Gavin Hunt adapting to new methods to revitalise Bidvest Wits
Gavin Hunt is constantly re-inventing himself to keep fresh in a game where he says he cannot afford to stick to his old ways but must learn to adapt to modern ways.
His mea culpa came this week when he spoke to reporters and was asked whether he had changed in any way after a horror last season for Bidvest Wits almost saw them relegated, just 12 months after being crowned champions in 2016.
The 54-year-old Hunt, who has won a record-equaling four league titles in his coaching career, can be taciturn, testy and belligerent at times but on other occasions has the audience rolling in the aisles with his humorous discourse on the game and on life.
This is Hunt in full flow:
"As a coach, as time goes on, you've got to change because they [players] are not going to change. These are the modern times ... cellphones ... when I dated a girl I had to phone her house and ask her father if I could speak to his daughter ... nowadays they are texting at 12 o'clock at night.
"Things are changing ... I've got to change. They're on Instagram, all these WhatsUps [sic], Twitters ... I've got to change. I'm old-school but I've got to change. If I don't change I'm dead. Then I've got to go. I've got to accept ... people on Twitter, people saying this and that, this whole [social] media thing. I don't know about this stuff, but I've got to change.
"I've got to go with the times and accept it. Players react to situations differently now. People today are soft, the youth of today are soft, not as hard as we were. But they have been brought up differently. Me, as a coach, I need to change."
But Hunt says he is not getting softer in his ways.
"No, but there is a line. When we lost games we used to run Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but today's players are not going to respond to that like I responded, running up hills and mountains. Those days are gone. Players [of past eras] responded to that.
"Now we've got all this technology ... tactical analysis, graphs and diagrams. Most of those guys [who compile the data] can't kick a ball. But that's me. I've got to go with the times, as a coach you have to change."
Which then begged the question: "So how are you getting on with all those changes, coach?"
"I have no idea," responded Hunt. "I had the best three years of my life in Standard Eight. Can you imagine my intelligence! I cannot switch a computer on, a phone ... what do I know?
"I once had lunch with Sir Alex Ferguson when he came out to South Africa a few years ago and he said to me the biggest thing he had to do was to change with the times. They went from that drinking culture ... in my day we drank too, we drank for South Africa!
"We had 10 cold Castles after the match before we left the changeroom. Now the players have ice baths and milkshakes! We had chocolate bars and beer. So that's changed.
"Pre-match meals ... we used to have tea and toast and then a pie at the garage on the way to the game! This stretching and yoga ... but they can't kick a ball. So I've got to be careful what I say. They cannot cross the road but I could cross the ball with my eyes closed. You understand what I'm saying?
"So, as a coach, there is more coaching now, in my day less coaching. The coaches I had hammered us, verbally and physically. That's changed.
"That's why guys like Benni [McCarthy, pictured above] are fantastic for our game because of where they've come from and the level that he has played at. He's seen the best. That's why we've got to get more guys like Benni into South African football. Guys like Fadlu Davids are good ... they're studying.
"If I don't change, the game will leave me behind and I think that's what happened to a lot of guys," added Hunt, who has been coaching in the PSL uninterrupted since 1998.
Hunt won three league titles in a row with SuperSport United between 2008 and 2010, and also led Wits to their maiden championship in 2016-17, before having to haul the side out of a relegation scrap the following season.