As with all the seasons in our beloved Absa Premiership, the coaching merry-go-round is in full force just a month into the 2014/15 season. We love the transfer window because we get to see exactly which player will be playing where, but we have developed this sense of anticipation on who will be the first coach to be shown the door once the season gets underway. The first man to fall victim was Cavin Johnson of SuperSport United.
Now Johnson had a poor run of results, but I did not expect Matsatsantsa to fire him. Firstly because he is seen as one of the most tactically gifted coaches in the country, and just seems to be one of those coaches who are able to work with “no-name” players. The second reason is that SuperSport is not known to be a team that chops and changes their coaches. They are traditionally lenient with coaches and they keep them on a long term basis. Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt can attest to this.
Speaking to their CEO Stan Matthews last week, he told me that Johnson was always on thin ice when you consider the games he lost last season, and reckons they provided him enough time to turn things around. To be fair, they did get in some key signings in the middle of last season and in the recent transfer window, but their fortunes still weren’t reversed. Boebie Solomons was to follow in the unemployed coaches’ camp, when his bosses at Polokwane City decided that their 3-0 loss to Orlando Pirates was the last straw in their poor start to the campaign. Solomons has guided the Limpopo side to only one win and four losses.
Now when you consider the fact that they fought for their lives in the play-offs at the end of last season, you sort of understand the anxiety and where the panic comes from. But then again I seem to remember them huffing and puffing last season before the former Santos coach was brought in, and did somewhat stabilize the team. Yes, he could not avoid the play-offs, but he emerged victorious in the end. Who knows, with a little patience he might have started picking up points and reached a much safer position. But like we always say, football is a business and although some risks work, some just don’t.
Now by a show of hands, who knew that Chippa United will make it into this blog? This club has what we call a revolving door, and somewhere inside all of us, we knew that Kosta Papic will not last at the recently Port Elizabeth-based club, although we were hoping he would. I had even adopted Chippa this season, purely because I love Papic’s style of play. Who can forget the incredible time he had at Orlando Pirates around 2004 and 2005? They were playing the most attractive football.
Last season at Black Leopards he showed he still had that same fire, although he didn’t have the likes of Francis Chansa, Tso Vilakazi, Steve Lekoelea, Lebohang Mokoena, Joseph Makhanya, Jimmy Tau, and the late Gift Leremi at his disposal. Although he could not secure promotion with ‘Lidoda Duvha’, he showed that he is a coach that belongs in the top division of SA football. The difference now with Chippa United and their coach going separate ways is that he was not fired, and apparently resigned after a disagreement surrounding the appointment of a Technical Director. If I was Mr Chippa Mpengesi, and hear that a coach of Papic’s stature does not want a ‘shadow’, I would just let the idea go and keep the coach. But we all know I’m not him. I don’t have that kind of money yet.
So with all this going on, these clubs got new coaches. SuperSport acquired the services of former Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund, and I must admit, I think Gordon will do well there. He is a quality coach, who knows how to win championships. But more importantly for Matsatsantsa right now, he also knows how to save teams from the chop. Papic has move up north to Polokwane, and having done so well the last time he was in Limpopo, he will settle right in and hope to lift the club up the log. There are other coaches who are just hanging on for dear life in the Absa Premiership, and one that tops that list is Craig Roslee of AmaZulu. Roslee needs to wave a magic wand at Usuthu, and fast if he is to see the season out in Durban. One thing I know is that there’s always coaching drama in the league, and I’m looking forward to the next episode.