Mark Gleeson

Sundowns in perpetual tumult

2010-03-22 09:03
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

The departure of Hristo Stoichkov from Mamelodi Sundowns last week means the club stretch to 11 the number of successive seasons in which they have had at least one change of coach.

While there will be few unhappy to see the back of the arrogant Bulgarian, his resignation continues the impression of a club in perpetual tumult and run on impulse and reflex rather than with a proper strategy.

The machinations of owner Patrice Motsepe are in direct contrast to accepted business practice and presumably very different from the way he runs his lucrative mining empire.

While his personal fortune climbs on the back of his mineral wealth, you get the impression Sundowns is treated not as an international company but rather personal play thing that he runs like a trophy-hungry supporter rather than like a savvy businessman.

Sundowns have built up such a reputation now for fickleness and inconsistency it is hard to see any coach of any credibility risking going there in future. Certainly none of the local coaches who have had success in recent times would work to work in such unstable conditions and where the players know that they hold the balance of power.

Instead Motsepe’s money is going to continue to attract mercenary types and sycophantic hangers-on.

Unfortunately, it is evident the owner doesn’t seem to know what he wants. The way he hires and fires at will, indicates his ambition is just to be next year’s champion.

There is as far as his vision seems to go because there is little allowance for any long term plan.

Is he signing coaches from Europe with patchy track records because he believe they can build him a dominant team and a club who could replace Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at the top of the pile, or is bringing in the like of Stoichkov and Henri Michel, on astronomical salaries, just to show off his international connections and his wealth.

The incessant buying of players over the last years, many of whom are now either out on loan or stagnating with the reserves, is also the sign of desperate fan rather than strategic thinker.

You will remember before last season, Motsepe bought 12 signings and proudly paraded them before the press, his chest puffing out like a peacock while the rest of the PSL clubs muttered under their breath at how the magnate was ruining the transfer market for the rest of them.

But despite all the new purchases, Sundowns had two coaching changes and finished ninth … outside the top eight places.

There were not as many signings before the start of this season but still enough to further swell the ranks. This time they came second, a vast improvement although admittedly were out of the title race several week before the finish of the season.

Motsepe’s answer will be now be to go and buy more and more, plus he now has to fork our more cash for another big name coach.

Imagine if he had a much longer term vision and if his millions were spent in a structured manner with the bigger picture in mind. I fancy Sundowns would not only be champions of South Africa but of the entire continent.

But chopping and changing like a kid in a toy shop is not the solution. There is no easy fix in football but time and proper planning can bring great reward. Look at what Arsene Wenger did with Arsenal given time and support.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

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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