The challenge to see who finishes first at the end of the PSL season began this weekend, and it seems some club bosses are in their own races to see who pulls the trigger first on their coaches. Timothy Molobi profiles the 16 Absa Premiership coaches.
Soon, some coaches – those who don’t already know – will learn that their employment contracts are not worth the paper they are printed on as our football clubs are infamous for sacking coaches before the ink has dried on their deals.
The PSL season starts with 16 coaches, but only one will finish as a champion. There will be twists and turns throughout the season and a lot of casualties along the way.
Coaching in South Africa is a thankless job and none of the 16 coaches will be hoping to be the first casualty of the season.
Former Black Leopards coach Jean-Yves Kerjean still holds the record for having the shortest stint on the PSL bench – back in 2005, he was fired after only one game in charge of Lidoda Duvha.
Others have come close to breaking that record, and some have jumped ship before they were fired.
Last year, Dan Malesela lasted only three games at Chippa United before he was shown the door by the trigger-happy club owner, Chippa Mpengesi.
Then the floodgates opened as more coaches left. Among them were Joel Masutha (Black Leopards, Chippa United), Giovanni Solinas (Kaizer Chiefs), Fadlu Davids (Maritzburg United), Clinton Larsen (Bloemfontein Celtic, Golden Arrows), Eric Tinkler (Chippa), Steve Komphela (Celtic) and Luc Eymael (Free State Stars).
Even after winning back-to-back league titles, Pitso Mosimane is still under pressure to win more. He’s all too aware a coach, just like a player, is only as good as their last match.
Only results will safeguard his position at the Brazilians. Mosimane has done well to put Sundowns on the African map and has helped them dominate in the domestic league.
He will be eager to carry on from where he left off last season. With an array of stars at his disposal, and many more still coming, Mosimane and his players are favourites to retain the title. For now, he can relax.
Gavin Hunt came close to wrestling the title away from Sundowns last season. He has already made his intentions clear this season by acquiring eight new players who he believes can help him to win the title.
Bidvest Wits have shown confidence in him and, chances are, he will stay on for as long as he wants to.
Hunt won’t be joining the unemployment queue anytime soon.
Milutin Sredojevic’s job is secure for now. After finishing second again last season, and qualifying for the CAF Champions League, it won’t be easy for Pirates to have any reason to send him packing.
But, after ending two seasons empty-handed, it is time to deliver silverware before the supporters start calling for his head. It will be win or bust this season for the Serb.
Cape Town City
Benni McCarthy did well last season by finishing in fourth place, so his future should be secure for another season.
City have been busy on the transfer market as they aim for the league title. And McCarthy will give it his best shot, particularly with the calibre of players he has acquired, who include former Pirates midfielder Mpho Makola. Rule him out of contention at your peril.
Ernst Middendorp is already under pressure to win something this season.
Having gone four seasons without any silverware, the Amakhosi faithful have had enough and are demanding trophies. Middendorp has not been convincing since he rejoined Chiefs late last year and his team has also not shown signs of improvements.
It is time for the German to deliver, or he may well be shown the door.
The club has already told Kaitano Tembo to win the league title or to look for another coaching job.
This might seem a tall order for any coach, particularly someone who has been at the helm for just one season, but Tembo said he was equal to the challenge.
However, he already looks like a dead man walking.
Had they not been docked six points for disregarding a Fifa order, Cavin Johnson and his charges would have finished the season comfortably in the top eight.
Johnson did well to steady the ship in the latter half of the season, but he could have done better.
Eric Tinkler came when they were down and out and saved their Premiership status – albeit via the promotional play-offs. United must have learnt from their past mistakes as they have made some impressive signings, including getting Kwanda Mngonyama and Daylon Claasen back.
After struggling for most of the season, Steve Komphela came in and stabilised the side.
Arrows looked down and out at one stage, but Komphela’s arrival from Bloemfontein Celtic turned their fortunes around.
Komphela will have to make do with what he has this season as Arrows have not been aggressive on the transfer market this time around.
This could work against him, but he has what it takes to turn his unknown quantity into a quality side.
The big question for last season’s surprise package is: Can they repeat the same performances under a new coach?
Zlatko Krmpotic is not familiar with South African conditions, which could work against the team as the Serb still has to find his footing.
But it could also work in their favour as nobody expects him to do well in his maiden season.
Owen Da Gama has bolstered his side with some good signings during the off season and he will be under pressure to deliver results.
Da Gama has proven to be a good motivator and he will need all the experience he gathered during his stint at the helm of the national team to guide the side to new heights.
After securing them their status, Larsen was given a blank cheque to continue for a further two seasons.
But he is well aware that he was the fourth coach hired at Chippa last season, meaning he could follow the others who were fired before him.
Only positive results will prolong his stay.
Steve Barker would not want to make a quick return to the NFD after promoting the side.
Interestingly, Barker has shown confidence in the players who got him promotion, but whether this is a good move or not remains to be seen.
Only time will tell if Stellies will have an impact or make a quick return to the lower division.
Co-coaches Lehlohonolo Seema and John Maduka have their work cut out for them, and many football fans are not betting on the duo lasting for a long time at the club.
The club has its share of instability due to reports of players not being paid on time, and this will make the coaches’ job even harder.
But maybe the fact that nobody gives them a chance could work in their favour.
New coach Lionel Soccoia would be happy to have the quality players that Leopards have signed.
For the first time in many seasons, Leopards have actually signed some big-name players, among them Thabo Matlaba, Mogakolodi Ngele and Thuso Phala, who bring a lot of experience that is needed to stabilise the side.
Leopards struggled for the better part of last season and would not want to go through the same experience.
All eyes will be on Soccoia to see what he brings to the table.
Wedson Nyirenda was fortunate to finish the season still at the helm. Despite Baroka’s struggles, the management team decided to stick with the Zambian, but they won’t do the same again if things don’t go well early in the season. Odds are against him finishing the season in charge of Bakgaga.