The value of a good coach

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iol spt apr8 Jake Gallo Images Jacques van der Westhuyzen says good teams, or even mediocre ones, can battle under good coaches, but with the right man in charge they can also soar. Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images

While it is a true every good coach has the players to back him up, often it is because of the coach that the players perform well or not.

Let’s just look at the English Premiership for a second. Liverpool are soaring under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers, Chelsea are firing again now that José Mourinho is back in charge, Manchester City have Manuel Pelligrini at the helm and even Everton are closing in on a Champions League spot next year… and their boss, Roberto Martinez, is also new.

The man he’s replaced at Goodison Park is David Moyes, now the manager at Manchester United and the supposed “chosen one”. Moyes is battling at United though, but then he doesn’t have the players some of the other coaches mentioned here have at their clubs and taking over from one of the greatest coaches of all time, Alex Ferguson, was always going to be tough. Perhaps things will be better next season… that’s if he’s able to hang on to his job.

What I’m getting at is that good teams, or even mediocre ones, can battle under good coaches, but with the right man in charge they can also soar. Some will say Arsenal also need a new boss because under Arsene Wenger the Gunners haven’t achieved much in recent years.

A lot can be said of having a new voice telling you what to do, how to play and what not to do. Hell, the Lions have been a revelation this year and I ascribe that to the calming influence of coach Johan Ackermann. The players have “clicked” under his guidance and they like him. He may not have the most experience, but he’s brought something different and new to the Lions set-up and it’s worked a treat.

Under John Smit (as CEO) and Jake White (as coach) the Sharks look stronger and better off than at any time under John Plumtree. I’m not saying Plumtree did a bad job, but the Sharks needed freshening up, some new ideas, and White has provided that.

The Bulls, too, simply look better off now that Victor Matfield is back in the fray. When he’s played they’ve looked like a team who can challenge for the title; when he’s on the sidelines the Bulls look very ordinary.

The Cheetahs and Stormers need a change of voice, too. Gert Smal has come in as director of rugby at Western Province, but what the Capetonians really need is a coach who’ll simply change the thinking of the players and perhaps bring something fresh to the approach they adopt. It’s not that Allister Coetzee is a bad coach; it’s just that perhaps the players could do with something different.

So, too, the Cheetahs. Naka Drotske has enjoyed varied success with the team but, let’s be honest, they look like a side that needs rejuvenation.

No one likes change, especially when there’s a sense of comfort, but sometimes it’s for the best ... just look at the Sharks and Lions. - The Star


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