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Eric Tinkler's exit is bold, brave...and possibly dumb

Coach Eric Tinkler has swapped the comforts and success of Cape Town City for the heightened expectation and bigger budgets of SuperSport United in what could be his 'David Moyes' moment.

Tinkler walked out on City this week having led the team to third in the league and the Telkom Knockout trophy in what is their first season in the South African top flight after the club bought the status of Mpumalanga Black Aces.

Let's get something out the way off the bat.

This was not, according to City owner John Comitis anyway, about money, as the Mother City club were willing to match the offer on the table from SuperSport.

It also comes just 10 days before Tinkler was due to move into a house he had purchased in Cape Town, suggesting his decision was a snap one made in the last few days.

It's likely about ambition and perhaps a little fear, but is it also a move that could backfire on the former Bafana Bafana midfielder?

It's a situation not dissimilar to that of Cavin Johnson, who moved to SuperSport in 2013 just after he had led Platinum Stars to a shock second place in the league.

Like Tinkler, Johnson is a good organiser, and likes his team to play attacking football.

However, it didn't work out for him in Tshwane, and early in the next campaign he was sacked.

He never quite won over the dressing room in a team packed with internationals, who perhaps expected to be led by a bigger 'name' and failed to buy into Johnson's vision.

In fact, it's the same situation that Tinkler himself faced during his tenure at Orlando Pirates before joining City.

Both Johnson and Tinkler had the same knack that Moyes employed during 11 years at Everton; to get teams and players with low expectations to punch above their weight, getting the best out of footballers that some may consider ordinary.

Moyes consistently did that at Goodison Park through organisation, hard work and team spirit, but once he joined Manchester United, he was faced with having to win the trust and buy-in of a dressing room teeming with egos. Most never quite took to him.

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That is something Tinkler will potentially face at SuperSport.

His predecessor Stuart Baxter largely managed to earn the respect of his players, but even then it could be argued that despite their Nedbank Cup final appearance on June 24 against Pirates, they have underachieved this year.

There have been too many very good players playing very badly, too often.

At City this season, results came on a wave of enthusiasm and adrenaline, with some very good individual performers thrown in.

Whether Tinkler can create the same environment at SuperSport remains to be seen.

What is for sure is that he will work hard and have them organised, but will they buy into his leadership?

Tinkler might feel his chances of winning trophies are greater at SuperSport and that may well be the case, but he will never know what might have been after a season at City that caught the imagination of the whole country.

However, there is another aspect to take into account; perhaps the move was driven in part by a fear of not being able to replicate that success again.

'Second season syndrome' is a genuine concern in football, where players and teams battle to reach former heights in their second season as novelty gives way to the weekly grind of league football.

Does Tinkler feel as though he has taken City as far as he can, and that this season -- when they were a couple of disappointing home losses to minnow sides away from winning the league -- is as good as it is going to get?

Perhaps so, but he now steps into the SuperSport job with the expectation that he will improve on that third-place finish with City. With an aging squad that probably needs quite a radical overhaul, that will be hard to do.

Time will tell whether Tinkler has made the right move, but there is the nagging feeling that he left City too soon and for a job where he will be on a hiding to nothing.


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