George Dearnaley

PSL coaches in the firing line

2008-09-05 03:24

George Dearnaley

Gordon Igesund becomes the first big-name, big-team local coach to get axed this season, but I don't think he will be the last.

There is enormous pressure on all PSL coaches, as there is on all coaches/managers in all the top leagues around the world.

The difference in South Africa is that most local club chairpersons would like to be more involved in the transfer and team selection processes than their European counterparts, and this translates into them thinking that they can do a better job than their coaches.

It means they are quicker to hire and fire. Apart from club owner-coach Jomo Sono, who hasn't fired himself (yet!), there are no coaches who have been with any of the PSL clubs for more than five years. There is little consistency at this level. On average, teams get a new coach every one-and-a-half seasons. New tactics, new styles of play, new formations - this can't be good for players, who thrive on consistency.

Nature of the beast

Kaizer Chiefs are going through a terrible period. Supporters are divided - Mushin Ertugral must go is one opinion - the second option is that the club must suffer this season and allow Mushin to play the youngsters so that they can be groomed for the future.

The problem with a big club like Chiefs is that they cannot afford to have a 'rebuilding' phase. Chiefs and Pirates must always be contending for the title - that is the nature of the beast. A team like Ajax or Wits has no pressure on them by thousands of supporters to win anything - so anything better than a mid-table position is regarded as success.

Is second place an option for Chiefs at the start of any season? I don't think so - but they would gladly accept it this season!

Well respected

Trott Moloto has taken over from Igesund at Sundowns, but I fear the rot is deep - and Sundowns will need a complete overhaul of playing personnel and coaching staff to get going again.

Clive Barker is another under pressure. My former coach is at AmaZulu for his sixth or seventh stint and no matter how much the fans love him or how well he is respected, Usuthu have lost four matches in a row and have sunk from eighth to 13th in three weeks - another defeat and I fear Barker will be out.

The next few weeks will see some changes in coaching staff at a few clubs - watch this space!

Champions League gets interesting

Steve Gerrard's goal at the end of the Inter match will be priceless should Liverpool hold on to their 2-0 lead next week in Milan. I think they have a great chance of going through, but it won't be easy.

Arsenal face a tougher test to their credentials. The FA Cup hiding at Old Trafford, followed by the draw at Birmingham and the broken leg of young striker Eduardo will not be the best preparation for their trip to AC Milan. Their best chance was at home, where Milan looked scared of them - but they failed to find the net and I think will suffer an exit. I know they can play on the counter-attack, but Milan are too experienced at this level to fall for that trick.

Internal problems

Manchester United scored another late goal away from home - thanks to Carlos Tevez - and must be favourites to go through to the next round.

Chelsea have internal problems and might struggle. Club captain John Terry was pulled away from assistant coach Henk ten Cate this week, and German star Michel Ballack is fuming after being dropped for the League Cup final in favour of Frank Lampard who returned from injury - but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and Chelsea could spring a surprise.

I think United can win it this season, although Milan and Real Madrid will be there or thereabouts at the end.

  • George is the associate publisher of Kick Off magazine and represented South Africa during the 1994 World Cup qualifiers.

  • Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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