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Middendorp faces a 'Sarri' situation at Kaizer Chiefs! What should he do differently?

14:04 SAST 2020/08/14
Ernst Middendorp Kaizer Chiefs head coach
The Italian mentor enjoyed success with Chelsea and Juventus but he was still sacked. Could this be the same with the German tactician at Amakhosi?

Ernst Middendorp is under immense pressure to deliver the league title this season but things haven't as smooth-sailing for him and Kaizer Chiefs since the start of the year. 

Soon after the sale of Bidvest Wits was announced in June, growing calls for Middendorp to be sacked and be replaced by Gavin Hunt started gaining momentum. 

This despite the German mentor keeping Amakhosi at the summit of the PSL log since August 2019 but after Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Bidvest Wits, a section of fans grew more frustrated with his tactics that they feel led to their team dropping two crucial points in the title race.

But that's not the only he is blamed for - his team selection has also been questioned a lot this season and some believe it's the reason the team hasn't quite produced the same results as last year. 

The whole football fraternity knows how Maurizio Sarri was criticised at both Chelsea and Juventus before being sacked recently despite winning the Serie A title. 

He finished with Chelsea and won the Europa League title but he was still fired because of his negative tactics. 

That was followed by Juve pulling the trigger on him following their exit from the Uefa Champions League - and Middendorp finds himself in a similar situation as Sarri. 

Of course, there are those who still believe Middendorp is the right man for the Amakhosi coaching job but the pressure he finds himself under could force him out of the club even if he delivers the league title - which would be the club's first in five seasons. 

The fact that defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns are breathing heavily down Chiefs' neck means Middendorp's situation gets worse by the day - and he needs to improve his tactics, team selection and team results as soon as possible. 

There are a couple of things Middendorp should get right in the remaining matches of the season, including this weekend's encounter away to Polokwane City, do not defend a 1-0 lead by packing the defence.

This leads to ball watching whenever crosses are played into the box by opposition attackers and more often than not, players of the same team tend to mark each unnecessarily. 

In addition, goalkeepers have their views blocked at times because of the floods of players in front of them and have little time to make reflexes when opposition players take shots. 

There are certain players Middendorp has to be brave enough to drop no matter the criticism from Chiefs fans. 

He has already done that with Itumeleng Khune as he consistently showed faith in Daniel Akpeyi this season. 

Khama Billiat hasn't been at his best this season and the best option may be to utilise him from the bench whenever everyone is starting to cramp - this could work in Middendorp's favour because the Zimbabwe international has speed and can score goals.  

In recent months, Chiefs' source of goals have come from crosses and dead-ball situations and they don't appear to be having other attacking options and ways to penetrate opposition defences other than that - and that's a major concern and Middendorp should look to fix that, starting with the match against Rise and Shine on Saturday afternoon. 

As several coaches who've won the league have said, the best way to defend is to attack - and while Middendorp may be unfairly criticised in this regard as he has never been in this position before since arriving in South Africa, learning from his counterparts such Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt should be the way to go. 

Chiefs have already made it clear that Middendorp's future is not under discussion as he still has a contract with them but perhaps they are waiting to see if he wins the league or not with the team before making a decision. 

But Middendorp can make things easier for the club by walking away even if he wins the league title to save himself from being sacked at the start of next season.