Jonevret deserved more time


The game of football is not for the faint hearted, as former Orlando Pirates head coach Kjell Jonevret would have found out.

The media statement released by Pirates on Wednesday, and subsequent reports would have said he resigned, but let's call a spade a spade; Jonevret was given the sack.

Orlando Pirates are not in a happy space right now, and they haven't been in a long time, and many observing from the sidelines and the press boxes will feel the axe fell on the Swede a little too soon, and unfairly.

Whatever the club's reasoning for parting ways with Jonevret, he cannot be blamed for their failing to finish in the top eight for the first time in the PSL era.

The club were already in shambles when he rocked up, and morale was at an all time low. They'd been on the wrong end of 6-1 and 6-0 hidings at the hands of the Pretoria clubs, and they were lucky they did not find themselves in a relegation scrap towards the end of the campaign.

The popular cliche "Rome wasn't built in a day" is perfect to describe Jonevret's tenure at Pirates. But, he should have known that at one of the biggest clubs in the country, fans, and their uncompromising chairman Irvin Khoza, building an empire in a short space of time is what is expected.

Jonevret will definitely feel that as he was about to start making the team his own by starting on a clean slate, the rug was unexpectedly pulled out from under his feet.

There has been strong speculation in recent weeks that Milutin Sredojevic is set to be announced as the club's new head coach. Just last week, it was reported that the Serb, himself a former Pirates coach who was sacked after a few games – when he was 37 – will be handed a five year deal.

Those rumours then gathered some speed when Sredojevic quit his job as the head coach of the Ugandan national team. This all happened while Jonevret was preparing his side for last weekend's Soweto derby in the Carling Black Label Cup at FNB Stadium.

That Pirates only lost the game 1-0 despite there being so much uncertainty surrounding their coach, is something they should be proud about. Sure, no one can ever be happy with losing, but taking everything into consideration, losing 1-0 against Amakhosi was not that bad of a thing for a low on confidence Pirates side. Maybe that points at Chiefs' own inadequecies, but that's a story for another day.

The indication now is that Sredojevic will be the man tasked to making Pirates great again. But, after he failed miserably to get them to play winning football in his short six-month stay between June 2007 and January 2007, what's changed?

Well, for starters Sredojevic isn't so young anymore. Ten years ago, he was just 37, and had only coached one other African team before. He's done well since, and was even rumoured at one point to one of SAFA's top candidates to take over from Shakes Mashaba.

For now, Pirates fans will not know what to expect, but will be quietly confident they will have a much better season this time around. But, many will be frustrated that having mastered the pronunciation of "Kjell Jonevret", they now have to learn how to say "Milutin Sredojevic". 

If they struggle with the pronunciation of "Sredojevic" they can always turn to Micho. Micho comes with pedigree too; he's won nine league titles across three countries in Africa.

By Lunga Biyela