JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs’ coach Ernst Middendorp isn’t getting carried away by the plaudits he and Amakhosi have been getting.
Chiefs sit at the top of the Absa Premiership standings after an unbeaten start, collecting 10 points from four games.
SuperSport United is the only team to have stopped Amakhosi from getting maximum points this season. The man responsible for that, SuperSport’s Bradley Grobler, sat next to the German coach as they were given the Absa Premiership Player of the Month and Coach of the Month awards respectively, yesterday.
“I strongly believe that there wouldn’t be many people on May 19 (after losing the Nedbank Cup final against first division side TS Galaxy) who would have said that I would be in this position,” Middendorp said. “I strongly believe that a special thank you must go to Kaizer (Motaung) snr and Bobby (Motaung). They are some of the people who were convinced that we can go in the right direction. It’s important to mention this.”
Middendorp faced tough criticism from Chiefs fans after another barren run. Those fans weren’t just angry at the German, who came midway into the season, but their anger was fuelled by the four-season barren run that started way before Middendorp was brought in to replace Giovanni Solinas.
“I understand the supporters’ (disappointment),” Middendorp said. “It’s natural to be disappointed after losing a cup final in such a way (as we did). It doesn’t bring joy to the fans. It’s confusing. It’s irritating. It’s embarrassing, as we said. But it’s part of soccer."
"It’s good that the majority of the die-hard supporters of Kaizer Chiefs understand what has been done so far. Thanks to them for the support. The biggest challenge starts now, staying on top. Staying on top means challenging yourself to do more, be more alert and be more aware of what needs to be done. Increase, if it’s possible, your daily work and work with the team harder. That’s the crucial moment we are in.
Personally, I understand what this means, and I accept this recognition, but I will not get carried away and live on cloud seven or nine. I don’t know which is the right one. This also goes to the technical team of Kaizer Chiefs.”
The German will be looking to break the Coach of the Month curse that has seen teams take a dip after their coaches received this award. Chiefs hosts Polokwane City tomorrow at FNB Stadium in what promises to be an entertaining clash against two teams that have started well this season. Middendorp credits a proper pre-season and the return of injured players like Reeve Frolser, Eric Mathoho and Lebogang Manyama for the team’s good start.
“If the pre-season isn’t properly done, you have no chance to get the corrections during the season,” Middendorp said. “If the pre-season isn’t properly done, you will see the players collapsing on the pitch and you will see the players struggling to perform.
The pre-season is the most crucial one, for different reasons. Not only for the physical structure but also in terms of the way you want to play and want to position yourself. That’s one part.
Following a certain model and working in a certain way in the training ground, paying attention to detail and what we produced is another component.”