Middendorp, Bartlett give Chiefs better game plan

Ernst Middendorp
Ernst Middendorp

Willard Katsande says Ernst Middendorp and Shaun Bartlett have brought a better structure to Chiefs, better training, a cleverer game plan and better man-management that have accounted for improvement in Amakhosi's play recently.

Players do not enjoy being asked to compare coaches.

But when it is put to Katsande how obvious the difference has been from the nervy, unpredictable tenure of the coach Chiefs started the season with, Giovanni Solinas; to the immediate improvement in structure, plan and direction under Middendorp, Chiefs' stand-in captain opens up.

"I think it's a matter of confidence. The technical team came - they have instilled confidence in the players," Katsande said.

"They actually give us the diagram of how they want everybody to perform. And they say that they are not going to limit us - as long as we perform within the structure.

"Which is very important, because each player gets freedom. And you can see by the way that we are training and playing that there is energy, and there is happiness."

Middendorp replaced Solinas on December 7. Former Chiefs and Bafana Bafana striker Bartlett was roped in as the 60-year-old German's assistant three days later.

An improvement in results aside, though, Amakhosi have looked better drilled, more confident, with an apparent greater faith in the game plan, and better organised - all of which has made them far tougher to beat.

"They [Middendorp and Bartlett] give us the structure," combatant defensive midfielder Katsande said.

"And they will tell you, 'think around the structure, what do you think?'. They want to hear your submission.

"So it's nicer," Katsande said.

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