coach says experience taught him not to give in to ultimatums
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.
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