JOHANNESBURG – Even though SuperSport United coach Eric Tinkler describes his club’s schedule as insane, he isn’t about to rotate his squad to give some players a break and introduce fresh blood.
Matsatsantsa played their eighth PSL match this month in their clash with AmaZulu at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday evening.
It’s a heavy schedule that’s taking a toll on the players and the team, compounded by the fact that it comes shortly after their African sojourn that ended in disappointment.
SuperSport travelled to Madagascar, Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Gabon, Zambia, Tunisia and the Democratic Republic of Congo twice in a space of 10 months with two domestic seasons sandwiching a campaign that saw them reach the Caf Confederation Cup final in November.
The argument has been why then does Tinkler not use SuperSport’s squad depth to ease the workload off the players who were heavily involved in that campaign, instead of waiting until they break down - like it is the case with the injured Bradley Grobler, Ronwen Williams and Thabo Mnyamane - before introducing fresh blood.
“Depth doesn’t really help,” Tinkler said. “It’s all about form. Players need to be playing on a regular basis to gain form. If you are chopping and changing week in, week out there’s no form. There’s no stability. There’s no consistency.
“We’ve been facing that issue as well, when you look at the amount of injuries and suspensions that we’ve had. Morgan (Gould’s) in, Morgan’s out. This one’s in and that one’s out. To create that consistency becomes very, very difficult. We’re obviously looking to transform the team, moving forward. We’ve had a number of players who have left us.
“That also affected the team. We’re looking to rebuild and bring new faces. It’s difficult for the youngsters because they’re coming into a pressurised situation.”
Tinkler argues that SuperSport’s woes are caused by being mentally drained and not because of the physical toll the players have been subjected to.
“There’s no team that has gone to the Caf final and hasn’t felt this,” Tinkler said. “You saw it with (Mamelodi) Sundowns. You saw it with (Orlando) Pirates. I experienced it with Pirates. I don’t think that people understand how difficult it is. It’s more emotional for the players than anything else.
“I don’t think that it’s a physical issue. It’s more an emotional issue because to get to that Caf final is a long road. We got to a Nedbank Cup final, MTN8 final and the Confederation Cup final.
“That takes a lot of hard work and the players have to go through a lot of pressure. Normally what you would find is that your season would end with a Champions League final or a Europa League final (like it is the case in Europe).
“Whether you won or lost, you have at least five weeks to recover, regenerate and get away from the game before you start the new season. That’s not the case here.
“We’ve got to come back and start catching up league fixtures. You’ve got to sit and play 10 league fixtures in a space of 30 days, (eight games in their case) and we expect these guys to bounce back after three days and put on the same performance, same energy and same level of concentration, that’s not easy.
“That’s extremely difficult.”