Can he save United?

Er­tu­gral ex­pected to help trou­bled Mid­lands side avoid the rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle

Weekend Witness - - Sport - CARL PE­TERS

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

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