Kocaman replaced German coach Christoph Daum, who was politely dismissed from the İstanbul club, receiving a large amount of compensation before leaving in accordance with his contract.
Kocaman was appointed a sporting director to Fenerbahçe last season, and he will do both jobs at the same time this season. During the signing ceremony, Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım said they had been saying all along that one day Kocaman would coach the team, but it happened earlier than they expected.
The Fenerbahçe board’s decision about Kocaman did not come as a surprise since it had already been speculated that he would take over the post from Daum, and he was accused of cutting the German coach from the team. However, the change of guard at Fenerbahçe reminded all football disciples of legendary Fener players who assumed the coaching position following the dismissal of foreign trainers.
In 1999 Rıdvan Dilmen, dubbed “the devil,” succeeded German coach Joachim Löw, who is currently coaching the German national football team in the World Cup, and he survived for only five weeks.
Dilmen was shown the door even though Fener did not lose a single domestic league match during his short tenure. But the team lost a European cup match, and that was deemed enough to send “the devil” packing.
Another former Fener footballer, Turhan Sofuoğlu, took over from Czech-Italian coach Zdenek Zeman, and he survived 18 weeks. Oğuz Çetin, the Turkish national football team’s current assistant coach, was brought to the helm in the 2002-2003 season, following the departure of German coach Werner Lorant. But like his predecessors, his days were numbered from the very beginning and he survived only 10 weeks.
Recalling the case of Dilmen, former Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray player Semih Yuvakuran said the real problem for coaches with a Fenerbahçe background is that they are from the “Fener family” and can easily be dismissed without compensation. “These coaches become easy prey because they cannot set conditions for the board,” he told Sunday’s Zaman.
Yuvakuran is quite optimistic about Kocaman’s success, saying Fenerbahçe would not have lost the league title in the last match if Kocaman was coaching the team back then. “This is a belated decision. Aykut is an experienced coach. He will be successful as long as the administration is behind him. I hope both the Fenerbahçe administration and the fans will be twice as patient as they were with Daum,” he explained.
Yuvakuran also said Fenerbahçe is not patient about Turkish coaches in any case. “If Turkish coaches, such as Oğuz, had been allowed to stay, it would have been a much different for both Fenerbahçe and them. With Kocaman, it won’t be worse than the Daum period.”
Give Kocaman a chance
The Zaman daily’s sports editor, Mahmut Serkan Akcan, also interpreted Kocaman taking over the Fener helm as a positive situation. While noting that Fenerbahçe suffered from tremendous chaos during Daum’s era, Akcan told Sunday’s Zaman that the tension between footballers and the coaches removed the loving atmosphere in the team.
“Although Daum thinks he was successful, the situation was quite the opposite because the criteria for success for the big teams is winning trophies and titles. Kocaman was already the team’s sporting director; however, he could not establish control over the team since Daum was an obstacle. Now the road is wide open for him,” he stated.
Akcan does not think Kocaman’s mission will end in a fiasco like the previous coaches who were Fenerbahçe stars. “Kocaman has proved himself as a coach. He had successful seasons with Turkcell Super League teams like İstanbulspor, Ankaraspor and Malatyaspor. He was a Fenerbahçe administrator and has learned very much indeed. Therefore, there is no bad blood between Kocaman and the footballers. In other words, the Fenerbahçe squad will not regard him as a stranger. I think he will be successful.”
Dilmen, Çetin have faith in Kocaman
Dilmen and Çetin think Kocaman will be successful with Fenerbahçe, expressing their happiness at seeing him as the new coach. In his column in the Milliyet daily, Dilmen said many people wanted to see Kocaman coach the team last season but that he came as a sporting director and stayed backstage. “Every former Fener footballer aims to become a coach one day. Kocaman never let the club, fans or players down. As a result he got the coaching job,” Dilmen said, also underlining that he was proud of Kocaman.
On his way to South Africa to follow World Cup matches on Thursday, Çetin stated that he believes Kocaman will show why he is different. “I wish all success to my friend in his new job. I believe that he will handle this with his experience and knowledge. Aykut went through an important process. He knows what the team needs. I talked to him and congratulated him,” he further stated.