Downs take Barça route

2011-07-02 19:53

The arrival of Dutchman Johan Neeskens at ­Mamelodi ­Sundowns could not have come as a surprise to many as it proved owner ­Patrice ­Motsepe’s ­obsession with the Spanish ­giants.

In fact, anything to do with Barcelona works for Motsepe.

In 2007, he spent millions bringing Barcelona to the ­country and since then, his love for the Uefa Champions League champions has grown.

After realising that the ­highly-rated South Americans could not do it, Motsepe’s ­obsession has now taken the European route.

Two years ago, he brought Barcelona and Bulgarian legendary striker Hristo Stoichkov to take charge of the team, but the coach failed dismally in his bid to take Downs to glory.

In defence of his love for Barca, Motsepe said Johan ­Cruyff’s football philosophy was in line with Sundowns’ motto of the “Sky is the limit”.

Holland-born Cruyff is one of Barca’s ­legends.

“If you see the way Barcelona plays, that’s what we should aim to do in the next few years. We must emphasise ­maintaining the element of keeping the ball on the ground and play intelligent football,” said ­Motsepe.

But the fact that Motsepe has fired coaches who have been successful by their own standards seems to mean that nothing will ever satisfy the mining magnate. He has set himself high standards which seem difficult to achieve.

Being a Sundowns coach has become a high-risk job for any right-thinking mentor, but the glamour and the cheque that comes with it is worth the risk.

Neeskens is well aware of the pressure. He comes with a rich curriculum vitae after ­being at clubs like Barcelona and Turkish giants Galatasaray, albeit as assistant coach.

Neekens speaks Motsepe’s ­language of total football as “that’s what Barca and the ­Holland national team play”.

“I want to have a team that plays attractive and attacking football to ensure that those on the stands are happy at the end of the match,” he said.
Neeskens said he would retain the services of goalkeeper coach Mark Anderson and would not hire a ­physical trainer.

“I have my own way of ­conditioning players so I won’t need any physical trainer,” he said.

But if Neeskens reads the fine line on his contract, he will notice that he is not only expected to restore the club’s style of attacking football – but to win the Absa Premiership and all the PSL Cup contests.

Perhaps Motsepe decided to go Dutch following the success Ruud Krol brought to Orlando Pirates last season.

Maybe Neeskens should seek advice from the long line of coaches that have come and gone at the Brazilians since Motsepe’s take-over.

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