The position this club finds itself in is ridiculous considering where they used to be. At the end of the 2011/12 season, they were relegated from the Premier League. Last season they finished second in the First Division, but lost in the play-offs. And now after a dreadful start to the current season, they sit second from bottom with 12 points from their first 12 games.
It is evident that the club has been miss-managed. Since 2010, they have sold £1.5m worth of players, and not replaced them well enough. They recently paid £9k for the player I was willing to sell for free at FCAK. That is why this former Premier League club finds itself with a worse squad than I had at FCAK. But that transfer budget is a big plus, and I can’t wait for January to try to strengthen.
This lad looks unbelievable for the level, and the £120k the club paid for him in 2012 is one of the few bargains the previous management pulled off. Unfortunately he is out for the next four weeks with an injury, but when he returns he will be comfortably our best player.
It is a sad day when I have to rely on this guy as my main striker. This is his third season at the club after an £8k move, and he has scored one goal in 12 games. And he is also out for the next four weeks, so I am starting to see why the club is second from bottom.
Easily our best defender (our only other senior CB is 35 and retiring at the end of the season) but he is out for six weeks this time! The whole spine of the team, injured.
Despite being second from bottom, I am excited about this job. We are only two points off 4th, which is where I aim to finish this season. And then hopefully next year, with all of our players fit, we should realistically be challenging for promotion. I am determined to build the club up, and bring the African Champions League to Maritzburg. My first match is in a couple of days against WP United.
Maritzburg Utd 0-1 WP United I am disappointed to lose my first game in charge, against a team who were non-league the last time I was in Africa. But they scored an early goal from the penalty spot that won the game. From there we played well, and were unlucky not to get anything out of the match, but we just lacked that bit of quality.
Black Leopards 0-1 Maritzburg Utd Fermi (84) This is an unbelievable result. We went away to the top team and inflicted their first defeat of the season. The 84th minute winner came courtesy of Luca Fermi, the player I just took on trial who had to come on as a sub due to yet another injury. If he keeps this up he’s definitely getting a contract! The win has also done wonders for team morale, and hopefully we can use that to go on a run of form.
Maritzburg Utd 1-1 Tuks Fermi (45) I am actually pretty pleased with this result, especially since we went 1-0 down early on. But in first half stoppage time, Fermi (or TRIALIST A) popped up to head home the equaliser from a delicate cross. Our best attacking midfielder suffered an injury in this match however, as he further extends the physio’s already growing work rate.
I am pleased with how my first few matches at the club have gone, despite a poor start. But four points from our next two games have given us something to build on, and with our next game not until the 4th of January, we have a long time to prepare and get key players back from injury.
Speaking of key players who are injured, I managed to tie Nkomo down to a contract extension. His previous deal was due to expire in the summer, and a number of clubs including ES Tunis had offered him a pre-contract. To seal the deal we had to give him a £15k signing on fee (he was asking for £2k) and a non-promotion release clause. But only days after he signed, we have already had offers up to £20k, which suggests he was worth the signing on fee. Although I do have a task to keep hold of him:
So now, with the transfer window opening in January, I have to start identifying some targets. With a substantial transfer budget, I will look to bring in two or three players, but the main activity will probably come in the summer.
MP Black Aces 0-2 Maritzburg Utd Matle (25) Mokeke (31) A brilliant result which sees us leapfrog Black Aces in the table. Forward Mokeke returned from injury to score only his second goal of the season, after attacking midfielder Matle kept up his brilliant form by putting us ahead.
Maritzburg Utd 0-0 Durban Stars This has been the story of my career so far. We get a great result, and then the next week we draw at home to the bottom team. Although we probably deserved to win the match, I think I will try attacking teams from the off from now on, rather than waiting to hit them on the counter.
Another player I previously had on trial. He is a lot better than our previous first choice right back, and he is only 20, so the future looks bright for him. Hopefully he can progress enough to do a job in the Premier League if and when we get there.
