Smith: No regrets over Malaysian exit

Ron Smith says he has no regrets about his “unusual” departure from Malaysian club Pahang FA after just three months in the job.

Smith parted ways with the Malaysian Super League outfit last week by mutual agreement and has returned to Australia.

The 64-year-old, who previously headed the AIS’s football program and coached Perth Glory in the A-League, joined Pahang in December.

“I knew what I was walking into,” Smith said.

“I knew the pitfalls of working in Asia. When I was in the early stages of negotiation with them I said, 'If after a couple of months either party isn’t happy, then we call it a day.

“And that’s what happened in the end. It was a mutual decision. If I’d been in a different headspace, if I’d been 20 years younger and wanted a job I wouldn’t have gone there under those conditions. I would have insisted on a two or three-year contract, but I wasn’t.

“I wanted to coach, and if I wasn’t happy with what I was doing then I was quite happy to walk away from it.”

The English-born coach has spent considerable time in Malaysian football previously, with stints at Sabah, Johor FC and four years as technical director of the Football Association of Malaysia.

He won the Malaysian league with Sabah in 1996 and was named coach of the year.

Under Smith, Pahang reached the semi-finals of the Malaysian FA Cup and won two and lost three of its five league matches.

Smith said Pahang had some “reservations about the future.”

“It wasn’t about results,” he said.

“It was about making changes. It was unusual to say the least. The team had done quite well. We’d played nine games and only lost three of them.

“In fact I never had the chance to pick the best team in the whole time I was there because we had two key players injured. So, it wasn’t about results; it was about communication or the lack of it.

“The left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing and unfortunately these things are likely to happen, particularly in Asia because of the culture.

“It was just a lack of communication about the team and what my perception of it was and needed to be done.

“Then the decision came, saying that they didn't want me to make any changes and just wanted to go back playing like they did previously.

“That for me shows a bit of a fear of failure, and also not the lack of understanding on the coaching process. Nothing happens overnight.”

Smith, who has worked with the Socceroos as a technical manager and analyst, said he went back to Malaysia with his eyes open.

“I’ve got no hard feelings,” he said.

“[But] I would have liked it to have lasted longer under different circumstances, because I enjoyed working with the players.”

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