Can he save United?
Ertugral expected to help troubled Midlands side avoid the relegation battle
MARITZBURG United will soon start looking at transfer issues now that Muhsin Ertugral has been signed to replace recently-departed head coach Fadlu Davids at the troubled local club.
The veteran Ertugral was announced as United’s new tactician yesterday on a two-and-a-half-year deal and his first training session with the Team of Choice comes this morning.
His main objective is to take the basement-dwelling outfit to safer ground in the Absa Premiership and this includes looking at what business can be done in the January transfer window to sharpen the squad.
The Turkish-born 59-year-old might not be known as a “survival specialist” in South African football, nor as a championship-winning coach for that matter, but he has a good amount of time available for his mission to avoid relegation, as United still have 16 matches left to play before the season ends in May.
He came into the Maritzburg picture after the club failed to do a deal with their main target, Steve Komphela, who was yesterday reported to be on his way to Golden Arrows from financiallystrapped Bloem Celtic in another significant football development.
Ertugral told Weekend Witness after his appointment yesterday: “I first have to see what were the problems that led to the team not doing well this season and then try to fix them.
“It is good that there are 16 matches left to play before the season ends, but we are only looking at getting enough points to be safe in the league at the moment, nothing else.
“The team also has some young players and we will give everybody a chance Veteran coach Muhsin Ertugral is ready to keep Maritzburg United away from the relegation axe in the Absa Premiership. PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES to prove themselves before we determine exactly what we want from the transfer market.”
Added United boss Farook Kadodia: “He is a seasoned coach who will know exactly how to deal with the situation we are in, to get the team out of the relegation zone.
“He is an expert in promoting youth, so beyond saving us from relegation this season, his mandate is to bring through and unearth young talent, and to help the club maintain a top-eight position in the future.”
An announcement will be made shortly regarding the make-up of Ertugral’s technical team.
The well-travelled coach has had more than 10 coaching contracts with clubs in this country since 1999.
But had he joined Komphela in declining to move to the Midlands at this point, United would have gone for Eric Tinkler, in terms of a statement made by Kadodia earlier in the week.
As the “Blue Army” of United fans must be aware, Ertugral has to find a way for the team to create far more scoring chances in order to get more goals.
This can also be seen in the team’s low goals-for figure on the log table from 14 matches.
Of course, United seemingly failed to recover from the loss of attacker Lebo Maboe to Sundowns before the season began, with new striker Yannick Zakri yet to prove that he is good value for money.
However, United’s defensive statistics are far more positive than their attacking figures and Ertugral will likely see that as a good base to work from, considering that teams in relegation trouble usually concede too many goals.
Indeed, the Midlands “draw specialists” have kept more clean sheets and had fewer losses than their closest rivals in the nether region of the 16-team standings — plus they have a game in hand.
This suggests that Ertugral’s overall task could be less bone-breaking than it looks on the surface.
He has a week to prepare his new charges for a league match against one of his former clubs, Arrows, in Durban next Sunday. • [email protected]ness.co.za