By Yusuf Manjoo

"Mr Fixit" is the name of African Wanderers' new coach, Walter Rautmann.

That's because he has saved many a team from relegation in his 24-year coaching career - but fixing the leaky defence and giant hole in the Abaqulusi midfield has to be one of his greatest challenges.

One should congratulate the administrators for stepping into Wanderers' disastrous run to quickly call a replacement coach before it was too late.

Even last season, when Junior Njiyela took over from Mario Tuani, the camp responded enthusiastically and the results showed.

However, in time, the players became envious of the few who were being accredited for their good form. Their lack of team spirit and discipline has been well documented. Players seemed to leave and return to the club at their own will, which affected their all-round fitness.

"The team is not even 40 percent match-fit. I have to start from scratch, change tactics and technical awareness. With fitness, you can beat any team, mark them out of the game and take them on. It should take three weeks to get them into shape," said Rautmann.

But after arriving in Durban on Thursday, with a game on Saturday and another on Wednesday, he doesn't have a chance to step up his programme. Not until next weekend when they are already out of the Rothmans Cup.

Rautmann and assistant coach Greg Farrell have won the players' approval and respect by playing and mixing in with them during training. Having a reputation to join in the celebrations with his players, Rautmann is approachable, friendly and strict when he needs to be.

While Farrell, who has also assisted Clive Barker in the past, is a qualified coach from the English FA.

He had opened a school of excellence in Birmingham and been a successful player here and abroad. "We need better facilities. The ground is shocking and I'm disappointed that no Durban team has a sponsor,'' said Rautmann.

Rautmann has had at least 60 calls in the last two days from former players. Although he wants to allow the current squad to prove themselves, some of the free offers might be too tempting to ignore.

"But we are not going to buy our way out of trouble,'' said Farrell.

Rautmann has also opened development agencies in Europe and Brazil, which was where he was when director Vusi Mkhize contacted him for the Abaqulusi position.

Rautmann has left many clubs due to financial and managerial disputes, so why move from Rio to a poor Durban club? The Austrian cannot resist a challenge.

  • Teams played for: Lask Line (Austria); Austrian Youth International (Austria); Hertha Berlin (Germany); Dallas Tornado (USA); Powerlines FC (Old NFL, SA); Moroka Swallows (SA).

  • Teams coached: Moroka Swallows; Pubs; Witbank Aces; AmaZulu; Bloemfontein Celtic; African Wanderers; Dangerous Darkies; Raball Blackpool; Dynamos; Classic FC.