And in all his utterances, I still have to hear him take full ownership of the way things have gone with Bafana Bafana in this, his second stint as South Africa’s football national coach.
Instead, he has pointed fingers at a number of things, including the South African Football Association (SAFA who happen to be his bosses) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
He fell short of calling the SAFA and PSL bosses nincompoops or dimwits after losing to Senegal in Polokwane when he said: “There is a saying that if you do what you have done you always get what you always got.”
This, I guess is based on that genius Albert Einstein’s observation that: "Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results".
And in a nutshell, Baxter’s quote was his way of telling SAFA and the PSL that they are actually imbeciles who have been doing one and the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.
Quite rich coming from him!
To drive his point home, he added this rider: “I don’t think we have changed our mentality at all since the time I was here before. I hope we can have more cooperation between the PSL and SAFA.”
Oh! How lovely!
Now I ask, did he discover this when already on the job or is it a discovery that came once the results did not go his way. Why did he not point this out before or on taking up the job as he and already been in this country for a while coaching Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United.
Or even better why did he fail to do so when he was prancing around like a peacock following a resounding victory away in Nigeria.
My, wasn’t he cock-a-hoop about how wonderful the team was then?
And when asked whether qualifying the team for the 2018 Soccer World Cup was one of his mandates, Baxter answered: “I don’t think I have a written one in my contract. My aim was to try to qualify for the World Cup and AFCON in 2019. No one said if not, pack up and go.”
I actually think Baxter is either being disingenuous or there is something wrong with the suits at SAFA if they didn’t give or spell out his mandate to him when giving him the job.
Any student who starts course knows that the ai8m is to pass. So how do you start a job when there are no measurements for success or failure?
I am not going to join the brigade that is shouting Baxter must go. No! I am not going to stoop that low. That has been done s many times and we have found ourselves in the same rut.
However, I am going to challenge Baxter that he at least owes the nation an explanation on what went wrong. SAFA on their end owe the nation the courtesy of answering the question: What now?
If the way he answered when asked about the number of people who believed that Bafana Bafana were going to lose their two matches against Senegal is anything to go by, Baxter is either naive (which I doubt) or was playing pretty dumb if not arrogant.
His answer was: “Wow! We are on camp and we are going to play two very‚ very important games and you are highlighting for me that there are people who have already written us off.
"Are they Zimbabweans‚ Congolese or are they South Africans?
"Maybe they are from Senegal‚ I don’t know.”
I wonder what he has to say for himself now that that prediction has proved correct. It will be interesting to see how Baxter rates himself as his current numbers are not very impressive.
During his first turn in charge between 2004-2005 that lasted 611 days, Baxter’s team played 23 matches, won 10, lost seven and drew six. This translates to an average win rate of 44%.
In this current tenure, he has played seven matches, won two, lost five which is a win percentage of 29%. Combined, these numbers give a total of 30 matches played, 12 won, 12 lost and six drawn - translating to a win percentage of 40%.
You be the judge!
Baxter will do himself a huge favour by stopping to blame everyone and outside forces take ownership and tell us what his plan is going forward.
SAFA as mentioned above should also take a leadership role as the custodians of football in this country and give direction on how we get out of this quagmire.
At least they owe us that much.
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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