“And as we always say, once and always…” That is how Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic signed off, along with the crossed-arms salute, as coach of Orlando Pirates on Friday night.
In a shock announcement on the club’s social media channels, Pirates stated that their Serbian was resigning for personal reasons.
In a video on the Pirates Twitter account, Sredojevic said: “Dear supporters, spiritual owners of Orlando Pirates, this institution… I would like to use this opportunity and occasion to whole-heartedly appreciate those over 740 days that we have spent together.
“I want to thank personally Dr Irvin Khoza, our chairman, who has brought me to this club for the second time.
“Due to the challenges that I am personally facing, I am leaving this position, but in the same moment, I will look forward for the challenges that, once I’m settled, are coming ahead of me.
“I really value and appreciate each moment spent with you. And as we always say, once and always…”
Sredojevic’s decision to leave the club was unexpected so early in the season, and also after he spoke at a press conference on Thursday about how he was intending to rectify matters following the 3-0 thrashing at the hands of SuperSport United on Wednesday night.
In fact, he went as far as saying that his players needed to “man-up” after a tough few days, where they lost to Green Eagles in Zambia in a Caf Champions League clash last Saturday, and then went down to SuperSport.
“I would like to say that we need to man-up, and use these 72 hours in an appropriate way,” the 49-year-old said on Thursday.
“Instead of licking the wounds of the last two matches, we have to focus on how to produce the performance and the result on Saturday.
“We need to out-work them football-wise. In terms of the wounds, we are healing with the match on Saturday. We owe ourselves, we owe our supporters – we need to return to the normal direction.
“Football is not the bush where you can hide. Everyone can see you, it’s very transparent. I do care about the jersey, the badge and the supporters. But we need to find an umbrella to help us pass this storm.
“We need to bring our A-game on Saturday, as this is the demand when you look at our opponents and supporters. We need to provide the approach of wounded lions – pride is at stake.
“It is not pleasant to go through this. We need to wash the laundry inside, look at each other in the face, and answer not by talking – let the football talk on Saturday.”
But now he has left Orlando Stadium, with assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena taking charge, and he will be assisted by Fadlu Davids and Franck Blaine for Saturday’s MTN8 showdown with Highlands Park.
“Milutin Sredojevic relinquishes his position as Head Coach of Orlando Pirates Football Club after two seasons at the helm,” a club statement read on Friday night.
“The Club would like to place on record that this decision was taken unilaterally, and it was the management’s decision to accept Mr Sredojevic to vacate his position based on reasons he has presented which are of a personal nature.
“Rhulani Mokwena assumes coaching responsibilities, assisted by Fadlu Davids and Franck Plaine.”@ashfakmohamed