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Fatih Terim: Delusive Success of the Emperor

Mert Conker has a critical look at Fatih Terim’s managerial career and outlines why he thinks the time has come for Terim to hang up his boots.

Terim 2016

Fatih Terim is the most successful and well-known manager of Turkey with his achivements with Galatasaray in 2000 and national team in the 2008 European Championship. However, it seems like the emperor of Turkish football has been beaten by his own arrogance. The recently concluded European Championship has shown us that Mr. Terim’s methods are no longer reliable. Screaming nonsense, attacking referees, controlling media with such power and keeping players just for obeying you cannot bring success. Despite such a shameful Euro 2016, he is still the victim. People no longer believe in his fatherly attitude on the sideline. They want to see results.

Tactical Inability

Recently, Andrea Pirlo mentioned in his autobiography that Terim did not have sufficient tactical knowledge to work at the top level. His latest managerial achievements are with Galatasaray between 2011 and 2013. In the first time in his long managerial career, he managed to get through to second leg in Champions league and won the Turkish league but still, something was missing. Nobody knew what the tactical plan on the pitch was! We used to see a team fully motivated to attack the opponent in any possible way. Galatasaray wanted to play the game in opponents’ half with high pressure, high defensive line and create a maximum possible confusion for the opponent. They would try to create such positions with gifted players like Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba but it was obvious that there were no plan in terms of tactics, the only plan was to create highly motivated players. Did it work? For that time yes and I absolutely have no problem with his methods in terms of tactics. The problem is with his behavior.

Always dressing up in flashy suits, talking highly about himself, never guilty when it comes to failure of his teams. Take for example; EURO 2016. Although he says that he is ready to face and accept consequences of any possible failure on TV screens, in reality he never does. He always manages to get undeserved and inflated salaries. It feels like someone in the Turkish FA is willing to ignore, and indeed defend his failures. The EURO 2016 was the final straw. Because of sizable egos of some so called star players and Mr. Terim, most of the Turkish nation lost faith in the national team. At this stage, national team games simply do not excite us anymore because we know that he will find a way to blame someone else and this failure of Terim will go unpunished. In my opinion, Terim feels that there is no authority in Turkish football who can judge his teams, results and failures.

Second Journey with Galatasaray

Let’s go back to his second Galatasaray adventure. I only want to give one little detail about this era and I hope you will understand my point. After he was sacked by Milan, he started his second journey with Galatasaray following a long holiday. The team had qualified to the second round in the Champions League, shown great character in the last two seasons before his arrival but after the appointment, the board gave him full authority on transfers. Cimbom got stuck in the last position in the Champions League, conceded 6 goals to main rival Fenerbahçe and he got sacked before the end of the season. The team finished the season in 6th position in an average league like the Turkish Super league. More importantly, he left the club having broken the system which was first built by Jupp Derwall in middle 80’s.

A Statistical Viewpoint

If we are to talk in absolutes, we can see that his name simply cannot be mentioned along with the best. You cannot mention him when it comes to Champions league. He did qualify to quarter-finals with Gala once, but that alone does not makes you a Champions League quality manager. For the national team, he is way behind Yanal and Güneş in terms of statistics but still gets the most attention. For me the main reason is, he knows the Turkish people very well and give us what we want and not what we need from our national team manager. He always blames others and creates chaos. After EURO 2016, he blamed the entire nation by saying we couldn’t prepare well as a nation for this tournament. He wants to conduct the national team with chaos, otherwise he doesn’t have any chance to be there with his tactical knowledge, or lack thereof, and unimpressive career. Perhaps, chaos is the only way he knows. On the other hand, he has always tried to stay away from any possible rivalry with Mustafa Denizli and Şenol Güneş. He never wanted to face with them in Turkish league. Losing against them would have been a huge blow to his ego.

Media Embargo

He has tremendous effect on media. He can control the news to prevent having to own up to inevitable failure. If he manages Galatasaray and he realises that he will fail, then the media takes control and provides an easy way out for Mr. Terim. Wherever he goes, be it the national team or Galatasaray, it’s all same. The media protects him and provides him with a safe way out from any job. Some media members quite like and respect him while others are afraid of him. There is a huge love and hate relation between Terim and Turkish press but you can rarely see a bad reflection in the media about him.

Consequently, everyone should respect him as he knows what he wants and he has created an environment to obtain what he needs. This might be a hugely critical article about him but I can assure you I have utmost respect for him. He is smart and has his own ways to get the business done. But in the end, his era has now ended and it’s time for retirement. It may be almost impossible for him because he cannot let anyone else control Turkish football. Having said that, I hope he can see the reality and step down as he is not good enough to manage either the national team or Galatasaray with his current methods.


Mert Conker


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