Johannesburg - More heads are set to roll at Orlando Pirates following the sudden departure of coach Muhsin Ertugral a few days ago.
Ertugral resigned in a huff, following a humiliating 6-1 drubbing by SuperSport United in an Absa Premiership match at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Tuesday evening.
The defeat signalled the Buccaneers’ worse loss in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) since 1996.
The Turk made clear his intention to resign on live television in the post-match interview.
True to his word, he submitted his resignation via email to Pirates chairperson Irvin “The Iron Duke” Khoza in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
City Press has been informed by two highly placed sources within the club that, before Ertugral’s departure, a secret meeting was held between the coach and two high-ranking club officials at Melrose Arch in northern Johannesburg on October 29, the eve of the Soweto Derby.
Both sources refused to divulge the content of the conversation and the purpose of the meeting.
According to the sources, the final straw for Ertugral occurred when a Pirates official stormed into the dressing room on Tuesday and “took over, giving players instructions that were contrary to the coach’s game plan”.
“This led to the total collapse that was witnessed in the second half of the match, where we conceded six goals,” said the sources.
When asked about these startling revelations, Khoza said he was hearing this for the first time, but was quick to add that he was in the process of instituting an investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.
“I am having a session with the players this coming week. It will be followed by an exit interview with the coach,” he said.
“At both meetings, I will also try to establish the veracity of what your sources have told you. Should it emerge that something untoward happened, according to what you have told me, there will be serious consequences for those implicated.”
Khoza said he was still gathering information regarding what led to the coach’s departure. “It is a pity the coach resigned without discussing with me what really happened.”
The chair said it was important for him as a leader to get the facts before taking action.
Regarding his appointment of Augusto Palacios as the Buccaneers’ interim coach, Khoza said he would be in charge for the six games remaining this year.
The PSL goes into recess from mid-December until February to allow Mamelodi Sundowns the opportunity to participate in the Fifa Club World Cup, taking place next month, as well as to accommodate the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts on January 14.
“We will only employ another coach in the new year, unless something dramatic happens,” said Khoza, adding that even before he started searching for someone or advertised the post, he had already received four CVs from “high profile” coaches abroad.
However, he refused to divulge their names or nationalities.
Khoza would also not say what kind of coach he was looking for. “It is difficult [to specify]. In my experience, I have found preachers masquerading as coaches. This type tends to make a lot of noise in front of the players and even the media. But these so-called coaches are very shallow when it comes to being practical and applying what they preach.”
The Iron Duke added that some coaches failed to understand how to reach players, given that certain players grasped something better if they heard it, whereas others were more responsive to what they saw.
“Just like a brilliant teacher, some coaches who are geniuses tend to speak over the players’ heads. They fail to grasp that players are at different levels, and each needs special attention to perform optimally.”
Khoza said no player joined a club as a self-contained package. “Even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not complete products. They still need strict coaches’ instructions and to adhere to the game plan.”
Khoza, who also chairs the PSL, went on to say: “I am aware of the criticism levelled against us regarding the rate at which we part with coaches. But close scrutiny will reveal that there is nothing wrong with our structures and the way we do things.
“Between 2010 and now, we have won two back-to-back trebles with different coaches, and reached two Confederation of African Football finals with different coaches. That does not indicate there is something wrong with us.”
As a parting shot, Khoza said he would not talk badly of any coach who had been with Pirates. “That would be unethical. People must do their homework before they find fault with us.”