Monday, 24 August 2015

EXCLUSIVE: former Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter on his first EVER sacking... and his future

THREESOME: the Eto'o goal that sunk Baxter
STUART BAXTER is raging. But in a good way. Sacked by Turkish strugglers Genclerbirligi after just two games, the man who took Kaizer Chiefs to two PSL titles in three years is looking forward to a swift return to football.

I'll flesh this story out later, but the talking points come in a rush: "I've never been fired before in my life. And the missus has been on the phone asking when we're going back to South Africa."

Baxter said when he left Chiefs - after being denied a part in player negotiations after winning the PSL for the second time - that he would love to return to South Africa. And with Shakes Mashaba not enjoying the greatest of success with Bafana Bafana, there are obvious conclusions to be drawn.

But the Chippa United-style decision to axe Baxter and his management team after just two games deserves closer examination.

"It was a joke Neal," he tells me by phone from Ankara, "We won ALL our pre-season friendlies and tanked Dutch club FC Twente 5-0. We were looking good, everything was going well.

"Then we start the league and we're 2-1 up... but we concede a goal and the heads go down. We lost 3-2 (to Rizasport). The second game, we're playing Samuel Eto'o's team (Antalyaspor) and we're doing fine... until the last minute.

"We've got an inexperienced ref, he misses a two-footed tackle and Eto'o sticks away the goal to make it 3-1. The journalists made a huge fuss about it.

"We walk in the dressing room afterwards and the 82-year-old chairman, who's had an average of nearly two coaches a season for the 37 years he's been in charge at Genclerbirligi, goes bonkers.

"He tells the entire technical team to pack their stuff and go. We've been here eight weeks. We're just getting started, we look good. But he wants us all gone.

"I didn't bother arguing. He couldn't even remember by name. The players tried to stand up for us, but the chairman told them not to cross the line. It's the fitness coach I brought from Kaizer Chiefs I feel sorry for. And my lad (oldest son Lee), who gave up a five-year contract in Sweden (with AIK Solna) to come here. His wife gave up her job too.

"I'll be fine. I've got hold of my lawyers and we'll have a meeting with the chairman. Will I go back if he says it was all an over-reaction? How can I after this? It makes South Africa look like a nursery school in comparison."

Genclerbirligi haven't finished above ninth for five years in the Turkish league. They last won it in 1949. Baxter only signed one player, Olaf Skulason from Iceland "because we didn't have much in the midfield, and he cost peanuts."

The chairman Ilhan Cavcav has indeed been in charge since 1977 and was born in 1935. In 2014 he threatened to fine any Genclegrbirligi player simply for having a beard. His undemocratic running of the club has led to court cases and accusations of corruption.

But Baxter insists he harbours no ill-feelings: "I have a one-year contract. I'll be able to go back to South Africa and buy a bigger house, that's what I told the missus!

"These things happen in football. My lawyers will sort this out. I'm more concerned about the rest of my technical team than about myself. I'll be back."

1 comment:

  1. Why coming back in SA and buy a bigger house? Is Pirates or Downs looking for a coach?