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De Sa: A convenient scapegoat

I was really disappointed to see Roger de Sa getting pelted after the AmaZulu/Pirates match. To be honest, I thought our supporters were past that naive way of venting their anger and frustration.

While it’s natural for fans to disagree with the coach’s selections and tactics during a game, it only takes a small handful of supporters to tarnish the image of South African football.

Their actions are further misguided as the so-called ‘supporters’ are only hurting their respective clubs – who will have to fork out hefty fines. In my view, those funds could be far better spent on new signings or player development.

While crowd unrest is not endemic to South African football and remains a global concern within football leagues around the world, we must do more locally to combat the issue if we aim to further enhance our image.

I believe the best way to stamp out poor crowd behaviour is to identify the culprits and let them spend the weekend behind bars. Their misdemeanours may be within a sporting context but for me it’s still classified as assault. The PSL needs to work closely with the police to eradicate this issue.

I think the criticism and abuse levelled against De Sa is mostly unfair. The Buccaneers may not be playing the most beautiful football of late but at the business end of the season that approach is, more often than not, required.

It’s convenient to blame the coach and make him the scapegoat when results are going against a side. For me, coaches are hardly ever afforded praise at the best of times.

I’m not suggesting that Roger shouldn’t take responsibility for the team’s less than impressive three-straight league draws but let’s rather judge him at the end of the season when the dust has settled.

In comparison to the previous campaign, Pirates have more points to show at this stage of the season than they did last season and have two games in hand over Chiefs.

Pirates are also through to the next round of the African Champions League and remain on course to win their first title since 1995.

Patience is a virtue most football bosses and fans don’t possess nowadays. Just take the example of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. He endured a tough start to his tenure at the club and is now on the verge of his 20th league title.

From my interactions with Roger, I have found him to be hardworking and resilient. When he agreed to take the Pirates’ hot seat he knew that the pressure and expectation would rise to another level – having previously managed at Santos and Wits.

He would also have been aware of the potential pitfalls and ups and downs that come with managing a club of the Sea Robbers’ stature.

While Roger may lack the experience of dealing with a title-run, he certainly doesn’t lack managerial experience. He has been in the business for a while now.

I believe Roger still has the dressing room and dispute the notion that the players’ body language in their last few matches seems to suggest that they are no longer playing for the coach.

While Roger and his technical team must take responsibility so too must the players. The coach selects his best XI and then it’s up to the players to show their mettle out on the field. If results are not forthcoming they must also take accountability.

However, there is no doubt it’s far easier to fire one coach than 30 players.

Having managed at the summit with Sundowns a few seasons back, the best advice I could give Roger is to block out all the external pressures and focus purely on his players and harnessing a good team environment.

He simply cannot allow himself or his players to feed into the frenzy. He must remain single-minded in approach and belief.

I don’t necessarily think that Stuart Baxter is a superior coach compared to De Sa – in spite of Chiefs’ current log standing atop the PSL table.

However, I do feel that Baxter has had superior depth and versatility to call upon this season.

Should De Sa remain at the helm next season – which I would advocate – I expect him to make a number of new signings to freshen up his squad.

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