New Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp says he is stepping into his role a lot wiser than when he got the job in his initial stint in 2005.
The fiery German clashed with players‚ media and the fans during his incident-riddled first spell and the stormy relationship eventually came to an end when he was sacked in March 2007.
His return to Naturena after Italian Giovanni Solinas was shown the door on Friday sent shock waves across the country‚ with many Chiefs fans taking to social media and radio stations to complain.
Middendorp conceded on Monday that he was very naive about SA football when he first arrived in June 2005 but has become a lot more accustomed to the culture of the local game after coaching at Maritzburg United‚ Lamontville Golden Arrows‚ Chippa United and Bloemfontein Celtic.
"Coming into the country like it happened in 2005/2006 and not really knowing the environment and not really knowing the players‚ and taking over a team of this size and this brand‚ of course you discover every day something new‚" he said.
"I believe with the movement in the last few years I have this background information [now] and I don’t have to look around and try to find out.
"I never stopped observing the league‚ the PSL‚ every time I was here. I always go to the stadium and it doesn’t matter which stadium and which team. It’s another background now. The background is definitely very important. On the other side, I have my confidence and I know what I am doing."
Chiefs are seventh on the premiership standings and they were struggling to keep up with leaders Orlando Pirates‚ Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns under the much vilified Solinas. Middendorp said he has studied Chiefs, and some players are not playing to their true potential.
"In addition you have a certain selection of players‚ a certain squad and I think probably they haven’t really shown their abilities and they haven’t really shown their potential.
"But I am aware about what players like [Lebo] Manyama, for an example, can do‚ coming out of a situation that was not really comfortable for him‚ not working out at the moment in the positive for the team‚ for club and for the brand.
"But good‚ that is definitely a huge advantage if you compare 2005‚ 2006 and 2007 and with my beginning here in 2018."
At the same time Kaizer Chiefs football manager Bobby Motaung brushed off the sharp criticism that greeted the appointment of Middendorp.
"We expect negativity and this puts us properly in line with what we want to achieve.
"We do expect that even if I bring [Jose] Mourinho I will get negativity‚ even if I bring Sir Alex Ferguson they will say he is old‚ he’s this and he is that.
‘‘There would be criticism everywhere. So we welcome all the negativity and like the coach [Middendorp] says‚ the results will show."
Chiefs face SuperSport United at Mbombela Stadium in Middendorp’s first match at the helm on Wednesday night.
Former Bafana Bafana striker Shaun Bartlett has been appointed as Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach.