Monday Aug 19, 2019. 16:00
It is difficult to know what to make of Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s exit from Orlando Pirates and subsequent appointment to Egyptian side Zamalek as there are just so many layers to this story.
But these are his words when he left The Buccaneers on Friday, later telling journalists he was on his way to Serbia to be with his sick mother.
“I want to thank personally Dr Irvin Khoza, our chairman, who has brought me to this club for a second time.
“Due to the challenges I am personally facing, I am leaving this position, but in the same moment I will look forward, once the challenges are over, to what is coming ahead of me.”
Just a few days later he is unveiled as head coach of Zamalek, a club who had made no secret their desire to secure his services.
On the face of it, Sredojevic was using his ill mother as an excuse to jump from one team to another. If that is the truth, it is despicably cruel.
Then there were the newspaper revelations in the South African publication Sunday World that he is allegedly being investigated by police for exposing himself to a hotel cleaner. Another strange twist in the tale if it is true.
Was that the reason he had to leave the country so quickly, just 24 hours before a crucial MTN8 quarterfinal that Pirates eventually lost to Highlands Park?
If not, why the rush, why could he not have simply stayed for that game and resigned on Sunday, because, as we now know, he has not been spending that promised time with his mother.
Or is it a case that he wanted to leave, and that Pirates were happy to let him go after two barren trophyless seasons in charge, and this was a plan they hatched together for the Soweto club to save some face.
They would not want to be seen to lose their coach to another team on the continent like that, tarnishing their brand and that of the South African league, of which Pirates owner Khoza is also the chairman.
Could they have released Sredojevic on condition that he make it known it is his decision and one that was made for things other than footballing reasons?
We don’t yet know the truth, though it will likely come out at some stage. But what is for sure, whichever of the scenarios is the real one, Sredojevic does not look good in any of them.
And he will not have helped his cause by walking into Zamalek and saying it was his “dream job”, even if he is speaking to his new fanbase in a bid to win them over.
Leaving Pirates in the manner that he did, it is tasteless and should leave supporters infuriated.
But Sredojevic is no doubt banking on the fact that memories are short and by next week the news cycle will have moved on and all will be forgiven.
Should he draw a South African team in the CAF Champions League, possibly even Pirates, it will rear its head again, but otherwise life will continue as if he was never there.
In a perfect world, Sredojevic would have resigned from Pirates, explained that he wanted to leave for Zamalek, and most fans probably would have been fine with it after the initial disappointment.
But now his reputation in South Africa is shot … unless he seeks to make it right by coming clean.