CAPE TOWN - Benni McCarthy is never lost for words. He has never been short of confidence. But the character trait that is his greatest strength is his ability to learn. It served him well as a player - and, now, he has put that same skill, this unquenchable thirst for football knowledge and experience, to good use in his quest to be the best coach he can be.
Last season was McCarthy’s first as a head coach when he steered Cape Town City to fifth position on the PSL standings. Now, having completed his Uefa Pro Licence, the 40-year-old former Bafana Bafana striker has heeded the lessons of last season and he is determined his team will go even better this time around.
City open the 2018-19 league season with a home fixture against SuperSport United at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (6pm kickoff) - and McCarthy was honest and forthright in looking back and, at the same time, super-confident in looking forward.
“I think last season I tried too hard to make the players feel comfortable,” said McCarthy. “I probably babied the players too much. That will change - I will be more direct this season because it’s not about being liked or not, it’s about getting the job done. I think the players want to be told how it is straight, and that is what I will do. It’s going to be a brutal season. In any case, the team knows what we want as a club and they have to be professional about it.
“But I’m excited for this season, probably much more than last season, because I’m not a rookie anymore. The technical team around me brings a sense of calmness and the players have upped their game. I’m optimistic - and I think we are real contenders this season. I have a balanced squad, with two or three players for every position. Now it’s about getting the monkey off our backs and making sure we get the season off to a winning start on Saturday.”