Being a coach is great at pretty much every levels besides the professional level. Any coach would tell you that helping players improve, teaching them new things and the constant adventure of learning is awesome. That's until livelihoods are at stake with results, until stakeholders or board members step in with concern about the direction of their club, something which rarely happens in amateur sport.
English football has always been the focal point of the chaotic coaching world and it has once again stepped up to offer us a reminder about the perils of coaching in such an environment. Jose Mourinho was given the flick late last week as Chelsea fumble around near the relegation zone while Louis Van Gal is walking a tightrope and Jurgen Klopp is quickly learning about the ways of the Premier League.
Before you embark on the very first stages of being a career coach, remind yourself of Mourinho's predicament he quickly found himself in. Chelsea were very good last season, champions who could call on Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa or Eden Hazard for goals and an ever-stable defence to grind out wins. Ahead of the season there I was, talking up the fact that Chelsea hadn't signed a plethora of big names, thus (in my eyes) setting themselves up for another solid season as there would be a consistency in their squad largely unseen at this level.
Everything was looking good until for no obvious reason, shit hit the fan. Without being privy to the inner workings of Chelsea I'm going to assume that Mourinho didn't suddenly change, nor did he suddenly change how he ran a football team; this is a man with a recipe he's been working off for years. Yet it all fell to pieces, such is the life of a professional coach.
The coach has control ... but he/she doesn't. Logic doesn't explain how players feel or respond to a coach as players are humans and humans are well, weird.
John Kirwan's Auckland Blues coaching tenure come to an end in similar fashion. Kirwan said all the right things and the Blues had a fairly decent roster but nothing clicked and they instead resembled, um, Chelsea. While there'll be plenty of reasons/pub talk about why Kirwan failed, I'm happy to put that in the same coaching-mystery basket as Mourinho and Chelsea; sometimes it just doesn't work and the coach rightly or wrongly is to blame.
Then you've got a Geoff Toovey or Ivan Cleary situation where results are all good/good given the circumstances and it's issues with the club that sees them booted to the curb. Even when the coach is getting the best (or in Manly's case something close to that) out of his players, there's blokes in offices who want them gone - who'd be a coach?
As a kiwi, I take great pride in the fact that Steven Hansen is from Aotearoa. This is because I'd like to throw Shag's name into the mix for the 'Best Coach In The World' award. There are a number of coaches who could lay claim to this title and off the top of my head I'll give you Wayne Bennett as an example. Think of the sports that you love and try come up with a few coaches who have such a record or results, improving players, combining youth and experience while also pushing the boundaries tactically, just have a think.
Shag. For all the mayhem surrounding coaches on our planet, the greatness of Shag should never be overlooked.
In fact, it's a swell time for our national coaches of our main sports. Shag's the man. Mike Hesson is leading the BLACKCAPS admirably. Stephen Kearney's made the Kiwis the best league team in the world. Anthony Hudson's enjoying a few ups and downs but he'll get it right I'm sure. Tony Readings is doing an excellent job with the Football Ferns. Our Silver Ferns are embarking on a new journey with Janine Southby in charge. Both Black Sticks' teams have stable coaches in Mark Hager and Colin Batch.
Coaching ain't easy and if anything goes wrong, well it's your fault sorry mate. As we wind down 2015, enjoy our relatively positive coaching situations (minus Dick Tonks and Rowing NZ) because if there's anything we know about coaching it's that stability, reason and job-security can vanish in the blink of an eye.
For those of you who missed UFC Fight Night, you missed some funk...