Middendorp v Zinnbauer: It's a tale of two tacticians
JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp responded philosophically to the question of the difference between his generation of German coaches and that of Josef Zinnbauer, who has been appointed to manage Orlando Pirates.
Middendorp, 61, was already nine years into his professional career when Zinnbaer, 49, started his coaching career. The two are now in charge of the two most supported teams in the country.
While Middendorp is enjoying a smooth ride, with Chiefs sitting pretty at the summit of the Absa Premiership, Zinnbaeur has a tough task of turning around the desperate situation the Buccaneers find themselves in.
“I am now in my 26th year as a professional coach,” Middendorp said.
“When you start coaching professionally, you have ideas, and you must be able. But let’s talk about what is modern. There is a big coach who said that modern is when you pick up points and when you are successful, then you are modern.
“I have an additional idea about it - you have to have the understanding; coaching five years back and coaching today is a totally different one.
“We are dealing with another generation of players, a generation set on being busy on social media. They are there 24 hours a day and seven days a week. You can’t approach them the way you would have five years ago. Communication has to be done in a different way.
“That means that if you are a coach who wants to play in the global arena, be able to know what is needed to communicate with the players.
“The next thing is that you have to understand the resources that we are getting these days.
“We research the latest models in terms of conditioning, training and tactical organisation. What has come now compared to the last 20 years is colossal. Regardless of age, you must be clear about what is needed in the market - tactically, technically and physically. The last game is always the reference for me; I look at it and aim to do better.”
The two coaches will come up against each other on February 29 in the second instalment of the Soweto Derby in the league. By then, there should be some clarity on where these two teams will finish in May after a hectic schedule in January.
For Amakhosi, the aim is to continue with the status quo and cement their place at the top so that they can celebrate their 50th anniversary in style.
For Pirates, Zinnbauer has to hit the ground running with the club in troubled waters.
Zinnbauer is likely to bring some tactical organisation, but apart from that, what else can South Africans expect from Middendorp’s countryman?
“I know him by name,” Middendorp said. “You must understand ... that he came in another era when I had left Germany years ago. It’s not that you are not capable to understand a certain person who is coaching or whatever, but give him a very clear chance and opportunity to manage the team adequately. And that’s it.
“I don’t have any obligation to wish him all the best, any obligation to assess or make comments about it (his appointment).”