Pressing Issues: VV’s fate was written in the stars, then rewritten

2014-12-08 11:00

There is a saying that goes something like this: “Your hair is not the only thing you lose when you get old, you lose your memory as well.”

This week, I found myself scratching my receding hairline trying to fathom if ever there was a coach who was a resounding success at Orlando Pirates after being a flop at Kaizer Chiefs, or vice versa. My fading memory failed to reveal such a name.

These thoughts, which sent my ever-decreasing brain cells cascading down memory lane, were brought about by the “sudden” resignation of Vladimir Vermezovic as Orlando Pirates coach on Wednesday afternoon.

I say his departure was sudden because on the same morning, he was widely quoted in the media as saying “I’m doing my job in my way” following the shock 2-1 defeat Pirates suffered at the hands of Maritzburg United. A comment that led a colleague to quip: “Akamazi uKhoza lo!” (This one doesn’t know Irvin Khoza very well.)

The confident Serb went further and gazed into the future. “We must go on and focus on the next game. We have a few days to prepare now for the Chiefs game.”

But by the end of the day, he was history and Khoza said: “I wish him well into the future.”

Rewind to Valentine’s Day 2014.

As much as very little still shocks me in football, most especially here in Mzansi, I was perplexed when Khoza announced with much fanfare the appointment of “VV” as Pirates coach.

The man had an average performance at Amakhosi, where he failed to win the ultimate prize, the league title. But at the time, Khoza, the “Iron Duke” of South African football, had enough confidence in him to say: “I wish VV a memorable and noteworthy career at Orlando Pirates Football Club.”

This after saying his “hunger and discipline is impressive”.

And so it was that VV was tasked with “creating memories, history and leaving behind legacies that inspire generations to come” at Pirates.


At the time, I thought Khoza – who is by no means a slouch when it comes to matters of football and is as streetwise as they come – knew something that some of us didn’t.

Make no mistake, the Duke has earned his spurs after turning what was an ailing Pirates into what it is today – back at the top where it belongs.

Under his guidance, the club – an institution to be exact – has become the only southern African club to win the CAF Champions League.

As recently as three seasons ago, the club claimed its second treble in as many seasons. So I had every reason to be baffled by the wily Iron Duke’s decision to rope in VV and anoint him as a Messiah for The Ghost.

For a second, VV did sound convincing when he proclaimed: “I have unfinished business in South Africa. Orlando Pirates, a giant in African football, is offering me an opportunity to fulfil a dream of a lifetime.”

Now we all know that dream has turned into a nightmare. One would hope the Duke thinks deeply when appointing, or anointing, the next coach. He has proclaimed that Eric Tinkler will remain caretaker coach for the remainder of the season.

But the Duke is so unpredictable, it’s anybody’s guess which rabbit he’ll pull out of his hat this time.

Among some of the strangest and unbelievable decisions was firing Dutchman Ruud Krol while he was

on a roll. To date, we are still in the dark – except for a few confidants maybe – as to what informed that decision.

But that’s the Iron Duke for you.

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