BY BONG PEDRALVEZ
"SO, are you also questioning my decisions now?" German coach Michael Weiss snapped at this surprised writer as we tried to greet him on a rainy Tuesday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium pitch just before the Philippine Azkals started practice.
With his solid 6-foot-2 frame and sporting a black bull cap, black jacket and black shorts, the 45-year-old mentor struck an imposing and intimidating figure, indeed.
But once Weiss settled down, he explained his exasperation was not aimed at yours truly but at armchair critics and pundits who had tried to second-guess his moves in the nationals’ 0-3 loss to Kuwait in the first leg of the second round of the Asian World Cup qualifiers in Kuwait City last Saturday.
"These people keep questioning my decisions but they were not aware of the realities that forced us to make these decisions in Kuwait," Weiss said. "All they need to do is talk to me and I could have told them why but all they do is just criticize."
Some of these so-called football experts, he said, had questioned why he had not made any substitutions late in the match when it was apparent that some of his key players like Angel Guirado, who was at the receiving end of several vicious tackles, Chieffy Caligdong and Phil Younghusband were either tired or hurting.
"And who would you have me replace them with," he asked, adding his four other players on the bench were all strikers while (defender) Roel Gener was also injured.
"Had I done so, the score might have been easily 8-0. We were up against a superior squad which had been together for years but I have only had my team for six months, so we did what had to be done," he said.
"I have coached all over the world and have given my best to the Azkals, who have made great progress given the time we have had with them, and yet it isn’t even enough," added Weiss, who has had coaching stints with China’s Under-20 and Rwanda’s Under-17 national teams and in the J-League on top of internship with Real Madrid and Arsenal.
"Now I am beginning to understand the crab mentality in this country," he said, referring to the Filipinos’ nasty habit of bringing other people down whom they see rising in prominence or popularity.
"I am the coach and have to make the hard decisions. If you want to question my actions, approach me and I will explain why but just do not criticize until you know the reason why," the German coach said. "If you are not satisified, that’s fine but please don’t criticize just for the sake of criticizing.
"These people are not even part of the coaching circle where we discuss all our field decisions," he said. "If they were in my difficult shoes I wonder what they would have done."