Mhango: Could Orlando Pirates have done more?

10:59 SAST 2022/01/26
Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates,  February 2020
The Buccaneers marksman scored what may well be the goal of the tournament in the 2-1 defeat to Morocco in a last 16 encounter on Tuesday

Orlando Pirates striker Gabadinho Mhango's scintillating form for Malawi at the 2021 Afcon raises the question as to why he's been struggling at club level.

Even though Malawi crashed out after a brave showing at Afcon, Mhango's reputation was greatly enhanced and he has been receiving international publicity for his wonder goal against the Moroccans.

It's hard to believe this was the same player who has been struggling to make any kind of impact at Pirates for the past season-and-a-half. It was more like the Mhango we saw in the 2019/20 campaign when he fired in 16 league goals.

This season he’s played just six games and is yet to score, while in 2020/21, he netted six in 32 league and cup matches.

Man-management issues?

It begs the question - why have the Sea Robbers' management not been able to get more out of the Malawian?

On the international front, Mhango is Malawi's talisman. It's clearly a position he thrives in, and perhaps at Pirates, he's not been made to feel that way enough.

Player's responsibility?

It could also be argued that players are adults and should not need to be wrapped in cotton wool. And that there is a squad of 25 or more players who all need to be looked after - that it would be unfair to give special treatment to some.

But that's perhaps part of man managing a squad - understanding which individuals need an arm around the shoulder, which players need to be put into line with a stricter approach, and which can be trusted just to get on with it.

There are many examples of great teams of the past who’ve had ‘special’ players who need to be treated differently in order to get the best out of them.

With large technical teams these days, it should be easier to offer man-management when needed.

It is however a difficult one to answer with so many factors - especially the emotional ones, to weigh up.

But surely what the Pirates technical team must do now is use the 29-year-old Mhango's positive momentum for good - get him back in the team playing regularly, and if the goals follow, it will almost be like a new signing for Bucs.