Earlier this week South African glamour club Kaizer Chiefs announced the appointment of former Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter as the successor to Vladimir Vermozovic who parted ways with the club two months ago following disagreements with the club management and poor results.
Baxter, who was until recently the national coach of Finland, will resume his duties in July this year, just in time for the beginning of the 2012/2013 ABSA premiership soccer season.
The appointment of the 58-year old England-born Baxter has sparked controversy and debate in South Africa, with some former Amakhosi greats giving the new coach a guarded reception.
The views of the Chiefs' former players appear to be that a local coach must have been employed instead.
While troubles were mounting on Chiefs' former Serbian coach VV, the local media was awash with predictions of who would replace him. The leading man was local coach and former Bafana captain Steve Komphela who has worked wonders at Free State Stars this season.
The rumours about Komphela's imminent appointment at Chiefs to succeed VV appeared to have died down after the FSS coach was apppointed as one of the assistant coaches of Bafana Bafana on a part-time basis about two months ago.
Baxter became the leading name in the circles of speculation at the time. Those who predicted that the Swede was on the radar of Amakhosi, should be happy to see that their prediction has now come true.
But there are voices that question the suitability of Baxter's appointment by Chiefs' boss Kaizer Motaung, arguin that the fact that the former England Under-19 has been hoping from one job to the other could be red-flag on his ability as a coach.
“My only worry is that if he was such a good coach, why has he moved around so many teams around and so many countries?,” charged former player Isaac "Shakes" Kungwane in a Kick-Off publication.
Kungwane made the above comment after ironically calling for people not to judge Baxter before giving hm a chance to prove himself at Chiefs.
“Let’s not judge the man now; let’s give him a chance,” ‘Shakes’ had said in an earlier statement.
Kungwane's fears may not be misplaced after all. Baxter's CV makes him a contender for the most nomadic coach at international level.
The Englishman has only lasted for three or more years in one job once, that is in his spell as the England Under 19 coach between 2001-2004. Other than that he has lasted for a year or at most two in jobs, making him a contender for the most nomadic coach at international level.
Between 2004 and 2010 Baxter coached in five countries, either a national team coach or a club coach.
Another Chiefs great Pollen Ndlanya, while welcoming the appointment of Baxter, bemounred the fact that the appointment of the Englishman was an opportunity missed to engage a local coach.
“Management know what they doing by bringing in Stuart Baxter, even
though I believe a man like Ace Khuse deserves a chance,” Ndlanya told Kick-Off.
still believe we need to change our mentality and start believing in
local coaches who understand our football, our style of play and our
culture," he added.
Chiefs appear to have decided to grow their own timber this time around, rather than poaching coaches from other PSL teams like what could have happened if anything culd have come out of the Komphela rumours.
Baxter's mandate apart from turning around the fortunes of the Amakhosi first team, will be to draw from his vast developmental experience and his wealth of knowledge and skills in conducting coaching clinics to develop coaches at Chiefs like Donald "Ace" Khuse and Doctor Khumalo.
Ace and Doc have acted as Chiefs coaches in interim capacities for about two occasions now. They were thrust into the hot seat in the late 90s when the Chiefs coaching job fell vacant, albeit in an interim basis.
In their second spell, Ace and Doc had a nightmarish start. Following the shock resignation of VV, the duo, who were joined by Arthur Zwane this time around, broke a record for all the wrong reasons by guiding Chiefs to an unprecedented four-match-losing-streak.
That string of poor results was halted in fashion, in a 2-0 victory over title chasing Mamelodi Sundowns at the Soccer City Stadium about two weeks ago. That was a big win and morale booster for a Chiefs side that has squandered a perfect chance to win any silverware this season.
After all has been said and done, Baxter is the new coach of Amakhosi, and whether he will help Kaizer Chiefs grow their own timber in their quest to produce a local coach, only time will tell.