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Are Benni McCarthy's irate displays justified?

The Usuthu coach has been scathing of his counterparts as well as his management. But it's very insulting to imply that his one season success is a fluke he can't repeat
Thu, Oct 07, 2021

Benni McCarthy during a DStv Premiership match between AmaZulu and Kaizer Chiefs. PHOTO: Steve Haag /BackPagePix/Gallo Images

Is Benni McCarthy's recent behaviour on the touchline unbecoming given his status as a South African football icon? A thousand times yes!

But the impression that the AmaZulu coach is once again battling his demons of a second season syndrome should be dismissed almost instantly. Here's a quick recap in case you missed McCarthy's cringeworthy conduct in the dugout since the start of the 2021/22 campaign.

The legendary one has been picking fights with everyone – at this rate the former UEFA Champions League winner with Porto in 2004 might start a war of words in an empty room. An incident still fresh in the mind is when he had a go at his SuperSport United counterpart Kaitano Tembo last month during the two clubs' DStv Premiership match at the Kings Park Stadium.

Out of respect for Tembo, the insults hurled at him by McCarthy are better left unrepeated – it's for the two of them to talk it over and bury the hatchet. Tembo was on the receiving end of the worst it from the Usuthu mentor, but a few of his fellow topflight coaches who've faced McCarthy have not really been spared his wrath either. The match officials have been kept on their toes.

It's a common human trait, although unflattering, that when you don't get what you want, those around you get to hear about it. McCarthy was appointed AmaZulu coach in December last year and took over at the club seven matches into the season, immediately turning things around and pushing eventual title winners Mamelodi Sundowns all the way.

Imagine what he'd do once he has had preseason with the players and assembled his own squad. Usuthu did beef up with a number of relatively good quality signings, and although McCarthy didn't recommend all of them. He's been content enough to attempt to make the most of what's been made available. But he might have had second thoughts a few games in.

The coach was quick to point out that he had asked for a striker as a top priority, but his plea to bring South American versatile attacker, Facundo Juarez, on board a few months ago, appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

In six league matches, Usuthu have scored four goals and McCarthy has bemoaned the killer instinct some of his front players are lacking. And he would know, he was a lethal forward in his day.

So, the results have been somewhat average and a far cry from the form they showed when took over and made themselves (after Sundowns) the team to beat.

McCarthy has been in a similar position before at Cape Town City, but that relationship ended in tears despite a dream start to what was initially his first gig as a head coach since hanging his boots for a seat on the touchline barking orders.

He was reportedly at loggerheads with chairman John Comitis over signing a centre back having presented his list of preferred options and leaving it in his boss's hands.

But as the nagging continued, City were dropping points and the long run of their poor form turned them into relegation candidates rather than title contenders during the 2019/20 season – so McCarthy was sacked in November.

In analysing his maiden coaching job, the critics came to the conclusion that the ex-Bafana Bafana striker was perhaps a one-season wonder. It's what they are arguing now.

McCarthy, however, has played football at the highest level and his opinion about the make-up of his own squad should carry more weight than seems the case.

Perhaps Usuthu were tightening the belt by not breaking the bank for all of McCarthy’s targets, and are now having to deal with a disgruntled coach.

Can Benni reel it in a little bit with the slurs? Absolutely. But to suggest he has a short shelf life is an insult in itself to the coach.

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