Johannesburg - SuperSport United coach Eric Tinkler has seen this movie before – albeit with a different cast.
United have not recovered from the hangover of reaching the CAF Confederation Cup final and then losing to TP Mazembe.
Tinkler says what his team is going through is no different from what he has seen and experienced before.
“There is no team that has gone to the CAF final and come back the same locally.
"[Mamelodi] Sundowns have gone through this and I have experienced it with [Orlando] Pirates, and I don’t think people really understand how difficult it is,” said Tinkler.
He said the after-effects of playing in continental competitions were obvious. But it was more of an emotional issue for the players than a physical one.
“To get to the final is a long road and it takes its toll. We also reached the finals of the Nedbank Cup and MTN8 and never had a preseason, or rested for that matter. All these things were hard work and put a lot of pressure on the players.
"Normally, teams would have a five-weeks break to recover, regenerate and get away from the game,” Tinkler said.
“Playing 10 games in 30 days is not on. You cannot expect players to bounce back every three days and give the same level of commitment and same energy. It is not easy.
“That’s insane. Teams should not be put through that. You cannot expect the team to come out of that unscathed.
“It is all about form and consistency. Chopping and changing does not help because there is no consistency. In our case, the number of injuries and suspensions did not help, either.
"Morgan [Gould] is in, Morgan is out the next game. It is difficult to be consistent.”
The defender missed last night’s league game against Bidvest Wits because of suspension.
He also missed the Confederation Cup final – the home and away legs – because of suspension.
On top of injuries to key players, such as to goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, Thabo Mnyamane and Bradley Grobler, the club lost Keegan Ritchie, Dové Womé, Cole Alexander and Jeremy Brockie.
However, despite all these challenges, Tinkler believes they will bounce back.
“Two wins will take us there and I won’t be getting pressure about if I am going to resign.”
With three home games coming his way, starting with last night’s clash against Wits, Tinkler said that, under normal circumstances, these would have been easier matches.
They will host Bloemfontein Celtic and AmaZulu in their next two games.
“We all assume home games should be easy, but, unfortunately, we are in a scrap and our morale and confidence is low.”
Having won the Nedbank Cup last season, United are scheduled to participate in this year’s CAF Confederation Cup, but Tinkler was noncommittal about their involvement following last year’s experience.
“I don’t even think about CAF again. I have experienced it twice and it has affected me. We need to rethink if we are going to be actively involved.”
Goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse is confident they will bounce back from their slump. He believes the players are good enough to get them back on track.
“We all have to pull up our socks. With the team we have, we should be able to bounce back,” said Pieterse.
Two former frontrunners – Golden Arrows and Baroka – meet in a battle of the strugglers at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal, this afternoon.
After a brilliant start to the season in which, at one stage, they occupied first and second spot on the log, the two have since fallen by the wayside and now find themselves mid-table.
Bloemfontein Celtic welcome Cape Town City at Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein, and will be hoping to arrest their steady decline.
City are looking to keep up the pressure on log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns at the top, but will be without their suspended coach Benni McCarthy.