Eric Tinkler’s big return
OVER the past several months, before eventually packing his bags and heading to Cape Town City, Eric Tinkler has been an unwelcome guest at Orlando Stadium.
The former Bafana Bafana midfielder was unfit to coach the mighty Orlando Pirates, the fans will often argue, and quite aggressively, to get their point across.
But tonight, before an Absa Premiership clash between the Buccaneers and Tinkler’s struggling side – City are looking to end a three-match winless streak – he might find a surprisingly friendly bunch.
They might even roll out the red carpet for their returning former coach – only to show off his successor, Muhsin Ertugral.
It’s early days yet with just two league matches played, but Pirates have a 100% record and have scored five goals, all of them by striker Tendai Ndoro.
Ertugral has described his firing marksman as a “special player, who needs special treatment”.
Tinkler, on the other hand, has Lehlohonolo Majoro, who watched Ndoro move ahead of him in the Pirates’ pecking order and decided a fresh start in the Mother City would be the only way for him to come out of his rut.
“To be honest, I am not thinking about all of that,” said Tinkler yesterday when asked about his return to Soweto.
He also quickly leapt to Majoro’s defence, as it is likely that he will once again be compared with his counterpart Ndoro, who is already being tipped as a candidate for the Golden Boot award at the end of the season.
“You are only as good as the supply you are getting, so to say Majoro is struggling would be incorrect.
“I don’t think he is the problem because this (the lack of goals) is a team problem,” said Tinkler.
On paper, this clash might be a complete mismatch, and Tinkler’s own assessment of Pirates is evidence enough. But he has also been able to pick out the goalkeeping department poser, where butter-fingers Felipe Ovono has been dropped for Brighton Mhlongo, who was the first choice under the Tinkler regime.
“Obviously, there are a whole lot of new faces there, like (Bernard) Morrison, (Justice) Chabalala and (Abbubaker) Mobara. But there are some issues around the goalkeeping department.
“Having said that, the core of the team is still there and doing well. Oupa Manyisa is back, Mpho Makola is still pulling the strings and Ndoro is still scoring goals,” Tinkler said.
The 2-1 defeat away to Bidvest Wits in the quarter-finals of the MTN8 aside (Ovono was in a generous mood on the day, his two howlers gifting the opposition their two goals), the Buccaneers look to have a bit more structure and organisation than when Tinkler was in charge.
A seventh-place Premier League finish at the end of the 2015/16 season can easily be Ertugral’s reference point whenever Pirates punch below their weight during year one of his three-year stint.
However, that should not overshadow the fact that the coach has inherited a gifted side and has topped it up with some individual brilliance, as per Tinkler’s observation.