‘He’s up at 2am, emails me by 4am’

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has received glowing praise for his efforts since arriving at the club in December amidst all the backlash he has received.

Middendorp made a return to Naturena for a second stint as he took over from Giovanni Solinas midway through what was already then looking like another failed season by Chiefs.

On the back of a three-year decline as the club endured an unprecedented trophy drought under Steve Komphela, many were hoping for a new dawn but instead were met with a further underwhelming run under the Italian tactician.

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‘Mazinyo’ was then always under pressure to salvage something from a team apparently in tatters with only a few months left of the campaign, without a pre-season or being able to implement changes to his playing personnel.

The calamitous ninth place finish in the league after a final run of seven league games without victory, as well as the Nedbank Cup, is inexcusable and calls form the Amakhosi faithful for his sacking have been unsurprising.

But, having come for a second bite at the cherry some 11-and-a-half years since leaving the club, it might be slightly premature to judge, so assistant coach Shaun Bartlett has taken it upon himself to present a case for the German.

“It’s been refreshing [working under Middendorp]. Obviously, nobody will realise the amount of work the man puts in – waking up at two in the morning and sending me emails at four in the morning,” defended Bartlett.

“That’s what he’s all about, and that’s why I enjoy working with him – everything is down to details, every match, every training, you get what you’ll be doing the next day already before you get to training. And you know exactly what’s going to happen.

“Even some matches also, every detail is there for the players and caching staff – how things must be implemented and how [tactics] should be applied.”

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It appears likely that the duo could continue next season, being allowed to oversee their own pre-season and reshuffle their squad, but only time will tell whether Middendorp’s work ethic culminates into the desired results.

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