JOHANNESBURG - Luc Eymael may very well be the ‘Grinch who stole Christmas’ after all the headlines were about him proudly pointing out that he’s only been a PSL coach for two seasons and has already won a trophy.
This has been interpreted as a proper dig at 50-year-old former Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela, who spent three seasons at Amakhosi without winning any silverware and has yet to end this personal drought in his coaching career so far.
The story should instead have been about a Free State Stars outfit, under Eymael’s guidance, that has come back strong during this season to finish in sixth place in the PSL and defy the odds to be crowned Nedbank Cup champions at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.
If Eymael wanted to talk about his impressive pedigree, that is where the focus should have been, not shaming a colleague to score points with potential suitors.
The Belgian even went as far as issuing deadlines to both Chiefs and SuperSport United, two clubs who are reportedly keen on luring him away from Bethlehem.
But if anything, Eymael’s monologue about being efficient at every club he has coached in Africa – and he is quite the nomad – proved that he actually might not be the right fit for either Amakhosi or Matsatsantsa.
He also indirectly told his current employers that he is not loyal – otherwise why would he publicly announce that he has a buy-out clause in his Stars contract and then proceed to tell journalists that Chiefs and SuperSport have a week to make an offer?
As far as I know, there have been zero discussions with Stars or Eymael about moving to another club ahead of next season to replace Komphela or Eric Tinkler, who was sent packing by the Tshwane club in March following a string of bad results.
Eymael is a serial winner, that much we have established, but he has indeed made himself a villain than the kind of coach these two clubs, especially Chiefs, would want to be associated with.
While SuperSport might be a bit lax with media protocol, Eymael would be an absolute PR nightmare for the usually hands-on Amakhosi management.
As a coach, perhaps one of the prerequisites for success in top-flight football is to have a thick skin and be a tad selfish to keep your detractors at arms length.
However, to all but completely overshadow a historic moment for Ea Lla Koto and the players in pursuit of personal glory was taking it too far.
I thought dragging Komphela in that manner in his post-Nedbank Cup triumph on Saturday night was below the belt.
After all, the ex-Chiefs coach has been nothing but gracious even in his failure to win a trophy at Naturena, and did not take the bait when rumours emerged that Eymael – and others – were circling around the Glamour Boys’ headquarters in the hope that they would be his successor.
This column, my last for the season that has just ended, was meant to glorify Stars and urge them to hold on to their Belgian mentor for a few more years – maybe even adjust the remuneration in his contract to scare off those interested.
But it has unfortunately turned into a lesson on how not to behave as a PSL coach.
I’ve met Eymael and sat in his office for an interview. Nice guy, but the constant poking isn’t a good look, and only puts off those who were beginning to rate him highly as a coach.