Until Bashir Hayford’s return to the coaching scene recently, Maxwell Konadu was the only coach in the current league to have won the coveted Ghana Premier League trophy before.
A lot of expectations hinged on a man who once led Kotoko to their 22nd GPL trophy and qualification to the 2013 CAF Champions League.
Since leaving Kotoko, he has been appointed as Ghana U20 manager, Ghana U23 manager, Ghana Black Stars assistant and Ghana CHAN Squad manager.
Chalking the feats of managing the nation’s finest men’s teams reiterates his quality as a manager. But Maxwell Konadu failed to add to his list of impressive feats with Kotoko this time around.
As CHAN Squad manager, Maxwell Konadu won Ghana’s second WAFU Nations Cup and did so in fine fashion with an excellent display against a well galvanized Nigerian side.
Maxwell Konadu attempted to repeat the feat two years later but fell short after losing 3-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
The nature of the WAFU Final loss and subsequent failure to qualify the Black Stars CHAN Squad to the 2020(now 2021) edition of the tournament affected Ghanaians’ love for Konadu.
Notwithstanding, Maxwell Konadu made a decision to return to Asante Kotoko after such an eventful spell in international football coaching. This return was greeted with praise and excitement by Kotoko fans as the ex-Kotoko player and manager were fondly remembered for his spectacular win at Baba Yara over arch rivals Accra Hearts of Oak. The return to Asante Kotoko, as always, came with its own pressures as attention on player recruitment, tactics and media engagement were under constant scrutiny.
A quick snapshot at his team’s league performances over the two tenures shows that Kotoko that Maxwell Konadu coached over the past two years is nothing compared to his previous squad.
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Performance in Truncated GPL Season 2019/20
Performance in 2011/12 Championship Winning Season
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Maxwell Konadu’s win ratio dropped 19% to 41% since returning to Kotoko in 2019. He lost 14% more games since returning with a loss ratio of 24%. Admittedly, Coach Maxwell led Kotoko in only 17 league games before his sack.
|2019/20 – 20/21 GPL|
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A myriad of issues led to his dismissal; poor tactical tinkering, poor game management and poor player recruitment lead the list of issues.
A focus on off field successes made Kotoko more like Man Utd in terms of commercial value but lacking in football terms.
In terms of his team tactical approach to games, it must be said Coach Maxwell relied heavily on the GPL being like GPL of past, where quality of coaching and players was on the low side. Coach Maxwell’s tactical play left many confused. He often plays a brand of football that involves wing play and influence of play from his overlapping full backs. In 2012, he relied heavily on Baba Rahman, Yaw Frimpong and Amos Frimpong. He always ensured he had steel and creativity in the middle of the pitch; this was in the form of Michael Akuffu, Prince Baffoe and Daniel Nii Adjei over the period. In terms of firepower up the pitch, he had Ahmed Toure and Ben Acheampong. Any team with this attacking talent will outscore and out muscle their opponents. That squad of 2012 duly delivered the GPL title. In this tenure, Maxwell Konadu was dependent still on wingplay but focused on transitioning using long balls and the pace of Emmanuel Gyamfi and power of Kwame Poku to outmuscle and outpace opponents defence. The team’s build up play and pattern of transitioning was not existent. Coach Maxwell was tactically outclassed in all games he handled in the 20/21 GPL season with a record of 1 Win, 2 Draws and 1 Loss. Since Maxwell returned, Kotoko scored more than 2 goals in a single game in 4 games; all coming in 19/20 truncated GPL season. Kotoko’s goal-scoring woes did not improve in 20/21 season as they failed to score more than 2 goals. That record on account of players recruited showed the manager was lacking in ideas.
As regard to game management, Kotoko under Maxwell Konadu developed a knack of allowing opponents to grow in games in this 20/21 season owing to the inability to get on the ball or keep the ball. The insistence of focusing on inefficient wing play and route one football-only meant opponents needed to either win the aerial battle or claim the second ball whenever the long ball was cut out.
Player recruitment could have made the difference for Maxwell Konadu’s tenure. It must be said Kotoko remains an attractive brand on the field.
Coach Maxwell’s influence afforded Kotoko the opportunity to sign some of the GPL’s brightest talents in Yussif Mubarik, Emmanuel Keyekeh, Latif Anabila amongst others. Kwame Poku and Evans Adomako were recruited to offer the attacking threat which has so far proved to be too blunt in this 20/21 season.
Kotoko’s decision to part ways with Maxwell Konadu only affirms the fans belief that Maxwell has lost his tactical nous as he has failed to replicate the brand of football Kotoko fans associate with him.
In the current GPL season, Kotoko remains amongst the lowest scorers with only 3 goals in 4 games. Kotoko’s midfield has been static and lacking creativity.
The midfield has been very passive with sideways passing rather penetrative forward passes. This approach has prevented Kotoko from adding to their solitary win in this 2020/21 season.
Coach Maxwell failed to use his wide men as effectively as he did in 2011/12 and even in parts of the truncated 2019/20 season.
His focus on attempting to play through the middle has met resistance as other clubs have resorted to stuffing the middle with ball-winning midfielders to prevent Kotoko from playing.
Maxwell Konadu will have no one but himself to blame as his overall control over the team has not translated into impressive results.
The Asante Kotoko brand is not one that plays matches to draw or have a coach that seeks to speak out against referees when results go against him or blame the lack of fans as a reason for not getting results.
Maxwell Konadu needed to be more proactive in discussions regarding player recruitment and to be more of the 2011/12 man who was full of ideas and tactical ability to mount a serious challenge.
Five games into the 20/21 season and Maxwell Konadu is an ex-manager of Asante Kotoko. He has no one but himself to blame. Another opportunity will never arise unless he reinvents himself.