DURBAN – It is now or never for Orlando Pirates coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic.
The Serbian has been at the helm of the Buccaneers for two seasons but is yet to deliver any silverware.
There can be no denying that Micho has brought a new lease of life to Pirates.
The Sea Robbers are now competitive - as evidenced by them finishing runners-up twice in the Absa Premiership under his leadership - and they are playing eye-catching football.
But good football without trophies is not enough for a club as big and with as much history of success as the Buccaneers.
At Pirates you are judged by the number of trophies you’ve delivered. Micho need only consult with compatriot Kostadin Papic who will attest to that notion.
Under Papic, Pirates played arguably their most exciting football in the Premiership era with the likes of Joseph Makhanya, Lebohang Mokoena, Benedict Vilakazi and the late Gift Leremi the architects of that fast-paced attacking game.
Thrilling as it was, that football brought home no trophies and Papic was shown the door. Going into the last campaign of his three-year contract, Micho knows it is deliver or bust.
The threat to his job notwithstanding, the Serb is a highly-driven coach whose passion for Pirates will not allow him to end his tenure without silverware.
The discerning Pirates fans will know though that their club not winning trophies is not solely a Micho problem, not with just three of the eight coaches who held the post in the last nine years having won something for the club.
Indications though are that Micho has everything he needs to get The Ghost rejoicing.
For one, he has gotten the team to buy into his playing philosophy. That, plus the fact that he has developed a fantastic rapport with the players, will stand him in good stead going into the new season.
And then there is the signings that the club has made.
Already in charge of a well-balanced squad teeming with fantastic talent, Micho has had his wishes of beefing up the squad for the continental challenge met by club chairman Irvin Khoza.
The Iron Duke has let his chequebook do the talking and brought in top players such as Fortune Makaringe, Siphesihle Ndlovu and Gabadinho Mhango. The likes of Tshegofatso Mabasa, Bongani Sam, Kabelo Dlamini, Joris Dell and Tenogo Tlolane will also be available for Micho to pick from. Zakhele Lepasa is also expected stay with the club after his loan spell with TS Galaxy.
Surely with such additions to a squad that pushed Mamelodi Sundowns all the way in the past two seasons, Micho will have no excuse not to deliver.
The Serb will no doubt be hoping he gets third-time lucky like Rudi Krol - the Dutch legend who won the championship in his third season at Pirates.
The Bucs were in a seven year trophy drought when Krol - in the final year of his contract and under immense pressure - got them off to a flying start by lifting the MTN8 title.
They added both the Absa Premiership and Nedbank Cup trophies to their cabinet that year.
Can Micho emulate Krol?
He better do so if he knows what is good for him.@Minenhlecr7