Team of Choice get Coach of Choice …


How else can you explain the constant re-hiring of coaches? Of course, the phenomenon is most prevalent in the National First Division but recent weeks have shown that the top-flight clubs are not immune to hitting ‘redial’ to an ex-coach.

It’s why Maritzburg United are both losers and the winners of the most recent to-ing and fro-ing.

They were losers because they re-hired Ernst Middendorp in the first place. After all, how can you fully trust a man who live on television invites you to fire him, only for you to delay doing so?

At the time, in March 2011, Middendorp’s motive seemed clear: I don’t know how to turn things around but I’d prefer a pay-out to leave rather than stick to my principles and resign.

Less than a year later, the Kadodias re-hired the German, so go figure…

Contrast that with the man he has now swopped jobs with.

Clinton Larsen has also previously been on the Team of Choice’s salary bill. But when he left in 2009, he did so through the proverbial front door and for a better opportunity at Bloemfontein Celtic ¬– the fact that he was promoted to head coach at Phunya Sele Sele a year later highlighted that.

But after three years at the helm, yielding 5th, 8th and 5th place finishes, as well as a Telkom Knockout trophy, he had evidently realised a ceiling might be reached. He could easily have hung on for a few more months with those thoughts boiling up inside him, but instead chose to honourably resign.

As it is, his strengths actually make him a perfect fit for Maritzburg. At 42, he’s still young enough to know his coaching style needs fine-tuning. After three years as a head coach, he has PSL experience.

He’s ambitious enough to not be happy with the status quo, hence his departure from Celtic. From his fine for speaking his mind about referee we see he has principles, so is no pushover.

He hails from Durban, so he’s a local and we all know how being close to friends and family makes working life easier.

But perhaps the biggest benefit to Maritzburg United is how similar their set-up is to Celtic’s. They are ostensibly a small-town club, have a limited budget, seasonally sell their best assets and formulate their youth structure around the nearby schools.

Larsen has thrived under those realities, keeping Celtic in a top 8 place that the Kadodias have yet to crack as top-flight club owners.

So, despite that ‘Fool me once’ saying, in Larsen the Team of Choice arguably now have a Coach of Choice.