Well hello there and welcome back to another season review in what has been one hell of a save so far. This will be my 17th post in the series and I am still enjoying it just as much as the first post!
So the season is over, my first full season in South Africa, it’s been a bit of a culture shock after the amazing players we had in Brazil but it’s still been just as fun. So let’s not hang about any longer, let’s see how it went…
As always let’s start with the transfers…
As you can see there were quite a few, some my own decision, some forced upon me. Let’s firstly talk about Obambot. He only joined 6 months prior to leaving, for nothing! PSG came in, I rejected but he asked to go, I got as much as I could for him and also agreed a loan back, what I didn’t realise was he would rejoin us without a work permit, it never gave me the option to appeal or reject. So he sat in the reserves for 3 months before I managed to terminate it. A good profit on him!
Next is Left Back Mabiliso, he asked to go and I let him have his wish, he was causing troubles in the dressing room so I wasn’t sad to show him the door. The other first teamers to leave were Molefe, Lumkwane, Modise and Sibiya, all of them I offered out and got rid of, none of them showed anything last season. So £2.6m of outs, really good, let’s see who came in…
So with a CB leaving as well as my main LB, Striker and LW I had a few gaps to fill.
Andile Nene – Left Back – £125k from Polokwane City
My replacement at Left Back and someone I’d been eyeing up before last season came to a close, his technicals aren’t good but to be honest none of the full backs I looked at were. His mentals and physicals are top quality.
Bongani Nyambi – Left Wing – £110k from St Mirren
A brilliant looking Left Winger, he will be back up to my star man Mokhasi on the left side of midfield but he will be a brilliant player to come in when required.
Simphiwe Vilakazi – Striker – £250k from Polokwane City
The best striker I could find and as you will see later he had a decent season. His goalscoring record at Polokwane wasn’t good but I took the gamble, he couldn’t be any worse than the forwards I already had!
Mamadou Ouattara – Central Defender – £400k from AFAD
I think I’ve found a new quality academy to snap players up from. This guys look superb and will be a brilliant replacement for Obambot. His physicals are especially good.
Kieron Jacks – Central Defender – £150k from Cape Town City
One of two winter signings. With the Obambot work permit issues I had to struggle through the first half of the season with 3 CBs, Jacks comes in, he will get a chance to play alongside Ouattara.
Isah Ubong – Central Midfielder – Free from MFM FC
A young player signed in the Winter window, he looks decent and with some mentoring and first team exposure I can see him becoming top quality.
So that’s all the signings, all the gaps were filled and we go into the season with a cracking looking squad.
So now you’ve met the new boys let’s see how the season went, first up the three cup competitions…
This competition opens the season, the top 8 clubs from last seasons Premiership table play in this and as you can see it went well.
The first game was an epic, a 3-3 draw where we lead 3 times and were pegged back each time. We managed to win the game on penalties as they missed all of theirs and we scored our first 3!
The Semi, as expected was tough but we made it through without conceding a goal in either leg, a lovely defensive tactic working wonders!
So into the final we go and we faced what would be our arch rivals over the season.
Orlando Pirates stood in our way and what a game it was!
A 2-1 win in a ding dong end to end match. The game was settled with a penalty but we had so many chances to win by more. What a start to the season! My first trophy in charge!
A poor run in this competition. This cup is where the 16 Premiership teams face off. We played well in the first round but Chippa held firm until extra time where a red card and 2 goals from us settled the tie.
We then faced Polokwane City in the Quarters, it was a shocker of a game, we were really struggling for goals at this point and after failing to score the game went to penalties and this time we were to be on the losing end
The main cup competition in South Africa and as you can see we failed massively. Kaizer Chiefs on paper looks tough but at this point they were languishing in mid table in the 2nd tier. We played poorly and deserved to lose.
So cups down, let’s see how it went in the League
South African Premiership
We were predicted to end 5th but I wanted top 4 as this got us a route into the Continental Competitions.
