The Premier Soccer League’s decision to name Benni McCarthy as Coach of the Season on Sunday raised eyebrows in many quarters, and not without good reason.
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McCarthy did a superb job with AmaZulu after arriving in mid-December, and guiding the team into the runners-up spot in the DStv Premiership, of that there is no doubt.
But within that very sentence there are two immediate problems with the decision to name him Coach of the Season. McCarthy did not complete a full season with Usuthu, and there is a team that finished above AmaZulu in the Premiership – 13 points ahead, in fact, in the form of Mamelodi Sundowns.
Co-head coaches Rulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi took over the wealthiest team in the country, with the best squad in the country, and anyone arguing about that advantage needs their head read. However, they still had massive boots to fill in the form of Pitso Mosimane, and not only did they fill them, they won the league losing just one match, and not losing a game away from home at all.
Even McCarthy lost two games in the league as AmaZulu head coach, and if you are going to argue that he did not have the resources Sundowns did, he certainly had resources never seen before at AmaZulu, given the money pumped in by new owner Sandile Zungu.
No one is taking away from McCarthy’s impact at AmaZulu – he deserves immense praise for what he has achieved in a short space of time. But for him to win the main coaching award ahead of Mokwena and Mngqithi is absurd.
Did the PSL not feel like making two trophies for joint coaches? Were they confused about whether to add senior coach Steve Komphela to the list? Or did they really think McCarthy was the better coach over an entire season?
There is a decent argument that the DStv Premiership Coach of the Season should go to the coach that wins the league every time, that there isn’t really a need to even nominate. I prefer a season by season assessment myself, as there may indeed be credentials with which a non-winner deserves the award.
In this instance, however, those credentials just are not there, and the PSL have made a pretty silly mistake.