Clubs in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) are infamous for sacking coaches before the ink even dries on their contracts.
This season has proven no different with three coaches sacked hardly four months into the new season.
The trigger-happy Chippa United were the first to press the panic button, sacking coach Dan “Dance” Malesela in August, just three games into the new season.
“I have been through this kind of process at Chippa before‚ and I would not be surprised if it was true‚” the former Orlando Pirates star defender said when rumours of his imminent sacking circulated.
He later declared it an “embarrassment for me and my family”.
Last weekend, newcomers Black Leopards fired Joel Masutha, the coach who gained them promotion back to the big leagues, after Leopards’ 3-1 loss at home against Cape Town City. Leopards are languishing third from bottom with nine points after 11 games.
The following day, Free State Stars announced they were parting ways “amicably” with Belgian coach Luc Eymael after Ea Lla Koto’s 1-0 defeat against Supersport United.
This happened despite the team holding a decent ninth position on the PSL log table and having won the Nedbank Cup last season under the guidance of Eymael in what was their first cup final since 1996.
Former Bafana Bafana striker–turned-analyst Mark Williams lashed out at Stars for sacking Eymael.
“Here is a coach who has given you something you’ve never had before, a trophy, and put you in the top five and you fire him like that. Sometimes we shouldn’t look at coaches only, but at the club directors,” says Williams.
Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas is rumoured to be living on borrowed time at Naturena following inconsistent results. Despite his joining Chiefs only three weeks after the season had started and having missed out on preseason training, the club hierarchy seems edgy.
The stop-and-go performance of the team, aggravated by the recent 2-1 loss to archenemy Orlando Pirates, has pushed fans into panic mode.
Should Chiefs lose to Pirates in the November 24 Telkom Knockout semis, the Italian mentor may well have sealed his fate, and could be replaced by former Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral.
But Chiefs spokesperson Vina Maphosa said the fans’ panic is not a reflection of the club’s plans.
“The pressure is from the outside, not internally. People are concerned and it’s normal, but we are preparing well and the coach is doing his best,” says Maphosa.
When one club fires a coach in panic, it is well known in South African football that the anxiety spreads to other teams. And, judging by the early season log positions, a few coaches are on the ropes.
Eric Tinkler (Chippa United)
Since taking over from Malesela in August, Tinkler has won only two out of 10 games, leaving the club at 13th on the table, just a point above second-from-bottom Maritzburg United. Given Chippa’s reputation, some say Tinkler will be lucky if he remains in the job by Christmas, unless the team turns the corner before then.
Wedson Nyirenda (Baroka FC)
There was much hype when he joined the Limpopo strugglers at the start of the season, following his success as coach in his native Zambia with clubs such as Zesco FC and Zonaco FC as well as Mozambican giants HCB Bongo. But since the former Kaizer Chiefs goal-poacher took up the reins at Baroka, results have been scarce and the club find themselves in a similar position as last season — the relegation zone. Baroka has won two games in the 12 played so far, with six losses and four draws.
Cavin Johnson (AmaZulu)
The Durban-based side were recently docked six points by the PSL after being found guilty of unlawfully terminating Phineas Nambandi’s contract. But records show that, even if they had kept their points, they would still be in the relegation mix with 10 points. AmaZulu would have been on par with Baroka, and flirting with the likes of fellow strugglers Leopards, Chippa and Maritzburg, who would have been, respectively, one and two points above them.