|FOUR GAME STREAK: Pirates caretaker boss Eric Tinkler|
ON Saturday at 2.30pm, if there is any justice in the football world, Eric Tinkler will lead Orlando Pirates out for the Soweto Derby as the club’s PERMANENT coach.
Tinkler, twice caretaker/interim/stand-in boss, deserves at least that, though I am writing this before Pirates versus Free State Stars tomorrow night.
Still just 44, the nuggety midfielder played at the top level in Portugal, Italy and England not to mention his 48 games for South Africa. He was a tough opponent on the field and as Benni McCarthy found out after the 2011 Telkom KO final, Tinkler has transferred that passion to the coaching role.
The paragraph that annoyed Wits boss Gavin Hunt before his side's 1-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns tonight: "The title-holders have two relatively easy matches this week against Bidvest Wits and Free State Stars while the runaway leaders will be engaged in tough encounters at home to both Ajax Cape Town and an Orlando Pirates outfit that suddenly believes the title is no longer out of reach."
The article in the Star newspaper, written by my old pal Matshelane Mamabolo served only to motivate Hunt's men. He said: "They have no respect. The Star article said it would be Sundowns easiest game.
"It didn't come from the Sundowns officials, it came from the journalist himself. We put it up on the dressing room wall. Sheez, they show us no respect."
Link to full article here: http://www.iol.co.za/sport/soccer/psl/title-race-could-get-interesting-1.1826345#.VPYQqnyUcXE
Tinkler forged his credentials with Roger De Sa at Wits and the partnership then shifted to Orlando Pirates, where the Dynamic Duo took the Buccaneers all the way to the African Champions League final in Egypt.
When Roger decamped to Ajax Cape Town, Tinkler stood in and did okay. Then came that strange appointment of Vladimir Vermecovic and, against all expectations, Eric stood by the controversial Serbian despite his disastrous return to our shores.
With VV turning the plundering Pirates in to disjointed Buccaneers complete with peg legs, hooked hands, sick parrots and eye patches, Tinkler was there to reassert control when his boss was sent back to Belgrade under a cloud.
And since then, despite an opening defeat in his second caretaker stint, Tinkler has mended the holes in the Sea Robbers’ ship, shored up the midfield, and the treasure chest currently contains FOUR successive PSL wins as we head for the biggest clash of the season.
The latest, an emphatic 3-1 win over Polokwane City, takes Pirates to within 12 points of Chiefs before the derby, though both sides play tomorrow night. And Stuart Baxter doesn’t need reminding of his own side’s post-Christmas frailties which have featured a first PSL defeat against SuperSport United and an unimpressive 1-0 triumph over Township Rollers in Botswana on Saturday.
In effect. It’s Tinkler in the ascendancy, not Baxter. He says: “I thought our first goal against Polokwane was a fantastic counter-attack which we really practiced at training and it was good to see it come off in a game situation.
"In the first half we were well organised, they didn't have that many opportunities, then second half, it was as if we fell asleep, we conceded that goal from a free-kick and then we could have buried the game, I thought.
“It’s strange that people say we have a problem with our strikers. Only Polokwane City have scored more goals than us this season.
“Our problem has always been at the back, where we have conceded silly goals. There is nothing wrong with us going forward.
“I told the players at halftime that we had to stay focused because they would keep coming at us. I was angry that we conceded a sloppy goal.”
Sloppy goals will NOT be acceptable on Saturday. At either end. But whatever the result, consider this: after VV, surely a local candidate taking charge at Orlando Pirates has to be a GOOD thing?