Larsen takes charge

2013-10-16 00:00

NEW Maritzburg United coach Clinton Larsen promised attacking and winning football after his appoinment yesterday.

The former Bloemfontein Celtic coach was unveiled as Ernst Middendorp’s successor after the German upped sticks last week, coincidentally to become his replacement’s replacement. Larsen has been given a contract until June 2016.

Throughout their history in the Premier Soccer League, The Team of Choice have failed to finish in the top eight, and Larsen yesterday promised that this will change.

“The team have underachieved,” Larsen, who has led Phunya Sele Sele to three consecutive top eight league finishes and won last year’s Telkom Knock-out, said matter of factly.

“It boggles me how they have never finished in the top eight. That is going to change. That is why I am here. I have done it with a lesser squad,” he said, stopping short of calling himself “the Special One”.

“The club has also never achieved 40 points in a season. That too is going to change.”

He took charge officially of the team yesterday afternoon, and has just over a week to prepare them for their upcoming premiership encounter against league leaders Supersport United.

He was not daunted by the task of facing the mighty Matsatsantsa.

“There’s no better way to start than against the team that’s at the top of the league and knock them off their pedestal,” he said.

Of course, the club and the city are not a new environment for the Durban-born Larsen. After tying up his playing career, which included a league winner’s medal with Manning Rangers and two Bafana Bafana caps, he began his coaching career at the club as an assistant to now Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund in 2009.

“This is where it all started for me in terms of coaching in the PSL … I have a special affinity to this club as it is where I got my big break in 2009 as assistant coach.”

The United squad were also not new to Larsen.

“I know the players from my time at Celtic. I studied every team in detail,” he said before praising the work done by his predecessor — and successor at Celtic — in laying the foundation.

In what must have been music to chairperson Farook Kadodia’s ears, Larsen promised to play an attacking style that the Kadodias had been calling for during Middendorp’s “ultra defensive” era.

“I’ve got my own style and my own philosophy. I am an attack-minded coach. At home, we will not be playing with two defensive midfielders. We will take the game to the other team,” Larsen said.

He thanked Kadodia for showing confidence in his abilities.

The chairperson stated that the appointment of Larsen as coach marked a new chapter in the history of the club.

That new chapter, however, will begin with United still getting past an injury crisis. Nhlanhla Vilakazi and David Booysen are in rehab while Heinrich Isaacks and Ashley Hartog are on the mend. Ruben Cloete, who fractured a cheekbone in their Telkom Knock-out defeat to Platinum Stars, faces another four weeks on the sidelines. Good news for the new coach is that captain Michael Morton and Mohammed Yakubu are both fit.

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