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Orlando Pirates: Why Milutin Sredojevic's departure is bad for the Buccaneers

08:14 BST 17/08/2019
Milutin Sredojevic, Orlando Pirates, November 2018
Goal explains why the 2016 Caf Coach of the Year nominee's resignation is an unwelcome turn of events for the Buccaneers

Orlando Pirates shocked the local football fraternity when they announced Milutin 'Micho' Sredijevic's resignation from the club on Friday night.

The Serbian tactician decided to resign from his position as Pirates head coach a few days after the team succumbed to their first Premier Soccer League (PSL) defeat of the 2019/20 season.

Sredojevic blamed himself after Bucs were thrashed 3-0 by a ruthless SuperSport United side in what was only their second league match of the new domestic campaign.

Goal looks into the impact Sredijevic's departure will have on the Soweto club.

Rebuilding & Success

In August 2017, Micho inherited a struggling Pirates team which had failed to secure a top-eight finish in the league for the first time in the PSL era.

Sredojevic quickly stabilised the Bucs ship and he guided the team to a second-place finish in the league in his first campaign after returning to the club.

This proved to be the beginning of their PSL title rivalry with Mamelodi Sundowns, who beat Pirates to the coveted trophy, but the Soweto giants qualified for the Caf Champions League for the first time since 2013.

Pirates then narrowly lost the title to a formidable Sundowns side on the last day of the season in the 2018/19 campaign, as the Houghton-based side continued to improve under Micho.

He left the club having also guided the four-time PSL champions to the 2018 Telkom Knockout Cup final, where they were unlucky to lose to Baroka FC.

Entertaining Football

The former Rwanda and Uganda coach earned a reputation for playing attractive football and giving players a chance to establish themselves in the PSL.

Sredojevic was able to mix good, entertaining football with results, which kept the Pirates faithful on the edge of their seats, especially at the Orlando Stadium.

The iconic arena turned into a fortress as Gauteng giants lost only twice at home in the league during the 49-year-old tactician's two-year spell with the club.

His attractive football also enabled the likes of Innocent Maela and Thembinkosi Lorch to emerge as top talents in the country, and they were both part of the Bafana Bafana squad at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

One could sense Pirates' first major trophy since 2014 was just around the corner after the team's back-to-back second-place finishes in the league and the Telkom Knockout final defeat.

Stability & Transformation

A big a club like Pirates will always strive to improve hence they brought new players, who were expected to help Micho apply the final touch in search for a major trophy.

Pirates have completed nine signings in the current transfer window - bolstering every department in the squad as they prepared to compete in five major tournaments.

The Bucs ship was stable under Micho, but the team was undergoing a transformation and new players needed time to gel into the team and improve it.

However, two successive defeats to Zambian side Green Eagles in the Caf Champions League and SuperSport seem to have created unnecessary pressure on Sredojevic just a few games into the new season.

Pirates tended to be slow starters under his tutelage since he gave his new signings a chance to prove themselves at the beginning of the campaign, but the team would probably have improved gradually as the season progressed, just like in the previous term.

Back To Square One?

Sredojevic has now stepped down and his departure has definitely disrupted Pirates' plans for the 2019/20 campaign.

This team is now under the guidance of Rulani Mokwena, who is unproven in the PSL as this is his first coaching job at this level.

The local tactician, who has worked under accomplished tacticians like Micho and Pitso Mosimane, will be assisted by Fadlu Davids and Franck Plaine, for now.

Mokwena has big shoes to fill in the Bucs hot seat which has seen accomplished coaches quit a few months into the job.

Only time will tell if Mokwena can survive and prove he is ready to build on the foundation which took Micho two full seasons to lay in a bid to bring back the glory days to the club.