JOHANNESBURG - Shortly after receiving a R5000 cheque and the award for Coach of the Month of May - somewhat of a keepsake given that there was just one round of PSL fixtures played and two from the previous month were also taken into account - Clinton Larsen said he was happy to see the back of a tough 2017-18 season.
The Golden Arrows coach must be applauded for making sure the club negotiated their way into the top eight bracket, but the margins between all the teams was so thin that it could have gone either way.
“It was a crazy season, and one we are all happy is behind us,” said Larsen, who is heading into his third season at the club - quite an unprecedented move at Arrows given their history with changing coaches.
“We started very well and after 10 games, together with Baroka, we were first and second. Then we had injuries to key players. We lost Danny Phiri, (Kudakwashe) Mahachi and (Lehlohonolo) Nonyane to long-term injuries and a small team like Arrows is going to feel it.
"They left a huge void in the team and they have experience and quality. The moment they came back with eight games to go, we know what happened and I got the award again.”
Mahachi will join Orlando Pirates next season and Larsen lamented the players’ departure, but immediately spoke of how Arrows will have to use their limited resources to fill the gap.
“We are not a buying club,” the coach said. “So what excites me is the fact we will go into the market, but that market means the majority of the players will be my Diski Challenge (reserve league) boys, who I will be promoting.
"But it doesn’t mean if a player becomes available and is surplus to requirements at other clubs we won’t look. We will strengthen where possible. I like to build for three years. I was at Bloemfontein Celtic for six seasons and it is very similar. I am the type of coach who likes stability and time to mould my team.
“It was in my third season at Celtic, I was able to win a trophy and we finished fifth in the league. I am moving into my third full season, and we finished ninth that year, then seven after and now eighth this season. Two consecutive top eight finishes is good for the club.”
Larsen will hope to bring in more youth as is the model of the club given the scarce financial muscle to compete, with Pirates having snatched talisman Mahachi away from Arrows this month.