Chiefs botch Tau fallout
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Kaizer Chiefs did themselves no favours with the manner of the handling of the fallout of Jimmy Tau affair in the media.
The issue is not so much the sacking of the fullback as captain as it is the mis-information that the club put into the public domain thereafter … and then the botched attempts to try rectify it.
It is now widely accepted Tau had a disagreement with his coach Vladimir Vermezovic. Some described it as a “blow up”, others a “dressing down” but there was certainly a 'chat' after the loss to Lamontville Golden Arrows in Polokwane between the coach, the captain and also in the presence of assistant coach Donald 'Ace' Khuse where the coach criticised Tau’s lack of leadership, specifically around the last minute penalty that was missed in the game and which effectively end the club’s unbeaten record in the league.
The next day, details of the altercation became public, a scoop for Mazola Molefe in the Times newspaper. Chiefs then began a witch-hunt to find the leak, at one stage reportedly threatening players with a fine.
They also fingered Tau about the source of information to the reporter but he denied it. Chiefs then issued statements denying any confrontation or the story Tau had resigned as skipper.
Chiefs might have been right to deny Tau had not e-mailed a resignation letter but their protestations about there being no confrontation between coach and captain were misleading.
When Tau was dropped for the next game against Black Leopards, it was obvious the coach was taking a stance on discipline and sending a strong message to the players and fans.
That is his right. Discipline is paramount to holding his team together for their bid for the title. It is his third and final year of Vermezovic’s contract. Any continued stay at Chiefs is dependent on his winning the league in May.
But the coach muddied the waters by skirting round the issue, particularly on TV before and after the win over Leopards.
He tried to explain Tau’s absence as part of giving others in the squad an opportunity. Given Tau missed just one league game all of last season it was a far from plausible rationale and effectively mocks the intelligence of supporters.
Had Vermezovic told the real story, that Tau had been dropped and stripped of the captaincy after the failure to take charge of the situation when the late penalty was awarded in the Arrows game, it would have been accepted by fans, probably even applauded for its signal of strength. Chiefs’ fans know strong coaches bring success, like Joe Frickleton and Jeff Butler previously.
Then came the announcement of a new captain and, somewhat laughably, a committee to assist Itumeleng Khune. Another world first for South African football!
That became an even bigger story, as clarity on what happened between Tau and the coach remained elusive.
What were Chiefs scared of? It is common cause that there are dressing room bust ups in the world of football almost every day. It is part of the passion that makes it such a great game. Alex Ferguson famously had one with David Beckham and so on.
By midweek the whole Chiefs issue - which frankly is a silly storm over nothing - was flooding the airwaves and so Chiefs called a press conference to try and ‘clear the air’. Instead Bobby Motaung seems to have hurt the sensibilities of supporters and Vermezovic went on about Gaddafi. It read like the circus had come to town.
So much so that Kaizer Motaung stepped in to apologise. But if you scan the social media this weekend that hasn’t helped much either. Supporters want Bobby to say sorry.
Chiefs have a big brand to protect; the overwhelming support it enjoys from the South African populace is a ready cash cow. Given that, you think they would figure transparency to be the best PR policy.Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.
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