The John Goliath column
YOU have to feel sorry for Roberto di Matteo, don’t you? I know I do.
The Italian delivered two trophies in the space of eight months for Chelsea – including the coveted Champions League crown. And how does their Russian billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich, reward him? He sacks him a third of the way into the new season.
A famous saying in sport is that you get two types of coaches: those who have been fired and those waiting to be fired.
When it comes to hiring and firing managers, Abramovich is the benchmark, as Chelsea have become a revolving door for managers over the last decade, with no fewer than eight having come and gone during the nine years since Abramovich bought the London club.
Rafael Benitez is the ninth man to have inherited the poisoned chalice since 2003, which made a few Chelsea fans very unhappy because the Spaniard called them “supporters lacking passion” during his days as Liverpool manager.
I’m not to sure about the terms of Benitez’s contract, although a popular radio personality tweeted saying it’s for two seasons – winter and spring.
In South Africa, mining tycoon Patrice Motsepe, the Mamelodi Sundowns owner, has been as trigger-happy over the last few years.
Rumour has it that Motsepe, who has a penchant for odd-looking suits, has not been scared to call a coach to his house and make him wait in the living room for three hours without even a drop of water, before coming into the room and firing the bewildered coach in two seconds.
But it seems that he has gone a little soft and developed a conscience, as we have been waiting for him to fire Johan Neeskens for quite some time now. But the Dutchman is still in the job despite Sundowns languishing at the bottom of the Premiership.
However, there’s one man who has made Abramovich and Motsepe look like total amateurs this season, a man who fires a coach faster than you can say “severance package”.
Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi has already had four different men on the touchline of his Chippa United side since gaining promotion to the PSL this season. The man originally in charge, Manqoba Mgqithi, lasted only two matches at the start of the season, which sort of makes Abramovich’s sacking of Di Matteo look run of the mill.
Chippa have had a tough start to their league campaign because of all the disruptions, but it seems it could be a case of fourth-time lucky for Mpengesi as the team have gone on a three-match unbeaten run.
Recently, Mpengesi turned to his goalkeeper coach, Farouk Abrahams, to turn around the fortunes of the team, and two draws – against SuperSport United and Moroka Swallows – and a win over the high-flying Platinum Stars have seen them climb up the table.
And it seems like there’s a new vibe in the team as well, as I haven’t seen the Chippa players quite as vocal on the field. It seems like they are playing for their interim coach, as the goal-scorers in Tuesday night’s game against Stars ran straight to Abrahams to celebrate.
The main contributing factor could be that there is finally a degree of stability at the club: nobody has been fired in the last three matches.
Trust is a massive part of football, and trusting your manager even more so. Abrahams has put trust in his players, but the time has come for Mpengesi to put his trust in Abrahams.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
@Lord_Sugar (Tottenham fan and billionaire Alan Sugar on Chelsea’s new coach): Rafa Benitez best make sure his new contract does not have lyrics from old club Liverpool ...Walk on ... Walk on .. you will never WORK again.
WHO TO FOLLOW
@TheRealAC3: Follow Ashley Cole as the drama unfolds at Stamford Bridge.
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