FANVIEW

How Harambee Stars is similar to Arsenal

Arteta and Mulee are both leading rebuilding projects and risk the sack if patience thins

In Summary

• The maxim ‘trust the process’ rings hollow when results fail to match expectations

• However, both coaches are sticking to their guns and may be reward in due time

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta throws the ball during the English Premier League opening match against Brentford
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta throws the ball during the English Premier League opening match against Brentford
Image: AFP

‘Trust the process’ is a term that has tried the patience of Arsenal fans. The English club, once a powerhouse in Europe, now languishes at the bottom of the Premier League table with no points and no goals scored after three rounds of matches.

Young coach Mikel Arteta is a man under siege as some fans call for his head. Long touted by the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino as a tactician with bags of potential, many fans have been struggling to understand the long-term project the Spaniard is allegedly undertaking at the Emirates. Many who had initially invested trust in this process have now seemingly lost faith.

Back home, local football fans have been up in arms after Harambee Stars head coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee excluded longstanding skipper Victor Wanyama from his latest national team set-up. Instead, he chose to hand maiden call-ups to budding young players, including Serbian-based Richard Odada.

Mulee pleaded with Kenyans to trust in his long-term project to build a team for the future and spur Stars to the next World Cup, probably in 2026 or 2030. From his perspective, it will take some time for the fruits of the good seeds he is currently planting to be seen.

Radio Jambo host Jacob Ghost Mulee during an Interview at Radio Africa Group offices on June 28, 2021.
Radio Jambo host Jacob Ghost Mulee during an Interview at Radio Africa Group offices on June 28, 2021.
Image: /CHARLENE MALWA
Harambee Stars' Hassan Abdalla shields the ball from Isaac Muleme of Uganda Cranes during a 2022 World Cup qualifier match at Nyayo Stadium on Thursday. The match ended 0-0.
Harambee Stars' Hassan Abdalla shields the ball from Isaac Muleme of Uganda Cranes during a 2022 World Cup qualifier match at Nyayo Stadium on Thursday. The match ended 0-0.
Image: ERICK BARASA

The rebuilding projects at Arsenal and Harambee Stars are evidence of the growing pains in change management. One of the steps in Kotter’s change management is that followers struggle to understand the direction of the change process and even resist it based on the fears they have.

At Arsenal, some fans are even fearful the club may even be relegated to the Championship for the first time in their decades-long history. At Harambee Stars, there has been so much tinkering with the national team set-up, including a high turnover of coaches, that many fans are struggling to believe things will be different this time round.

Realising change on many occasions entails making unpopular decisions that will ruffle a lot of feathers. Bar Dennis Oliech and Michael Olunga, Wanyama has been the poster boy of the national team, decorating the Kenyan brand by virtue of his stints at English sides Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton.

In Arsenal’s case, Arteta’s ostracisation of record assist-maker Mesut Ozil was the source of so much division among the clubs fans, especially as the club struggled for most of last season for lack of a creative outlet.

The jury is out on whether Arteta and Mulee will live to see the fruits of their labour. Many others in similar contexts have suffered the sack as the patience of their bosses waned. On the other hand, it is admirable that both men have chosen to think differently and chart their own path regardless of the abuse and ridicule they attract from outside quarters.