If it is never an easy time to be the senior coach of a major sporting team, then 2014 has been an even more vexing year than most.

The decline and fall of Ewen McKenzie has been ugly and dramatic, leaving Australian rugby to scramble for a new coach of the Wallabies the week before an international tour. In the AFL a familiar round of coaching culls has claimed three mentors in Brenton Sanderson, Guy McKenna and Brendan McCartney.

Highest profile of all was David Moyes' Manchester United passion play, a big budget version of the struggle more commonly glimpsed at lowlier points of the Premier League table. Moyes remarked of United that having been given a six-year contract, he viewed the role as a long-term project. Had he imagined it would be a nine-month probation period after which time he may have been sacked, Moyes reckons he would have done things differently.

All these dramas have served to underline the rare job pulled off by Darren Lehmann as coach of Australia's cricketers. He took on the role in an atmosphere sharing various elements of all the dysfunctional examples above, including a team battling to match up to earlier history, a cliquey and divided team, a governing body and public impatient for success, and playing resources in need of careful husbanding due to cricket's ever more distended schedule.

The remedies Lehmann offered were far from revolutionary but remarkable in their combined and successful application. There was direct communication and honesty to help grow trust, a concerted effort to drain tension from the team room through humour and life perspective, simple plans that allowed players the room to use initiative, and the matey courting of a previously sceptical Australian public to ensure the team was eagerly supported. Most critically, Lehmann repaired the trust between the coaching staff and some players that had broken down almost completely in the latter days of Mickey Arthur's ill-starred time as coach. The most pivotal of those players was Mitchell Johnson, who described the change during the Ashes.

"He understands the players," Johnson said. "He's been in the situation before as a player so he knows what's going on and he's got a calming influence. But he'll also tell you if you're being an idiot or doing something you shouldn't be doing. He's a straight shooter, which is what you want, but he understands the players. He gets to know each player which is pretty important as a coach. He knows how people tick and he's definitely found that with me. We have a lot of trust."

Lehmann made decisions that many of the deposed or disillusioned coaches of 2014 also tried. He has taken a major share of control over the choices of support staff around the team, as McKenzie did at the Wallabies. He has forged more familiar and caring relationships with his players as Sanderson did with the Crows. And he brought vast energy, reflected by the daily emails staff commonly receive as early as 5 or 6am, similar to that of Moyes.

No-one knows how the next phase of Lehmann's career will unfold. In his previous long haul experiences, as a player, he enjoyed not only giddy successes but shattering failures

But it has also been the result of lessons learned and methods honed over his two previous stints with the Deccan Chargers in the IPL and Queensland in Australian domestic competition. In each case, Lehmann took over a team that was not only under-performing but beset by other ills; Deccan's players were far from united, while many of Queensland's had fallen out with the coach Trevor Barsby.

Such environments allowed Lehmann to sweep in with freshness and simplicity but also power and influence, able to push the players in his direction largely because their previous methods had seen ruinous results and internal discord. At Deccan he drew the players together during a pre-season training camp and in the early weeks of an IPL suddenly shifted to South Africa. In Queensland he built relationships during 2010-11 before a Shield-winning 2011-12. "He didn't try to change much the first year, went with the flow," says one Bulls player. "But in his second year he put his stamp on it."

With Australia the pattern repeated a third time: poor results, disunity behind the scenes and the need for a release of mounting tension allowing Lehmann the chance to set down his methods among players, coaches and administrators forced into attentiveness by their need for a saviour. Following a period of observation, encouragement and the odd mistake - this time the 2013 Ashes tour - Lehmann settled the team into the zone they enjoyed against England and South Africa. So far so good, and a contract extension until 2017 was just reward.

But now comes the challenging bit. Having won rapid promotion from IPL to Shield to the national team, Lehmann needs to build sustained success for Australia, a task that may be more difficult than last summer's results would indicate. His best players - Johnson, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris - are ageing, and the schedule does him no favours. He must also deal with the many challenges of a long-term tenure, keeping plans sharp, messages fresh, relationships vital and egos secondary to team performance. The team Lehmann takes to the World Cup and then England in 2015 will by that time be battling fatigue both physical and mental.

No-one knows how this next phase of Lehmann's coaching career will unfold, least of all the man himself. His only previous long haul experiences were as a player for South Australia and Yorkshire, and in both environments he enjoyed not only giddy successes but shattering failures - in the year after SA's 1996 Shield victory they finished bottom; the season after Yorkshire's drought-busting 2001 Championship the club was relegated. An exhausted World Twenty20 campaign and a loss to Zimbabwe in Harare were notable if transient troughs for Australia after last summer's peaks.

The Pakistan Tests provide the first significant juncture of Lehmann's new phase as Australia's established coach, uncharted territory for him. But as McKenzie, Sanderson, McCartney and Moyes will attest, it is the sort of headache many an unemployed coach would love to have in 2014.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig