“There is a reason things did not happen over the last few years”
In a post-match press conference that was about reflecting on his past season, the way forward and his future at Kaizer Chiefs, Ernst Middendorp cut a perplexed figure at the depths of Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night.
The coach has endured a turbulent half-season at Chiefs after the team finished outside the top eight for the first time in almost 13 years.
Moreover, the torrid run continued for Middendorp on Saturday night in Durban after his troops lost 1-0 to National First Division side TS Galaxy in the final of the Nedbank Cup in regulation time – extending the club’s barren run to four seasons.
That’s a dismal state of affairs for the club known as the “cup kings of South African football”.
“I think we have to sit down and see what’s happening, not only with Chiefs in the last six months, but in the last few years. We’ll definitely have a discussion (with the management),” Middendorp said.
“I think I’ll have to make a decision (to stay at the club or resign), but definitely not 30 minutes after finishing the game.”
After conceding a flat performance in the league that denied them a spot to compete for the MTN8 competition next season, Amakhosi were tipped to win South Africa’s premier club knockout competition – sealing a return to continental football via the Caf Confederations Cup.
However, with that now also impossible, their primary focus will be on reconstruction as they look to have a full go at the Premiership title. But will that happen under the guidance of the German tactician?
Middendorp himself is unsure about what the future holds.
“I think if the question is coming (of why I should stay at the job), I’ll discuss that with the management of Kaizer Chiefs, and not here in public,” he said.
Ran out of steam
Having joined a team that had already ran out of steam midway through the season, Middendorp said that there were reasons for the team’s three-and-a-half-year barren run.
“There is a reason things did not happen over the last few years,” the German-born coach said.
“You have to find a reason as to why there’s been a decline over the past few years, especially after finishing a season like this. But please, let’s not make emotional decisions 30 minutes after finishing a game.”
However, many people may fault that logic considering that Steve Komphela, who had a three-year trophy drought, never had the luxury of working with players such as the league’s former Footballer of the Season, Khama Billiat.