There were some calling for his head at the end of last season, but Ernst Middendorp’s turnaround at Kaizer Chiefs has been quite remarkable…
The German joined the ship at Naturena during a rocky time, with the club reeling from a disappointing spell under Giovanni Solinas and going on to finish the season in ninth place – their worst position in recent memory.
Now though, with eight games left to play, Chiefs are on course to end their trophy drought with an Absa Premiership title if football does eventually resume in South Africa, with Middendorp’s side four points clear at the top of the table going into the final stretch.
Amakhosi have already won more games, scored more goals and earned more points than they did in the entirety of their last campaign, and their German coach is working with the best points per game ratio of any permanent coach since Stuart Baxter.
At present, Middendorp is averaging 1.85 points per game after just over 50 matches in charge, higher than the likes of Solinas (1.40), Steve Komphela (1.60), Vladimir Vermezovic (1.79) and Muhsin Ertugral (1.50), with Baxter (2.03) the only one to have a better ratio.
Fans, while most happy about their league position, will also have been pleased to see the influx of youngsters coming through the ranks during Middendorp’s reign so far, with players such as Happy Mashiane, Njabulo Blom and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo all breaking into the first team since his arrival.
Now, with Chiefs still waiting to see what will happen regarding the remainder of the Premier Soccer League season, their coach will be content in the way the campaign has gone so far.