Gavin Hunt returned to SuperSport United at the beginning of the season, a club where the experienced mentor had enjoyed great success in his first stint, and immediately turned them into a formidable side again.
What has made Hunt’s return to Amantsantsantsa more interesting is how he has turned them into what you may call title challengers, without having to spend millions on transfer fees.
And if you take into consideration the short space of time it took him to mould his side into a competitive unit, you are left with no choice but to call his return a successful one.
Almost every coach has bemoaned Mamelodi Sundowns’s financial muscle, which they believe is giving the Brazilians an unfair advantage over others.
Hunt is no exception, he also mentioned Downs spending power after his side lost to their neighbours in their second round league match.
“You can only judge your team on the ability of your players,” said hunt.
“Put a team sheet down, see how many of your XI you would pick and how many of their XI, and then we see if it’s a fair fight.
“When I started years ago the teams were much closer, until Sundowns bought all our players [from SuperSport] back in my time [in the 2000s] and then we were decimated.
“And this happened again. They’ve got our top players here.
“It happens, as a club that’s how we survive [by selling players]. So you’ve got to be realistic and stick with what you’ve got and where you want to finish.
“There’s a big fight for second and third. Now you’ve got to take into consideration budgets, who’s spending more than you?
“We haven’t spent R1 this year. I haven’t bought one player. So I think we’re punching OK.”
And punching ok they are!
Hunt has not made Downs an excuse to hide his team’s mediocrity. He has gotten down to the business of reviving SuperSport United’s fortunes with due diligence.
They are currently second on the log with 36 points from twenty-one matches, sitting ahead of the two Soweto giants.
Come the end of the season, it will not be a big surprise if SuperSport United finishes second.
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But how has he done it?
For a start, Hunt has successfully implemented his philosophy at United, and the players bought into it.
Not a believer in sometimes needless aesthetics that are defined as the ‘culture’ of South African football, Hunt has made sure Amantsantsantsa play with precision and efficiency.
Their possession stats tell a story of a team that is perhaps not entertaining to watch, with an average of 44% per game, according to FootyStats.Org.
But they get the job done. Supersport United have scored 26 goals in the league, the second highest behind their rich neighbours.
Their goal difference is a healthy +9, having conceded seventeen goals. Had they managed to avoid conceding silly goals in some of the matches, the nineteen points gap between them and Downs would have been much less.
But let in silly goals and inconsistency is part of a building process, and United can be forgiven for it, considering the amount of positives they have achieved as a team.
They will definitely be a serious league contender next season, with Hunt having had more time with the players and hopefully gotten some more reinforcements where necessary.
Out of a total of ten, Hunt deserves an eight on his report card for his efforts.