I would compare Pitso Mosimane to Jose Mourinho‚ says Manqoba Mngqithi

02 January 2018 - 15:07 By Marc Strydom
Manqoba Mngqithi during the Absa Premiership match between Golden Arrows and Mamelodi Sundowns at Princess Magogo Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Durban.
Manqoba Mngqithi during the Absa Premiership match between Golden Arrows and Mamelodi Sundowns at Princess Magogo Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Durban.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Pitso Mosimane’s personal touch with his players – bucking the fiery stereotype portrayed publicly – is the strength that makes the Mamelodi Sundowns coach South Africa’s most astute currently‚ Downs assistant Manqoba Mngqithi asserts.

As 2017-18 leaders Sundowns threaten to win their third Absa Premiership title under Mosimane‚ TimesLIVE asked Mngqithi what it is that makes the head coach tick‚ and separates “Jingles” from his big-name predecessors who failed at the Pretoria billionaires.

“Firstly‚ I think the split personality that people see makes him very successful‚” Mngqithi said.

“People see him as a very volatile‚ crazy coach who fights with players and everyone. I think that deflects from the person he truly is.

“Pitso is a very kind person‚ very generous‚ very friendly‚ with such a sense of humour that many people are not aware of.

“Those contrasts‚ I think‚ take the attention away from the team to him. Because his players can die for him‚ but people out there think they would let him down.

“When it comes to the family of his team‚ you cannot touch him. He visits players’ families in times of trouble.

“All that Pitso does shields his players. He takes everything.

“The blame goes to him. Even the public looks at the coach as this bad guy when things are going wrong.

“I think that is the biggest secret of his success‚ let alone what is known that Pitso is crazily in love with the game‚ and because of that love and passion he leaves no stone unturned.”

This personal touch‚ combined with Mosimane’s workaholic ethic‚ expecting similar standards from players‚ and his notoriously thorough preparation for matches‚ have combined to turn Sundowns into the club in Africa compared to the Barcelonas and Manchester Citys.

It brought Downs the 2016 Caf Champions League title – much admired across the continent for their brand of football winning it – and domestically the 2013-14 and 2015-16 PSL titles‚ and Nedbank Cup and Telkom Knockout trophies.

Sundowns’ global vision of being competitive at the Fifa Club World Cup has seen the club have a broader coaching view‚ monitoring trends at the biggest clubs.

Mosimane’s publicly perceived arrogance‚ and Sundowns’ dominant brand of football‚ results in comparisons to City coach Pep Guardiola or Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho.

“There is comparison but there is also contrast.

"I would compare his personality to Jose Mourinho‚ but I can tell you without doubt that Mourinho’s style of play is the biggest contrast to Pitso’s‚” Mngqithi said.

“Mourinho’s defensive strategies and less passion to play good football. Pitso on that side becomes a Pep.

“So the personality of Mourinho – being demanding‚ looking arrogant. But even Mourinho has features people don’t know about him‚ like how religious he is. His players will also die for him.

“But for the game Pitso likes to play‚ I would always compare him to Pep.

“But there are other elements that even smaller teams like Napoli are helping us with. Our players are not only exposed to what we have in South Africa‚ but we try our level best to take something from the biggest teams in the world.

“We look at the midfield three of Real Madrid of Casemiro‚ Toni Kroos and Luka Modric‚ which has changed the game internationally in midfield.

“PSG‚ and the front three of Neymar‚ Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe. What Kevin De Bruyne‚ David Silva and Fernandinho are doing in Manchester City's midfield.

“I don’t want to lie – I have also grown a lot working with Pitso.

" I always thought I was a hard-working coach but I have realised there are coaches who at times you even doubt find hours to sleep. Pitso is one of those.”

Mosimane’s has been accused of over-preparation for matches by PSL rivals.

“Our planning is standard‚ to be honest. We’ve got things we do for every match‚” Mngqithi said.

“We look at the last four or five games the opposition have played. We go deeper for a team we are not familiar with from Africa.

“We do a lot of video analysis. And our players have taken ownership of that. There are games where we leave it to them to analyse opponents.

“I don’t subscribe to this idea that there can be over-preparation.

“When players do not perform‚ maybe don’t keep to the tactics of that match‚ it can come down to you as a coach that‚ ‘Perhaps you could have just kept things simple’.

“But to be honest‚ keeping things simple is what makes teams get relegated.”

Mosimane’s adherence to the strengths of South African football of speed‚ skill and mobility in his gameplan is a further factor in his success‚ though detractors point out that Downs have the squad to implement it.

“People are free to say that Sundowns are succeeding because of the quality of our players‚” Mngqithi said.

“But Sundowns have always had that quality‚ and then you ask‚ ‘Why were Sundowns not successful then?’

“I cannot say much on Sundowns' previous coaches. I was not there.

“All I know is that when a coach works as hard as Pitso does‚ it’s very easy for players to follow suit.

“When players know a coach is there for them in times of need‚ they will always give more to that coach.”