Matshelane Mamabolo.
JOHANNESBURG – Just last week, there were some who were beginning to think the pressure was fast getting to Pitso Mosimane.

An uncharacteristic winless run was starting to threaten his club’s hold on their Absa Premiership title. And then Mamelodi Sundowns got knocked out of the Nedbank Cup, a result that took with it that aura of champions that permeated everything about Sundowns.

“Jingles” didn’t help matters as he lost his cool – not once, but twice. First, in his team’s 2-1 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs, and then after the shock loss to Golden Arrows in the country’s premier knockout competition.

His pronouncements that people were out to get them sounded like a classic case of sour grapes from a man not renowned for his ability to bottle things up.

Yet for those of us who’ve followed Mosimane’s coaching career closely over the years, all that was not surprising.

For we know “Jingles” to be the master of diverting attention from his team.

Mosimane would rather take the heat than let it get to his team – players and support staff alike, even if it means getting suspended or sent to anger management courses, as has been the case previously.

It works like a charm, for when the chips are down, the focus is on him and thus the players are free to rediscover themselves without the scrutiny of the crowd or the media. Because of that, the club are able to bounce back from bad runs.

And boy, did they do so in style!

When they drew 0-0 with Bloemfontein Celtic at the Lucas Moripe Stadium a fortnight ago, I mentioned in my match report that Sundowns will have to turn things around in the “tough” back-to-back clashes with neighbours and championship challengers SuperSport United, or the engraver will be putting a different name on the Absa Premiership trophy.

The defeat to Arrows immediately thereafter seemed to suggest Sundowns were really down in the gutter, having then gone six matches without a win.

But if ever there’s a coach who is able to lift his troops when the chips are down, it is the man from Kagiso.

Sundowns’ 5-0 mauling of SuperSport on Thursday in many ways served to illustrate Pitso’s nonchalance, for, despite all the talk and reports of his team going through a possible mini-crisis, he kept belief in his men.

Even after the stalemate with Celtic, Mosimane had remained confident that his team were still in control, even when we threw about the classic “points in the bag are better than games in hand” cliché his way.

Pitso Mosimane’s Sundowns made a bold statement in the 5-0 win over SuperSport. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

The defeat of SuperSport was big – literally and figuratively. It has now put them back in charge of the championship race even though they are fourth.

They trail leaders Cape Town City, who have played three matches more, by seven points. And with the victory coming as it did against a team also in the running, Pitso’s men have made a bold statement – you’re going to have to work hard to prise the championship away from us.

That’s Pitso personified, a fighter who stops at nothing to achieve his goals.

Sometimes he fights even when he doesn’t have to – at least to those of us looking on from the outside.

Yet those closer generally understand where he is coming from when he pushes security personnel at the FNB Stadium or engages in a shouting match with Gordon Masondo of Golden Arrows.

Like a mother hen protecting its chicks, “Jingles” will stop at nothing to defend his team. And once safe from harm, the players go all out to shine for their coach.

It all leaves Mosimane smelling like roses, basking in the success of his team, while those who’d mocked him for being a sore loser choke on large helpings of humble pie.

Saturday Star