JOHANNESBURG - It comes as a bit of a shock considering just how abnormal the 2017/18 Absa Premiership season has been, but Orlando Pirates coach Milutin "Micho" Sredojevic says the criticism on the quality of football so far is exaggerated.
Asked for his “honest” opinion on the South African domestic league since his return following a decade-long absence, the former Uganda national team coach argued there has been a massive improvement.
“I need to tell you that the league is much more organised than it was, and I am talking post (2010) World Cup era,” the Buccaneers coach explained.
“All the teams are working very hard and someone will tell you that there is a problem this season because just one win can move you up the log table and a defeat will take you down.
"People will say this is a product of a lack of quality in the league. I don’t think like this. I want to give credit to all the coaches that are working very hard. It means competition is so tight that games can go either way, and this is exactly what I was expecting coming here.”
Sredojevic’s remarks, however, have not been supported by the standard of the football so far in this campaign, where Baroka FC have led proceedings for several months at the top of the Premiership table and defending champions Bidvest Wits are rooted to the foot of the log, although they trail Mamelodi Sundowns (who overtook Baroka at the top on Tuesday) by just 10 points after 11 games.
Pirates have also been a typical example of just how bad things have been, managing a single victory in their last eight league matches but holding on to third place on the PSL table.
Following their seventh draw of the season in their game against SuperSport United on Tuesday night, the Buccaneers can still boast that they remain within touching distance of the new log leaders.
“I am enjoying each and every single moment right now,” Sredojevic said.
“I want to give my all and contribute to the country moving in a positive direction. I am a person who believes in a process - it’s not important where you are but which direction you are going. In that process things cannot be perfect all at once.
"All my life I have seen that in football there is no logic because sometimes one plus one doesn’t always equal two. I believe in the work we are doing and the players we have to work on our model of playing.”
SuperSport coach Eric Tinkler agreed that how the season was unfolding was indeed unusual, but was adamant that the 2017 CAF Confederation Cup finalists would run their own race and avoid getting sucked into their rivals’ inconsistency.
“I think we are currently the only team that’s on target,” said Tinkler, whose side are playing catch-up with six games in hand.
“We have 14 points from seven games and we are trying to average two points per game. I have explained to the players that if we can collect 14 more from the available 18 points, we could find ourselves at Christmas being top of the league and still with four games in hand. That’s the way the league is looking right now.
"But obviously none of the games are going to be easy. When you play Pirates it is easy to have determination and work ethic, but your worry is when you go to Free State Stars and Baroka, whether you are going to get the same. Teams that win leagues get the points against those teams, not against Pirates.”