There’s a reason why we are Nigeria’s most successful club side. I dare add to that by also saying that (although our management
sucks can get better), we still remain Nigeria’s biggest club side. Yes we aren’t playing at home, and yes we have no website, and fans can’t find replica jerseys to buy – we have managed to stay big on one front.
Four seasons ago, we battled the title with Kano Pillars which they won. The year afterward, it was Pillars and us again – they also won. They actually hoisted that title in Aba. Then the year after that it was us and Warri Wolves and Sunshine Stars (who even disappeared into thin air before they mounted anything like a challenge). We won that title.
Last season was a brief exception and even at that we managed to stay within touching distance before our frail attempt at a challenge disappeared. But we were in the mix somehow – same can’t be said for the rest of the folks that we battled it with the previous seasons. Warri Wolves and Kano Pillars and Sunshine Stars and Nasarawa United – nowhere to be found.
Last season was Rangers and Rivers United who finished first and second respectively. It was a “once in a blue moon” appearance for both sides and well this season, everyone now knows their true quality ***tongue out. Bottom half, relegation – that 3SC kinda thingy. That’s where they both truly belong.
Somehow we do enough to stay within touching distance of the title every year. Remarkable consistency. Teams see us as a threat and if people are allowed to make preseason predictions, a good majority will have us in the title mix annually. That is no mean feat. This season, we see names like Plateau United, MFM and El-Kanemi Warriors in the enviable spots but look no far cos Enyimba is right there now in the thick of things.
Being able to consistently challenge for the title annually is a factor that has made it silly for anyone to look at us as anything but a big team. Of course challenging for title and the quality of our play (shouldn’t be but they actually) are two different things. It does remind me of what Emma Anyanwu told me when I interviewed with him a few years ago. He said, when a player comes to Enyimba, there’s an orientation – he is told expressly by the older players that this team wins things. So all unseriousness is pushed aside and he is schooled in no small measure that Enyimba is all about winning for the fans. And this is why we are the biggest team in the country.
No doubt, we could use some quality coaching and consistent improvements. The suits in the boardroom must let this “bigness” seep into other areas of the team. Proper marketing and merchandise, better scouting and player development. Beef up and invest in our media team. Improve our structure and help the fans get closer to the club. All of this is necessary in the quest to build a truly big clubside.