Johannesburg - Until this week, there were only four English coaches in the dugouts in the English Premier League clubs.
But the appointment of Roy Hodgson as a replacement for Dutch coach Frank de Boer has increased the number of Englishmen to five.
This case is not mirrored in South Africa, where local coaches are fast proving to be the go-to mentors, if current statistics are anything to go by.
Or is it perhaps the fact that local clubs have realised that foreign is not always better?
This seems to be the case as 75% of Premier Soccer League (PSL) coaches are South Africans – 12 of the 16, to be exact. Half of them are new at clubs, and the others have already been on their respective clubs’ benches.
Locally, already three coaches have lost their jobs.
First it was two out of two! And now it is three out of three! Two coaches lost their jobs after only two games in charge of their clubs and now the number has grown to three in as many games.
First to go was Sammy Troughton, who was shown the door by Free State Stars, followed by Peter Butler of Platinum Stars – both after two games. Dan Malesela is the latest casualty – he was fired by Chippa United this week after only three games.
Although two of the fired coaches are locals and one an outsider, the statistics still remained the same as two of the appointed mentors are South Africans.
This might just be a temporary situation because coaches are not guaranteed long stays as their job is results-oriented, but this is a good story to tell as clubs show confidence in the local product.
Now the onus is on the coaches to repay the confidence invested in them and deliver.
Two of the foreign coaches are “new” in the league, with Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic making his return after 10 years. New Bloemfontein Celtic coach Veselin Jelušic seems to be on the right track in his first spell in the league as he is still to lose a game after three encounters – two draws and a win.
Luc Eymael has made his mark after his short stint with Polokwane City last season, which was followed by his much-publicised contractual dispute with the club. But he had already proved himself.
Stanley Menzo might be going through a rough patch at Ajax, but he saved them from going down last season after replacing Roger De Sá midway through the season.
Three of the new faces – Benni McCarthy, Bernard Molekwa and Fadlu Davids – are fresh in the coaching ranks and have been given huge responsibilities to lead their clubs, and they look like the real deal.
McCarthy, in particular, has had a brilliant start after leading Cape Town City to the MTN8 final.
He has also done well in the league campaign – winning three of the four games so far.
Davids has also done well in a short space of time. Despite Maritzburg United losing in the semifinals of the MTN8 – reaching the last four was still a huge achievement for the Team of Choice – Davids had still not lost a league game before this weekend’s round of matches – winning two and drawing one.
Polokwane City have put their trust in young Molekwa, who finished last season as the man in charge – albeit in a caretaker role.
The 40-year-old had collected four out of nine points following a draw against neighbours Baroka FC, a victory over Mamelodi Sundowns and a loss to Celtic.
After spending five months out of action, De Sá is back in the thick of things at Platinum Stars after replacing Englishman Butler.
Of the local coaches, Pitso Mosimane has served the longest, having been with Mamelodi Sundowns since 2012. Gavin Hunt’s four years at Bidvest Wits puts him second to Mosimane.
Eric Tinkler has started a new adventure at SuperSport United and has already reached the final of the MTN8.
Cavin Johnson is also new at a club, AmaZulu, after his contract was not renewed at Platinum Stars.
Steve Komphela is going for his third season with Chiefs, while Clinton Larsen is in the same boat.
Baroka FC have stuck with Kgoloko Thobejane, who promoted them to the Premiership two seasons ago.
Teboho Moloi replaced fired Malesela at Chippa United this week, albeit as a caretaker coach.
SA Football Association (Safa) technical director Neil Tovey hailed the clubs for giving local coaches a chance to prove themselves, and said this was a step in the right direction for South African football.
However, Tovey said this did not mean foreign coaches should be discarded because they also added value to the local league.
He said one of the first things he did when he took over the reins at Safa was tighten up coaching education to equip coaches with licences.
Although he reckoned there was still a long way to go, he said PSL clubs should be encouraged to invest more in local mentors.
“This augurs well for local football and it says we are doing something right,” said Tovey. “We are working together with the PSL with regard to the club licensing programme, and coaching education is an integral part of that. We want to see more of our coaches reach the top standards and our pro-licencing programmes will equip them. We have to work with the PSL to ensure that those standards are going to be maintained in future.”
He said their focus was not only on the top, but also on empowering as many coaches as possible to help improve the standard of football from the grassroots level.
He said that, although it would take some time, the aim was to have minimum coaching requirements for every coach working in the league as soon as possible.
“There is nothing stopping us from introducing the strict measures – other countries have shown that it can be done. But we will give those who don’t have the necessary papers time to do the courses before we enforce the conditions.”