Kerr’s philosophy, the narrative behind Gor’s impeccable run
When Dylan Kerr docked on these shores to set out on his next managerial chapter at Gor Mahia FC, he knew he would have a ‘good’ season. What he did not foresee was he would turn Gor into the unstoppable domestic force they have now become.
The Englishman, who is still revered in Dar es Salaam where he coached Tanzania mainland Vodacom Premier League giants Simba SC, has only been in charge at Gor since July yet his impact couldn’t have been more palpable.
Having replaced Brazilian Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira in July, Kerr has transformed Gor into an efficient machine and one of the sleekest sides in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL).
He has won 11 of 14 matches that he has overseen, drawing twice, with Gor’s coronation as KPL champions could come as early as Saturday should they win or draw against Ulinzi Stars at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru.
Under Ze Maria, Gor failed to hold on to their KPL crown as Tusker FC went on to win the domestic league and Cup double.
The Brazilian left Gor at the summit of the KPL and the unanimous feeling was Kerr would struggle to help sustain the rhythm and they would break stride before recovering. But the Englishman hit the ground running and even instigated a rapid turnaround.
Sometimes, the difference in quality and class between Gor and their rivals – now at least 15 points adrift – has been all too clear to see. This, Kerr says is because his charges have adopted to his philosophy.
“My opponents are not weaker; every player knows they have a place in team. They want to put on the green K’Ogalo jersey and contribute something. It’s the spirit every coach wants to see.
“I have noted most clubs would rather play with only one or two strikers as we do but we play a system where we defend as a unit and attack as a unit too.
“Wellington (Ochieng’), Karim (Nzigiyimana), (Godfrey) Walusimbi and (Harun) Shakava – all defenders – know when to advance and when to retreat. You can see the enthusiasm in training, and I always tell them to enjoy their football,” Kerr told Citizen Digital.
Albeit praising his charges, Kerr recollected some dull shows that he says reflected the ugly side of the team he would hate to see manifest in the future.
Home away from home
Having enjoyed instant success in the KPL, Kerr advises foreign coaches to appreciate Kenya as their home away from home.
“I’m happy to be here and feel at home when I’m at Gor. You can’t come from Europe or America and say you are the best and above everyone you find in foreign local setting.
“Some coaches have failed because they want to come and take over everything, bring their friends from wherever they come from and ignore the rest. It doesn’t work that way, you have to interact with everyone,” he averred.
According to Kerr, that is an expensive experience he has learnt over time in his previous assignments all over the world.
He says the interaction is a deliberate effort that goes beyond individuals’ cultural barriers and lifestyle.
“For you to understand your club you need to go deep into people’s lifestyles, what they eat and how they react to situations.
“So you have to adapt, and be a mentor, a friend among the players,” he added.
Kerr is already looking forward to 2017 as he mulls how he can be able sustain the momentum they’ve built.
By the end of the season, six players will be out of contract including talismanic Rwandan international Jacques Tuyisenge.
The forward leads the KPL goal scoring charts with 12 goals following his hatrick against Kariobangi Sharks in their 3-1 win on Tuesday and has reportedly attracted attention from Rwandan giants APR. An agent from Kigali is said to be in the capital Nairobi pursuing his signature.
With continental action in sight next season, Kerr is out to ensure he retains his quality players.
“It is not good to change many players in a performing team unless it is unavoidable. If that has to happen then we have to bring others who can do even better.
“We have to be diligent in the transfers with the Champions League coming up next year, because we would love to compete strongly on the continental stage,” Kerr said.
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