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