Gavin Hunt will have to motivate his players as they look to get a win against Golden Arrows. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

I’ve not coached a single football match in my entire life, let alone sit in the dugout a thousand times.

I am dead serious. No one has even considered me good enough to run the rule over a Sunday league fixture either.

But I hope my credentials as a scribe qualify me to have an opinion about the game and say that Gavin Hunt is paying the price at the moment for trying to accommodate new stock at Premier League champions Bidvest Wits.

The Clever Boys will not be able to defend last season's MTN8 after they were eliminated from the cup by Benni McCarthy’s Cape Town City over the two-legged semi-final.

The defeat meant that Wits had not won a game in regulation time since the season started in August, making it a winless run of four matches if you don’t count their 4-3 shoot-out victory over Golden Arrows in the quarterfinals.

Sure, I have not coached one, two, three or a thousand football matches, but I have covered more than my fair share - I stopped counting when I actually got to my 1000th match report several years ago. And from that experience I can safely tell you that often when coaches try to fix what isn’t broken, it inevitably goes pear-shaped.

Hunt’s tinkered a little bit with a winning formula at Wits so far in this campaign, hence the Clever Boys are a bit slow off the pace. The coach is well aware of it, for that matter. When asked if he thinks it is still too early to be concerned having not won in open play up to now, the four-times Premier League winner shut down the question.

“There’s no time. We’ve got to start scoring goals and winning matches. That is how you turn it around,” he said. Hunt was slightly grumpy as you can imagine - Wits had just lost to Cape Town City for the third time in three weeks.

Slavko Damjanovic, Steven Pienaar, Daylon Claasen, Kobamelo Kodisang and Amar Gamal are among several new faces at Wits, and the coach has found it tough to leave them out of the team. There’s also Vincent Pule, who is in his third year with the club, but only appears to have recently convinced the coach that he is good enough to start, having been a bit-part player for some time now.

Don’t get me wrong, these new arrivals are proper quality. They might even help Wits retain the championship as Hunt works tirelessly to get the team winning again. But it seems pretty obvious that somehow their early introduction has hurt the team chemistry from the previous season. Making room for nearly all of them at once has come at a price.

But will Hunt act quickly enough? Maybe tonight when they host Golden Arrows in search of their first league win?

Probably. Remember the former SuperSport United coach is a firm believer in rotation, and even in the midst of criticism about the chopping and changing of his squads, Hunt has often stuck to his guns and won trophies, and championships - four of them.

But sometimes the wholesale changes really aren’t necessary. Damjanovic might have been rushed into the starting line-up because of the absence of Buhle Mkhwanazi, who is a long way away from being fully fit after a knee injury towards the end of last season. But why deconstruct a league-winning team so quickly? I’ve not managed a single football match, but that’s just food for thought.


The Star

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