I won’t quit easily, says Middendorp

2011-03-07 00:00

MARITZBURG United coach Ernst Middendorp says he and his players have resolved their issues, though it is hoped the coach’s rant after his side’s 2-2 Premier Soccer League draw against Vasco da Gama at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday night has a positive effect.

Middendorp offered for United to fire him after his side’s unconvincing performance for most of Saturday night’s draw, where the home side fought back with goals by Gert Schalkwyk (82nd minute) and influential substitute Musa Nyatama (90th).

Earlier, Jonathan Armogam (fifth) and Sibusiso Zuma (30th) put Vasco 2-0 up during a first half that saw the Capetonians squeezing United in the midfield and taking advantage of a loose defence on the counter-attack.

In a three-hour meeting yesterday the United coaching staff, management and players thrashed out issues. Middendorp was sure to have raised the matter of the players’ commitment after a match where the third-last PMB team hardly played with the urgency of a relegation-threatened side.

“Anything that takes place in the dressing room I will not talk about — it’s confidential,” Middendorp said.

“I am asking only that the players perform for a full 90 minutes. It’s the basic job, not something special.

“We had a long discussion and it was made clear the direction each and everybody wants to take.

“This is not about me — I am not a one-man show. I made it clear I will not give up easily — it’s not my style; I’m not the type for quitting.

“But to start a match in the 46th minute is something new for me in my 17 years as a coach. I can try different approaches but each and every one, including myself, have to sit down and ask ourselves ‘what’s going on?’.

“The fact that Peter Petersen, John Arwuah and Byron Hendricks were not available is not an excuse for me.”

While Middendorp in a sense had a go at his players with his offer to be fired, the coach must also take some responsibility for the low league position of a team that should be in mid-table.

If Middendorp’s decision-making, team selection and substitutions have at times been iffy this season, the coach’s tendency to make controversial statements and lose his cool on the touchline have at times appeared to distract his team.

Prior to his comments on Saturday night, Middendorp raised the suggestion after his side’s 3-1 away defeat against Orlando Pirates in midweek that “something is happening” surrounding refereeing decisions involving United.

“There have very often been strange situations, especially in our away matches,” the coach said yesterday. “And right now, in the situation we are in, I don’t believe we should be quiet about it, so that every­one knows we are not just sitting down and accepting it.

“We have to make a bit of noise and ask for fairness. That was why after the Pirates game I said ‘something was happening’, and then for a few days it was discussed.”

Middendorp defended the performance of German import defender Christian Alder, who had a nightmare dealing with Vasco’s former Bafana striker Zuma.

“I thought he had a fantastic game under the circumstances. For three days he missed training with food poisoning he started to show signs of when, on the way back from the Pirates game, we had to stop the bus so he could throw up,” the coach said.

“But we were missing Hendricks, Petersen and Arwuah, and I had to beg him to play. To play 90 minutes under these conditions shows the player’s commitment.”

United’s next match is their Nedbank Cup tie against Moroka Swallows at Harry Gwala on Friday night.

PSL wrap: page 19

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