Johannesburg – As a football coach, you don’t antagonise your players, otherwise you are bound to set yourself up for failure.
And not only in football, in any other sport for that matter, your task is to nurture, mentor, encourage, inculcate self-belief and esteem among your charges, even if you are of the view they are a lost cause.
It happens in the game of football all over the world. Once a coach falls out of favour with his players, they quietly ensure he loses his job by not performing for him.
They just don’t get the results, leading management to decide to part ways with the manager. Four-time Premiership winner Gavin Hunt, fired as Kaizer Chiefs coach last Friday, is a case in point as he was at odds with most of the senior players such as Willard Katsande, Itumeleng Khune, Bernard Parker, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Khama Billiat and Lebogang Manyama, to name a few.
But the man the Khosi4Life faithfuls have been clamouring for all these years now has fallen on his sword, just for speaking his mind, telling his players that they were a bunch of losers. And that unfortunately was his undoing.
Not only have there been murmurs among the supporters before Hunt was shown the exit door that players who he told were on their way out at the end of the season, were sabotaging the coach, Hunt himself was responsible for his unpleasant stay at the club by sidelining the influential senior players in favour of the youngsters he was planning to build the team around for next season. And what do you make of the sudden resurgence and revival of the team to manage to come from behind twice to beat third placed Golden Arrows 3-2 after the sorry sacking of Hunt, with caretaker coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard in charge?
Not to be forgotten, it is the same squad of players that finished runners-up to four-timesin- row champions Mamelodi Sundowns last season under Hunt’s predecessor German mentor Ernst Middendorp.
The Glamour Boys would be fortunate to finish in the top eight, in their worst season, thanks to Hunt’s antagonistic behaviour and to an extent the Fifa ban that prohibited the club from signing new player in two transfer windows. It will not be the first time in the history of the club, founded in 1971, that they finish outside of the Top 8, a competition they have dominated in the past when it was known as the BP Top 8, now known as the MTN8-Wafa Wafa.
If they didn’t beat TS Galaxy yesterday as the two are level on goal difference, it would be the fourth time they fail to make the top-eight cut.
The first time was in the 2001/02 season under Turkish tactician Muhsin Ertugral, again when Serbian Kosta Papic ended a season started by Middendorp in 2006/07 and in 2018/19, when Middendorp finished off a season left by the fired Italian Giovanni Solinas.
In football, unfortunately for Hunt, management would rather part ways with the coach rather than sack the whole squad of players, something Hunt was naïve of and that led to his downfall after receiving one of the warmest receptions into the Amakhosi family last September. Hunt has tripped and fell on his sword.
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