Will Richards Bay continue to buck the PSL rookies trend?

Will Richards Bay continue to buck the PSL rookies trend?

Richards Bay are under the microscope to see whether they will buck the trend of new clubs that impress in the first half of the season and spiral down when it matters most.

This season’s DStv Premiership rookies are second on the table behind reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns after 17 games and have two matches in hand.

This is quite impressive, although there has been a trend in the past that newly-promoted clubs tend to fade in the second half of the campaign.

Co-coach Vasili Manousakis is acutely aware of this but is optimistic they can kick on despite their ailing squad, given the injuries being witnessed at present.

"I think the depth, if anything, is a bit of a concern. You start to see Nyauza's flu today and he had to come off at half-time; Salim [Magoola] is cramping, he's coming off [then] he's not coming off; we're already thin," bemoaned Manousakis.

"Sbu Mthethwa wasn't in today, [Simphiwe] Mcineka's long-term injury, so it is getting a bit thin. But it's also not a bad thing because we're showing confidence in the rest of the guys, but do they have the legs to go the duration? As we said, we've got some tough [games] away.

"We've got to go to [TS] Galaxy, so you've got to go to Nelspruit, [then] you've got to go to Polokwane for Sekhukhune [United], so there are some difficult ones. I think the upside is that our away form has been pretty decent this season."

In his view, the club’s target remains survival to guarantee another campaign in the topflight.

"I think you start to lose focus when you focus on the goal that you can't see. When you start talking about the top 6 then the wheels start coming off," he added.

"Let's get our first target – we said the 35/36-point mark, we think, is enough this season because it's a tricky season with those [teams] at the bottom. We think that [target] keeps up out of positions 16 and 15."

When newly promoted sides budget points to stay up, usually the 30-point mark is the magic number. But Manousakis reckons it’s different this time around.

"Historically in the last season, 29 points gets you to [position] 14. I don't think that's enough this season. Obviously, every team wants to do their best and be the best, but I've also been part of a technical team that paid the price for overachieving," he noted, in reference to his last job as assistant coach at AmaZulu.