Absa Premiership

OPINION | Chippa's culture of change not a good sign for SA football

Norman Mapeza (Getty Images)
Norman Mapeza (Getty Images)

The latest managerial change at Chippa United with the sacking of Zimbabwean Norman Mapeza on Monday, shouldn't come as a surprise to many football fans across the country.

Mapeza's departure is the third managerial change at the Chilli Boyz during the current 2019/2020 season with erratic owner Siviwe 'Chippa' Mpengesi enhancing his reputation as the grim reaper of club owners.

The 47-year-old was unceremoniously shown the door despite a crucial 1-0 win over relegation strugglers AmaZulu, on Saturday with his side in 11th position in the Absa Premiership standings.

The former FC Platinum coach's sacking is perhaps a microcosm of a much larger epidemic that is currently gripping our game locally.

If we were to pan our lense back to see a broader view of the South African top-flight, we would discover the alarming rate of managerial and squad changes by owners.

It has now also been confirmed that AmaZulu head coach Jozef Vukusic has been placed on "special leave", a peculiar term reserved for South African football.

This picture of erratic changes becomes even clearer if we were to zoom in on those relegation-threatened teams at the bottom-half of the league.

These reactionary changes by panic-stricken owners is a clear symptom of poor planning and recruitment by clubs who lack any clear footballing structure.

This is an alarming pattern that engulfs the entire Absa Premiership with clubs often making wholesale changes to their squads and backroom staff.

One would only need to look at these team's performances to find evidence into how poor recruitment can be detrimental to a team's sustainability.

The number of transfers made by the current bottom-four sides during the current season: AmaZulu (9), Leopards (12), Baroka (13), Polokwane (10) shows the alarming rate with which teams overhaul their squads from one season to the next.

Chippa United have made even more signings with 16 new arrivals alongside 10 departures. Added to the 15 signings made last season (2018/2019).

The Eastern Cape-based side released striker Ruzaigh Ghamildien only to resign him a few months later and have him to thank for their most recent win over AmaZulu.

It doesn't make for much better reading when it comes to the top of the table with the only difference being that the bigger sides can attract better players by dangling bigger salaries.

Too often players are signed on pre-contract agreements only to leave their 'new' club without making a single appearance or relegated to the stands.

In the English Premier League, all teams follow a thorough recruitment process when identifying potential signings. An example such as Manchester United - who many admit needed a squad overhaul - signed just three players at the start of this season.

With those players (Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James) improving the squad and becoming permanent fixtures in the starting line-up.

One has to feel sorry for any Bafana Bafana head coach who has the task of selecting a team. With the constant changes surely a hindrance in determining whether an in-form player will still be playing, no less performing in a few months.

As much as clubs focus on winning games and where they finish at the end of the season, they should prioritise developing all the practices that lead to building a successful team.

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