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PSL Clubs Need To Be Realistic About Coaches…

Yes, there are coaches who I do believe resign from their jobs. Pep Guardiola made a decision to leave Barcelona. There was speculation that the players’ egos and the success they enjoyed under Pep had made them unmanageable, closed to new ideas and against the idea of working harder and so Pep left, looking for a new challenge with a fresh team.

There’s also Sir Alex Ferguson who stepped down at Manchester United, on his own terms, at the right time. These two resignations I understand.

Clinton Larsen and Manqoba Mngqithi reportedly resigning from their jobs when there are no other jobs available right now… not so much.

Yes, the silly season is upon us, and it’s come a little earlier than usual this season with management hitting the ejector seat button on their coaches after just six rounds of league games.

Now you may say, “But the articles said they resigned!” Yes, the articles certainly did, but I think the real story in this case is found when you read between the lines. I think what has happened here is that the clubs have put pressure on the coaches to meet mandates that are perhaps a little unreasonable, considering that both these clubs are in the business of selling their best players at the end of each season, and so any demands to finish in the top half of the table are really a little unrealistic. Especially when you look at the quality of the squads being assembled and the money being spent by the likes of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns, SuperSport United, Wits and Moroka Swallows. No disrespect to Celtic or Arrows but in comparison, Arrows and Celtic’s aims should be just staying out of the dogfight at the bottom of the table and not much more.

In football, when a coach jumps rather than being pushed, it may to a certain extent allow him to leave with his reputation somewhat more intact. Larsen will be able to walk away and say that what he did, he did for the sake of the club and its fans and that it was the right time to leave. Mngqithi has said something similar already and this exit strategy will more than likely see them pop up at some other PSL club around the halfway mark of the season when more club owners start jettisoning their coaching staff. But were their resignations really what was best for these clubs?

Make no mistake, I’m happy to see a fresh face in the PSL. Mark Harrison may not be a big name coach just yet. And we did see glimpses of what he could do when given ‘Missions Impossible’ with Mpumalanga Black Aces and Chippa United in the PSL. But his CV stacks up well against all the big name coaches in the league, and he is more than likely a better qualified coach than many of the journeyman coaches in the PSL that are recycled on a regular basis.

That said, looking at Golden Arrows and Bloemfontein Celtic, one has to wonder if it is the coach that is the problem, or if the problem is not further up the totem pole.

I say this because teams like Celtic, Arrows and Ajax Cape Town seem to think that coaches can make up for the deficiencies they create in their teams when they sell their best players. And the truth is, no matter the reputation of your club, no matter how long you have been in the league, there is a time to sell and do great business, and there is a time to consolidate, to hold on to strength or at least replace it with like for like players.
  
The club models that are based on ‘selling’ are going to find it increasingly difficult to hold their own in the PSL. When you let Dominic Isaacs, Letladi Madubanyaand Lennox Bacela go, you better bring in a rock at the back and some firepower upfront or you are going to hurt. If you are going to allow Musa Bilankulu and Thamsanqa Gabuza to go, make sure you are prepared for life without them. Coaches can only do so much and no more. Yes, now and then an inspirational team talk will allow an inferior team of eleven players to beat a superior team. But the law of averages will ensure that over the length of the season, the weak will fall behind. Not even the mighty Manchester United, who have a very average squad, will buck this trend in the EPL this season.

The next PSL club that in my opinion will expect unrealistic outcomes from a squad that is currently ravaged by injury is Maritzburg United. However, if Maritzburg United create a situation where Ernst Middendorp decides to resign, I believe it would be like booking a one-way ticket to the relegation show at the end of the season. If there is one coach whose planning is impeccable and who works very hard at the game, it is Ernst Middendorp, and I sincerely hope he is not the next coach to get the boot.

The PSL is getting stronger every season, and the sooner club bosses realise this, the sooner the expectations placed on good club coaches will become more realistic.

Shapa, Clint

Follow me on Twitter: @SoccaClint

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