It hasn't taken long for the Malaysia Super League to make its first coaching change, with A-League championship winner Mike Mulvey temporarily thrust into the Terengganu hot seat after management decided to force last year’s revelation Ahmad Yusof to go on leave.
Ahmad Yusof was Terengganu’s saviour in 2015. He replaced Abdul Rahman Ibrahim and a six-match losing streak under the latter quickly turned into 10 wins out of 14 fixtures. Naturally, the Turtles offered him a contract.
But on Monday, he learned the cold hard truth about Malaysian football – coaching positions are never certain and trigger happy clubs have no qualms replacing their man, even if the season is just nine days old.
Two consecutive losses – including being knocked out of the FA Cup second round by second-tier club PKNS – was all it took for the Turtles to initiate a coaching shake up that promotes Mulvey from an assistant role, but only for the next three matches.
Terengganu also announced the resignation of Marzuki Sulong as team manager.
Terengganu have three points from the opening two Malaysia Super League (MSL) matches following their 1-0 win against Penang on February 13. Terengganu lost their following match 3-1 to Kedah in Alor Setar.
“The (Terengganu management) committee decided to put Ahmad on leave, with Mulvey given the responsibility to manage the team for the next three matches,” read a statement on the club’s Facebook account.
‘Rested’ has been a word easily thrown about in Malaysian football. Last year alone, five teams rested their coaches. But ominously for Ahmad, all five – B. Satiananthan (ATM), Bojan Hodak (Johor Darul Ta’zim), M. Karathu (Perak), George Boateng (Kelantan) and Abdul Rahman (Terengganu) – failed to return after their enforced ‘rest’.
Kelantan were expected to be the first team to change their coach after president Tan Sri Annuar Musa voiced displeasure over their performance in public and sponsor Datuk Sri Hasmiza Othman (now a team official) publicly voicing adoration for the Red Warriors' former treble-winning coach Hodak.
Mulvey, appointed as assistant manager in December, has his work cut out for him as his three matches are visits by defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim and Selangor, with a trip to Pahang sandwiched in between.
The English-born Mulvey led Brisbane Roar to the A-League title in 2014 before taking up a technical director role with Sabah last February and becoming head coach shortly after.
He then joined the Turtles, with some believing his appointment as No.2 at Terengganu was a contingency move if Ahmad did not deliver.