JOHANNESBURG – The man Irvin Khoza praised for his longevity, even in difficult circumstances, having spent two years or more at his previous four clubs, lasted just over five months at Orlando Pirates.
Kjell Jonevret’s resignation, just like that of Muhsin Ertugral on live TV and Augusto Palacios’ utterances as interim coach, have exposed the fact that the Buccaneers have deeper-seated problems that go beyond who the coach is.
Palacios lifted the lid in his first press conference after taking over from Ertugral. “Njenje”, who has served in various posts at Pirates for the better part of the three decades he has spent in the country, promised to usher in a stricter regime.
“I don’t take nonsense from anyone,” Palacios said in November last year.
“If you don’t arrive in time (for training), you will find the change room closed and you have to go back home. This is what I will instil. For me, discipline isn’t only about players arriving for training on time. I want them to understand that Orlando Pirates pay the salaries for a full-time professional.
“That’s what we expect. I will not allow a player to arrive drunk. We will do a breathalyser in every training session (if we have to). I will not follow them all around. But I know how to catch players (who transgress). I have been here since 1984.”
Those were bold words from Palacios.
But even with his discipline and insight into the club, it couldn’t help him to turn things around.
Jonevret was forced into the picture after an angry mob of fans ran rampant at Loftus Versfeld following a 6-0 demolition by Mamelodi Sundowns.
The club’s management reacted to those acts of hooliganism by appointing a permanent coach after Pirates went close to two months with an interim coach.
At Jonevret’s unveiling, Khoza commended the Swedish coach for being able to steady the ship in his former clubs even in rough seas. But yesterday, Jonevret jumped overboard to leave the sunken Sea Robbers ship.
Throughout his tenure, Jonevret never showed any signs of giving up, even though the Nedbank Cup final exposed his tactical naivety.
The coach vowed that he would only leave after he had done enough to be given a thumbs-up by the chairman. In Jonevret’s last press conference, after the Carling Black Label Champions Cup, he was still defiant.
“I have worked in this business for a long time,” he said. “I know how it is. Sometimes they have patience and other times they don’t. Orlando Pirates have had a lot of coaches in the last couple of years. But it’s difficult for me to say anything about that. I am a professional.
“We work hard every day and we try to do our best. A few pieces are starting to take shape. I am 100% sure that we are going to have a better season. If that’s with me, or they have found a dream coach somewhere, that’s not up to me. I am pretty cool, and I am trying to do the best that I can every day.”
The “dream coach”, Milutin Sredejovic, Pirates named on Thursday, has a lot of work in his hands to end the club’s nightmare.
Jonevret’s record at Pirates
Played 18, Won 6, Drawn 7, Lost 5. Goals For: 22, Goals Against: 20.