Too late, Marques
THE position of Zeca Marques as Moroka Swallows head coach has become untenable following a string of poor results in the league.
And the MTN8-winning coach may no longer have time to arrest the slide to mediocrity, which has undermined the team's bright start to the season.
The Bird's 3-1 loss to Supersport United - their eighth defeat of the season - at home on Friday, appears to have been the final straw.
A press conference has been scheduled for Tuesday at which Swallows boss Leon Prins is expected to announce possible changes to the technical staff in an attempt by the club's hierarchy to pull the team out of the slump.
Prins will not be drawn on the imminent changes, but he does concede pressure had been mounting amid growing frustration.
"We are frustrated and disappointed," says Prins. "But we need to find a way out of this.
"We can't go back to where we came from two seasons ago. There is a lot of capacity in this team and we have to try to find a solution to the problem."
Pressed on the future of the coach, Prins says: "Marques remains our coach and he is as concerned as we are.
"Any further comment will be made at the press conference."
Having started the season on a high with an early success in the form of the MTN8 knockout trophy, Swallows have undone the giant strides made by ex-coach Gordon Igesund last season.
Dogged by poor form, the Soweto club have not won a game since they beat Free State Stars 1-0 in October and are slowly being sucked into the relegation zone.
Swallows have earned 14 points from 14 games and could well find themselves at the bottom of the log before Christmas.
Worse, the psychological scars inflicted by the traumatic 2010/2011 season, in which the team barely survived relegation, could be opened up with each passing defeat.
Despite delivering the Top Eight title, Marques looks to be finding the boots of Gordon Igesund too big to fill.
A source close to the club says it has become a daily struggle for Marques to lift sagging spirits.
"He's served as an assistant at the team before but he's been thrown in the deep end," says the source.
"It's clear he's been riding on the momentum generated by Igesund, judging by the minimal changes he's affected. But he needs to apply his own philosophy as that is no longer working for him. It's difficult to sustain something you didn't create."
Marques worked as assistant to former coaches Julio Leal, Rainer Zobel and Igesund.
"There is a belief he will turn things around, but I hope it won't be too late by then. The club can't wait that long," says the source.
But there can be no excuse after the team looked so formidable when they continued with their great form early in the season.