JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic is optimistic about the club’s future despite leading them to two trophyless seasons.
The Serbian coach has injected renewed energy and belief at the Buccaneers, but the trophy cabinet remains barren. That positive energy could only take the club to second place in two successive seasons, falling short of the Mamelodi Sundowns juggernaut that claimed the championship in both those seasons.
But Sredojevic doesn’t despair, he looks at these near-misses as a step in the right direction - the direction that will eventually lead Pirates to the holy grail that is the Absa Premiership.
“This team can only get better,” Sredojevic said. “If we add cover in certain positions where we need cover, we will be stronger. We will strengthen the team with proper pre-season, proper planning and paying attention to the finest detail. We smell that success is around the corner.”
The Ghost are not the most patient fans around. Sredojevic, a confessed Pirates fan before he is their coach, knows this better than most. He watched his beloved club battered around in the 2016/17 season, prompting him to heed the call from Irvin Khoza.
The lowest moment during that campaign was not the 6-0 drubbing by Sundowns or the 6-1 loss to SuperSport United, it was the barbaric scenes at Loftus Versfeld where angry Pirates supporters stormed the field and tried to attack their own players.
Khoza was forced to act and the club went on a restructuring that has seen them return to being among the title contenders. But challenging isn’t enough, Pirates want silverware and Sredojevic must deliver if he is to stay for a long time.
“We need to dig deeper and work harder to serve our team in the best way by using the talent of our players in a positive way,” Sredojevic said. “Get the performances and get the results. You can talk, but what talks louder are performances and results.”
The Serbian has the potential to steer the Pirates ship for a long time. He understands the club and its political dynamics. He also loves it dearly.
That understanding helped him have a seamless transition at the club. He won players over by knowing not only their names but their stories too on his first day back for his second stint. The response has been positive, on and off field with the players and his technical team buying into his vision.
Sredojevic had a simple mission - transform the Buccaneers from the whipping boys to the championship challengers that they are. He quickly managed to do that but has stuttered when it comes to taking the Sea Robbers into the next level, the level of champions which is what will ultimately make or break his second stint.
Pirates lost the league more than Sundowns won it. The Bucs were in control going into the last two matches. They had the points in the bag and the cushion of a superior goal difference.
Their failure to manage their game against Cape Town City, going from 2-1 to drawing 2-2, was their own undoing. Sundowns on the other hand managed their game against Free State Stars cleverly, doing enough to clinch a record ninth league title in the Premier Soccer League era.
This is the aspect of their game that Pirates must improve if they are to dethrone Sundowns.