In the final match of the group stages of the 2012 Suzuki Cup, the Philippines defeated Myanmar handily, 2-nil, to advance to the knockout semifinals against Singapore. In the press room of the Supachalasai Stadium in downtown Bangkok, Hans Michael Weiss spoke to the assembled media. Two players joined him on the stage -- Angel Guirado and Phili Younghusband. He first took the opportunity to lambaste his critics before talking about the game and moving on to the next round.
About 15 minutes after the press con ended, I spoke with him outside the team's dugout. I extended my hand and exactly said, "Congratulations, coach. Fantastic win. For what it's worth, I hope that they extend you." He then bit my head off saying, "If I do not get it it is because of you who writes so many falsehoods about me."
I recoiled and said, "Okay, name me one article or argument that is false."
He paused for about 10 seconds and drank into his water bottle then said, "I cannot remember anything at the moment."
I replied, "You know whatever you say we only report it. You make the news not us. I come here to extend an olive branch but you bite my head off. You think that sat well with me and (name of another writer in the press room who will go unnamed) about what you said in the press con? Not at all. You just love making enemies of people, right? Okay. Le'ts keep it where it is." I turned and left.
Several days later while waiting for the pre-match press con in Singapore to begin, he arrived in a chartered car with the assistant coaches. He sees me at the entrance of the Jalan Besar Stadium and waves at me. He gets down and makes a beeline towards me to shake my hand. "I am sorry. Let's forget the past and start a new."
I said, "Fine with me." And since then I never said anything bad about him (until my latest column that comes out in today's Business Mirror). I was willing to let bygones be bygones.
Some people think I hated him. That is a strong word. I didn't like what he did for sure (and there is much more that I didn't write about) but I didn't hate him. It's like he personally did something to me. Can you say that I hated former PFF President Mari Martinez who I repeatedly exposed for his shenanigans? Pare, trabaho yun. And what ever happened to that case? Under wraps because Martinez is sick? That's the problem with this country and short-sighted idiots. You write something or say something opposed to them then you are against them. We have this culture of inculcating yes-men who look beyond the kalokohan. Blind loyalty. Marami yan kasi hindi sila mababasbasan.
When he first arrived in the Philippines, he was in the Azkals training camp in Bacolod when Dan Palami introduced Quinito Henson to him. Said Palami, "This is the most famous writer in the Philippines" to which Weiss said, "You must be Rick Olivares."
Henson called me from Bacolod after that. I was at a planning session in Ateneo and he recounted the story. Said the Dean, who is a very good friend and mentor, "Keep up the good work because people are reading." It was both amusing and heartwarming too. Thanks, Dean.
When I finally met Weiss for the first time in Panaad, it was two days before kick off against Mongolia. He warmly shook my hand and said,"At last, we meet and not talk through email." After practice, we spent two hours gabbing about football. The following day during the formal press con, he granted me another formal interview that lasted about 30 minutes.
You see, I broke the news that he was replacing Simon McMenemy. We (Weiss and I) exchanged emails even before I wrote about the news.
I supported coach through those early months before I gradually began to change my mind about him. Despite my thoughts that something was wrong, I remained a supporter. If I heard complaints from players I didn't readily believe because people always complain. But then I began to see them with my own two eyes. I still kept it to myself and exchanged notes and thoughts with people I trusted within and from outside the team.
During the Kuwait away match, in the post-match press con, Chiqui Roa of TV5 asked me why I thought coach should have made earlier substitutions and not very late in the game. I told Chiqui that around the 70th minute with nothing going for us, he should have pulled out Chieffy Caligdong and Angel Guirado. We need to get going and bring in someone who can turn the tide. As it was, Simon Greatwich entered in the 86th minute and didn't have an impact. Worse, he got carded so it didn't help. Weiss overheard the conversation and later spoke with me very nicely. It was a good exchange. I said I do not mean to tell you what to do. They are just my thoughts nothing more. He said it is fine. But I have to be careful because not everyone is knowledgeable about the game." Point taken.
The plane ride going back to Manila was telling. The players (they felt the strategy was wrong and that there were tactical mistakes) were all angry at Weiss. In the airport, during the stopover at Dubai, at the carousel to claim their baggage, and upon arrival in Manila, they all stood apart from him. One player who knew I always had candy in my backpack asked if he could have some. I handed it over to him and he asked if he could share it worth all. There was a lot so I said go ahead. He gave everyone except the coach. I stood by and watched it all (as I usually do because I am an observant person). Personally, I felt bad for Weiss.
But over time, the situation got worse to the point where the players were now all venting and getting angry. And I looked into things deeper.
That begs the question, why didn't the players come out in the open. The Younghusband brothers were the closest. But you know why? FEAR. Look at what happened to Anton del Rosario's being vocal. He got removed. The others were afraid they'd be removed by the powers that be if they spoke up. What kind of climate do we have here when in one's own country they are afraid? It's like that in this goddam country. You say the truth and you're the bad guy because people want to keep the status quo. You take a dissenting opinion and you are out. Fascist pigs.
Some will say, ah kasi I am getting even because I was no longer being given scoops or what. You know that is absolutely false and whoever says that is a fucking idiot. I think I have proved even from the outside I get everything. I do not need to be on the inside to know and hear of things or even to write about them. At least hindi ako palamunin.
Does it give me pleasure in writing what I did? No. Not at all. It is a tragedy in fact. You want people to succeed. But as I wrote, there was just far too much (and what I wrote is only the tip of the iceberg) that it wasn't going to get better.
Think of it like Jose Mourinho in his last year with Real Madrid (and the Portuguese won a bunch of silverware in Madrid in his short stay there). There was far too much going on with him that a divorce became the only solution.