What’s up with the Clever Boys?


But given the noise we all made when Gavin Hunt was recruited as coach three seasons ago, the empty trophy cabinet has been a bit of a shock to the system.

Wits all but handed Mamelodi Sundowns the Absa Premiership title when they played to a 2-2 draw away to Mpumalanga Black Aces on Tuesday night, meaning a win over University of Pretoria at the Tuks Stadium last night would have secured the Brazilians a record seventh championship.

Even though he is highly-rated by Joffe, coach Hunt’s lack of silverware, especially on the back of three league titles and a Nedbank Cup winners’ medal at his previous club, must be a personal setback.

There a number of contributing factors to why the Clever Boys, under one of the most accomplished coaches in South Africa, have struggled for trophies.

But here are just three:

Less pressured environment

It’s safe to assume Joffe spared no costs in bringing Hunt to Milpark, after all a championship-winning coach usually comes highly recommended and expectations should be high. But it would appear that hasn’t been the case at Wits, with Hunt reiterating at every chance he gets that the Clever Boys aren’t ready to win the league.

That speaks to his working conditions, which almost guarantees him a job for life if he wants it because Wits will be ready to win the title when Hunt wants them to do so.

There’s no doubt, with his decorated CV, he’s an ideal candidate for any of the top teams in the PSL with championship ambitions, but such a relaxed approach to silverware would not be tolerated.

Joffe waxed lyrical about Hunt just the other day. “I can’t remember the exact stats, but I think we’ve been in the top three or four since he’s been around. So we are very happy with him and I think he’s done a great job. He is certainly in the top two of the best coaches in the country. We are lucky to have him,” the big boss said.

Imagine his remarks if Wits were to win the league...

Sibusiso Vilakazi and the bizarre rotation policy

Every league-winning side has that one reliable talisman (several if you are Sundowns) to carry much of the weight in an attempt to finish with the most number of points. At Wits, it should have been Vilakazi – the 2013/14 Footballer of the Year.

But he has been rather anonymous the past two seasons, with Hunt claiming that not only have reports linking the Bafana Bafana star to other top clubs affected his performance, the prestigious award came too early. The coach has also struggled to find a proven goal-poacher in his time at Wits, and when he found one in James Keene, he was in and out of the team through fatigue or injuries.

Unlike their title rivals Sundowns this season, Hunt has often failed to field the same starting line-up enough times to convince anyone that he has settled on a team.

While he should be applauded for blooding in some exciting young talent, Phakamani Mahlambi being one of them, it really shouldn’t be at the expense of trying to win the title. But that is always a sensitive topic given the talent identification crisis in SA.

Gavin Hunt

The coach hit the ground running in his first year at SuperSport United, winning the Premier League trophy and then defended it twice.

This is proof that he was hungry, motivated and took on a new challenge upon his arrival, rejuvenating a solid team that had perhaps paid the price for their gallant efforts in attempting to earn a spot in the group stages of the 2005 CAF Confederation Cup under then coach Pitso Mosimane.

Hunt was recruited by SuperSport following an impeccable record that was impossible to ignore during his five years at Moroka Swallows, a club with even more limited resources than the one he was joining. He might have only bought two players at Wits (the rest, top quality players at that, arriving as free agents or on pre-contracts), but there’s no doubting the financial reservoir.

Daine Klate, for one, did not hide the fact that he knew his true value when the Clever Boys offered him a new deal.Something has gone terribly wrong at Wits, maybe its Hunt’s drive to fill-up the trophy cabinet.

By his own admission, the coach, following their early exit from this year’s Confederation Cup, explained that his mandate was to use the money at the club to build academies to ensure the future is taken care of. But sometimes these remarks just smack of excuses. Hunt is winner, and his record is there for all to see.

The Star

Original source: What's up with the Clever Boys?