PRETORIA, January 30 – A scathing letter from former Mamelodi Sundowns striker Toni Silva has opened the debate as to whether Pitso Mosimane is as good a coach as he has been credited.
Silva, who left Sundowns this month for Egyptian side Al Ittihad after having failed to nail down a regular starting place, did not hold back.
The Guinea Bissau international, once on the books of Liverpool and Chelsea, feels he was not given a fair chance to show what he can do and that he was often played out of position. He also claims that Mosimane has fostered a culture of favouritism at the club.
Included in Silva’s lengthy open letter were the following points:
– “Pitso you are the weakest coach I have ever had in my life.”
– “You are arrogant and your ego does not help you as you fail to make your players happy, but [you are] killing dreams and players’ careers, then turn around and say ‘it didn’t work out’.”
– “I was under your management for six months and all we do is the same training until the day I left and you call yourself a good coach?”
– “You made me sign an agreement that I must not return to South Africa within the next five years, and that I cannot play against Sundowns otherwise I will have to pay Sundowns €5m.”
“You make us watch five-hour videos before a match, you fight with most of the players, you communicate information late.”
“You are the only coach I know that makes players and all staff travel economy, while you travel business class.”
It could of course all be sour grapes, but the detail into which Silva goes, and the pure anger with which he typed his letter, has provided food for thought.
There is certainly a touch of Jose Mourinho about Mosimane, who like the former Manchester United manager can be a prickly personality and a difficult and a defensive character during media interviews; both men often come across as hard-done-by, insinuating that the world is against them.
Like Mourinho, Mosimane has an arrogance about him which when things are going well, can be interpreted as a winning mentality. But when under pressure, their demeanours tend to quickly turn vindictive and petulant.
But like Mourinho, Mosimane can silence critics by pointing to his CV and the very impressive list of trophies won.
On the flip side though, both men have enjoyed working with some of the biggest budgets available in their respective leagues, and have not been scared to flash the cheque book in order to bring in big-name and established players from across the world.
It’s this point that many South African soccer fans have been making on social media – that Mosimane’s success at Sundowns has been largely funded by club owner Patrice Motsepe’s deep pockets, and that while some of his signings have been successes, many other players have been bought only to seemingly stop them from going to other clubs, with the result that their careers have stagnated while sitting in the stands on match days.
To be fair, even before Mosimane’s time at Sundowns, which goes back to December 2012, the club spent massive amounts in the transfer market, and in the past six seasons, only six players have been promoted from the Sundowns development ranks.
Of the current squad, Oupa Manyisa, Thokozani Sekotlong, Mogakolodi Ngele, Aubrey Ngoma, Siyabonga Zulu, Lucky Mohomi, Cuthbert Malajila, Bangaly Soumahoro and of course George Lebese, have barely featured and must be wondering what they were signed for. Jeremy Brockie, meanwhile, has battled badly for goals since signing from SuperSport, and the Tshwane club now want to sign AmaZulu’s on-form marksman Emiliano Tade.
In the six seasons Mosimane has been in charge, roughly 70 new players have been signed. The likes of Mzikayise Mashaba, Thamsanqa Sangweni, Fiston Abdul Razak, Samuel Julies, Rheece Evans, Brimah Razak, Luís Miquissone, Asavela Mbekile, Mario Booysen, Ejike Uzoenyi, Rodney Ramagalela, Lindokuhle Mbatha, Luyolo Nomandela, Emmanuel Mathias, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Bryce Moon, Hichani Himoonde, Mukuka Mulenga, Dove Wome and the late Richard Henyekane are just some of the players who departed Masandawana having made minimal impacts on the field.
Of course each player is unique and there may be extenuating circumstances as to why certain individuals didn’t make it, but nevertheless, Mosimane’s hit rate has not been great. Indeed, many of Mosimane’s most successful signings were established and developed already – Keagan Dolly, Khama Billiat, Bongani Zungu, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Wayne Arendse and Teko Modise, some examples. Percy Tau and Motjeka Madisha were rare exceptions.
The former Bafana Bafana coach’s achievements cannot, however, be taken away from him however, and his best response would be to guide Sundowns to the league title and to go as far as possible in the Champions League as possible.
Start engaging in a war of words with Silva, or get sucked into unnecessary arguments with members of the local media, and it could be a slippery slope for the PSL’s longest serving head coach.
Two defeats in four days to Chippa United in the Nedbank Cup and to AmaZulu in the league will not have helped, and one gets the feeling that the next few months could be pivotal in Mosimane’s Sundowns career.
