Pre-season games, I have been told, don’t really tell how well a club will do in the coming season.
That’s true. For example, Kaizer Chiefs won the Carling Black Label Cup last year and went on to finish the season without a trophy in the cabinet.
But there’s something about Orlando Pirates’ performance on Saturday that just made me feel like they are going to have another disastrous season.
It was just not convincing at all and I sat at the stadium wondering why on earth they have Kjell Jonevret as their head coach. It might still be early in his tenure at Pirates, but I am not convinced he can take Pirates out of the mess they are currently in.
Players, just like last season, do not look like they are motivated to restore the glory days. Oupa Manyisa is no longer the influential midfielder we once knew, Mpho Makola looks far too casual, Thabo Matlaba is no longer making those devastating runs on the flanks and Happy Jele is struggling to keep up with the opposition strikers.
These are the players who are meant to be playing a key role as leaders in the Pirates team, but I do not see them leading by example. And the one way they should be leading is through their performances, which will inspire teammates to do the same.
I recently had a chat with Pirates legend Lucky Lekgwathi and he bemoaned the lack of leadership in the Pirates team. He also complained about how everyone has left Manyisa to lead the team alone, but Pirates is a team that needs more than one leader doing the talking on the pitch. Back in his day, there were players like Siyabonga Sangweni, Rooi Mahamutsa, Benson Mhlongo and Benni McCarthy.
These were players who had a presence in the dressing room and the younger players knew that they could not mess around off the pitch and they knew they had to perform on the pitch or else they would get called out during the team talk at half time. That, in his words, was proper leadership.
I agreed with him fully. It’s clear that when the current group of players are on the pitch, everyone is just doing their own thing and it needs a strong leader to get the team playing as a unit again.
There’s been rumours that former coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic is set to take over, but he would join the club without having had a pre-season. That’s not an ideal situation for a coach joining a big club, but it could help that he has been at the club before and he’d definitely know what to expect.
While we wait to see if 'Micho' will indeed be appointed, Jonevret has to find a way to get Pirates clicking again. Or there will be more tears in the coming season.