FourFourTwo's Telling It Like It Is: Alex Weaver
It was fantastic to win the S.League title with the Warriors FC in 2014.
I went there the previous season with a three-year plan that outlined progression to challenge for the S.League title and then the AFC tournaments. We actually won the league early and that was nice.
I had already seen a lot of the Warriors from when I was with Hougang. I saw the dysfunction within the team that was clear to anyone with an eye for team-building. I had a week of observation at the beginning and saw close hand that there was a clear division between the Japanese players, the Croatians and the rest. I papered over the cracks for the rest of the season as best I could and then brought in players later who could help make a team.
It was not just about their skills but how they would fit in within the squad. Kevin McCann, Nico Velez –these players came in and contributed massively to the team spirit we had.
Team-building is overlooked. The culture in Singapore is to look at the surface. So much is for show. If everything looks good on the outside, people don't care about what is underneath. It is vital to get, not just talented people, but the right people.
We proved that in 2014. I would have said that on paper, that looking at the players, you had Home United and Tampines with excellent squads and DPMM with their foreign players. We had the togetherness and spirit. That was the difference.
Signing foreign players is hugely important but you wonder where some teams get them from – just a CV and YouTube clips? It is vital to get a good core of players together.
But there were issues before the end of the title season. In September or October 2014, we were chasing Brunei and I was already trying to talk to the management about the following season. It is the way I work. I like to prepare and know early. I was asking them about my contract as they give out these ridiculous 12-month contracts with no security or ability to plan with confidence.
Players needed to know if I will stay, not because it is Alex Weaver, but if they know who the head coach is then they know more about their own plans. I have my targets of players I want to keep and ones I want to sign.
Trying to get a response from the management was difficult. Then it came to an AGM. I had my proposed squad together. I was trying to get a budget and eventually I got a figure and I presented to the management about my proposed squad and salaries after talking to some players.
The morning after I got a message saying they realised they couldn't do the budget they told me. I had already spent a week talking to players, telling them what we could offer and I had to go back a week later and tell them we couldn't do it. That is not business sense, never mind football sense, and we ended up losing players.