Relationship breakdown with players leads to Baxter’s axing

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter during the DStv Premiership match against SuperSport United at FNB Stadium on 16 April 2022 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter during the DStv Premiership match against SuperSport United at FNB Stadium on 16 April 2022 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Gallo Images


Stuart Baxter’s tenure as Kaizer Chiefs’ head coach has indeed ended, sources within the club have confirmed.

The 68-year-old was relieved of his duties by Wednesday, said our informants.

A source told City Press:

His relationship with some of the players was not good and the club felt he must go, even if it meant settling the two years remaining on his contract.

A second source corroborated the news, adding that assistant coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillion Sheppard had been tasked with guiding the team for the remainder of the DStv Premiership.

They said the club was still preparing an official statement to confirm Baxter’s departure, who had joined Chiefs in June.

The Brit came in as a replacement for Gavin Hunt, whose tenure at Amakhosi was also short-lived despite high expectations.

Baxter is the seventh coaching casualty in the premier division after AmaZulu, Chippa United, Swallows, Baroka, TS Galaxy and Marumo Gallants fired their coaches during this campaign.

READ: Chiefs fire Gavin Hunt

But the axing of Baxter seems to have been in the works for a while, if the timeline of events leading up to his dismissal is anything go by.

On Saturday night, chiefs lost 0-1 to SuperSport United at FNB Stadium, a negative result that led to Amakhosi supporters calling for Baxter’s sacking.

In February, Chiefs sporting director Kaizer Motaung told City Press in an exclusive interview that the team had actually failed the short-term test of the club’s revival project.

READ: Kaizer Jr: ‘We’ve failed’

City Press asked him if Baxter had the backing of the club, particularly at the point when Amakhosi’s struggles to conjure up positive results were apparent.

“The coach came [back] at a time when it was a very different Chiefs than before, and it’s about realigning [our goals]. And, like I said, we have to balance the short-, medium- and long-term goals.

“It’s no longer just a technical element, but an organisational element. But again, football is about the results.”

Ironically, Baxter guided Chiefs to glory during his first stint as coach of the club from 2012 to 2015.

The trophy-laden spell included the 2012/13 and 2014/15 Premiership titles, the 2013 Nedbank Cup and the 2015 MTN8 title.

But Baxter experienced a rather indifferent period during his second spell at Naturena.

In his review of Amakhosi’s performance, Motaung told City Press in February:

In my role [as the sporting director], you have to balance the objectives. The short-term goal is to win. You look at the trophies on offer – the MTN8 and the Nedbank Cup – and we didn’t win them. No one is happy about that.

Chiefs were eliminated from the Nedbank Cup 1-0 by TS Galaxy at home in the second round of the competition.

The elimination from the Ke Yona Cup meant Chiefs were closing in on their seventh year without winning any silverware.

Inconsistencies in the DStv Premiership also meant it was not a foregone conclusion that Amakhosi would grab the sought-after runners-up spot.

In just 10 months, Baxter’s tenure at Amakhosi had hogged negative headlines.

Not only was Baxter’s team selection questioned, but there were also rumours of differences of opinion between him and his assistants, Zwane and Sheppard.

In 26 matches, Baxter guided Chiefs to 11 wins and six draws, while nine ended in defeat.

Some of the embarrassing moments were the back-to-back league defeats to Royal AM, who thumped Chiefs 4-1 at FNB Stadium in September before Shauwn “MaMkhize” Mkhize’s side completed a double victory in Durban in December.

READ: Chiefs handed a Royal thrashing

Stellenbosch FC also humbled Chiefs 1-0 in their own back yard in November.

Chiefs are currently placed fourth on the Premiership log, 18 points adrift of runaway leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.

Amakhosi, however, have played two matches fewer than the Brazilians.

Chiefs’ “games in hand” – against Golden Arrows and Cape Town City – are actually the fixtures in the dispute that Amakhosi failed to fulfil in December due to a huge breakout of positive Covid-19 tests in their camp.

The Naturena-based club and the PSL will face off in the high court on May 10 where the league is appealing a Safa arbitration ruling that ordered that the aforementioned matches be replayed.