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Sundowns paying the price

At this stage of the season, the league table certainly doesn’t lie. Mamelodi Sundowns are on course for their worst ever PSL finish.

Having managed the club on two occasions, I know just how much their loyal supporters will be hurting.

In terms of financial backing, world-class training facilities and player depth, Sundowns are the Manchester City of South African football.

However, City’s inability to defend their Barclays Premier League title this season underlines the fact that open cheque books are often not enough to guarantee success in football. With big price tags come big egos.

Pitso Mosimane has a battle on his hands in this regard and needs to get tough with under-performing players.

Football has shown time and again that a squad of talented individuals is often not enough to produce a winning team. It’s all about finding the right combinations and getting players pulling in the same direction.

With due respect to a side like Platinum Stars, in terms of playing personnel, by rights they should never be above Sundowns in the league standings. They do, however, represent the ideal example of a team fighting for a common cause.

In my opinion, it’s unacceptable Sundowns find themselves in the bottom half of the league table. I think it’s a case of too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.

From past interactions, I have no doubt that owner Patrice Motsepe has his heart in the right place. He loves the club but I believe there are many people at Chloorkop for all the wrong reasons.

Motsepe has proved ruthless in the past and perhaps he needs to once again show that streak in order to flush out employees who are more concerned about self-preservation than the overall success of the club.

In terms of playing personnel, smart buying and selling is one of the key pillars to success in modern football. Sir Alex Ferguson is the king when it comes to knowing just when to move a player on. He has demonstrated that no one player is ever bigger than the club.

I believe that Sundowns missed a trick by not selling Katlego Mphela abroad a couple of season’s back. He remains one of their biggest earners but now spends most of his time on the bench and is rather injury-prone.

I don’t begrudge modern footballers their big salaries but they must justify their pay packets by producing top performances on the pitch.

I think the answer would be to slash the player’s salaries and move towards performance-based bonuses. If the Sundowns players deliver the goods, they stand to earn the same big amounts. I believe this would reveal which players are at the club for the right reasons and which aren’t.

Take, for example, the world’s best paid footballers, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. They are clearly not motivated solely by money to perform. They, however, produce consistent performances on a weekly basis and thus deserve financial security.

I believe that our highest-earning footballers in the country can learn a lot from their example.

Messi may be the best player in world football but it’s clear to see that he remains humble, hard-working and always puts the team’s aspirations ahead of his own.

I have no problem with the top players collecting large salaries as football careers are short-lived. However, my advice is simple: don’t let the big bucks cloud your better judgement and hunger to achieve. Money should be a product of performance.

More often than not when a player signs for Sundowns they think they have ‘arrived’ and have achieved the ultimate goal. That is the single biggest mental hurdle these individuals need to overcome. It’s simply the wrong mentality and it seldom translates into long-term success.

Signing for a big club doesn’t give a player the right to become complacent and take his talent for granted. I believe that the best players showcase a desire to work twice as hard to fight for a place in the starting side.

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