When he was announced as Orlando Pirates coach at the beginning of the season, the relatively unknown Spanish tactician was called just another plumber, as foreign coaches without any notable credentials are called in South Africa.
But Jose Riveiro has proven his doubters wrong, by turning Orlando Pirates into a competitive side.
Not only that, but he has already won a trophy with the MTN8, not so much of a plumber now, is he?
Riveiro’s men are currently fourth on the log table after 19 matches, just four points behind second placed Supesport United.
With the way Amabhakaniya are currently playing, it will not be surprising if they go on to add the Nedbank Cup and finish second in the league.
They have the squad, the hunger, and a tactician to match!
But what is it that Riveiro has gotten right with Orlando Pirates?
Firstly, it must be acknowledged that Jose Riveiro did not really inherit a team in shambles, like Arthur Zwane for an example.
Bucs were not a bad side even last season, they even went on to reach the final of the CAF Confederations Cup, where they were beaten by RS Berkane from Morocco.
But what Riveiro brought to Orlando Pirates is tactical discipline.
Under Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids, Pirates were a bit erratic with their defensive organization.
But this season, they are among the defensively well-organized teams in the league, with a fourth best defensive record.
Orlando Pirates average an impressive 0.74 goals conceded per match.
Their XGA (expected goals against) stands at 1.09 per game according to Footystats.org, which is better than the 1.14 average of runaway log leaders, Mamelodi Sundowns.
This means, Amabhakaniya give away less big chances to their opponents than the Brazilians.
What is more encouraging about Riveiro’s tactics is the fact that he didn’t have to compromise the team’s offensive play to achieve his excellent defensive organisation.
He has managed to strike a good balance between attack and defence. Orlando Pirates still play beautiful attacking football they are known for.
He has brought back the hunger and the passion in the players.
Orlando Pirates, as a team, is an embodiment of hunger for success and passion for the game under Riveiro.
The players are willing to give 100% effort game after game, and it doesn’t matter who is playing, they always give their best.
Perhaps, what is even more interesting about Riveiro, is the way he has handled the integration of the new players into the team, while keeping the harmony going, something that has impressed team captain, Innocent Maela.
“I think it’s the strategy the coach has created within the team. Everyone knows their role, everyone knows what’s expected from them,” Maela told the media before the Soweto derby earlier in the season.
“Regardless of who’s playing you’ll be given the tools and guidelines for you to go out there and perform. It’s been working, so far so good.
“When you look at the squads, it’s two different squads. This season was a fresh start, a new coach a new technical team.”
There is no sign of favouritism which has caused a lot of problems at Orlando Pirates; you well, you play under Riveiro, names and reputation do not guide his decisions.
That has led to a tremendous team spirit, with the players working hard for, and supporting each other on and off the pitch.
What can be expected from Jose Riveiro going forward?
Trophies, and more trophies. Jose Riveiro has shown that he has the ability to turn Orlando Pirates back into the happy people they once were, notably under Rudd Krol.
If there is a team that can shake the roots of Mamelodi Sundowns’s kingdom, it’s Riveiro’s Orlando Pirates.
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