Trouble in paradise

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  • Post published:June 1, 2016

If Kaizer Chiefs do not get things right in the transfer market, fans should brace themselves for more heartache before the trophies return to the Naturena.

Tuesday’s confirmation of the mass clearout, which involves as many as 20 players, is all the confirmation one needs that Chiefs are a club in turmoil. No other club has taken such extreme measures in an effort to arrest the slide in form. What a difference a season makes, following on from their domestic double last season, Chiefs slumped to fifth place with fans baying for blood; from coach Steve Komphela as well several of the club’s players.

Komphela has come under intense pressure all season and if his plans to drastically change his playing squad for next season fail, he will pay with his job. The blame for calibre of players in the current squad cannot be laid squarely on Komphela’s shoulders but in the same breath, there can be no excuse for the results from the 2015-16 season; one of Chiefs’ poorest in recent times. There is more than enough quality in the squad to finish with at least one trophy and inside the three every year.

Chiefs have long since confirmed the exit of veteran midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane and goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse after the pair failed to agree to new terms at the Naturena. A Stuart Baxter reunion for ‘Yeye’ has already been confirmed while Pieterse is also expected to join his former mentor at SuperSport in the off-season. At 33, Letsholonyane may be seen by some as ‘over the hill’ but look at Chelsea for guidance, a club that has got this tricky situation wrong before getting it right. The Blues have belatedly offered John Terry, who at 35 is two years older than Yeye, one more season at Stamford Bridge. A gamble? Or a shrewd move to keep the fans happy while eking out the last remaining miles in his tiring legs.

Terry will also be expected to be heavily involved in the mentoring of the next generation of Chelsea players, giving context and guidance on what it means to be a Chelsea blue. Remember the mistake of letting Frank Lampard go? Chelsea fans will; he scored a decisive equaliser against them while on loan at Manchester City from New York City FC. In a similar scenario back in SA, Chiefs’ loss may very well be SuperSport’s gain.

Defenders Morgan Gould and Siboniso Gaxa have been released from their contract, no farewell and no thanks for the years of loyal service. Only six players featured more in the league this season than Gaxa, one of them being Letsholonyane. Gaxa has been at the club since May 2012 and has featured prominently, allowing the 32-year-old to move on is a bold decision by the club’s hierarchy. ‘Pa’ has international experience to add to his status as a PSL stalwart, and shouldn’t struggle to find a spot in a top 8 side. His experience on the training pitch and on the bench will be sorely missed.

Gould’s exit is likely to be music to the Amakhosi faithful’s ears, he has struggled for fitness even before he attempted to find form as he ends his career at Chiefs with a whimper.

Seven other players have been released from their contracts before expiration including Ovidy Karuru and Levy Mokgothu. The number of matches played by this bunch can be counted using one hand and Chiefs probably got it right allowing these players to further their careers elsewhere. But it’s a clear sign of the failure to plan ahead and the recruitment team have made a terrible blunder with this lot.

Half a dozen players have been publicly put on the transfer list, a move rarely seen in professional football. A move that could hamper Chiefs’ recruitment of replacements especially after football manager Bobby Motaung’s recent statement that the club will not be ‘horseracing’. ‘We never bid for players at Chiefs. We are not in the business of horseracing. We won’t be drawn into the business of bids,’ said Motaung. Reducing your squad to its barebones and publicly stating that you want to get rid of six more is hardly entering the bargaining table in a position of strength.

Siyanda Xulu and Bongani Ndulula were two high-profile names that arrived at the club less than a year ago to much fanfare. Now they find themselves on the transfer list after struggling to impress Komphela and his employers. Keegan Ritchie is another player who joined the Glamour Boys on June 23 last year, another player that is no longer wanted at Naturena but at least for the defender, he has already found a new home after a swap deal with SuperSport United’s Sibusiso Khumalo.

Eight arrivals a year ago and now twenty players no longer part of the plans, is more than enough proof of how Chiefs transfer policy has failed recently, placing the club in jeopardy of falling further behind Mamelodi Sundowns. Failing the fans again in the off-season will add further pressure on Motaung and Komphela.

If the pair do not get it right this time, Motaung could find himself looking for a new coach and even more players midway through next season.