What’s up, Bhakaniya? Having finished second in the league behind Mamelodi Sundowns last season, expectations were rightfully high for Orlando Pirates this term.
Coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic was riding a crest of a wave, having taken the Buccaneers to the Caf Champions League, and hopes of taking on Masandawana for the title.
But after a heady off-season of multiple player signings and additional coaches, it’s all gone horribly wrong for the Soweto giants.
Out of the MTN8 to ‘hoodoo’ side SuperSport United, and just one win and two goals in four league games…
So, what’s gone wrong? First of all, was it necessary to buy virtually another team? Nine new players seemed a bit excessive, especially as Pirates ended second in the Absa Premiership last season.
Some of those were established PSL names such as Vincent Pule, Brilliant Khuzwayo, Kudakwashe Mahachi and Ben Motshwari, among others, but how are they all going to fit into a settled starting XI?
Micho has suggested that the extra ammunition was part of his plan to compete in both the Premiership and Champions League.
But you can only build a team by allowing them to grow together, so it is deeply concerning that a whopping 24 players have been used by the coach this season.
Sredojevic needs to identify his best XI and let them play regularly, with only injury-enforced changes when necessary. I mean, how could their Player of the Season Musa Nyatama not have featured against Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday?
The Serbian mentor took the unprecedented step of appointing a ‘finishing coach’ in Stephane Adam to help solve the scoring problems among the strikers.
The Frenchman will need time to make a difference, but how is Sredojevic himself helping the cause by choosing Thamsanqa Gabuza ahead of someone like Justin Shonga?
Gabuza attracted the attention of the boo-boys once more at the Free State Stadium and on social media after missing a number of chances against Celtic yet again.
Sredojevic’s right-hand man, Rhulani Mokwena, has received much praise for his part in Pirates’ renaissance, and rightly so.
But old warhorse Benson Mhlongo has left the club to become a head coach at NFD outfit TS Sporting, while there is a new goalkeeper mentor in Andrew Sparkes – as well as Franck Plaine (head of performance) and Darian Wilken (analysis).
Could all these developments in the technical team be part of the reason for Pirates’ struggles so far?
Sredojevic needs to go back to the strategy that took them to second last season, and he has time on his side to help Pirates rule the PSL seas.
Just one victory in four league games is unacceptable for a team of Pirates’ stature and the type of personnel they have in their squad.
The chopping and changing has to stop to ensure the Ghost don’t have to see their favourite team in choppy waters again, like they were in the 2016-17 season.@ashfakmohamed