Why Mutebi’s league absentia is terrible news to the offensive brand of football

Now that Mutebi, the epitome of perfection when it gets to the offensive game, is out of the league, will other local coaches take up the mantle or choose to succumb to the prowess that comes with the Brazilian tactician in the Venoms?

By Timothy Kuteesa

Mike Hillary Mutebi has for the past decade or so been the face of the offensive brand of football in Uganda, among local coaches and a guarantee of excitement and fun to football fans every time his team takes it to the pitch.

He does not share the stage alone but with other top masters in technical management, local coaches that are obsessed with playing the attacking and explosive brand which ensures that football provides the ideal satisfaction.

Names like Abdullah Mubiru-nevermind his defensive imperfections, Livingstone Mbabazi, who has made a reputation of being a nomad of sorts and Asaph Mwebaze whose stopovers in multiple local clubs render him ineffectual, do surface.

However, none of the above local coaches guarantees success and employment of this play-style to perfection as does Mutebi, a gaffer with a natural touch and one whose philosophy leaves a longing and an unquenchable thirst.

While we now have the liberty to wax lyrical about Vipers SC’s new head coach Roberto Oliveira along with his free flowing and transitionally assertive style, the question still remains; Where does Mutebi’s absence leave the desirable style of play? Who will be it’s new face among local coaches?

“I can not answer the question with finality and authority,” that was a response by Mutebi in an exclusive interview with Football256. “Because I do not think for the other local coaches. What I can say though is that there are many that can take it up, it however requires bravery.”

Mutebi applauded the level of patience that Wakiso Giants exhibited in letting their current head coach Douglas Bamweyana assert his philosophy on the team much as the results were going astray.

“I like the new improvements in some clubs that will help the game make the desirable transition. Express FC prioritize statistics now with a Performance Analyst which I think is good for the game, at least we were doing so at KCCA.”

“What is important is empowering our local coaches at their respective clubs to freely express themselves and their abilities.”

“With that done, it won’t matter who gets to be the face of what you term as the offensive brand of football,” he added.

Despite the stereotype that brands the former KCCA gaffer as a one-trick-pony and a manager whose philosophy is stuck on not changing regardless of the magnitude of the opponent, Mutebi has over the years built a reputation as the leader of this beautiful and desirable brand.

“I subscribe to the style of play used by Ajax and Barcelona, that’s why you see people accusing me of not concentrating on defense but I always love to tell them that attack is the best form of defense,” Mutebi mentioned.

This style Mutebi eloquently speaks about was perfectly manifested by the late Dutch genius, Yohan Cruyff, whose time as a player accounted for the ‘total football’ exhibitions nevermind that he more often than not found himself on the wrong side of results.

The climax of this most notably was during the 1974 World Cup hosted by West Germany where Holland lost the finals on 3-2 scoreline, thanks to a Gerd Müller goalscoring masterclass despite the Dutch having played all the football.

“It was a game where pragmatism overcame fantasy. The Dutch played the most attractive football at the tournament but lost to a pragmatic West Germany,” he expressed his discontent.

Similar cases of this particular ordeal can be seen for teams like Hungary in 1954 and Brazil in 1982.

The former lost a final to West Germany while the latter lost a semifinal to Italy after playing the best and most attractive brand of football in their respective tournaments.

The bottomline indeed is that Cruyff’s life in football, both as a player and coach, helps breathe life into the former SC Villa gaffer’s proverbial football philosophy and what he has for long envisaged his teams to apply.

Mutebi’s love affair with Barcelona also goes back to the 2008/09 treble-winning season under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola, most notably the Champions League final triumph against Manchester United.

“The team played ‘total football’ and that is one of the most amazing games I have ever watched as a fan, the style of play is what I have admired until present,” an excited Mutebi added.

It is this self esteem (perceived as arrogance by some) and the belief in the strength of his directing hand, that has seen him motivate even the most amateur of players to claim their spot at the high table.

“I often hear people call me a tough man and a coach that is rough with players, they even go to the extreme and call me less accommodative but I must say that is cheap talk because I handle my players well, I just don’t allow them to be lazy. That is called tough love,” he clarified.

When this website engaged the gaffer in an in-depth conversation about the apex of this offensively rich philosophy during his five-year tenure at Lugogo, Mutebi needed no invitation to head on a passionate rampage.

“The climax of our style was exhibited in the 2017/18 season when we beat Al Ahly at Namboole and lost 4-3 in Alexandria, the game we also lost 3-2 in Tunis was a manifestation of our style,” Mutebi highlighted.

“We had played in the earlier seasons against Club Africain, FUS Rabat who we convincingly beat and Mamelodi Sundowns who had Pitso Mosimane, currently considered the best on the continent, they all left awed with our style of play.”

“Of course I heard the talk from fans about how we needed to be a little bit conservative while playing away from home but I will answer like I have always done, when you choose a style, you stick with it, it doesn’t matter what people think.”

About the yields of this offensively rich football philosophy during his five-year stay at Lugogo, Mutebi reiterated with the same bravery as had been shown during the talk about the philosophy proper.

“We were able to introduce young players in the team, players that added a lot of industry and hunger, players who went on to help us win trophies but most importantly played in the group stages of the champions league.”

“You can talk about players like Allan Okello, Mustapha Kizza, Joseph Ochaya and the rest that the club sold to make money but I also left some exciting players at the club like Herbert Achai, Sadat Anaku, Julius Poloto and many others, they are quite a number.”

While the goals and offensive flair that had been synonymous with Mutebi’s regime at KCCA and a trademark at that were starting to dry out in the events that built up to his acrimonious departure, the case remains that his legacy is indisputable.

In more iconic scenes prior to his exit, the evolution under his stewardship had brought about close to five different KCCA teams, with some more or less coexisting at the same time during a match.

The offensive masterclass team, the ruthless title contenders, the lacklustre side, the defensively inadequate side and of course the mouthwatering and beautiful to watch side, all making up for the inconsistency that later came to describe him.

That withstanding, Mutebi might have gone with his brand because Mubiru lacks enough resources to assert himself well at Police FC, Mbabazi might not have enough time to make it count at UPL debutants Arua Hill SC given the uncertainty that he comes with.

Mwebaze is without a team currently and therefore doesn’t qualify. It might just require the former boss at Lugogo to take up employment at one of the clubs in mid-season to have his philosophy back.

Now that Mutebi, the epitome of perfection when it gets to the offensive game, is out of the league, will other local coaches take up the mantle or choose to succumb to the prowess that comes with the Brazilian tactician in the Venoms?

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