In Tinkler I believe
Absolutely bullish! That was the mood among The Ghost as Eric Tinkler steered Orlando Pirates towards the final of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Depressed! That was the mood of the very same Bhakaniya each time Pirates put on a tepid performance in the domestic league, struggling to sweep aside teams that should have been swatted like little insects.
Exhilarating! That was the spirit in the Pirates family after the continental giants’ 3-1 victory over the Soweto giants in October.
That, in short, has been the schizophrenic life of those who love the glorious institution that wears black and white. We moved from boastful overconfidence on the eve of the final to a treasonous populism of the #TinklerMustFall campaign immediately after the final whistle in Sousse last Sunday.
Sure, Pirates have fallen short of achieving sterling results in the domestic league. Sure, the team is currently lying outside the top eight.
Sure, goals have been as scarce as foreign nationals at King Goodwill Zwelithini’s imbizos. Sure, the Bucs should and could have wrapped up the Confederation Cup final in the first leg at Orlando Stadium.
But we should acknowledge that Pirates are playing the most beautiful football in the PSL. The road to the Confed final was not just a brave and gritty ride, it was done with style and panache. There were many memorable moments during victories scored in hostile conditions and sometimes on parched fields.
Back home, the dropped points were not a result of poor play. On the field, Pirates strung together meaningful and effective passes. The pattern of play was lucid and entertaining, spoilt only by the failure to find the back of the net.
It is this failure the populists and heretics are now using to mount a campaign to get rid of Tinkler. Many of them are the same people who urged chairman Irvin Khoza to fire Rudi Krol during his first season because, in their eyes, he was not playing Pirates’ brand of football.
After his two back-to-back trebles, they were clamouring for Krol’s contract to be extended and are now campaigning for his return.
Tinkler is in the same position: the trophy cabinet is bare, but the fat years are within sight.
Pirates’ current play is reminiscent of the days of Viktor Bondarenko and Kosta Papić – fast and skilful.
In the first four months of his first full season at the helm, Tinkler has shown he understands the enormity and responsibility of his task. Without the burden of continental competition, he will be able to guide Pirates to at least a top-three finish, or this lowly newspaperman will buy five lucky City Press readers a bottle of Mainstay each.
Khoza should stick to the statement he made in May that “there is no reason to change anything, as this might have a negative effect on momentum”.
That rings even more true now. #TinklerMustStand. #TinklerMustRise!