Mid­den­dorp al­ready on the back foot

CityPress - - Sport - TIM­O­THY MOLOBI tim­o­[email protected]­press.co.za

Kaizer Chiefs sup­port­ers’ ju­bi­la­tion turned to de­spair in less than two hours on Fri­day.

While they were still cel­e­brat­ing the long-over­due de­par­ture of Gio­vanni Soli­nas, their ec­stasy turned into mis­ery af­ter the club an­nounced Ernst Mid­den­dorp as his re­place­ment.

By all ac­counts, Amakhosi sup­port­ers have a rea­son to not cel­e­brate his ap­point­ment – they al­ready know what to ex­pect and what the club has got­ten it­self into.

The new coach has al­ready been con­demned – even be­fore he started his job. Crit­ics feel it is the same script with the same cast and will have the same end­ing.

Once again, Mid­den­dorp’s ap­point­ment shows signs of des­per­a­tion from the Chiefs man­age­ment. It looks like an easy way out – just like it did with Soli­nas. Or is it a case of, in the ab­sence of the best, make the worst the best?

With the sea­son al­most at the half­way stage, the Ger­man will have to hit the ground run­ning. Chiefs play their 15th game against Su­perS­port United on Wed­nes­day be­fore tak­ing a three-week break on the do­mes­tic front. How­ever, they will have con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball to take care of as they are sched­uled to host Mada­gas­can side El­geco Plus on Satur­day and play the re­turn leg a week later on the east African is­land in the sec­ond round of the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup.

Mid­den­dorp will be hop­ing to use the short break to in­stil his play­ing phi­los­o­phy and tac­tics be­fore meeting ri­vals Mamelodi Sun­downs in the open­ing week­end of the new year.

Why Mid­den­dorp?

In jus­ti­fy­ing Mid­den­dorp’s ap­point­ment, Chiefs boss Kaizer Mo­taung said they wanted some­body who knew the club’s cul­ture.

The 60-year-old Ger­man was the Amakhosi coach be­tween 2005 and 2007.

The club pointed out on its web­site on Fri­day that it won sev­eral tro­phies un­der Mid­den­dorp – the Absa Cup, SAA Supa 8 and Telkom Knock­out.

Mo­taung said he hoped the Ger­man coach could bring stability to the club: “We were look­ing for a coach who is ex­pe­ri­enced and who has an un­der­stand­ing of the club’s foot­balling cul­ture. Mid­den­dorp also un­der­stands South African foot­ball well, hav­ing a vast knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence of our lo­cal foot­ball. We are look­ing for­ward to work­ing to­gether.”

Un­der the Ital­ian men­tor, Chiefs were rud­der­less and not con­vinc­ing at all. Play­ers seemed to have strug­gled to un­der­stand his coach­ing method. Chop­ping and chang­ing his team was also his down­fall as the play­ers lacked co­he­sion and un­der­stand­ing of each other.

What could work in Mid­den­dorp’s favour is his abil­ity to bring out the best in play­ers. He is also known as a master tac­ti­cian and dis­ci­plinar­ian, and those who have worked with him have high re­gard for him. They say he will bring stability and discipline to the side.

“He knows how to bal­ance the side. I have al­ways en­joyed his train­ing ses­sions be­cause he pays at­ten­tion to de­tail. Play­ers are go­ing to enjoy them­selves,” said one as­sis­tant who worked with him be­fore. Dis­ad­van­tage

It is widely known that Mid­den­dorp has a short fuse and ex­plodes eas­ily. His lack of peo­ple skills could work against him at Chiefs. With most South African play­ers not tak­ing kindly to be­ing openly crit­i­cised and pub­licly ridiculed, he will have to con­trol his tem­per in the tech­ni­cal area. He will also have to man­age his squad ad­e­quately – some play­ers felt like out­casts un­der Soli­nas due to lack of game time.

With the team strug­gling to get go­ing, Mid­den­dorp has his work cut out for him. Al­ready, many are not giv­ing him a chance, but this could work in his favour be­cause noth­ing much is ex­pected from him. If he fails, many won’t be sur­prised. He has a lot of con­vinc­ing to do to prove his crit­ics wrong. Af­ter all, he has al­ready been ruled out of the league ti­tle con­tention.

Only time will tell if he is up to the task or if Chiefs sup­port­ers were cor­rect in dis­miss­ing his ap­point­ment out­right.

PHOTO: KAIZER CHIEFS

POI­SONED CHAL­ICE? Ernst Mid­den­dorp is wel­comed back to Kaizer Chiefs by club boss Kaizer Mo­taung and foot­ball man­ager Bobby Mo­taung on Fri­day

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