Stuart Baxter has been trying very hard to tell everyone who cared to listen that tonight’s Nedbank Cup final between his SuperSport United and Orlando Pirates should not be made to be about him.
The SuperSport coach is taking charge of Matsatsantsa a Pitori for the last time before fully returning to the helm of Bafana Bafana.
And in the build-up to the clash at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, the Scotsman has spoken about how his departure should not be allowed to overshadow the club’s attempt to defend their title.
We get you Stu! After all, in this world of football, you coaches are no more useful than disposable razors – the clubs able to fire you at a whim. And making matches about you would therefore be folly indeed.
But we all know that as much as the clash with the Buccaneers will be about helping SuperSport retain their title, it will also have everything to do with you leaving on a winning note.
That’s just the nature of the beast Sir! And knowing the driven individual that you are, nothing will please you more than walking off that pitch with your suit wet from the celebratory champagne.
The desire to have your players hold you aloft as you walk into the sunset no doubt has kept you awake this week and inspired game plans that will help you put one more over the Bucs.
How do I know this, you may ask? Well, simple really. Why did you come back to South Africa following your initial stint with Bafana Bafana back in the 2004-2005?
You have said it yourself that we – South Africans – did not get to know the real coach Baxter from that ill-fated period, hence you jumped at the second opportunity to work here when Kaizer Chiefs provided it. And boy, did you use it well!
So much so that you are now back at the helm of Bafana, where – lest some have forgotten – you made a fantastic winning return with that maiden competitive victory over Nigeria.
We praised you for having helped our national team get a super stubborn monkey off their back. And I didn’t hear you tell us not to make that great achievement about you coach.
Rightly so, I must say. For that success was as much about your expertise as it was about the players putting your game plan to work.
Sure, the generally held notion in this game is that players win matches and coaches lose them – hence it is always the coach who gets fired when a team does not do well. My view then is that coaches must bask in the limelight of their club’s success when it happens.
Of course I am not saying they should be arrogant, but when you know that it was through your effort that a team did well, you better proclaim it when you can.
For when things go pear-shaped, you are bound to be the fall guy. And so it should be with that mindset that you tackle tonight’s match, coach Stu. It is your last hurrah with Matsatsantsa and you must want to go out with a bang. Whether a very hungry Pirates will allow you that is of course another matter.
In any case, the man standing in your way to a glorious exit from club football, Kjell Jonovret, is eager to win the match to make a name for himself in the local game.
You may deny it as you please, but where SuperSport are concerned, tonight’s match is as much about their desire to hold on to the title as giving you a victorious farewell, Stu.
And you and I know that you would love nothing less than to lift that trophy.