Ashley Westwood faces fight to keep Penang job after five straight losses
Ashley Westwood could be the first coach to lose his job in the 2017 Malaysia Super League season after his Penang side were left red-faced after a 6-1 thrashing to Pahang on Saturday night.
The annihilation at the Darul Makmur Stadium meant the Panthers are the first team to have suffered five consecutive losses in the MSL since the league's inception in 2004.
Westwood's arrival in Penang was received with high expectations, especially after the former Manchester United trainee led Bengaluru FC to two I-League titles in three seasons until 2016.
But the Englishman's strict training regime, coupled with banning his players from media interviews, has not helped the troubled island state.
Their record of five games, five defeat, one goal scored and 11 against represents the worst ever start to a Malaysian season.
The optimism in Georgetown of a new coach, along with the presence of FIFA Puskas winner Faiz Subri, has faded in barely one month.
It was a different mood in the Pahang camp as coach Dollah Salleh hailed the performance of his players, who surged back to second spot in the table behind Kedah.
"I told the players during the interval, that they have it in them to go out there and kill off the game when we led 2-1. But I did not expect them to score six goals. This is a bonus for our loyal fans," Dollah told Berita Harian.
"We did well to bounce back after the Kedah loss, and hopefully we will continue this winning momentum in the coming games."
As Malaysia coach, Dollah was on the receiving end of one 10-0 and two 6-0 thrashings in 2015. But his successful return to club management at his former employers, Pahang, has seen the Kuantan-based club scored a league-best 14 goals to sit second on the MSL table.
Johor Darul Ta'zim coach Benjamin Mora, meanwhile, stressed there is no cause for panic after seeing his team's 25-match unbeaten run in the MSL come to an end after the 2-1 loss at Perak.
The defending champions, previously undefeated in the league in 2016, fell to goals from Vladislav Mirchev and Yashir Pinto as Perak secured a deserved victory.
"We are working hard to fix some areas. Some players take faster to adjust compared to others. But there is no pressure, we want to retain the title. There is a long way to go yet," said Mora.
Defeat leaves JDT in eighth, with a game in hand, after their earlier clash against Kelantan was postponed to allow them to prepare for the AFC Champions League playoff against Gamba Osaka on Feb. 7.
Felda United had been the last team to upstage JDT in the MSL when the Fighters won 2-1 on Aug. 22, 2015.
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