Final Curtain Closes On Terim Tenure With Little FanfareCommentary • Author: Nathan Redd • Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Wednesday night in Bursa will mark the end of an era in Turkish football. When the final whistle is blown and the lights go out at Atatürk Stadium, Fatih Terim will step off the pitch for the final time as Turkish National Team boss. While time will determine the legacy of the embattled coach, fans are left wondering if they have reason to be optimistic about the future.
This was not the way that Fatih Terim expected to go out. After taking over for Ersun Yanal in 2005, the former Galatasaray manager promised to continue the Turks' global success. A remarkable third-place finish in the 2002 World Cup set the Turks up for greater things in 2006. But the darlings of the previous competition were nowhere to be found. Fast-forward two years, where Terim saved his reputation by leading the Turks to another semifinal - this time in the European championships. The coach once nicknamed "The Emperor" was fielding offers from European sides and basking in international glory.
Turkish fans were salivating at the World Cup qualification group pairings when they were announced in 2007. Belgium? Bosnia-Herzegovina? Armenia? Estonia? If Istanbul had direct flights to Johannesburg, they were filling up quickly. Turkish fans were realizing that nothing less than a second-place finish was practically being handed to them.
Something happened along the way, however. "The Emperor" became "The Obstacle." Terim has had his share of supporters and critics, but one word can easily characterize his tenure as Milli Takım: inconsistent. Fantastic performances such as the 4-1 spanking of Greece and last summer's come-from-behind win over Czech Republic were followed by draws against Belgium and Estonia. Injuries hampered the Turks over the last two years, but it's a part of football. An injured Turkish squad littered with substitutes should be able to easily handle a full-strength Estonia or Belgium team.
Terim remained defiant and arrogant until the end, constantly citing the team's accomplishments rather than apologizing for missing two consecutive World Cup tournaments. He indicated that he offered his resignation despite the wishes of the Turkish Football Federation, but TFF Chairman Mahmut Özgener would have been under enormous pressure to fire Terim if he had not resigned.
Milli Takım fans are largely happy to see Terim depart. The coach arguably wore out his welcome, and fans are ready for a change. Özgener and company must re-group and begin to assemble a staff to prepare for the next European championships. Hopefully they'll look for a new coach without the red and white-tinted glasses. They should seek out the best coach; not the best Turkish coach. Meanwhile fans have reason to celebrate on Wednesday. Fatih Terim led the team to an impressive performance in Euro 2008 and that accomplishment should not be ignored. However, the muted happiness in Bursa on Wednesday is likely going to be a celebration of Terim's departure rather than his inconsistent success.