Absa Premiership

Don't go to Turkey if you're a soccer coach!

2015-09-01 14:55
Stuart Baxter (file, Gallo Images)
Being a soccer coach is widely accepted to be among the most precarious professions on the planet.

But according to wily, veteran former Peruvian international and Orlando Pirates development director August Palacios - and he should know because he has been there - Turkey tops the list when it comes to insecurity for soccer's hapless mentors.

And, says Palacios, the post-haste sacking last week of successful former Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter by Genclerbirligi after only two games is nothing unusual in Turkey's volatile soccer hotbed.

Palacios, himself, spent three months coaching in the Genclerbirligi's self-same emotional inferno.

"Lured to Turkey by tempting financial offers," added Palacios, "some coaches have found themselves embarrassed - in some cases being fired even before a single game.

"That's how difficult it can get - even for such international soccer legends as Brazilian maestro Zico and The Netherlands' Frank Rijkaard, who revealed that being in charge of the great Barcelona side was a piece of cake and uncomplicated compared to coaching in Turkey.

"I went to Turkey on a short-term contract towards the tail-end of a season when the club's firebrand president, Ilhan Cavcav, who has now chased Stuart Baxter away from Genclerbirligi after two losses, was also in control of the club," said Palacios, "and I realised before the end of my tenure that this was not the place for a soccer coach - before returning to South Africa."

Palacios says emotions ran particularly high at Genclerbirligi "because the club is obsessed with matching top sides Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Besiktas - but often finish just short of the mark.

"It's much easier to succeed in Turkey if you are a talented player," added Palacios, "and South Africans like the late John 'Shoes' Moshoeu, in particular, Ace Khuse, Steve Komphela and others were regarded as heroes by the fanatical supporters.

"But my advice is stay away from Turkey if you are a soccer coach," added Palacios.

He believes Baxter made a similar mistake he made by going to Turkey at a time when he was riding on the crest of a wave in South Africa.

"As the coach I  helped turn round the fortunes of Bafana after the country's long absence from international soccer following on the expulsion from FIFA," added Palacios, "and we had even managed a draw with what many considered Nigeria's strongest-ever line-up in a watershed game at FNB Stadium.''

Palacios returned to South Africa after his brief sojourn in Turkey and then became team manger of the Bafana team when the country participated in the World Cup finals for the first time in France in 1998 - going on to coach Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Pirates and other PSL clubs.

"Maybe Baxter, who also coached Bafana before his spell with Chiefs, will be back in South Africa as well," added Palacios.

"I can't say why he left Chiefs in the first place after guiding the club to two Premier League titles in three years," said the seasoned Peruvian, "and that, of course, is not my business.

"But going to Turkey to coach is jumping from the fire into the frying pan, that is for sure!"

Read more on:    stuart baxter  |  soccer

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