Eight games into his tenure and the former Golden Arrows coach has just one Absa Premiership victory under his belt, a run that has seen the Free State-based outfit slump to 11th place and Letsoaka’s credentials being questioned.
There are no doubts Celtic are far less conservative under Letsoaka, but the instruction to ‘express’ themselves has been working against them rather than for them as evidenced by their log position. “I think we are finally getting the mindset right and I can’t really fault the performances up to now, except maybe the (1-0) loss against Chippa on Sunday. That was poor. We never left the dressing-room for that game,” the coach said yesterday.
It’s the kind of display dished out at the weekend - in a home fixture - that has seen a section of club supporters make an appearance only to hurl insults at management for what they feel is mismanagement of their beloved Phunya Sele Sele.
Who can blame them? After all, Celtic were in fifth place when Letsoaka replaced Clinton Larsen in December following a rather acrimonious parting of ways. Chairman Max Tshabalala insisted Larsen should accept Duncan Lechesa, reserve team coach at the time, as his assistant or quit.
Larsen took the high road.
“The fans have a right to voice their grievances, and I have said this to the players, warning them not to get involved or take sides,” said Letsoaka. “You would think they are upset with the results, but that is actually not the case. We have been able to avoid defeats against all but one title contender (Kaizer Chiefs), and we even managed to beat Bidvest Wits in our only win since I arrived. We have put up some good performances and some supporters are still protesting. It is clear it has nothing to do with how we are playing. Their concerns are personal and aimed directly at the management of the club.”
Letsoaka admits that draws - six in 14 games if you include those under his predecessor as well - are not good enough. “We are missing a lot of chances. But we have five games away and six at home in the remaining fixtures and we should turn things around this weekend against Maritzburg United, who have been struggling. The gap between the teams in the top eight is also not that wide. I am not worried.”
You could argue their conversion rate could be a lot higher if striker Gabadinho Mhango was allowed to see out the remainder of his contract at the end of the season instead of being locked out of the training grounds and told to vacate the clubhouse last month. The Malawian goal ace allegedly snubbed a spanking new offer from Celtic and signed a pre-contract with Wits from July 1. He has since joined Larsen at Arrows for a short spell.
“I will be honest and admit that we miss him because his partnership with Lerato Lamola and Thapelo Morena was taking shape. He was clearly an important player, but his contract situation was out of my hands because he deceived the club,” explained Letsoaka.
“I had personally asked him whether he would be staying so I could plan for the future with him in mind. To my surprise, I found out after our game against Chiefs that he was leaving and I agreed with the club that we could not carry on like he had not been dishonest.” - The Star
Original source: Celtic's Letsoaka remains upbeat