Orlando Pirates' coach Julio Leal said he would not be changing his laissez-faire philosophy and style of play as the Brazilian starts feeling the pressure in the club's hot seat.
“I will not change this kind of relationship even if the players sometimes go beyond the line. This is my style of coaching,” said Leal on Tuesday.
“They (players) also sometimes overlap the line, and there are players that need to be kicked in the ass, but it is not my style.
“My relationship (with the players) is good and I would like to see that improve more, but it must be natural and not forced.”
There have been reports of internal turmoil and ill-discipline within the Buccaneers' squad with part of the blame going to Leal's free-spirited nature.
The irony is that Ruud Krol, Pirates' treble winning coach from last season, did not have his contract renewed because some players in the club were not happy with his strictness on and off the field.
“I am a son of a dictator back at home in Brazil and hated it. I did not do the same with my sons,” said Leal.
“I treat players like they are my sons and won't be 'Commando' over the players.
“Yes, when you are in a group this big, some will not be happy, naturally.
“I try to treat them like friends, respect them as individuals and try to give them freedom to express on the field and off it, and I think they like it.”
In his eight months in charge, Leal has won two trophies – the MTN8 and the Telkom Knockout.
However, Pirates have been erratic in their league campaign.
They also bombed out in the preliminary rounds of the Caf Champions League last weekend – a competition that the club had highly prioritised this year.
A number of supporters had called for Leal to be relieved of his duties, though there were the same calls for Krol's head last season before the club went on to lift two cups and the Premiership crown.
There were also reports that club chairman Irvin Khoza had requested a meeting with Leal and the players in the wake of their Champions League exit.
“I have not had a request from the chairman,” Leal said.
“But I can't talk about what my mandate in the contract of the club is.
“I feel the expectations of our people. What is important when you lose is to turn the page and forget.
“We trying to win against every opponent Ä which is what Pirates deserves.”
Pirates start their Nedbank Cup defence this weekend against amateur side, Ethekwini Coastals, in Umlazi on Saturday.
Leal added that his side would be well-prepared for the fixture in order to avoid an embarrassing early exit in the South African equivalent of the FA Cup.
Pirates returned from Angola on Monday where they drew 1-1 but lost to Recreativo do Libolo 4-2 on aggregate.
“We will be ready, having had four or five days before the match,” Leal said.
“I have all my players now, unlike the Champions League (where some players could not be registered).
“The performance will be good and there will be a fighting spirit.”
In Wednesday's games, Santos host University of Pretoria at Athlone, while Platinum Stars take on Dolphin FC in Rustenburg in the cup's Last 32 fixtures. – Sapa