JOHANNESBURG – All the right things were said at Kaizer Chiefs’ unveiling of new coach Ernst Middendorp on Monday, but the real proof will lie on the field and in the results.
Amakhosi dropped a bombshell late last Friday afternoon by announcing Middendorp’s arrival a couple of hours after confirming the departure of Giovanni Solinas.
The German had mixed success as Chiefs coach more than a decade back, winning two cup trophies, but also attracting a lot of criticism towards the latter stages of his tenure.
The Soweto giants are certainly banking on their fans having a forgiving nature and open minds; that’s taking into account this report back in 2005, after a game at the FNB Stadium between Chiefs and Bloemfontein Celtic.
“Bottles flew, Kaizer Chiefs fans ripped off seats and threw them at their own team’s bench, screaming, swearing and baying for the blood of coach Ernst Middendorp.
“Some fans then set fire to seats. The coach and the players had to be escorted to safety.”
The German’s return to the club 13 years later has for the most part not been greeted well over the past weekend.
But speaking at Monday’s press conference, Chiefs football manager Bobby Motaung moved to assure fans that the club has their best interests at heart.
“As a club, we do respect the supporters – that’s why these changes are being done sometimes, they are made to satisfy the supporters,” he said.
“It is the team that they love and as the coach says, it is about results. You see, now the challenge of changing a coach again, it is because of them the supporters as well. They are part of the puzzle.”
Motaung, however, also claimed that no matter who had been brought in to replace Solinas, there would have been some unsatisfied followers.
“We expect negativity, and this puts us properly in line with what we want to achieve,” he said.
“We do expect that even if I bring (Jose) Mourinho, I will get negativity. Even if I bring Sir Alex Ferguson, they will say he is old‚ he’s this and he is that. There would be criticism everywhere. So, we welcome all the negativity.”
“Our coach(Middendorp) is well-known in South Africa, Germany and Africa. We had to part ways with the previous coach(Solinas) amicably. The results were not coming and we felt before it’s too late, we’d rather settle the matter and close it early.” - Bobby Motaung#HailTheChief pic.twitter.com/nqYdOkuZeV— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) December 10, 2018
Motaung again reiterated Friday’s statement in that a big reason behind the 60-year-old’s appointment was his familiarity of the PSL playing field, and of Chiefs.
“I’ve been engaging with the coach, Ernst Middendorp, for the past two weeks, and fortunately, he was prepared to come back home and assist in taking the journey forward.
“He understands South Africa. He’s a South African by the way. He’s got an ID.”
A new man at the helm can often inspire a turnaround as he brings in fresh energy and ideas, and this would help Middendorp’s case massively as the Glamour Boys get set to play SuperSport United in Mbombela on Wednesday night.
On the plus side for Middendorp, the SuperSport match is Chiefs’ last league game of 2018 before the Christmas break.
Their final action of the year is in the Caf Confederation Cup first round, home and away against Elgeco Plus of Madagascar.
“I’ve been engaging with the coach, Ernst Middendorp, for the past 2 weeks and fortunately he was prepared to come back home and assist in taking the journey forward."— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) December 10, 2018
“He understands South Africa. He’s a South African by the way. He’s got an ID.” - Bobby Motaung #HailTheChief pic.twitter.com/bvLBTxvnu7
African News Agency (ANA)