ORLANDO Pirates coach Rhulani Mokwena blames unnecessary pressure from fans for Thembinkosi Lorch’s failure to live up to expectations this season.

The 26-year-old midfielder finished as the club’s top scorer and was awarded the Premiership Footballer of the Season last season.

However, so far this season, Lorch has been a shadow of himself, yet to find the back of the net in the league.But Mokwena still believes that Lorch remains the best footballer in the country.

"I think we put undue pressure on him,” said Mokwena after yet another underwhelming performance from Lorch, after Bucs edged Polokwane City 3-2 on Tuesday.

“It is some of the things that he reads on social media. Expectations are based more on that. But I always tell him, he’s still the best player in the country.“

"Unfortunately, we forget that he’s still the reigning Footballer of the Season. Who has the Footballer of the Season award at home? It's Thembinkosi Lorch. 

“So, he's got nothing to prove to anybody.”

Lorch was sent off for retaliation against Puleng Tlolane, who was also sent off at Orlando Stadium.

It wasn’t the first time Lorch had been on the wrong side with the official.

Recently he was caught stamping on Khama Billiat in the Telkom Knockout Soweto derby clash with Kaizer Chiefs.Mokwena said the player deserved to be sent off.

He said: “He deserved to be red-carded. He should not have retaliated but we spoke to him.

“With a little bit more emotional intelligence, he could have avoided the situation, but it's a completely different one to the Chiefs one. So we can't be too critical of him.”