The 12 new bosses in Malaysia
A new season brings with it the promise of renewed hope and expectation for teams looking forward to the upcoming Malaysia Super League (MSL) and Malaysia Premier League (MPL).
For some, the prize is silverware, progress will do for others and more will be happy with consolidation as objectives are targeted and goals set down.
For 12 of the 24 MSL and MPL sides competing, new coaches are at the helm and here, we take a look at those who have stepped into the hot-seats in hope of leading their teams to glory.
In the Malaysia Super League
Ashley Westwood (Penang)
Westwood, a former Manchester United academy graduate, is a no-nonsense coach, who is known for being a disciplinarian.
The 41-year-old former defender comes with impressive credentials having led Bengaluru FC to I-League titles in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons and also the Federation Cup in 2015.
Whether Westwood would last the entire season with Penang remains to be seen as the Islanders are very demanding when it comes to meeting targets set by the higher-ups.
Last season, Penang just finished above the relegation at 10th in the MSL and had used three coaches in Brazilian Jacksen Tiago, Manzoor Azwira and Croatian Nenad Bacina.
Penang striker Jafri Firdaus Chew, who is a member of the national under-22 squad, praised Westwood for his coaching methods.
“He demands everyone to give their 100 per cent commitment in training and he does not like players reporting late for practice. I have certainly improved my fitness level under his guidance,” said Chew.
P. Maniam (Selangor)
It remains to be seen whether Maniam can stir Selangor to glory in next season’s MSL.
The 48-year-old only joined Selangor on Dec 26 and he is now racing against time to get his players prepared in what could be a disastrous season for the 33-time Malaysia Cup winners.
Internal conflict between officials within the Football Association of Selangor (FAS), budget constraints and the departures of several top players are among the challenges the team need to overcome for a successful season.
Maniam, however, may not be the right person for the job as he has never handled a top club for a full season.
Prior to his appointment, Maniam had two stints as Selangor’s caretaker coach in 2011 and 2013 before becoming the head coach of FAM Cup (third-tier competition) side AirAsia All-Stars last year.
Although, FAS have set an achievable target of avoiding relegation from the MSL, fans will expect more and the pressure will be on Maniam to produce results.
Centre-back Razman Roslan, however, has confidence in Maniam and he believes FAS made the right decision to hire him.
“Maniam was the assistant coach between 2009-15, where he worked under several experienced trainers. I think he is ready for this job and we are confident he will help us through the season with success,” said Razman.