Australian Michael Nobbs has been sacked as the chief coach of the Indian hockey team for non-performance, becoming the fourth foreign coach to be shown the door before completion of the full tenure.
Hockey India Secretary General Narinder Batra said that Nobbs' contract has been terminated, almost three years before it was to expire. Roelant Oltmans, who is currently the High Performance Manager, has been given charge of the team until a new coach is appointed.
Batra, however, claimed it was the Australian who decided to quit as he felt that he was not doing justice to his job.
"He himself had offered to resign during a meeting with Roelant Oltmans. There were some issues with his coaching style. Oltmans felt there were some areas in which we were lacking and Nobbs was not being able to rectify them and not producing the desired results," Batra said.
"Accordingly, we have informed the SAI that we are not willing to avail his services anymore. For the time being Oltmans will take the additional responsibility of coaching the men's team. He will be in charge of the team till we find a suitable replacement which might take 2 to 3 months time," he added.
Sports Authority of India Director General Jiji Thomson said that Nobbs' contract was terminated yesterday after giving him a month's notice period.
"There was a clause in his (Nobbs) contract which states that we can stop availing his services by giving one month's notice. So, accordingly we informed him and gave him the notice period yesterday," Thomson.
Thomson said SAI decided to discontinue Nobbs' services on the recommendation of Hockey India.
"Hockey India approached us saying that Nobbs had expressed his desire to be relieved from his duties due to non-performance. As Nobbs was under SAI's payroll, we had to take the final decision," the SAI DG said.
Nobbs, who took over the charge in 2011, was offered a five-year contract and a handsome salary, but his association with Indian hockey lasted merely two years and finally ended on a bitter note.
Before Nobbs, Spaniard Jose Brasa, Australian Ric Charlesworth and Germany's Gerhard Rach coached the Indian side but were pushed out due to several issues.
Nobbs was looked upon as someone who can cure Indian hockey, but the Australian failed to change the fortunes of the past masters of the game.
The only highlight of Nobbs' tenure was India's qualification for last year's London Olympics after having missed the Beijing edition of the Games.
But since then there was no significant change in the performance of the team as eight-time champions India returned with a wooden spoon from London Olympics.
Nobbs came under further scrutiny after India failed to book a direct ticket for the World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands scheduled for May-June, 2014, finishing a lowly sixth out of eight teams in last month's FIH World League semi-final at Rotterdam.
Hinting that Hockey India was not impressed with Nobbs' performance, Batra said it was a mutual decision to part ways with the Australian.
Batra said there was no point in continuing with a coach who lacked motivation and commitment.
"We felt he is not motivated anymore. He seemed to have been lacking in motivation as well as commitment. A national team can't be coached by somebody who is not motivated and committed," the HI secretary general said.
"So we both parties felt it's time for us to move on," he said.
Batra said Nobbs is presently in his home country Australia and HI will give him a "graceful" farewell once he returns next week to settle his papers.
"He is presently in Australia. He is coming back on July 14th. It is not that we are pushing him out. We will send him in a graceful manner," Batra said.
Meanwhile, the SAI DG said it had received HI's recommendation to appoint M K Kaushik as a coach with the men's hockey team only on Tuesday and it might take a week's time to come to a final decision.
"Kaushik's recommendation has come to us on Tuesday. We don't have any problem in appointing him, but we need to take the Sports Ministry's approval. We will send his file to the Sports Ministry and if cleared within a week's time his appointment should be finalised," Thomson said.