What can save Pirates’ sunken ship?

Orlando Pirates

The resignation of coach Kjell Jonevret serves as yet another reminder to Orlando Pirates that their attempts to fast-track success needs to be abandoned, and replaced with a system of solid planning, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.

The Soweto giants’ 80th anniversary was supposed to be a time for celebration and a return of the ‘Happy People’ – events that have not been evident for the club since they achieved their historic back-to-back treble feats in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 campaigns respectively. (Not forgetting their 2013 and 2015 Caf Champions League and Confederation Cup final berths respectively.)

Instead, this momentous occasion was marked by a disastrous Absa Premiership campaign, which saw them set an unwanted record of their worst-ever finish in the PSL era, occupying 11th spot, and suffering 6-1, 6-0 and 4-1 defeats at the hands of SuperSport United and Mamelodi Sundowns under the guidance of Muhsin Ertugral, Augusto Palacios and Jonevret respectively.

Needless to say, the Soweto giants endured a campaign of absolute misery with their humiliating 4-1 defeat against SuperSport in the Nedbank Cup final, a painful reminder of just how far they have sunk.

Despite bolstering their squad with the acquisitions of Wayne Sandilands, Thamsanqa Sangweni, Musa Nyatama and striker Christian Obiozor, Pirates looked well short of confidence and progression in their 1-0 loss to Kaizer Chiefs in the Carling Black Label Cup.

So this begs the question: What next for Orlando Pirates as the 2017-18 season approaches?

With former Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic again at the helm of the Mayfair-based outfit, what will need to be done in the new season?

Sredojevic’s previous stint with the club came to a premature end after only 12 games in charge. The former Uganda national team coach recorded three wins, four draws and five losses during his 217 days in charge of Pirates.

“Micho” is fondly remembered for handing late goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa his debut for the club, in addition to guiding the Sea Robbers to the semi-finals of the 2006 Champions League.

With Pirates currently in dire straits, some major changes will need to be made, both externally and internally. Looking at the pre-season loss suffered to Chiefs, I believe their first port of call should be to bolster their defence. The central-defensive pairing of Happy Jele and Ayanda Gcaba leaves much to be desired, while wing-backs Thabo Matlaba and Patrick Phugwayo are often found wanting defensively. I’m not advocating for Pirates to get rid of these players, but if they are to challenge for league honours, they will need defensive reinforcements.

There are also well-documented reports of external and internal influences in the Pirates’ ranks that will need to be eradicated. Technical director Screamer Tshabalala’s influence at the club is said to dwarf that of the coach, with widespread reports that he has a direct hand in team selection.

Not only does this undermine the authority of the coach, but it also leaves the players somewhat confused who actually selects the starting line-ups. If Micho is to be unveiled as the new man in charge, he will need to ensure that he and his technical team have the final say regarding team selection.

Former Pirates men Moeneeb Josephs and Andile Cele lamented the current Pirates side and gave counsel about what needs to be done for improvement.

‘Many of these players‚ you can see they are Instagram stars,’ Josephs told Goal.

‘Not doing the business for Pirates – there isn’t pride anymore for that jersey.

‘They’re not playing for the team‚ for the “Ghost”,  for the ancestors. They’re playing for Instagram,’ Josephs said.

Cele in turn, suggested that anybody can ply their trade for Pirates nowadays, in addition to questioning the quality of captain Oupa Manyisa.

‘To be honest, any player can play for Pirates nowadays,’ he told Isolezwe.

‘In the past, Pirates were equal to [Kaizer] Chiefs and you could compare them to [Real] Madrid and Barcelona in Spain.

‘Not everyone can just sign for Barcelona and share the same dressing room with [Lionel] Messi – it takes a special player or quality to be in the same dressing room with him.

‘If a top player at Pirates is Manyisa, then this means any player who scores one or two goals in the ABC Motsepe League can be signed by Pirates,’ he said.

With Manyisa’s departure to Mamelodi Sundowns confirmed, it will allow new signings Nyatama and Sangweni to flourish in their new roles, while giving youngsters such as Yusuf Maart the opportunity for some game time.

This brings me to my final point – the lack of experienced campaigners at the club.

Previously, the Buccaneers would have more than one or two leaders in their line-up. Looking back at the 2010/11 campaign, they boasted a squad with the likes of Benson Mhlongo, Lucky Lekgwathi, Lehlohonolo Seema, Lucas Thwala, Andile Jali and Daine Klate, to mention a few – who all served as leaders on the field of play at any given time.

If Pirates are to put the disappointment of the last few seasons behind them in a bid to compete for silverware, their coach will need to implement these and other tactics to ensure that they don’t get hit for another six again, this season.

– This feature originally appeared on SportsClub.co.za

Follow on Twitter @MarshallGouts