Absa Premiership

Rudderless Pirates, a club in crisis

2017-02-17 12:42
Irvin Khoza (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Orlando Pirates, arguably the most iconic soccer club in South Africa, have been on a steady decline in recent years, so much so that it's now descended into a full-on crisis.

The Soweto giants have experienced embarrassing defeats in their 80th-year celebrations, capitulating to a 6-1 defeat to SuperSport United and then a record 6-0 mauling to Mamelodi Sundowns.

The SuperSport defeat saw coach Muhsin Ertugrul dramatically offer his resignation to the club in a live post-match interview that was later accepted by club chairperson, Irvin Khoza.

Additionally, the 6-0 defeat to Masandawana resulted in violent scenes at Loftus Versfeld that made international news headlines after frustrated fans invaded the pitch in the 82nd minute of the Premier Soccer League encounter.

Khoza announced in a press briefing that a new coach would be announced on Monday, February 20 while condemning the violent scenes that took place.

The incoming coach will have a tough task on his hands, having to revive a club that has fallen behind rivals Kaizer Chiefs and Sundowns and having last won the league back in the 2011/12 season.

While boasting some of the biggest names in the PSL and the current top scorer in Tendai Ndoro, the footballing structure at the Mayfair-based team - or the lack thereof - has to be highlighted as one of the glaring reasons for their decline.

Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt once openly criticised the Buccaneers' style of play as being chaotic, saying: "I’ve never seen anything like this, they run all over the place with their left-back playing at right-wing, their right-back on the left and the defence as strikers."

This has been a hallmark of Pirates’ play for a number of years now as they tend to focus more on entertaining fans by playing an exciting brand of football over organisation and discipline.

Their style of play has often seen them beat average teams with individual brilliance, but fall short against quality opponents who are more organised and have just as many talented players.

This was certainly the case after the heavy defeat to Stuart Baxter's well-drilled Matsatsantsa side and again in evidence against a superior Sundowns team, a defeat that was labelled as an embarrassment by Khoza.

In addition, the lack of on-field organisation isn't limited to the field of play, but also to the way the club is run.

A source confirmed to Sport24 that while Roger de Sa was serving as head coach, he would often have to deal with up to 10 players either unexpectedly pitching up to first-team training or others being sold by the club behind his back.

De Sa, who took Pirates to four Cup finals during his time at the helm, including three in 2013 alone, is believed to have been informed of Andile Jali’s transfer to Belgian side, K.V Oostende by the player himself - only after he had landed in Belgium to sign for his new club!

A strong Orlando Pirates side competing for titles makes for a better PSL spectacle, but they would need to overhaul their playing style while finding a structured way in which to run the club. A coach with a clear football philosophy would need to be appointed who could implement a structure throughout the club to allow their talented players to flourish.


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