Kennedy tips Diamond to shine
June 15, 2011
Steve Diamond recently enjoyed a short stint in charge of Russia © Getty Images
Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy is in no doubt that Steve Diamond is capable of turning the club into a major force in the Aviva Premiership once again.
The Sharks claimed their maiden domestic title in 2006 but they failed to build on that success and have been languishing at the wrong end of the table for the past couple of seasons, only narrowly avoiding relegation last summer before finishing a disappointing 10th this time around.
Kennedy, who has invested millions in the club since assuming control in 2000, freely admits that he has found the going tough of late but now believes that Diamond, the former Sale prop who returned to Edgeley Park as director of sport in the middle of last season, is the man to restore the Sharks' to their former glories.
"My enthusiasm and belief isn't as strong as when we won the Premiership because, frankly, success breeds that motivation and enthusiasm," Kennedy told the Manchester Evening News. "It's been two very tough years and myself and the shareholders have had to financially support the club.
"It's much easier to do that when you are winning so I am not as enthusiastic as I have been. But I have great hopes for the future and hopefully when we're out there next season beating sides we haven't beaten for the past two years I will feel a lot better about it.
"Sport is different to business strategy. It's all about what you do on the park as that dictates how you fare off the pitch. You are only as good as your director of rugby and if that guy is not right you are going to struggle.
"Sometimes it's difficult to determine who is going to be right for you but, hopefully, in Steve we have got the right man now.
"I think Steve and I are very similar. We're great to have as a friend but not as an enemy. Steve and I have been arch enemies for the past few years because while he was working for a rival club in Northampton I viewed him as the enemy.
"But best enemies can become the greatest of friends and that's the way we are now. I have a lot of respect for Steve - I love his passion and his aggression and I like him as a person which helps as well. We do get on well socially and our motives for the future are very much aligned and that makes it all the more exciting. In fact, the last time I was this excited was when Philippe Saint-Andre came in. I'm looking at the pack Steve has assembled and I'm thinking we're not going to get bullied out there.
"I think Steve and I agree that the timing was just right for him to come back. I think any sooner he wouldn't have been ready - any later and we would have missed an opportunity. He's got great experience in recruiting top players, he's a very, very good general manager and he's bringing those disciplines and that level of organisation and spirit into the club and I'm delighted to have him on board."
The rot really set in at Sale following the departure of title-winning coach Saint-Andre for Toulon in the summer of 2009. Kingsley Jones and Mike Brewer both subsequently failed to bring stability and unity to the club over the course of the next two years and Kennedy admits that neither man was up to the task.
"From the past two years, I've learnt what I've always known, which is to do well at a sports club you have to get the coach right. I knew that before and that's why we ended up winning the Premiership in 2006 because in Philippe I got the coach right," he said.
"But next time we need to be thinking much more long term than winning for a few seasons. What I now know is that the coaches who were in there prior to Steve were not right but you only find that out when you put them in there."
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