Mark Gleeson

Pirates' resilience pays off

2011-05-30 07:14
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

In an increasingly competitive era, Orlando Pirates’ feat of three trophies in a single season, not to mention another cup final appearance, is simply extraordinary.

It is a sweep that is unlikely to be repeated for some time to come and disproves many of the popular theories about how a modern football club must be run.

It is no secret Pirates’ chairman Irvin Khoza keeps a tight reign on the running of his team and that his lieutenants like Screamer Tshabalala and Floyd Mbele are as intimately involved in the side as is the coach.

Ordinarily this would be mocked as recipe for disaster but at Pirates it has proven no hindrance, again showing that there is no exact science in football and that one man’s poison is another man’s tonic.

Ultimately Pirates fans -- and I wonder how many there really are judging by the poor crowd that came to watch their last home game against Lamontville Golden Arrows – don’t care what Machiavellian schemes play out behind the scenes. They want success and ultimately they go it.

This is not to suggest coach  Ruud Krol is a puppet. Far from it. The way he went head-to-head with the bow tie-wearing Teko Modise, and won the battle, was a gamble but ultimately saw the coach send a decisive message to the squad that he was not to be compromised and only wanted players, who were interested in the business of winning rather than entertainment.

Khoza bought a lot of players to strengthen the squad at the start of the season but the likes of Clifford Ngobeni, Mark Mayambela, Patrick Malokase and Chiukepo Msowoya could not command a regular place under Khoza. Krol did not feel compelled to use them just because they had been added to the squad.

Of the new signings, only Daine Klate, before he got injured, and Ruben Cloete, dropped for the last games of the season, were able to say they made a telling contribution to all the success.

I have some sympathy with club bosses. It must be very hard to leave your much-prized asset in the hands of a hired coaching hand. That is why few owners are able to let go. Bosses like Mike Mokoena and David Thidiela have hired a bevy of coaches over the years but never been fully able to trust them. Therefore coaches have come and gone, sometimes to the detriment of the club and sometimes not.

Other chairman like Goolam Allie, Kaizer Motaung and, to an extent, Patrice Motsepe are happy to sit back and give their coaches a freer hand. That hasn’t necessarily been successful.

Motsepe had hired in a list of recent foreign flops and achieved nothing, despite assembling the richest squad in the league.

And Chiefs are in a drought of league success too. It is extraordinary to think that the once dominant AmaKhosi have won but three league titles in the last 20 years!

My point is that those who continue to search for the recipe for success will continue to be frustrated. There isn’t one.

Sure, there are some basic guidelines and accepted practices but there is a lot of luck and good fortune too. It is about having the right players, the right coach and the right chemistry at the right time. And that is very hard to plan for.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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