Silva’s letter in full:
In my football career I have played for many teams, and when I left I have not once (given) any interviews about the team or the players within those teams. It has come to my attention that Pitso (Mosimane) has advised media that ‘things did not work out’ also saying ‘(Themba) Zwane, Gaston (Sirino) and (Lebohang) Maboe never played for Liverpool or Chelsea but they give more’ than (I do). So this is my response: Pitso you are the weakest coach I have ever had in my life.
You are arrogant and your ego does not help you as you fail to make your players happy, but killing dreams and player’s careers, then turn around and say ‘it didn’t work out’. I was under your management for six months and all we do is the same training until the day I left and you call yourself a good coach? You always say if you play good in one match, you will play the next match, but that’s not true because you have favouritism. You have players that get second chances even if they have bad games and other players who are good don’t even get a chance to play because you are an unfair coach.
Do not go to the papers and pretend that you are a fair coach just because those people don’t know how you operate, your staff and all the people you work with are afraid to tell you or talk to you because they know what kind of a person you are, but I’m here to tell you because I’m not scared and I believe in the truth.
Ever since I came to the club you never gave me a chance to play in my original position, which is as a right winger, yet you have a big mouth to tell the papers that ‘things didn’t work out and other players give more’. Don’t forget that there are (the) favourites that you give freedom to, then (there are) others (who) don’t give freedom and chances to.
Fortunately for me, I will always have space in Europe because I am from there, but I sympathize with the other South African players that you are just destroying their careers and they don’t have (many) options, but you are too fake, Pitso and everyone knows, they are just scared to tell you. That team is so unprofessional, make players pay for their permits (Where have you ever heard of that?).
As you can see I don’t give a s*** about you, that’s why I want the world to know. You made me sign an agreement that I must not return to South Africa within the next five years, and that I cannot play against Sundowns otherwise I will have to pay Sundowns €5m, and yes, I accepted and signed just so that I can leave that team and its unprofessionalism and get back on track in my career without even finishing the one year contract I had with you. I opted to leave early because I know my worth and staying there was just going to destroy my career (as) you do to half of the other talented players in your team.
You like acting big but please know your limits, you’re just a coach in Africa. There are bigger coaches than you, don’t forget that you’re not international yet. You make us watch five-hour videos before a match, you fight with most of the players, you communicate information late. You are just a coach that can be fired and not the owner of the club, it would help you to learn from international players than to be arrogant.
Just look at Benni McCarthy, he is doing well because he has international exposure and he values his players, which is something you need to learn because you have talent that is sitting and not playing. You don’t utilise your team to the best because you are blinded by your favouritism, and arrogant to the point where you won’t listen to your own staff and assistant coach.
You took me from Europe because you saw the quality of player that I am and brought me to South Africa, now you want to say ‘it didn’t work out’? All the leagues I’ve played for are bigger than the one you’re coaching. I decided to leave because I don’t take shit from anyone, when I got there and saw how unprofessional it was I told you I want to leave and you begged me to stay, sending me messages every day saying ‘You were good today in training’, and ‘best winger in the club, one on one’. Now you have the nerve to talk about me? You stopped playing me because I stood up for myself and told you I don’t want to play striker as it’s not my position, so you got frustrated.
A good coach finds (a) solution and gives his players freedom to perform at their comfort, not this style you have to force people to play positions, they don’t know or are good at and then say ‘it didn’t work out’. You buy players because you don’t want them to compete against you, and destroy the player’s career. Is that being a good coach? A good coach takes on competition and wins with his skills and wants players to grow and develop from where they are to international spheres.
You have George Lebese in the team, the boy is not playing and everyone knows he is one of the best players in the league, and you can’t even give a reason why, but you say ‘it didn’t work out’. You won’t even let him play elsewhere because you know he would fly high and expose you as the bad couch you are!
I really feel sorry for the players (who) can’t leave, (who) don’t have options. Pitso, when you mention the people you give chances to, you must also mention the people you don’t give chances to like George Lebese. Have you even given him a chance this season? No, so tell the papers that you fail to make it work, not that ‘it didn’t work’.
Before I forget I just want to tell you I have been coached by the following: Quique Flores, (Luiz Felipe) Scolari, Lyuboslav Penev, Roy Hodgson, Rafa Benitez, Jose Anigo and Rodolf Borrel (who is the assistant coach of Manchester City, the ex-coach of (Lionel) Messi), then I come to South Africa to be coached by you and you’re quick to speak to the papers but can’t address problems of the team itself.
Players must worship you to play and can’t be honest with you. Also, you are the only coach I know that makes players and all staff travel economy, while you travel business class which means you are the important one who will play and score and win the three points. That’s why you travel differently. Lastly just so you know if you keep making interviews anything related to me I will also print all things you say of others. Coach Pitso, I wish you all the best for the rest of the season. (ANA)