JOHANNESBURG – For a team that finished so strong last season, Orlando Pirates have surprisingly – although playing well – struggled to build on from their second place position in the Absa Premiership last season.
You can’t blame the pundits for predicting the Buccaneers would have been early pace setters. But the hype is proving too much for coach Micho Sredojevic and his men following a second successive league defeat at the weekend, leaving Pirates with only four points from a possible 12.
Sredojevic struggled to give answers for the slow start recently, but we can think of at least THREE things that are contributing.
1. Too many cooks spoil the broth
Perhaps in his attempt to improve the quality of his squad with the aim to go one better than the previous campaign, Sredojevic got carried away. The Serbian struck a formidable pair with his assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena in their maiden year at the club, the chemistry evident in how the players spoke of the duo and obvious on the pitch, too.
But things are a little bit different this time around after the appointment of all these “specialists”.
Sure, the modern game dictates your approach, but was the arrival of two football analysts and a finishing specialist too much too soon? All of them have their own ideas, although they are expected to work together. Nothing wrong with changing the traditional way of doing things – until the head coach is a tad confused.
2. It’s too early to rotate
Consider the fact that Sredojevic made five changes to react to the home defeat against Bidvest Wits last week in naming his starting line-up for the Celtic match on Sunday.
Pirates were far from outplayed by Wits in that highly tactical narrow 1-0 setback to force such drastic changes to a team that needs to quickly click, build momentum and challenge for the championship.
What was more alarming was that Thabo Matlaba returned to the first eleven despite having been on the transfer list earlier this month and confirmed as having joined Chippa United. How did a player destined to kick his heels in the stands claw his way back into the coach’s plans and recalled to make an impact?
Even if it was a horses for courses approach for that specific game, surely Matlaba wouldn’t have been the first to be considered. Something was a bit off with that inclusion and the omission of players like Musa Nyatama, Mulenga and Justin Shonga.
3. Sredojevic should stick to his guns
What was so wrong with the tried and tested from the second half of the previous season that the coach felt the need to change it?
The Serbian mentor devoted his waking hours fine-tuning a side that could eventually win a championship, but he now wants to dismantle it in a huff.
Why is Augustine Mulenga in and out of the team so often? And why was Thamsanqa Gabuza preferred ahead of Shonga in the defeat away to Celtic?Or was he punished for that unbelievable miss in a one-on-one chance with goalkeeper Darren Keet when the Buccaneers lost to Wits?
Vincent Pule is about the only player that’s earned his place in the starting line-up among the new signings. The rest, however, should have been gradually introduced. But all these specialists think otherwise, clearly.