Thursday, February 20, 2014

Is the Orlando Pirates ship sinking fast?

The game of football is hard to understand. Of course, football is football but it is not just football. There are teams and coaches who get away with breaking fundamental rules and things go well for them. It is not always given to depend on fortune. In many ways, teams make their own luck, but what does that mean.

In the modern game, and the future game as the English are working on right now, you do not play the same way against everyone in your league nor in a different competition. Neither do you play home and away matches with blinkers. This is barring the philosophies and beliefs of the clubs and coaches. The complexity of playing styles and patterns are fundamental in any coaching and planning and often revolve around the question of 'what' and 'where'.

Under Harry Redknapp and to a lesser noticeable extent, in the current campaign, Tottenham Hotspur produced scintillating performances and miraculous results in Europe and lost domestic fixtures will chilling regularity. For many, that was bizarre. For coaches and managers, that was normal, as long as the understanding of the demands of the competition differences were never factored in.

Cup football and league matches very different and balancing the two is no mean task. It is a tough ask indeed., especially when the team is running rings around opponents in one tournament or competition. The theory is never to change a winning team or formula. This phenomenon is true, in my country and your country, in Africa, in Europe, big leagues, small leagues.

During their campaign in the Africa Champions League, South Africa's Orlando Pirates played football last seen in Africa decades ago. This made them conquer all and sundry until they reached the final. They lost under very unfortunate circumstances. That football was not sustainable in the league in South Africa. The Ghosts started suffering the same Champions League syndrome by trying to play catch-up in the ABSA Premiership.

Roger De Sa would soon pick up that there must be a clear difference between the domestic league and African football. The level is much higher on the continent, the demands are tactical and the professionalism more sound. The impatient Irvin Khoza showed the coach the road but until the incoming coach realises to disengage the continental football mode, Pirates will continue to be the sterile attacking team they are right now.

Pirates are playing brilliant football but the penetration is lacking in a huge way, especially the patience in delivering the final ball. There is usually too much space at higher levels of the game and no space to play in a domestic league. I believe RDS was well suited for the Ghosts and that he would have turned things around very soon. With all their efforts and no goal to show for it, the incoming Vladimir Vermosovic will ride the crest if the team scores the first goal in his first match.

The goal has been eluding the Happy People despite their entertaining football. With time, the Champions League syndrome will die a natural death and VV will get the credit of steadying the Bucs ship. Not that VV is a bad coach, he is coming to a good team already. Anyone can coach the Pirates now and get away with murder because the players are committed but results are not forthcoming. Not yet.

By contrast, Kaizer Chiefs do not even know where their goals are coming from. Everyone gets comfortable hitting the ball from anyway and it flies in. They do not even need to score some of the goals themselves. The same is true in their defensive areas. They can all take a break off the field and their match still goalless. Such is football sometimes as you will remember that we said that one creates their own luck.

As for the Sea Robbers, if VV fails to deliver in the first few matches, the players will begin to doubt his philosophies and attribute his departure from Chiefs a few years back as something coming to haunt them. African players usually do well under foreign coaches, especially the whites. VV does not need to be astute to turn the Pirates fortunes, but needs to be fortunate enough to be at the right p[lace at the right time, and I think he is. If not, the Pirates ship will be sinking, and fast.