The clown is gone but the circus is still here


Feels good, man. Feels good.

Despite his consistent refusals to step down even as everything we’ve been building for years burned down around him, Safet Sušić is no longer in charge of the Bosnia-Herzegovina national team.

In the end, he was removed by the same group of slack jawed yokels who appointed him in the first place and didn’t have the sense or decency to remove him after his poor performance at the 2014 World Cup. Instead, they decided it was appropriate to extend his contract and pay him even more money. But after a series of increasingly humiliating debacles, they were left with little choice and finally removed him yesterday. He’s finally gone. Say that out loud. Let it sink in. It feels good.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or reads this blog will know how little I think of Safet Sušić the football manager. He’s armed me and his other critics with endless ammunition over the years. The reasons for his sacking are numerous; he was a failure in every aspect of modern football management and the fact he lasted this long will tell you everything you need to know about the Bosnian FA.

The results of his incompetence are staggering. To put it bluntly, we stink. We stink badly. And we’ve stunk for a while; the national team has been in bad form and under performing since our 3-1 win over Greece in March of 2013. Out of our last seven competitive matches, Sušić has won one. One victory. Over Iran. We stink.

Argentina – Bosnia-Herzegovina 2:1
Nigeria – Bosnia-Herzegovina 1:0
Bosnia-Herzegovina – Iran 3:1
Bosnia-Herzegovina – Cyprus 1:2
Wales – Bosnia-Herzegovina 0:0
Bosnia-Herzegovina – Belgium 1:1
Israel – Bosnia-Herzegovina 3:0

Last night our stink reached its eye watering zenith as underdog Israel put three goals past us without reply and inflicted upon us the most humiliating defeat this generation of players and fans has ever suffered. We now have 2 points out of a possible 12 in our Euro qualifying campaign. The second highest scoring team of the 2014 World Cup qualifications has now scored 2 goals in the last 4 games. In a group we were supposed to dominate.

God, we stink.

The reality is that Bosnia-Herzegovina’s chances of qualifying for Euro 2016 are now so small they may as well not exist at all. Has Sušić apologized to the fans and truly accepted the responsibility for his failure? No, not really. Instead, he’s decided to leave us with one last insult just to remind us that he too thinks very little of us:

“I don’t feel responsible if Bosnia-Herzegovina doesn’t qualify for Euro 2016” – Safet Sušić

Two points out of a possible twelve and you don’t feel responsible? Competitive losses to Cyprus and Israel, and you don’t feel responsible? Going into a decisive qualifying match without a striker because you refused to call one up, but you don’t feel responsible? In the Balkans, this is known as having no “obraz” (honor, dignity, “face”). In the English speaking world it is generally known as being a delusional coward.

Compare this disgraceful behaviour with the actions of Dick Advocaat. The Dutch manager was in charge of Serbia for three competitive matches and after failing to defeat Armenia and Denmark in the Euro qualifiers he not only agreed to step down but even refused to accept the payout.

“After the match against Denmark I knew there was no sense staying. I decided not to accept any payout. For me this was the logical move and in the best interest of Serbian football. My decision was unbelievable to them, they didn’t expect it.” – Dick Advocaat

But lets be honest here: Dick Advocaat is a serious football manager. Safet Sušić is not. He has never been able to hold down a job anywhere; before taking over the Bosnian-Herzegovinian national team, his longest run in charge was 13 games with Turkish club Caykur Rizespor. Sušić has never shown an ounce of tactical shrewdness or understanding of how to use the squad at his disposal. A manager is supposed to inspire and prepare players tactically, physically, and mentally. Sušić does none of these things. His man management and communication skills are so bad he can only be described as a pathological asshole. Our players’ club form and international form could not be more different. Everything in the vicinity of Sušić’s radiating mediocrity seems to go to hell.

We all know the job is not an easy one and everyone makes mistakes, but you have to learn from your errors and not repeat them. You have to adapt and improve. You have to take responsibility. Sušić did not. He doesn’t know how. Further proof of this was provided during the match against Israel when he subbed off Bešić, our only defensive midfielder; this led to some desperate defending which earned Bosnian centre back Toni Šunjić a red card. Did Sušić react to the sending off like every normal coach would? No, instead he put on yet another midfielder. We played the rest of the match with one defender and eight midfielders. I think even those of you who have been watching football for decades couldn’t say you’ve ever seen something like that before.

Now the nightmare is finally over, but the sad truth is that there is no guarantee the reality we wake up to will be much better. The same FA that chose and inexplicably propped up Safet, will now be selecting our next coach. They are the ones most responsible for our troubles; the true “big bad” that appears after you think you’ve won, like the post credits scene that reveals Thanos at the end of “Avengers”. If they have the opportunity they will do it again.

Then there’s the fans. Ah yes, the “true” fans. The ones that “love Bosnia equally in victory or defeat”. The ones that chose to ignore all the warning signs when there was still time to save ourselves because they “trust in Safet Sušić, the greatest Bosnian player of all time!”. The ones that won’t allow reporters and writers to offer legitimate criticism because it “destroys the atmosphere in the team” and because “Sušić is the hero that took us to the World Cup”. The fans who could watch Sušić drink the blood of a freshly murdered nun on live television and still find a way to absolve him of any blame. The same fans who are now suddenly spitting on Sušić and repeating the same things I’ve been saying for over a year. The same things they used to attack me for saying. Yeah, those fans. As far as I’m concerned they are just as much to blame for where we are right now.

Most of his peers were no better, refusing to man up and openly criticize their old friend’s obvious tactical errors and destructive behaviour. Instead, they just whined about the negative influence of the media and the unrealistic expectations of fans. Slovakia is first in their group, three points ahead of Spain and Ukraine, but they think we are being unrealistic because we expect to defeat Cyprus, Wales, and Israel. This is the kind of loser mentality that will continue to hold us back, and not just in football.

So by all means lets celebrate the fact that Sušić and all the madness that accompanies him is history–believe me, I’ve longed for this day more than most–but don’t celebrate too long because the FA hasn’t changed and very soon they will be announcing his successor. Pray that they aren’t as stupid and corrupt as we all think they are because on the odd chance they make the right choice we might still even claw our way to Euro 2016. If nothing else, we may rekindle that which has became so rare in recent months — the feeling of fun and excitement to watch our national team play.

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