Absa Premiership

Barker shocked after Maritzburg dismissal

Clive Barker (Gallo)
Clive Barker (Gallo)

Cape Town - There is a wise old maxim which suggests "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," - to which former Bafana Bafana and sacked Maritzburg United coach Clive Barker has now added the sentiment "if you fix it, why break it again?"

Barker was commenting on his shock dismissal by relegation-threatened United after seemingly turning the fortunes of the battling, relegation-threatened Maritzburg club around in the last two matches after recently taking over.

Under Barker's tutelage, Maritzburg claimed a first Premier League win of the season against the University of Pretoria and a 1-1 draw with Kaizer Chiefs in which the defending champions were distinctly fortunate to equalise in the strangely protracted seventh minute of additional time added by the referee.

Barker, the only coach to guide Bafana to a major title when they won the African Nations Cup in 1996 and among the three most successful all-time mentors in the PSL along with Gordon Igesund and Gavin Hunt, says when the news of his dismissal was handed to him by Maritzburg officials it constituted "the biggest surprise of my 41 years as a coach".

"Okay," barked the veteran coach who has been nicknamed 'The Dog' because of the affinity of his name with the canine species, "you come to expect almost anything when you enter the precarious coaching profession.

"You know anything can happen at the drop of a hat and you can be fired without warning when things do not go right.

"But," added Barker, "it's the first time I've heard of any coach getting fired immediately after achieving his objectives as quick as possible with the dramatically improved results and performances against Tuks and Chiefs.

"The future overnight had taken an encouraging bright note and I was justifiably confident of  the success continuing. Now this. I really don't know what the Maritzburg officials could have wanted me to achieve in the circumstances."

Barker said he hoped United's transformation would continue under the club's new coach "because I formed a close, harmonious link with the players and I wish them well. But you never know what can happen when a new coach takes over and everything will have to start all over again."

As for his own plans, the coach who has tasted three PSL League triumphs and participated in close to a dozen finals, says he will concentrate on developing young talent while returning to Durban where he first made his mark as a player with Durban City more than 50 years ago.

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