Clubs must stop firing coaches willy-nilly

Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)

Johannesburg - Clubs will tell you that they only fire a coach when there is no alternative. But yours truly will disagree.

There are club bosses who are known to be trigger-happy and the results are there for everyone to see.

At some stage, Patrice Motsepe, the mining mogul who owns Mamelodi Sundowns, fell into this category. Look at the results since he decided to stick it out with Pitso Mosimane for the long haul.

Chippa Mpengesi, the maverick Chippa United boss, is known for pulling the trigger even before a coach can say “fire”.

And his club has suffered the consequences.

Highlands Park’s firing of Gordon Igesund with a mere four games to go in the season also does not make any sense.

In fact, it has all the hallmarks of an irrational decision. It will be a modern day miracles if they find a coach who can save them from the quagmire they find themselves in.

The roping in of Igesund was a mistake in the first place. The four-time Championship-winning coach is not known for his astuteness in saving clubs from the drop.

The former lethal left winger is actually known for his penchant for winning league titles. Igeund’s CV is not even brimming with the number of cup competitions he has won.

Those close to him will tell you that Igesund is such a meticulous mentor that he plots the season from his pre-season preparations. He painstakingly studies the fixture list, picks winnable matches, definitely winnable ones, those where they will fight for a draw as well as possible loses.

Through this process, he is able to calculate and reach the targeted number of points that would guarantee his team the crown at the end of the season.

In a nutshell, if Igesund was an athlete, he would not be a sprinter but a marathon runner.

So for Highlands to bring him to steady a ship that was already sinking in the stormy Absa Premiership waters was ill-advised.

I think (or hope rather) that with hindsight (one of the best attributes), Highlands Park will acknowledge that firing Howard Freese was a mistake in the first place.

Given that the results were not going his way, chances are that he would have been able to turn the tide, win some games and keep the club he had promoted in the top echelons of SA soccer.

But firing him and replacing him with Igesund was ill-timed, as the results have shown.

So my advice to clubs is that they should think thoroughly and plan properly before they get rid of a coach.

It is not as simple a matter as hiring a good coach or firing of an under-performing one. It is a well-thought out plan that looks at a perfect fit for the club structure.

When it is time to part ways with the coach, it must also be a well-thought out process that takes in all the pros and cons as well as the results of the decision.

In the case of Igesund and Highlands Park, I don’t see the parting of ways being a solution.

Should they survive – as much as I don’t see that happening given their mere 22 points from 26 matches - they should reconsider their hiring and firing strategy.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa’s leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning over 30 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

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