Inside their Taung Village conference centre that was so full many had to make do with standing throughout the over two hour briefing, Chiefs chairman Kaizer Motaung, team manager Bobby Motaung and Baxter appeared to be trying too hard to quell the recent speculation that all was not well be-tween club and coach.
The England-born Scotsman quit his job despite still having a year to go on his contract and surprisingly immediately after leading Amakhosi to a second league title via a record-breaking 69 points haul.
And suggestions have been that part of Baxter leaving prematurely was because of his unhappiness at the club having allowed his favoured striker Kingston Nkhatha to leave for SuperSport United mid-season while David Zulu was signed without his consent.
And that they were at such pains attempting to quell these speculations when they officially announced the end of their three-year relationship yesterday actually only served to confirm there is a truth to those murmurings.
While they both admitted that ‘tensions’ are part and parcel of any football club and that those actually serve to spur teams on, the two parties implied that it was the very same tensions that led to their ending a relationship that yielded two championships and three knockout trophies.
Said Baxter: “Tensions drive football clubs and they push us to perform until you think you cannot do that (stand the tensions) then you are better off moving. But there’ll be no finger pointing for me, I don’t want to spoil what has been a beautiful three years for me.”
Motaung insisted the parting was amicable: “This is not a parting of acrimony. We have sat down as matured people and agreed that maybe it is time to change and also time to move on. But I must emphasise that there has not been any acrimony. There are tensions everywhere in a work situation, even at Barcelona or Real Madrid. It’s natural.”
While he is clearly leaving before he had intended to, Baxter departs Chiefs a contented man and more because he “changed perceptions” about himself than winning the titles he did.
And he was quick to express his gratitude to Motaung for providing him the platform to redeem his standing in South African football following his failed stint as Bafana Bafana coach.
“Let me thank the chairman, for he showed courage to ask me to come back here knowing that you guys were sharpening your knives for me. So I was glad to come back and maybe put a few things right. We worked very hard over the three years and I hope that I will look back and see that I changed the situation to be better than when I found it.”
Many will agree that local football’s view of Baxter has changed for the better and should he be appointed Safa Technical Director as has been suggested, the appointment will not be frowned upon given his achievements with Chiefs.
And the man himself has not ruled out the possibility of working in the country in time to come.
“I would have no problem working in South Africa in the near future,” he said. - The Star
Original source: Baxter gets smiling send-off