JOHANNESBURG – Are Premier Soccer League clubs growing up - trusting the process, so to speak - when it comes to the hiring and firing of coaches?
It sure looks that way. Only one of the 16 clubs has sacked a coach so far this season, and that was more to do with politics, alleged nepotism and bad advice than results on the pitch. Chippa United terminated Dan Malesela’s contract just three matches into this campaign and replaced him with Eric Tinkler.
The odds were heavily stacked against Black Leopards coach Joel Masutha, which is usually the case when a club has been promoted back into the top flight.
But three months later and after nine Absa Premiership games, Masutha is still holding on, although it must be said that he’s probably being assessed with every fixture by his bosses.
Leopards endured a five-year hiatus from the PSL but have showed maturity in allowing the coach to make mistakes and learn.
Masutha is responsible for guiding them back to the big league, but this shouldn’t be the coach’s ticket to holding on to his job. This game is all about positive results.
Another coach whose days were numbered was Polokwane City’s Jozef Vukusic, the little known Slovakian who was in charge of lower division FC Cape Town between 2010 and 2012.
Before they faced Orlando Pirates at Peter Mokaba Stadium last night, City were in fourth place, just three points behind leaders Bidvest Wits.
And what’s caught everyone’s attention is that Vukusic has already taken down two big guns in Wits and Kaizer Chiefs, while also holding SuperSport United to a draw and getting one over Maritzburg United, who were last season’s surprise package.
AmaZulu, Baroka FC and Free State Stars - just to mention a few clubs that have had a rather slow start to the campaign - have all hit the pause button on ejecting their coaches.
The second half of the season will be a lot more challenging. Teams will be desperate for points, looking to avoid the drop, while others aim for the top eight. But the fact that only one coach, rather in bad taste, has been fired so far bodes well for the maturity within the league itself and the club owners.
Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to be patient, let the process unfold and see if coaches can deliver when given all the support they can get. It might not always work out this way but this is a good template to follow.