Gavin Hunt’s statistics as Kaizer Chiefs coach make for some sorry reading

02 June 2021 - 07:00
By Marc Strydom
Gavin Hunt had a torrid run as Kaizer Chiefs coach.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix Gavin Hunt had a torrid run as Kaizer Chiefs coach.

Gavin Hunt’s statistics as coach of Kaizer Chiefs will make for some sorry reading when his tenure is analysed and reminisced on in future.

Four-time Premiership-winner Hunt, fired on Friday, was unfortunate to arrive at Chiefs amid a season-long transfer ban imposed by Fifa for the illegal signing of Madagascan midfielder "Dax".

This meant a coach who inherited a squad of players many of whom were not the work ethic-typed performers he had preferred and succeeded with previously could not make the signings he normally would have in key positions.

It is hard to quantify the extent to which this factor prejudiced Hunt’s tenure.

It also should be noted that a squad that finished runners-up in 2019-20 under Hunt’s predecessor Ernst Middendorp did not seem a combination so poor as to be in 11th place with two games remaining in the 2020-21 DStv Premiership.

And some of pure, cold stats of Hunt’s first season at a big three team make for illuminating reading.

Chiefs have a -5 goal difference in the 2020-21 Premiership as they enter their final two matches under caretaker coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard against Lamontville Golden Arrows at FNB Stadium on Wednesday and TS Galaxy at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

If Chiefs end with a negative goal difference it will be the first time that has happened in their history, going back to their first top-flight campaign in the 1971 National Professional Soccer League (NPSL).

Chiefs (30 points), five points behind eighth-placed Galaxy (35) and three behind ninth-placed Baroka FC (33), are also on course to at least match their worst league finish.

They previously finished ninth three times – their first finish outside the top eight was in the 2001-02 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season under Muhsin Ertugral, and they finished ninth again when Kosta Papic ended a season started by Middendorp in 2006-07.

Chiefs finished ninth again as Middendorp ended a campaign started by Giovanni Solinas in 2018-19.

Even if Chiefs win their last two matches of 2020-21 they will still then only match their lowest points tally in a league season going back to 1971 of 36 points.

And that previous mark of 36 was set in 1985, when Chiefs finished eighth in the 18-team National Soccer League (NSL), and a win was only worth two points, not the current three.

Chiefs played 34 matches that season, won 13, drew 10 and lost 11.

In the three-point era Chiefs’ ninth-placed finishes garnered 49 points finishing ninth in the 18-team 2001-02 PSL, 42 points ending third in the 16-team 2006-07 PSL, and 39 ending ninth in 2018-19.

Chiefs, with six wins currently, are assured at most eight victories, which will still be the least number of wins in a league campign in 50 seasons in the top-flight.

Their previous least was nine in 2018-19.

Solinas is often seen as a benchmark of one of the worst coaches to have taken charge at Amakhosi.

And yet in the Italian’s tenure in the first half of 2018-19, his record of won four, drawn six and lost four (18 points) in his 14 games before he was fired exactly matches Hunt’s record in his opening 14 games of the 2020-21 Premiership.

Solinas also had a seven-game unbeaten run within those 14 matches, and Hunt’s longest winning runs at Chiefs (twice) was five games.

Hunt has had a career mostly marked by success, including his three league titles in succession at SuperSport United from 2008 to 2010, and adding a fourth championship at Bidvest Wits in 2016-17 – the first in the now-defunct club’s then 95-year history.

He has also had his seasons where things went pear-shaped, such as the following campaign at Wits in 2017-18 where a team that won the league the previous season ended a miserable 13th, on 36 points.

Usually the coach would pick himself, and his club, up, and challenge for honours again the following campaign.

He will not have that opportunity at Chiefs, and perhaps the statistics tell a story why.