Were Chiefs right not to sign players in Jan? Johnson states his case

You are currently viewing Were Chiefs right not to sign players in Jan? Johnson states his case
  • Post published:May 13, 2024

Mazola Molefe asks if Kaizer Chiefs were right not to sign anyone in the January transfer window? Interim coach Cavin Johnson states his case.

Is coach Cavin Johnson the one to blame for Kaizer Chiefs’ lack of transfer activity during the January transfer window?

The Amakhosi mentor has definitely suggested it was partly his decision to stop management from adding to the squad list at a time when the new players would have been able to adjust and adapt.

With the Africa Cup of Nations forcing the Premier Soccer League to take a six-week long recess, this would have been similar to having a pre-season and perhaps been an ideal time to induct anyone recruited ahead of the second half of the campaign.

The consensus now, in hindsight and seeing that Chiefs have failed to win a trophy since May 2015 under then mentor Stuart Baxter, is that the Glamour Boys should have gone into the market … particularly for some firepower upfront.

However, in a number of the press conferences after the window slammed shut, Johnson was defiant as he insisted acquiring fresh faces was not necessary.

It came across as naïve – their rivals, log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, signed four players good enough to jump right into the starting line-up, while their Soweto counterparts Orlando Pirates also added three, including striker Tshegofatso Mabasa returning from his loan spell at Moroka Swallows. Chiefs’ choice not to do the same now seems bizarre, but Johnson had an explanation.

“When we took over, I think I was there 48 hours while the transfer window was open and then it closed. I thought if I was a coach that came into a group of about 30 plus and said, ‘you know what, not good enough, we need to strengthen’, that means I would have not taken my work with this group of players [seriously enough] and make them better,” he told journalists soon after the January window period closed.

“That is the reason why we did not sign anybody in the transfer window. I think what we have at the club is good enough to take them to the end of the season and get them a lot of points, and get them at least one trophy.”
Of course, the side from Naturena now looks ahead to the 2024/25 season to end their barren run and Johnson may not be at the helm.

The 65-year-old coach replaced beleaguered Molefi Ntseki in October last year despite initially taking on the role of head of youth at Chiefs, a position coincidentally held by his predecessor before he also came in when Arthur Zwane was demoted.

Evaluating the Glamour Boys department by department, it looked as though management had done okay with defenders and midfielders. The questions were over whether Chiefs had signed a serious goal poacher.

Again, Johnson felt as though he had enough options.

“We have Ashley [du Preez], we have Ranga [Chivaviro], we have [Jasond] González, we have Mshini [Nkosingiphile Ngcobo], we have [Pule] Mmodi and we have [Christian] Saile, who can all play as strikers. Therefore, you’ve got to work with them constantly,” he argued.

“I don’t think there’s a team that can buy success. Yes, you buy good players who will come in and add to what you have, but you need to work with a lot of things. With all due respect to the strikers, you’ve got to work more with your midfielders and defenders because they bring the ball. The strikers don’t just get the ball out of the air … there has to be someone who brings them the ball. How they receive and execute is what they get paid for.” The coach was also planning to benefit from the club’s youth academy.

“It is probably not the best time, but a good time. I think if you employ 30 people in the team, they should all be ready to play at any time,” said Johnson when referring to DStv Diski Challenge players Mduduzi Shabalala, Mfundo Vilakazi and Wandile Duba.

“That’s not rotation, but a matter of using the right players against a particular opposition. And that for me is important for the players to understand – we don’t want the A and B team. I want players capable of playing on any day.”

Chiefs then looked to finish the season in a position that at least gives them a spot in one of the CAF interclub tournaments, with the only time to address a lot of their frailties left to the upcoming window when the season is over.

It is quite possible that this will be with a new coach at the helm and Johnson back to his roots as a youth coach blooding in Chiefs’ future generation.