Middendorp says changes he's made at Chiefs from Solinas a ‘sensitive issue’

Shaun Bartlett with Ernst Middendorp during the CAF Confederation Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and Elgeco Plus FC at Moses Mabhida Stadium on December 15, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Shaun Bartlett with Ernst Middendorp during the CAF Confederation Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and Elgeco Plus FC at Moses Mabhida Stadium on December 15, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Ernst Middendorp believes the new approach he is taking since replacing Giovanni Solinas as head coach of Kaizer Chiefs is gaining traction.

After some promising‚ better structured performances under the new Amakhosi coach‚ Middendorp faces his biggest test yet returning form the Absa Premiership’s Christmas break against fifth-placed‚ unbeaten Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium on Saturday (kickoff 3.30pm).

Middendorp‚ tactfully‚ did not want to go into too much detail on what key aspects he has made adjustments to since replacing Solinas last month.

“You know it’s a very sensitive issue at the moment. And I hate this‚ talking about what happened in the past or whatever‚” Middendorp said.

“I think let’s go the way; and I think it’s the intention of a club that if they say they want to go a different approach.

“And I think that’s obvious. I am going another way. I am going with working with different ideas with the team‚ with a new approach‚ with setting up some stuff in a different way. Having an idea of players being used in another way as they have been before.

“And it has now been since December 9. And we had only five days’ break [over Christmas].

“But currently the response and the feedback‚ seeing in these three games – in Madagascar‚ in Durban and against SuperSport – I am now at a point where I can say there is a response and we are on a really effective way.”

Middendorp started with a 1-0 league win against SuperSport United in Nelspruit then beat Madagascar’s Elgeco Plus 6-0 on aggregate (3-0 and 3-0) in the Caf Confederation Cup.

The coach was asked about his biggest test yet in his new job in the coming week‚ as Chiefs follow their meeting against 2016 Caf Champions League winners Sundowns with league leaders Bidvest Wits at Bidvest Stadium on Wednesday.

“That’s not my approach. My approach is to‚ day in and day out‚ design the training programme‚ to be well prepared with the ideas of how we should approach the game‚ whether it’s Sundowns‚ AmaZulu or Bidvest‚” the coach said.

“We have other games ahead of us – Zesco United‚ plus the Nedbank Cup in the end of January.

“It is all about our own idea and approach from the tactical side in terms of formation‚ being flexible in what we expect from our players.

“It starts from the front – players like Leonard Castro and Khama Billiat. Everyone is saying they play [well] together‚ but we have a certain expectation of how they should cooperate in moments of the game‚ with and without the ball.

“There are other instances [for the team]‚ where you are working in an attacking set moving forward‚ or in the centre‚ or in front of your goalkeeper – and how do you approach it.

“And everybody has to be part of it in terms of attacking and defending.”

PSL this weekend –

Friday:

Chippa United v Bloemfontein Celtic (Sisa Dukashe Stadium‚ 8pm)

Saturday:

Polokwane City v AmaZulu (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 3.30pm)

Kaizer Chiefs v Mamelodi Sundowns (FNB Stadium‚ 3.30pm)

Free State Stars v Bidvest Wits (Goble Park‚ 6pm)

Highlands Park v Orlando Pirates (Makhulong Stadium‚ 8.15pm)

SuperSport United v Cape Town City (Lucas Moripe Stadium‚ 8.15pm)

Sunday:

Lamontville Golden Arrows v Maritzburg United (Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium‚ 3.30pm)

Baroka FC v Black Leopards (Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 3.30pm)

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