After Mokeke agreed a deal to leave the club on a free at the end of the season, I was looking to bring in another striker. And I found Mahlangu, who becomes my first major signing for the club. We may have overspent, but I see a lot of potential in this 19-year-old.
I then arranged a few friendlies before the league season resumed.
SAFA Cup 1st Round Maritzburg Utd 6-0 Ga-Rankuwa Utd Phama (14) Mahlangu (34, 60, 62) Matle (45) Efstathiou (69) Just three days after we played Ga-Rankuwa in a friendly, we were drawn to play them in the FA Cup. This time we went out to attack them, and it paid off with a convincing win. New signing Mahlangu bagged a debut hat-trick, and he was among a number of brilliant performers today.
This will be interesting.
Maritzburg Utd 4-0 FCAK Mabena (5, 56) Mahlangu (25, 29) Not only are FCAK my former club, but they are also second in the league. So this performance and result was brilliant. We dominated the match, and Mahlangu made it five goals in his first two matches.
That fantastic result against FCAK puts us within three points of third place. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we have any chance of catching my former employers and obtaining a play-off place, but things are looking up. And all of the new signings have already proved their worth, especially Mahlangu who has become the club’s top scorer after only two games!
Maritzburg City 1-2 Maritzburg Utd Matle (60) Madimabe (82) It was a closely contested local derby (although there is apparently no rivalry), and we just about came out on top. We had to wait until the last ten minutes for late substitute Madimabe to score the winner.
WP United 0-3 Maritzburg Utd Matle (23, 37) O.G. (42) A fantastic performance and result, considering WP United beast us in my first match in charge. Matle scored another two brilliant goals, and amid reported interest from Orlando Pirates, I immediately offered him a new contract, which he accepted without a pay rise. This result means we still haven’t lost a game since they beat us in my first match.
SAFA Cup 2nd Round FCAK 2-1 Maritzburg Utd Mahlangu (4) I am disappointed, as with the league all but gone, I was hoping for a good cup run. Mahlangu’s early goal meant we got off to a great start upon my return to Eldorado Park. But we weren’t solid enough at the back, and conceded two goals to knock us out of the SAFA Cup. What’s worse is FCAK drew Orlando Pirates away in the next round, a match I would have loved.
Maritzburg Utd 3-1 Black Leopards Efstathiou (21) Mahlangu (38, 58) A brilliant way to return to league action, as we inflicted the top team’s second defeat of the season, the first coming against us as well. Mahlangu kept up his superb goalscoring record after his January move, after centre-back Efstathiou opened the scoring from a set-piece.
Tuks 1-0 Maritzburg Utd This is a poor result, as it sees Tuks move above us in the table by three points. A win would have seen us move within seven points of FCAK who are second, but we weren’t clinical enough. Although you could argue Tuks were the better team, we created the better chances, creating three clear cut opportunities. It is only our second league defeat since I joined.
We may have got a brilliant win over Black Leopards, but I am disappointed with how the month went. We got knocked out of the cup to my former club, and that defeat to Tuks put an end to our faint hopes of achieving a playoff place. But the performances of many players, including the new boys, is a big positive.
Player of the Month: Wayne Matle
The former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder has had a superb month. Three goals, and a number of excellent performances have emphasized how important he is to us. It’s a shame he can rarely last 90 minutes due to tiredness. But I was delighted to see him sign a new three year contract, putting an end to speculation linking him with a move to Orlando Pirates.
This is the third time he has missed training for me, and the 11th overall! The first (or ninth) time he got a warning, then I fined him two weeks wages, and a few days later he did it again. He was a useless youngster whose contract was up in the summer, so I released him.
Get in. He came through the youth ranks at FCAK while I was there, and I gave him his big oppertunity. Then at the beginning of this season, he earned an £85k move to Premier League outfit Thanda Royal Zulu. He struggled to break into the team, and with his contract up in the summer, I pounced to sign him up. It feels like the reunion with Aiden Marques all over again (although he isn't half as good).