The problems of Orlando Pirates are way too much for Happy People to swallow. Pirates have won just 4 league matches out of the 11 played so far. For a team that swept everything the previous season and started this particular one on fire, Julio Cesar Leal’s Bucs is, at minimum, heartbreaking.
The pressure is on the Brazilian mentor to please his even pressurised paymaster, Irvin Khoza. Khoza decided to get the South American after a good job by Ruud Krol who could not renew his contract after it ended in 2011. While it was a huge surprise to many people, this is exactly why he did not . After reaching the roof, there is much room up. This is not an excuse to fans, as total and perennial dominance as is the case in Spain by Barcelona or the Barclays Premier League’s Manchester United.
I have a problem with the general idea of the owners of Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns, that only foreign coaches can handle them. This man-made phenomenon is crazily untrue but it is quickly rubbing into players with amazing strength of steel cement. While you may be thinking why then, Leal being foreign, the Sea Robbers are sinking.
It is the same reason why the other teams are not really worth their salt given the rated mentors from abroad. They have to adjust to the culture shock while hemorrhaging points. This sounds contradictory to the Pirates’ last season success. Pound for pound, the Bucs ha the best squad for many years, even the year they lost the league title by the last kick of the season. I must admit that Krol was both an exception and very lucky.
As with all coaches from abroad, South Africa has only managed to attract second-rate coaches from unknown leagues and unemployable elsewhere. This became the pride of Chiefs and Pirates. To prove my point, almost all coaches that have been brought here by these teams have won nothing elsewhere and they remain in South Africa permanently.
As for Leal, I personally know the man. He has great work ethics and loves details. He is a strong believer of detail and leaves no room for chances. His patience with mediocrity are his weakness, but in a normal environment, that is an enviable quality.
The way Pirates are disjointed in their play, there is little doubt that there is no harmony among teammates and with the technical department. Either there is sabotage on the part of the players to have Khoza change the coach, or on the part of the technical department to succeed Leal. It may be that the leadership also found someone they like that they abandon the trust vested on Leal.
Whatever the reason, the Happy People are not happy, not only that, but also given the Happy Jele injury will be with us for the next 6 to 9 months. Jele came to the party with goals when strikers ran out of ideas. Besides, it is amazing that the whole league does not enjoy any true goal scorers and that extrapolate to Bafana Bafana. The lack of goal scorers for Pirates has frustrated the midfield mould and the patience is running out in the team’s engine room.
I have no doubt there will be success in the Telkom Cup encounter as it is more of a money game for players, but then in the league, the problems may be far from over. With the Africa Champions League still to come, it remains to be seen how long Leal will keep his job, but this is one man who may not be attracted to stay in the country after his fruitless stay at Pirates despite having been at Swallows and Amazulu before.
My verdict is that Julio Cesar Leal will not see his contract through despite a clause that binds the parties in the event that the coach wins at least one trophy, which Leal has managed with the MTN 8 Cup. That means, he will gladly leave when asked, and that will involve a golden handshake, or is it platinum?