Barely three months into his appointment, Pahang coach Ronald Smith became the first "managerial casualty" of the season after parting ways by mutual agreement.
Smith, a former technical director of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) from 1999 to 2002, confirmed yesterday that he is no longer the head coach and will be returning to Australia today.
Disappointment was written all over his face as Smith, who led Pahang to victory in the Charity Shield on Jan 17, said the decision was mutually agreed to by both parties.
"The Pahang Football Association (PFA) president (Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah) and I have agreed to cancel the contract because of differences over football philosophy and team management. There can only be one person in charge so it's best I leave.
"No hard feelings but I am disappointed. I have enjoyed coaching the team and had a strong relationship with my assistant (Zainal Abidin Hassan) and the players," he said after bidding farewell to the players and coaching staff at the Taman Gelora training ground yesterday.
The 64-year-old said he was saddened that things did not work out as he had expected.
"Maybe there were differences on how the management and I wanted things for the team. No hard feelings on my part for as a coach anything can happen in football and I must be prepared to face the situation.
"As for now, I do not have any plans and will return to Australia to continue and complete some things which have been left unattended, including managing my website," said Smith.
His departure will see Zainal, who guided Pahang to the Super League title in 2004, taking over the duties and he has pledged to continue Smith's unfinished mission.
"The management instructed me to take over the team after our match against Terengganu last month and I am only following their instructions.
"I know the players well and I hope they will be able to give their full commitment to help the team excel," said Zainal, who has been conducting training sessions since March 1.
Read more: Smith parts way with Pahang - Soccer - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/sports/soccer/smith-parts-way-with-pahang-1.498956#ixzz2vAvdgVay