Coaches, runs an old trope in sport, are the people we blame if the team loses. Players are the ones we praise if the team wins.
So there was almost a melancholy inevitability that when Gary Stead left for a strange, apparently ordered, break from coaching the Black Caps, the team would, for the first time during the Indian tour here, actually finish the damned job and win the one-dayer in Hamilton.
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Stead copped a zinger of a suggestion from Jeremy Coney - "Go and get a job in a hardware store and see your family every night" - and the timing of Stead's break, when there are free weeks available in the very near future, was at best, poor public relations, and at worst, rank incompetence from New Zealand Cricket.
It hasn't been a great time for coaches elsewhere either.
In England they're calling for the head of Eddie Jones, after the mouthy Aussie decided it was a clever ploy to mock the French rugby team before England played them in Paris.
"France can expect absolute brutality from England. We are going to go out there to make sure they understand what test rugby is."
For a smart man, Eddie can sometimes make a brick look bright. Spend more than five minutes in France, and you discover that the default attitude the French have for the English is curled lipped contempt.
In 2007, in a café off the Champs Elysee, my wife and I were waiting to watch, on a large screen television set up for diners, England play France in a World Cup semifinal.
At first we were regarded with thinly veiled hostility by the other 50 or so patrons, all of them French. But when an English speaking Frenchwoman discovered we were Kiwis, the words "Nouvelle-Zelande" changed everything.
We watched the game with French colours daubed on our cheeks, enjoying a constant flow of free red wine.
So Eddie deciding to hint that a very young French team might not have the backbone to handle the manly men of England was about as smart as lighting a match in a room full of petrol fumes.
But despite the convincing 24-14 win for France, and the certainty that the French players would have been made aware by their coach of the Jones jibes, just how well a coach using outrage and fury as motivation actually works will always be a small mystery.
Is it a coincidence, for example, that the greatest decade in All Black rugby, from 2008 to 2018 was a time when All Black coaches had stopped giving fire and brimstone team talks just before the game? Palm smacking, yelling, needling, tirades were once as much a part of a test as a coin toss for the captains, and standing to attention for the national anthem.
But Graham Henry stopped the game-day rants in 2005 after his captain, Tana Umaga, over a private coffee, asked him, "What do you give those team talks for?" Henry, known to the team as Ted, replied, "I thought they might provide the team with a bit of motivation, a bit of direction, before the match".
After a pause Umaga said, "Ah, but are they for you Ted, or for us?"
Henry never gave one again, and nor did Steve Hansen, who would note that, "if you have to give a team talk on the Saturday to tell them what to do, it's too late".
A group is probably not the best place for revving a performer up either. Jones trying to spook the whole French team with public statements was never going to seed doubt the way our only unbeaten All Black coach, Fred Allen, once did when he had the good fortune to find himself alone with a key opposing player.
In 2005 Allen told me what had happened in 1960 when Auckland were trying to win back the Ranfurly Shield from Northland, just after losing it to them at Eden Park.
"When we had to go back up to Whangarei to get it back our first-five Mackie Herewini was very emotional in the dressing room before the game. I said, 'Come on Mackie, don't worry about it'. He was a tough little bugger, he was never frightened, but he'd been late-tackled out of the game in Auckland.
"I'd been going up in the lift at the Station Hotel after we'd lost that game to Northland (24-11) and Victor Yates [the Northland loose forward] got in. All day long he and another tough loosie, called Kevin Murphy, had been smacking Mackie around," said Allen.
"We were talking away, and I said, 'you were too good for us today'.
"He said, 'Yeah, we were too good for you. We'll do you anytime'.
"I said, 'Well, maybe, but one day someone's going to kick your head clean off your bloody shoulders. You remember that'. I knew we were playing them again in 10 days' time. In Whangarei he never went near Mackie." Auckland won 6-3.
As for positive winning messages, when you look at the most successful coaches, instilling belief isn't achieved in a five-minute blast, but by a long, considered process, where confidence builds and builds alongside trust.
Our greatest running coach, Arthur Lydiard, was so hands on that he often ran the brutal 35km Waiatarua circuit in the Waitakere Ranges with his charges.
The first time Peter Snell ran Waiatarua he finished, collapsed on a sofa at Murray Halberg's home, and burst into tears. "It was humiliating," he'd say later, "but I just couldn't stop myself."
But Snell soon found that everything Lydiard said his training programmes would deliver, they did.
So by the time Halberg and Snell got to the Rome Olympics in 1960, they knew Lydiard in a way only those who had sweated and suffered together could, and on one glorious Roman afternoon they both won gold medals.
Stirring oratory doesn't make a coach. Explaining and providing a framework that makes sense, then implementing it in a consistent way, will always triumph over drama and Hollywood flourishes.
And sometimes, as the Black Caps showed in Hamilton, sportspeople don't actually need the head coach to be there.
Which brings me to the most dramatic story about a national side losing a coach before an international, and still succeeding, I know.
It involves the 1978 Wallabies in New Zealand.
The team had lost the first two tests and one dismissive Kiwi journalist (okay, it was me) wrote in a preview that "no matter what happens in the third test at Eden Park, this tour has been a dismal failure".
My only excuse for being so scathing is that the Wallabies had lost the first two tests, and just two days after losing the second test, 22-8, to the All Blacks in Christchurch, and travelling to Whanganui, came the shocking news that their coach, Daryl Harberecht, had suffered a major heart attack on the Monday morning in the team's hotel.
Andrew Slack, later a distinguished captain for Australia, was then a 22-year-old rookie.
"I can still see it even now," he told me when I called him at his home in Brisbane this week. "The door to Daryl's room was closed, with medical people inside, and we were all milling around outside in the hallway. It was a very serious attack, and after Daryl left by ambulance it was the last time we saw him on tour. He was still in hospital in New Zealand when we flew home."
Herberecht had already arranged a Tuesday session at nearby Flock House with JJ Stewart, who just two years before had been coaching the All Blacks. "JJ wasn't taking over the coaching for the tour," says Slack. "It was a one-off."
Forty two years later, one drill of Stewart's still resonates for Slack. Stewart told the Wallabies he could beat them all over 10 metres.
"We were all giggling a bit, at someone who seemed a really old guy to us (Stewart was 55) saying that. But then he said, 'When I say go, you all have to take two steps back before you start running forward'.
"He just ran, and he beat us. We realised we'd been getting ball on the back foot all tour, and that was our problem. Our captain, Tony Shaw, would later say it was like a lightbulb had just lit up in our skulls."
There was no assistant coach on the tour, so a senior group of players, led by Shaw, had to take over the training for the last two weeks. Said Slack, "We started out with a meeting with some talk that was pretty mature for young guys, and said, 'We know what's wrong, we can fix it ourselves.' We can prove the team can run the team by themselves."
And so they did.
In that last test at Eden Park their forwards got front-foot ball, No 8 Greg Cornelsen scored a record four tries, they whipped the All Blacks 30-16 in a triumph for player power, and one local journalist learned to be a little less confident when summing up a tour that isn't actually over.