Johannesburg - Forget what happened when Highlands Park knocked out Chippa United from the Telkom Knockout – Highlands’ new coach Gordon Igesund’s fate will be decided by how well he does in the league campaign.
The fact that it took Highlands Park management less than 24 hours to decide on Igesund shows the desperation the PSL newcomers are feeling.
Highlands Park director Sinky Mnisi said the club’s decision had to be quick as they could not wait and risk more damage being done.
“We decided this on Sunday and implemented it on Monday‚” said Mnisi.
“By Sunday, after the drubbing, we decided we had to move forward.”
The multiple league-winning coach has been brought in to stabilise the team and retain its league status.
Mnisi confirmed that Igesund’s target set by the club is “very simple – to stay in the PSL. Top eight would be a bonus. To stay in the PSL is what Gordon is here for.”
Sacking coach Allan Freese might have been a knee-jerk reaction from the Highlands Park management, considering his history with the team, but Igesund should be under no illusion that his safety is guaranteed.
The Lions of the North lost three of their five PSL games.
Igesund is well aware of the work ahead as the mandate is different from his previous clubs.
Igesund’s league coaching career dates back to 1996 with Manning Rangers. From Manning Rangers to Highlands Park, Igesund has come full circle as he has gone back to the last club he played for before going overseas.
Igesund has won four league titles with four different clubs – Manning Rangers, Orlando Pirates, Santos and Mamelodi Sundowns.
However, he has also been found wanting, most notably at SuperSport United, where he had enough ammunition to bring the league home, but was sent packing earlier this year as a result of poor performance.
Igesund made history with Manning Rangers when he helped them maul their opponents and win the inaugural PSL title in 1997.
Igesund and the Buccaneers sailed to the title in 2001 and, a year later, he repeated the feat when he made Santos a lekker ding in 2002.
It was not over yet as he then annexed his fourth title with Sundowns in 2007.
He almost added a fifth win in 2012 with Moroka Swallows, but came short, finishing second to Pirates. That near-success landed him the national team job in 2012 – until he was shown the door in 2014.
Now that he is back in the hot seat, he has a point to prove once again because, in coaching, you are only as good as your last game.
He will be hoping for a good start in his first league game on Sunday afternoon against Free State Stars, who are also on their second coach after firing Denis Lavagne.
Stars got off to a flying start under Giovanni Solinas last weekend when they sent MTN8 champions Bidvest Wits packing.