Orlando Pirates are desperate to win the league title. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
The short answer to the question "have Orlando Pirates failed this season?" is yes. But the matter is not black and white, there are a lot of grey areas when examining the Buccaneers’ progress under coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic.

The Serbian coach took over a disorganised bunch who had slumped to their worst season in the Premier Soccer League era. In one season he turned that bunch into Absa Premiership challengers and brought back CAF Champions League football to Orlando Stadium after a six-year absence.

The Buccaneers pushed Sundowns to the second last game in the league race last season. This season it will go down to the wire.

But Pirates lost their advantage with the draw against Cape Town City. Their fate is now out of their hands. They have to beat Polokwane City on Saturday at Orlando Stadium and hope that the Brazilians lose to Free State Stars in Bethlehem.

In the last campaign the Buccaneers collected 55 points and scored 41 goals. They have scored the same number of goals this season and they sit on 54 points with one game to go.

Statistically there’s not much improvement as they are still in second place, trailing a team that played two Champions League campaigns in one season. Pirates should have walked this league race, but they stuttered when it mattered against the Citizens. Sredojevic’s project is still a work in progress. But he needed a trophy, any trophy, this season to appease what he describes as the “most demanding fans in Africa”.

However, all is not lost for Pirates. They are set to return to Champions League football again this season should they finish in the top two. The lessons they learned in the Champions League and domestic league, especially when it comes to making the most of their home ground advantage, will prepare them well for the future. And Sredojevic is the man to lead the Buccaneers into that future.

“We lack the patience in projects, and projects are scientific,” Golden Arrows coach Steve Komphela said at Loftus Versfeld when he praised Pitso Mosimane and Pirates’ technical team in what they have done this season.

“If you don’t follow science, you will never succeed. The best way to succeed in anything is to become scientific. What science means? You’ve got to go to the dictionary and check what it means, it’s got to be a systematic approach so that you can achieve a certain result. As it is systematic, so when it doesn’t click you go back and check so that you can rectify.”

He continued, “But we don’t want to follow such processes. How I wish we could learn. But learning sometimes is painful, more especially when you are in denial. ‘No! No! No! There’s nothing like that.’ If you say that there is nothing like that, you will go 15-20 years (without winning anything) because you are in denial. When there is acceptance, the soil becomes fertile and your project blossoms.”

Cape Argus