What exactly has gone wrong with Tivoli Gardens Football Club? Since Tivoli won the premier league title last season, they have only managed five wins in 18 starts this season. They have also suffered four straight losses and five in their last six games. Six straight draws and eight overall haven’t helped either.

The bigger problem is that the club’s management doesn’t seem to have an idea why the team has been performing so poorly. Tivoli currently lies seventh in the Red Stripe Premier League with 23 points not that far off cellar dwellers Village United, one of the four teams to inflict consecutive defeats on the defending champions. In fact, the last time Tivoli won two games in a row was in weeks five and six when they beat Portmore (1-0) and Harbour View (1-0) on October 9 and 16, respectively. Before that it was the first two weeks of the new season when they defeated Montego Bay United 2-1 on September 11, and then Arnett Gardens a week later by a similar scoreline. Two draws followed, then the other two wins. Since then it has been all downhill.

The week before the first end of round final that Tivoli lost 2-0 to Portmore United, their first loss of the season, their manager Brian Rose lamented the team’s poor form and their anemic goal scoring record. He revealed that the club has tried many remedies that were not bearing fruit. Since that time their goal scoring record has not improved either.

In 18 matches Tivoli has managed only 16 goals while conceding 18, not the way to defend a title. Coach Glendon ‘Admiral’ Bailey, suddenly under pressure, seemed to be grasping at straws when in responding to questions about the team’s losing streak, suggested that the team lacked motivation given that they had won title only six months before. That theory, however, holds little water according to Ryon Jones, sports reporter at the Gleaner who covers the premier league and whose incredible insight belies his tender age. Jones tells me he has spoken with players like veteran Navion Boyd and Kasai Hinds, who tell him that the players are motivated. They tell him that the players, old and new, are driven by the fact that no team has won back-to-back titles in more than a decade and they would like to achieve that objective.

Jones also offered his own views why he feels the defending champions are languishing near the bottom of the table. “My impression is there is a lack of discipline,” he said. Jones explains that Tivoli has had seven players red-carded so far this season as their efforts to ‘out-muscle’ opponents in midfield have backfired. Those counter-productive midfield efforts could be directly linked to the departure of inspirational midfield player Kemar Daley to Preston North End in August. Daley’s defense-splitting passes made Tivoli a potent attacking team last season. His replacements by and large may be a little out of their depth.

From all reports Marcelino Blackburn might be a little out of his depth and Mario Swaby needs to be a little less bustling and a bit more creative. So far neither has been able to fill Daley’s shoes in that position. What this does is add pressure to the already burdened strike force of Boyd and Mitchily Waul who between them have nine of Tivoli’s 16 goals this season. The trouble is that filling Daley’s role is not as easy as picking up a new player in the January transfer window.

As has become abundantly clear in recent years, creative midfield players like Daley and in the not too distant past, Walter Boyd and Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore, are as rare as the blueprint drawings of the great pyramids. Looking across the league there is hardly such a player anymore as has been pointed out by Gordon Williams in his recent piece in the Gleaner. With this in mind, what does Tivoli then do to turn their fortunes around?

Getting a creative midfielder is out of the question because they are extinct so solving the problem might not be as easy. If that is the case then other solutions have to be found. If not, it is not inconceivable that the losing will become a habit and we see what that has done to the West Indies cricket team. It is not somewhere Tivoli wants to be.

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  1. Porty says:

    This problem that is affecting Tivoli is not one that should be taken lightly because if that is the case on the Island the National Team will certainly suffer down the road a good example of this is England who have not produce any creative midfielder of quality in years thus they have not won anything in years. These kind of players are a vital part of any team just as the Spanish Federation, they have two of the best in the world. Look back into history all the great teams had one or two of these players. Teams needs to start looking more earnestly for these very skill and bright players future success depends on them. Good luck TG

  2. actually excellent issues here, just thank you

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2 comments so far
levyl Posted by: levyl December 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm