Orlando Pirates is not a top team, says coach Kjell Jonevret

Kjell Jonevret coach of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership match Orlando Pirates and Supersport United at Orlando Stadium. BackpagePix

The depths to which Soweto giants Orlando Pirates have sunk this season are laid bare in the fact that they will almost certainly record their lowest points total in the Premier Soccer League era come the close of the campaign later this month.

Their decline in league form at least has been gradual, not linked to any one particular event, though their exploits in reaching the finals of the 2013 African Champions League and 2015 African Confederation Cup will have played a role, fatiguing a tired squad, the core of which has changed little in the last few seasons.

Since Pirates last won the league in the 2011/12 season they have finished, in consecutive seasons, third, fourth twice in a row and seventh, and will this campaign do well to better last season's dismal run.

They posted their worst ever points total in the PSL era in 2015/16 with 41, and this season will need to take 11 points from the last 15 available to better that, a task that looks beyond their stuttering squad.

If new Swedish coach Kjell Jonevret was under any illusions as to the task at hand when he joined in February, he knows now the massive overhaul that is needed in the squad and has hinted that is what he will push for in the next transfer window.

Whether he gets his wish from a club management that likes to do things their way, and just let the coach be in charge of match day tactics, remains to be seen.

"Of course‚ you have to be honest‚ Orlando Pirates is not a top team right now‚" Jonevret said in a stark admission from the coach of one of South Africa's most famous clubs.

"I was looking at BidVest [Wits]‚ for example‚ and they have five‚ six‚ seven‚ eight‚ quality players on the bench and even outside. So of course we don't have the same squad.

"But‚ I mean‚ we should play better and then we have to take care of what happens later.

"That's going to happen in the winter break. And maybe we're going to see what happens. But right now‚ maybe we're not a top team and we shouldn't fight about medals but we should at least be better than what we were," he said.

If the Buccaneers fans believe a continued slide next season and relegation dog-fight is unthinkable, those with longer memories will know they have come very close in the past.

For four seasons between 1984 and 1987 Pirates were essentially a lower half team, scrapping among the relegation candidates and on one occasion barely surviving.

The 1985 season was one of despair, they won only five games out of 34 and ended just a single point above the relegation zone. Instead it was Benoni United and Cape Town Spurs who went down.

What they will benefit from in the close-season is a proper rest, that is unless they make the final of the Nedbank Cup, which this season will be played on June 24, three days shy of a month after the league campaign ends.

Pirates are tipped to defeat Lamontville Golden Arrows in their semifinal on May 21, a team they have beaten in 15 of their last 16 encounters, even while they struggled against the rest of the PSL.