Ernst: Nobody is born a defender

Premiership

Middendorp has often been criticised for his tendency to field more defensive players, and this was again the case when Chiefs hosted Baroka at FNB Stadium on the weekend.

The German tactician named five defenders in his starting line-up, when many would have expected Amakhosi to have a right go at the relegation-threatened side, who have conceded 29 goals in 25 games this season.

READ: Still a lot of work to do - Middendorp

But when centre-back Teenage Hadebe was forced off with a concussion midway through the first-half, Middendorp indeed realised that he had room to put on another attacker and threw on striker Ryan Moon in his place.

“There was an injury and you look into how the game goes, so you can change position for position, but we already saw after 20-25 minutes where the game was going,” he explained.

“Our objective assessment was that we needed one more player in the centre [of defence], and we have the players with the flexibility – like Ntiya-Ntiya, but okay, with all respect, we lost.

“It was enough that was performed in this direction, so you bring instead a player from the setup in the midfield or backline [off] for somebody in the front.”

Middendorp further provide insight into his thinking when it comes to his selections, clarifying that defensive players are not only expected to defend, and likewise attacking players are not meant to contribute only in attack.

“I personally always answer, and will continue to answer, soccer in this department is not about defending, attacking or the number of whatever,” he outlined.

“I actually believe that’s the future, and that’s what we have to do. Last week Sunday, everything was right because we won, nobody was talking about, ‘Oh, this’ or whatever.

“Now, six days later, we raise the finger. I think Philani Zulu or Ntiya-Ntiya, or ‘Rama’ [Mphahlele], in future have to do better in our forward movement – that’s the normal way.

“Nobody is born as a defender; nobody is born, and you limit him to [one position]. If you want to be successful in future, you have to use players that can be part of cohesive attacking and cohesive defending.

“If you think you can split [attackers and defenders] – you have three or four, who just hit the ball [forward] or hit the legs of the opponent and that’s it, then the rest are running around wherever they want to do, you’ll never achieve something, definitely not.”

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