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Since the arrival of mining magnate Patrice Motsepe and his big fat chequebook, the football scene has gone through changes.
Backed by Motsepe’s financial muscle, Mamelodi Sundowns have been the leaders in the transfer market paying astronomic figures for players.
Most of the team’s acquisitions arrive at Chloorkop amid fanfare only to leave with their tails between their legs, and usually, after having spent a considerable time warming the bench or worse still, in the stands.
This season it remains to be seen if the players that Sundowns have signed so far, will make the grade or follow in the footsteps of many whose football took a nosedive at the five-time PSL champions.
Failure by some of the country’s stars to set the scene alight at Sundowns is a constant issue of debate in the football fraternity, with most wanting to know why certain footballers fail to live up to expectations having done very well at their previous teams.
In the current Downs squad, Richard Henyekane, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Musa Nyatama and Sibusiso Khumalo are just but a few that have failed to replicate their forms from previous clubs. Sundowns has also been accusedof derailing the progress of many stars. However, Sundowns veteran goalkeeper Calvin Marlin is of the view that the big spenders are innocent.
“It’s up to the player to make the starting 11. The problem is not with the club. You have to impress the coach. Players have got to work hard to improve themselves and the team as well,” said Marlin.
Marlin says part of the reason why players fail to hold their own at Sundowns is that they find it difficult to walk straight into the starting line up as it may have been the case at previous clubs.
“It’s a big culture shock for a lot of players that come to Sundowns. The pressure is a lot more. You have got to work hard to get into the team because there are many other good players. You have got to put on an effort and I think a lot of them battle to transition from being a star in their team and having to work hard to make the starting 11,” said the former SuperSport United keeper.
“A lot of players fall short on staying positive and working hard even when they are not playing. A lot of players fail because they don’t make that mental change.”
Players are not the only ones finding the going tough, the club itself has found it difficult to bring silverware to Chloorkop despite massive investments in players. In the past four seasons, the Brazilians have ended the season with no silverware. Marlin, who has spent the past seven years at Sundowns, says the chopping and changing of coaches has also taken the wind off their sail.
“The changing of coaches every season or every six months has been hard especially for me as a player because you have to adjust quickly to different coaching styles. That’s been hard for us as players to get to know the new coach and new style of playing,” said the former Bafana Bafana number one.
The 36-year-old, who has spent 16 years plying his trade in the PSL, is hoping the upcoming season can bring Sundowns success that has been eluding them for a while now.
“We have a solid squad. It’s a matter of us finding the right formula. Hopefully we all work towards the same goal which is to win. We look forward to next season, hopefully we can put some trophies in the cabinet,” said Marlin. – Pretoria News