Buc­ca­neers ship se­ri­ously needs its crew to change at­ti­tude as new sea­son looms

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

I AM back. Re­mem­ber me?

Apolo­gies for be­ing a bit for­ward. I have these nar­cis­sis­tic episodes once a month. The other days are spent with crip­pling self-doubt even Sig­mund Freud wouldn’t have helped me with. You see, I am a mere mor­tal which means I would never in a mil­lion years coach Or­lando Pi­rates. I don’t have the right bal­ance of ar­ro­gance, san­ity and in­san­ity that’s needed to han­dle that job. Nei­ther did Kjell Jonevret.

The Swedish coach was too much of a nice guy to be a per­fect fit in a club fa­mous for ukugeb­hula umh­laba ka­masi­pala (ran­sack­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s land). Jonevret would have prob­a­bly asked for per­mis­sion first, and would have done so with gloves. Muhsin Er­tu­gral was the op­po­site. He was too “in­sane” for this job, car­ry­ing him­self in a man­ner that looked like he would swear at his own shadow for hav­ing the au­dac­ity to not catch up with him. These two coaches’ short stints, less than a year com­bined, should be a course for con­cern for the club, on why so many coaches jump ship re­gard­less of whether they were wrong or right for them.

So far it looks like the Buc- ca­neers’ new coach, Mi­lutin “Mi­cho” Sre­do­je­vic has the right bal­ance of ar­ro­gance, san­ity and in­san­ity to sur­vive in this dog-eat-dog world.

“Mi­cho” was quick to list his achieve­ments in the decade since leav­ing Pi­rates. Sre­do­je­vic left the coun­try as a no­body. He de­clared that he re­turns hav­ing made a name for him­self in the con­ti­nent, bullishly stat­ing that now he is “a brand name”.

“If you don’t know what that means, then I in­vite you to come with me to any of the coun­tries where I have coached to see what I mean to the peo­ple,” Sre­do­je­vic boasted. Ar­ro­gance. Check.

It took a cer­tain level of san­ity and in­san­ity to ne­go­ti­ate his way in the coach­ing as­sign­ments he has been in­volved in, be it in Uganda, Su­dan or Ethiopia. Those places are a pic­nic on the first day of spring com­pared to the job that lies ahead.

He in­her­its a team that slumped to their worst per- for­mance in the PSL-era. I doubt Pi­rates will end their bar­ren run in the up­com­ing sea­son. They’re still far be­hind from for­mi­da­ble forces Wits, Sun­downs, Su­perS­port and Cape Town City. Even their arch-ri­vals Chiefs, who have had their own prob­lems, are a bit ahead of Pi­rates.

“Mi­cho” has to trans­form the play­ers’ at­ti­tude, chang­ing them from pam­pered prima don­nas who feel they run the club to sol­diers who will leave the field hav­ing given their all. That’s not the case at the mo­ment.

Pi­rates find them­selves in this po­si­tion be­cause they let their squad age to­gether. They didn’t have ready-made re­place­ments when they lost key fig­ures like Andile Jali, Senzo Meyiwa, Daine Klate and lead­ers like Lucky Lekg­wathi and Siyabonga Sang­weni. Those five play­ers were not only in­flu­en­tial, but they had a good un­der­stand­ing of what it takes to suc­ceed in such a de­mand­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

The Soweto side’s bar­ren run in the year of their 80th an­niver­sary should have forced them to do some se­ri­ous in­tro­spec­tion.

The man­age­ment’s gam­ble on Er­tu­gral failed dis­mally. They took too long to find a per­ma­nent coach to steady their sink­ing ship and were even­tu­ally forced by acts of hooli­gan­ism to ap­point Jonevret. Some of the play­ers the club brought weren’t good enough and there are those who have over­stayed their wel­come, not giv­ing them enough to chal­lenge for hon­ours. Pi­rates’ man­age­ment should have been more proac­tive in­stead of be­ing re­ac­tive.

The play­ers haven’t cov­ered them­selves in glory, putting on a whim­per of a fight that saw them eas­ily blown away. Pir- ates are in need of a rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion if they are to re­turn to the side that won back-to-back domestic tre­bles or the one that reached two con­ti­nen­tal fi­nals in a space of three years.

It will take more than bring­ing a new coach to achieve that, re­gard­less of how good he is. “Mi­cho” doesn’t have much time to work with the team as the league is a cou­ple of weeks from start­ing. But if the play­ers and man­age­ment can buy into his vi­sion, he may be able to at least take the Buc­ca­neers’ ship from the depths of de­spair it cur­rently lan­guishes in.

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