THE BREAKDOWN: Why Jonevret Deserves To Stay At Pirates
Does Kjell Jonevret Deserve To Keep His Job?
After Orlando Pirates finished outside of the top eight for the first time in the PSL era and failed to win any trophies in the 2016/17 season, we take a look at the argument for allowing Kjell Jonevret to stay on as coach.
Jonevret took over as the Buccaneers coach on 20 February 2017, which shocked the local footballing fraternity, considering his lack of experience in the PSL. He was the third man to occupy the role in the 2016/17 season, following Muhsin Ertugral’s resignation and an extended period with Augusto Palacios taking over as interim coach
Was it his fault?
The first thing to consider is that, when Jonevret took over the reins at the Buccaneers, the team was in 10th place and just seven points clear of bottom-placed Baroka FC at the time. Pirates had already been knocked out of the MTN8 and the Telkom Knockout and lost by 6-1 and 6-0 margins against SuperSport United and Mamelodi Sundowns, respectively. Furthermore, there was an incident of fan violence in the Sundowns loss, in a moment of frustration for the supporters who had seemed to reach the end of their tether.
Jonevret took charge after the pulsating 2-2 draw against Cape Town City, following that result up with three more stalemates against Polokwane City, Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United, who all finished in the top eight by the end of the season. Over the course of the next 18 matches, he recorded six victories in all competitions, conceding 12 goals in 12 games in the league, as opposed to the 28 conceded in 18 before his arrival. In addition, his team scored 11 goals, as opposed to the 18 scored before his arrival. The rate of scoring had dropped, but Tendai Ndoro only found the net once from a penalty in his tenure, as opposed to the 11 scored beforehand and he had to deal with the team’s dependence on the Zimbabwean after he scored 61% of their goals in the games under Palacios and Ertugral.
In addition, the Swede led the club to the final of the only cup competition that he oversaw, the Nedbank Cup (albeit that he lost 4-1 in a demoralising loss against SuperSport). In effect, Jonevret inherited a team that was already in trouble, winning 1.08 points per game in the league, as opposed to the 1.1 per game average prior to his arrival, which is not a bad record considering that he was working with a group of players of which none were signed by him and that he had never coached in South Africa’s top flight. Therefore, it would be bold to put the blame for Pirates’ unsuccessful season squarely on his shoulders.
Adjustment period over
Jonevret is a rookie in the league and is not blessed with decades of experience in Mzansi, as is the case with the likes of Steve Komphela, Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt. However, with roughly four months of experience in the local game and environment in South Africa, he now has a base to work off and can conduct a well-planned preseason program, while being given an opportunity to make changes to the squad available to him, allowing him to work with players that he has personally identified as suitable to fill the various voids that exist within the first team.
As already discussed, when Jonevret had taken over, the January transfer window had already closed as well as the July/August window in 2016 under Augusto Palacios’ and Muhsin Ertugral’s oversight. This meant that Jonevret was made to work with the tools that he had been given, rather than those that he requested and his tactical approach couldn’t be implemented as effectively. With the transfer window now open, he can now sign the players that would fit perfectly into his game plan and his team will take shape according to his ideas, rather than his plan being shaped by the players available to him.
This argument has two sides and Jonevret’s European culture as a coach can be considered as a good thing or as a drawback. Coaches such as Stuart Baxter, Ted Dumitru, Muhsin Ertugral and Luc Eymael have successfully integrated European-style structures into their teams. However, there is a balance that needs to be achieved, with fans and players alike preferring a less-structured approach that makes room for creative freedom through which players can express themselves in a truly South African style. Pirates need to make their minds up about whether they think Jonevret can achieve that balance.
Parting ways with Jonevret would mean that Pirates would have to find another suitable candidate in a short space of time, which could leave the head coach’s role vacant for a critical point, which is the preseason and the transfer window. Not to mention, it would create a high level of uncertainty in the dressing room, considering that the would-be new coach would be the fourth man in charge of the club within the space of a year.
Therefore, it seems apparent that Jonevret is not to blame for Pirates’ struggles in the season of their 80th anniversary and that the qualities that Dr Irvin Khoza saw in him, inspiring him to approach the Swede, are still yet to be seen. The 2017/18 season grants Jonevret the opportunity to start afresh, however, and handing his marching order could have dire consequences for the team that will need to prove that they should still be considered amongst the giants of South Africa’s football clubs.
Do you think Jonevret should remain at Orlando Pirates and why? Have your say in the comments section below.