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COMMENT: What is Bidvest Wits doing right this season?

08:00 BST 17/08/2018
Gavin Hunt, Bidvest Wits
Goal takes a look at the reasons behind Wits' blistering start to the new 2018/19 campaign

After enduring a frustrating 2017/18 campaign, Bidvest Wits have had the perfect start to the new season, most recently securing a win against Orlando Pirates on Wednesday. 

The Clever Boys extended their lead at the top of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) standings to three points having also secured convincing victories over Free State Stars and Kaizer Chiefs.

They seem to be flying high despite the loss of one of their key players Vincent Pule, who decided not to extend his contract with the club and he joined Pirates on a free transfer.

Goal takes a look at the reasons behind Wits' blistering start to the new 2018/19 campaign: 


GOOD ACQUISITIONS


The Clever Boys have made some low-key signings during the current July-August transfer window as they look to challenge for top honours this season having endured a disappointing 2017/18 campaign which saw them flirt with relegation.

Haashim Domingo, Bantu Mzwakali, Simon Murray, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Mxolisi Macupu, Lehlohonolo Nonyane, Brighton Mhlongo, Gift Motupa, Vuyo Mere, Robyn Johannes and Deon Hotto have all been brought in by accomplished tactician Gavin Hunt.

So-called unaccomplished players such as Dzvukamanja, Macuphu, and Hotto have hit the ground running as they are hungry for success. The attacking trio have chipped in with goals which sees Wits having scored the most goals (seven) in the league, while Motupa and Domingo have also impressed with their work rate in attack. 

Johannes' experience at the back has also been vital - with the former Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates central defender having formed a solid partnership with Buhle Mkhwanazi at the heart of the defence - forcing club captain Thulani Hlatshwayo to be deployed in the right-back position with the team having conceded only one goal in three league games.


BLENDING NEW PLAYERS WITH THE OLD & QUICK ADAPTION 


Hunt, who is one of the most decorated coaches in the PSL, has done a good job integrating the older players with the new signings considering the fact that the club parted ways with more than 10 players as the former SuperSport United gaffer revamped his squad.

Most of the new arrivals have been quick to adapt to life at the Braamfontein-based side after blending in well and gelling with the team. However, a player like Murray might need more time to adjust in the PSL having arrived at Wits from Scottish Premiership side Hibernian.  

Hunt has deployed a tactical and technical approach to win matches and the likes of Johannes, Motupa, Domingo, Dzvukamanja, Macuphu as well as Hotto have quickly bought into his philosophy with the Clever Boys looking to compete for PSL title again having won the trophy in 2017.


BETTER TEAM MAMAGEMENT


It is still early days, but the signs are encouraging in terms of how the Clever Boys squad has been managed by Hunt and his technical team after a disastrous 2017/18 campaign. 

The 54-year-old has surely learned from last season's nightmare as they were players, who were unhappy and uncommitted which led to the team underperforming. Such players have since been shipped up by the club and Hunt is now able to coordinate a group of hungry and focused players to fight for him on the field of play. 


LESS TOURNAMENTS


Without the distraction of MTN8 Cup, Wits were fitter than Pirates in their league encounter in midweek. The Buccaneers came into the game having faced SuperSport in a quarter-final match which went into extra-time and ultimately, the latter won penalties.

The Clever Boys took advantage of the Buccaneers' fatigue in the closing stages of their clash as they grabbed a late goal with 10 minutes left on the clock and they managed to hold on to their slender lead as the hosts had nothing left in their tank.

In recent times, PSL clubs which are not involved in many tournaments tend to compete for the league title. This could be Wits' best chance to clinch some silverware as they will not take part in the Caf Champions League nor Confederation Cup this season unlike their rivals.