PSL- a tale of sacked coaches

Shelly Guni

The football season is almost over, but the coach-sacking season appears to be just getting started, with the scalps of five coaches having been claimed so far.

The latest casualty is former national team and Manchester city striker, Benjani Mwaruwari, whose Castle Lager Premier Soccer League side, Ngezi Platinum Stars showed him the door just three months into his three-year-contract.

Mwaruwari had replaced Rodwell Dhlakama who resigned amid corruption allegations. His (Dhlakama) decision came a few weeks after he was suspended by the club.

And now, barely 24 hours after Mwaruwari’s departure, another Premiership side, Black Rhinos, has sacked its head coach, Herbert Maruwa.

Maruwa, unlike most of his counterparts who were dismissed over poor results, was booted out for what the club described as a unanimous decision over the coach’s unbecoming behaviour at matches”.

The army, which bankrolls Black Rhinos, is known for its strict code of discipline.

However, since the season began, there have been a lot of movements in the league.

In May, Godfrey Tamirepi who was the ZPC Kariba coach was shown the exit door by the club after a series of poor results.

ZPC had a poor start to the league campaign by their standards, having collected just 10 points from 13 matches.

That same month, Bulawayo giants, Highlanders FC fired Coach Mandla Mpofu, after another poor run in the PSL.

It’s often a costly exercise, too – Mwaruwari’s sacking is thought to cost the club USD400 000 in pay-outs alone.

So, why do they do it? The obvious response is the pursuit of on-field success.

Winning more games has long been regarded as a means of attracting more fans, sponsors, and revenue for clubs.

This is undeniably true, though the importance of winning is frequently exaggerated.

Mwaruwari took over the reins at Ngezi in March, and he presided over 13 games. He managed to win only three, drawing six and losing four.

Winning more games is a good acquisition strategy because it attracts new fans, but it has little effect on long-term fans, whose behaviours and attitudes are usually set.

It is also unclear whether replacing the coach improves on-field performance.

There is little agreement on whether coach replacement improves success.

It is clear that many other factors besides the coach influence team success.

The “ritual scapegoating” that is a common reason for firing a coach often results in very little change in the organization.

And it remains to be seen how many more coaches will be without jobs by the close of the season.