After a successful career as a striker for teams such as Cape Town Spurs, Charlton Athletic (England), Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana, Shaun Bartlett gets his first shot at managing a top flight club in South Africa.
Bartlett was announced as the University of Pretoria’s new head coach last week, the first time he will get to coach in the Absa Premiership, following last season’s NFD championship win while in charge at Golden Arrows.
The 43-year-old is now looking to help revive the fortunes of an AmaTuks side that find themselves entrenched in the relegation zone.
He is also hoping to tap into the club’s youth development resources, which have in the past yielded household names such as Andile Jali, Bongani Khumalo, George Maluleka, Lerato Chabangu, Clifford Mulenga and Mthokozisi Yende, amongst many others.
PSL: What made you decide the job at Tuks was the right one for you?
Shaun Bartlett: It was all about the timing, there were a few other opportunities in the last six months, I had a good look at a few clubs, but when the Tuks job came, I felt it was the right club for me, no matter what people were saying about the team struggling and it being a difficult job.
PSL:We’re already past the half way mark for the season; not much time for you to settle in?
Shaun Bartlett: The key is the speed at which we can catch up, it’s all about getting the three points in every game. We need to build up a platform first, I said to the players, it’s not about pretty football for now, it’s about getting results first and foremost.
PSL: Your first game in charge ended in a 2-0 loss away at Platinum Stars. What did you learn from that performance?
Shaun Bartlett: Sunday’s game gave me an indication of where work needs to be done. We need to work on the organizational side of things. We were not outplayed, but two mistakes led to two goals conceded and cost us the game.
PSL:Tactics. Technique. Man management – what’s the most important aspect for you, or is it a case of all of the above?
Shaun Bartlett: They are all equal. And the emotional side as well. Like I always say about strikers, they need to have the personal desire to score goals, to win games for their team.
PSL:Will you be borrowing anything from your former managers?
Shaun Bartlett: I was fortunate enough to play under many good coaches. Its not an easy transition to make, from player to coach. I like to take different elements from the different managers I worked under. To copy the good, and not to repeat the bad. Muhsin Ertugral was a fantastic coach to work under, I learnt a lot from him. Stuart Baxter too. Carlos Queiroz, Carlos Alberto Perreira, Alan Curbishley, I take different elements from all of them.
PSL: Will you be looking to forge close ties with the club’s youth academy?
Shaun Bartlett: That was part of the reason I joined. At Golden Arrows I had a young and exciting team. I want to reinstall the confidence in the youngsters [at Tuks], that if they do well in the development ranks, they will get promoted. I want to get the youth structures falling in line with the PSL team, to make sure the club has long term stability. That’s why I signed a three-and-a-half year deal, not six or eight months.