THERE are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Siviwe "Chippa" Mpengesi firing a coach.

Mpengesi has gone through coaches at his club Chippa United with the same appetite that a lion has for an impala, and it surely would not be long now before he comes to the attention of the good folks at the Guinness Book of Records. This is no exaggeration.

Well-travelled Serbian Vladislav Heric became the eighth coach in 18 months to agree to take on what increasingly looks like a poisoned chalice when he was announced as the new United mentor last week.

But Heric would be well advised to keep the old suitcase packed and close to his front door as he is — astonishingly — the eighth occupant of his office since United’s promotion to the domestic top flight.

And judging by his new employer’s insatiable love for the trigger, it wouldn’t be advisable for him to get too comfortable in his new surroundings. He should have long chats with the many coaches who have been through that rather busy revolving door — Ian Palmer, Mark Harrison, Wilfred Mugeyi, Roger Sikhakhane, Manqoba Mngqithi, Julius Dube and Farouk Abrahams — if he does not believe me.

Heric replaced Palmer after the latter was surprisingly shown the door last week, even though United are second on the first division table and level on points with leaders Milano United.

Suggestions have been made that Palmer was not sacked because of the club’s results, and his departure may have been linked more to a tense relationship with management than to matters on the pitch. All this is a pity, because it seemed Mpengesi would provide a breath of fresh air to the at times dour local football scene when he announced his arrival as a 35-year-old soccer boss nearly two years ago.

He had purchased United for just R400,000 in 2010 and completed the fairytale ascendancy when the side was promoted from the lower divisions to the premiership in 2012. But those achievements were soon forgotten when he developed a penchant for sacking coaches and United became the butt of numerous jokes. United were relegated last season, and those who conducted postmortems pointed to the serial sacking of coaches as the main reason for the slide into the trap door.

Heric already has the look of a deer caught in headlights, and it remains to be seen just how long he will remain at the helm before his boss develops that familiar itch again.

The reality is that United coaches do not sleep peacefully at night even when they are doing well. Just ask Palmer.

I ran into him at a Spar in the West Rand a few weeks ago, and if he already knew at the time that he would be out of the job by now, his jovial face did a very good job at masking it.

Small wonder then that the coaching profession is often described as one of the most unpredictable careers in the world. Just take a look at the coaching casualties in South African football this season alone and it does not make for pleasant reading.

At least Heric does not have any illusions about his surroundings in Cape Town. While thanking his new employers for giving him the job, he gave the impression that he knows exactly what he is getting himself into.

"The good thing is our position on the log (second). The bad thing is there may be consequences because of changing coaches," he said at the weekend.

You have to wonder how his new boss took that statement. I guess we will know soon enough in the coming weeks, won’t we?

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