It started really well. I’ll talk about my tactics in a bit but with pacey wingers and a decent defence I wanted to play a cautious tactic, soaking up pressure and hitting teams on the break. As the season started it worked a treat, 3 wins to start us off followed by a shocking 1-0 defeat to Free State Stars, we then won our next 2 with 2 amazing results. So far in 6 games we had only conceded 2 goals, scoring 11. But then the goals dried up. In the next 6 games, we won 2, drew 3 and lost 1. It was enough to put us top but the lack of goals was really concerning. The 3 draws all ended 0-0 and in the 6 games we had only managed 3 goals. A change was needed and a switch in tactic and style did the trick. We won our next 5 games, scoring 17 goals, conceding 4, 3 of those in a ridiculous 7-3 win over Highland Park
The Winter break came and went, it started well with 2 wins but the next 2 games were again terrible, a 4-3 defeat to Maritzburg, this was after we were 3-0 down after 30 mins, we got back to 3-3 only to concede in the final minute. We drew the next game and slipped down to 2nd. This seemed to galvanise us and in the next 5 matches we won 4 and drew 1 putting us back top, 3 clear of Orlando Pirates.
Then came another tough run, 3 games, 2 points but one of those draws was a 0-0 against Orlando Pirates keeping us 3 points above them but they had a game in hand. 3 to play, we won our next 2 but Orlando Pirates won all theirs and their game in hand so as we entered the final game we sat level on points with Orlando Pirates top on goal difference.
Could we do it? Well no we couldn’t, we played shockingly and lost the game 2-0, Orlando won their game meaning after being top nearly all season we had bottled it and slipped to 2nd.
Results – September – December
Results – February – May
Overall though it was a great season, the lack of goals was a concern but the switch in tactics seemed to do the trick. We massively over achieved and our 2nd place finish means we go into the Champions League Qualifiers for next season!
So let’s take a quick look at who were my top performers throughout the season.
First up is Left Winger Themba Mokhasi, he ended as the clubs player of the season and ended with the most assists (7) and the highest average rating (7.25). What a season for the lad and I have high hopes he can continue this next season.
My player of the season has to be Njabulo Blom, the central midfielder played 26 league games, scoring 3 and getting 4 assists, all 3 of his goals were screamers!
Finally is Striker and new signing Vilakazi, he scored 12 goals in 23 starts, he started slow but the switch in tactic seemed to do the trick and he performed really well.
Now a quick word on the tactics, for once I spotted a problem and sorted it.
As the season started I went with this tactic:
A 4411 formation, fluid counter attack and a cautious approach, as you can see by the results it did really well. I’ve never had such a solid defence, we sat back, soaked up the pressure and hit them on the break with brilliant quick passing. But then the goals dried up, the tactic which had done so well had fallen apart, teams sat back on us, drawing us out and then playing through us with their own quick passing style. A change was needed and that’s exactly what I did…
We moved to a 4231, getting those wide players higher up the pitch but with 2 defensively minded CMs we still had solidity. The tika-taka style made us keep the ball better but playing higher up the pitch got us into better positions to score goals, and my word did we score more! It suited Vilakazi really well and the other Striker Hlongwane who also scored 6 goals after the change. It could be better, we need to sort out our defending from set pieces which is where most of our goals come from but for a base it’s a great start.
I managed to tick off one achievement this year and that was “Record Appearances for Club” as my GK Mnyandu broke the record.
A quick word on one of the achievements I said I thought I could get whilst I was here and that’s “Build new Ground”. In my club vision meeting when I took the job there was one thing that stood out and that was after Season 1 they wanted to build a new ground, what I didn’t realise was it was already planned in and we moved into the new 8,100 capacity ground at the start of the season.
The ground filled out every game so the board have decided to expand it even more, so it looks like I won’t get that achievement here!
So a fantastic season, 2nd in the league and 1 cup won as well. We now have Champions League football next season which with the right signings I am optimistic we have a decent run in it. After coming so close in the league I really want to go one step further and win it next campaign.
As for players the squad looks decent and settled but I am expecting bids for numerous players. Mnyandu (GK) is already making noises about wanting to go so he may need replacing. However I don’t expect sweeping changes, I may look for a new Striker if one becomes available and I need to replace my back-up AM Marakane as he is joining Orlando Pirates when his contract expires.
Anyway, that’s all from me for now. I hope you enjoyed the read.