So, while he may be disappointed the Cape side wasn’t able to sustain its title challenge to the last game of the campaign, at least he has the consolation of having conceded the league championship to the club that shaped his career.
Tinkler was a junior at Wits before going on to carve out a successful career in Europe with Vitória Setúbal in Portugal, Cagliari in Italy and Barnsley in England. And, when his playing days were over, it was again, at the same Wits, that he kicked off his coaching career.
“Congratulations to Wits on winning the league,” said Tinkler. “I’ve always said they were among the favourites, especially if you look at the depth and quality of their squad. It’s a great achievement for Gavin (Hunt, Wits coach) and everybody associated with the club. I started there as a promising junior, I’m really happy for them.
"I will always have Wits in my heart.”
Tinkler’s City snatched the vital three points they needed to secure third spot on the PSL standings in a tough 1-0 win over Golden Arrows at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday.
As it stands, with one game remaining, Wits can’t be caught on 60 points, but second is still up for grabs – Mamelodi Sundowns on 56 and City on 55.
In the final game of the season – May 27 – City are away to Polokwane City, while Sundowns have a tricky fixture against relegation-threatened Highlands Park.
“There is the possibility of finishing second, but that’s not up to us,” said Tinkler. “So we won’t worry too much about that. We’ll do what we have to do – and we know we have a tough game against a Polokwane side that has had a fantastic season.
"They play an attractive brand of football and they have nothing to lose in that last match because they are already guaranteed of finishing in the top eight.
“For us, though, we have to understand what we have achieved in our first season. To be honest, even I didn’t think we could achieve what we have. At the beginning of the season, I said: ‘a Cup trophy maybe’, ‘top eight maybe’ and then we had to keep changing our goals along the way. But to think that we would do this well – I think everybody involved with the club can feel proud of the achievement.”
Tinkler is now already looking ahead to next season.
Third-place is secure, and second is a possibility – but, either way, City will be playing in one of the continental competitions next season: African Champions League (if they finish second); CAF Confederations Cup (if they finish third).
“We are going to need a few new faces,” said the City coach. “And not just because we will be playing in Africa, but also because PSL teams will be more prepared for us next season. We are no longer an unknown quantity.”