Bencherifa and Steinebrunner to join forces at Warriors' FC
S.League's most successful club will see Bencherifa and Steinebrunner operate together
They were on opposite sides just 13 days ago, when Geylang International surprised the local football fraternity by thumping Warriors FC 6-0, but now Eagles coach Jorg Steinebrunner has jettisoned the green and white to join Karim Bencherifa in a unique revamp at the army side.
The 2014 S.League champions will start next season with two coaches who have led teams on their own, but will be sharing responsibilities in the framework of a new Warriors' initiative - a technical department.
While the Moroccan will lead the nine-time S.League champions in the S.League and the RHB Singapore Cup, Steinebrunner will pay attention to the Prime League side and all youth development initiatives - as well as take charge of the senior squad in the League Cup tournament.
Bencherifa took charge of the Warriors with five games left of the 2015 season, after the departure of 2014 S.League title-winning coach Alex Weaver.
Warriors officials reveal that their technical department, led by Bencherifa and Steinebrunner and also includes their Centres of Excellence coaches, will make joint decisions, but will be governed by the baseline of a club football philosophy.
"I don't think the Warriors have ever done this before, most clubs haven't, but we're quite willing to give it a shot," said Warriors' chairman Lam Shiu Tong.
"Both of them have their strengths, and we want to harness both.
"At the moment, I can share that there are more positives than negatives."
There have been a few such partnerships in European football: Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier at Liverpool in 1998, as well as Sami Hyypia and Sascha Lewandowski at Bayer Leverkusen from 2012 to 2014.
Both eventually ended with one half of the partnership resigning, and it is something the Warriors are aware of.
"There is a risk for the management committee. They (Bencherifa and Steinebrunner) are two alpha males but, in any football club, you'll find several alpha males who are concerned with the pecking order, that kind of thing," said Lam.
"But we're going in with eyes open and they're both professionals, who are going in with clear intent, and end goals."
Steinebrunner believes the partnership can be a success.
"Karim and I worked together in 2005, at a time I was relatively fresh, and over the years I've gained more experience, but we're not breaking new ground here," said the German, recalling his stint as Bencherifa's assistant at the now-defunct Woodlands Wellington.
They led the club to third position in the S.League and the final of the Singapore Cup then.
"If you take away job titles and if you have two people on the bench who are knowledgeable, have the same philosophy, and can work on the training pitch, people will say that is great.
"We will challenge each other, but that is only positive. If all you say is yes, yes, yes, to every idea, you will bring nothing to the team. I don't think any coach will appreciate that.
Bencherifa, who revealed that at one time there was a real possibility that he would have taken the reins at the Courts Young Lions after Aide Iskandar's resignation at the South-east Asia Games, is excited about the Warriors prospect.
"The football scene here is very different now than when I was here about 10 years ago and I consider myself a new guy here," said the 47-year-old Moroccan.
"The (Young Lions) opportunity didn't materialise and the new guy needs an opportunity to show what he can do."
He held no hard feelings from watching his Warriors fall 6-0 to Steinebrunner's Geylang and is looking forward to 2016.
"It won't be hard to work with him, we've worked together before," said Bencherifa.
"Warriors are a big club and, if given the right circumstances, we can take the club back to the top."