Coach to send an improved United in against Swallows

2010-10-14 00:00

AFTER a three-week break from their last game, a 2-0 defeat away to Bloemfontein Celtic, coach Ernst Middendorp is confident that a much-improved Maritzburg United will take the field in their Premier Soccer League game against Moroka Swallows at Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow night.

After much expectation surrounded United at the start of the season, the PMB team got off to an inauspicious start, with three defeats and a draw to be in second-last place.

Despite this, Middendorp is irate about some of the criticism he has received from sections of the KZN press.

“Like I have said before, we had a lot of players arrive at the last moment as the season started. And this was a situation I had no control over”, the coach said yesterday.

“For the first three-and-a-half weeks of the season the players were still gelling.”

Middendorp said the three-week break in the league — a result of the MTN8 final two weeks ago and this past weekend’s Fifa international date — has given him time to iron out the kinks.

“Of course the three weeks has helped us with bringing the players together more, with better communication and with establishing better structure in the team.

“And also with bringing everyone to the same level of fitness. Now we have Kurt Lentjies, who might not be available because of a hamstring injury he has received in training.

“Now, after three weeks’ hard work we are busy with the programme of getting the players to the right level to be match-ready for Friday [tomorrow]. And I am quite sure we will see a difference from the early part of the season.

“I can’t promise anything in terms of a result, but I am sure it will be a much improved performance.”

United have conceded nine goals already, the joint-most in the league with AmaZulu, though Middendorp says this is not the responsibility solely of his defence.

“The problem is not with the defence. We had 54% possession in Bloemfontein, so that tells you something. We are not sensitive enough when we have possession in the middle of the field and the final third.

“No defence in the world can deal with a situation where we have good build-ups and then passes go astray in the middle or in the final third. The responsibility with improving the defence is the work of the entire team.”

The coach said United need a win against Swallows to get their season back on track.

“We need points, there is no doubt about it. And it is possible in the next two or three games for us to be in the position we want to be in.

“It’s about the fighting, and playing as a compact unit and playing the way we are supposed to be.”

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