The Maritzburg United coach says he works with what he has at his disposal

Ernst Middendorp's tactics 'guided by team realities'

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Ernst Middendorp of Maritzburg United.
Ernst Middendorp of Maritzburg United.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Regarded as a one-dimensional coach who prioritises results over attractive football, Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp has disclosed that his philosophy is always dependent on what he has at his disposal.

In what was his maiden game since returning for his third spell at the club nearly two weeks ago, Middendorp aided Maritzburg to bag their first point of the season after holding Mamelodi Sundowns to a 1-1 draw at Harry Gwala Stadium over the weekend.

Kwanda Mngonyama netted on the hour mark to level matters after Themba Zwane had put the Brazilians ahead just two minutes after the half hour mark.

Last season many questioned Middendorp’s tactical acumen as his then club, Kaizer Chiefs, fell at the last hurdle to allow Sundowns to win the league on the final day. Middendorp was criticised for lacking a Plan B as he always relied on set pieces to score.

Quizzed if he’d use the same philosophy at the Team of Choice, the German insinuated he works with what he has without really being worried about the style of play.

“Look at what’s available; don't look for excuses and don’t complain ... don’t start crying and say it won’t work. I win a lot of [games] in the highest level to talk about long balls, short balls,” said Middendorp

“It’s not about long ball or short ball ... it doesn’t matter if it’s a team in Johannesburg or a team here in Pietermaritzburg in the centre of KZN. It’s always about the right ball. Right ball means look at what players you have, look at what can be done – based on that you try to find solutions.”

As much as he relishes the assignment to help the Team of Choice avoid relegation, Middendorp has acknowledged it will take time for him to stabilise the KZN club.

“It’s a long process. I said it already, this project won’t end in December or January ... to get in a safe area it’ll take time. We must sort it out so that we’ll be in the PSL come May 2021 [the end of the current season],” said Middendorp.

“It’s challenging. It’s definitely something that I like. It’s possible to save the team from relegation.”

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