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Fredericks: Hunt’s new challenge is to manage Kaizer Chiefs’ big egos

The former Amakhosi fan-favourite feels the four-time PSL title winning coach’s player management skills will be tested

Kaizer Chiefs legend Stanton ‘Stiga’ Fredericks has discussed factors which have contributed to the Soweto giants’ slow start to the 2020/21 season.  

Banned from registering players for two consecutive transfer windows, Amakhosi have won two‚ drawn one and lost three matches across all competitions under their head coach Gavin Hunt.

The accomplished tactician replaced German coach Ernst Middendorp, who was dismissed by Chiefs after the team lost the PSL title to Mamelodi Sundowns on the last day of last season.

“I have to touch on what Ernst Middendorp and [assistant] Shaun Bartlett did with the players at their disposal last season,” Fredericks told Times Live

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“Middendorp brought the best out of the players. They worked‚ they never played attractive football‚ but they had a winning mentality. Chiefs fought.

“So here comes a different era‚ and this is the same case for every team out there. I think the Covid pandemic was such a struggle – because we can just imagine; we were not in that bubble.”

The retired winger explained Amakhosi’s embarrassing defeat in the MTN8 to their archrivals Orlando Pirates exposed their weaknesses, but he feels the Glamour Boys were unlucky.

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“The psychological part players are dealing with now we can’t understand. And maybe in two years we’ll look back and say‚ ‘Oh, players reacted like this because it was post-Covid-19′,” he continued.

“So‚ trying to answer your question on Gavin and having a difficult start‚ I think that defeat they got handed from Orlando Pirates [5-0 on aggregate in the MTN8 semi-finals] is really causing a lot of in-depth analysis‚ putting the spotlight on to say‚ ‘Wow‚ how bad are we?’

“We could have been talking a different story now if Leonardo Castro and Khama Billiat scored from those early chances in the first leg. But because of the scoreline it now seems like it’s going to be a very difficult situation.”

The former Bafana Bafana international, who played under Hunt at SuperSport United, believes the 56-year-old tactician needs new signings to improve the team. 

“Huntie coming in‚ not being able to sign is a massive blow. Because wherever Gavin has gone he’ll sign in pivotal positions. He’ll get the centre-back – Thulani Hlatshwayo‚ Bongani Khumalo‚ Ricardo Katza – he wants,” he explained. 

“He’ll get the guy in the middle‚ and get his two strikers – one who can hold the ball up and is good in the air‚ one who can connect. The second challenge is the injury to Samir Nurkovic‚ because he showed his impact last season.

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“I think their squad isn’t where it should be in terms of the pedigree of Chiefs‚ and a few signings can change that. You can see Gavin is trying to find his combinations in the middle‚ and in defence‚ and a signing or two could solve that.”

Fredericks also stated that Hunt is used to coaching smaller-clubs and he is now facing his biggest challenge as a coach with senior players such as Lebogang Manyama and Willard Katsande having struggled for form thus far this season. 

“The challenge for coach Huntie is that you’re going to need to manage your star players. There is no doubt‚ we know his pedigree‚ it’s just a matter of time that he’s going to win,” he said. 

“But that struggle is: how do you manage personalities‚ how do you manage players who are earning big bucks‚ who are playing at a big team‚ are very famous? That is a challenge he never needed to face. And this is an opportunity for him to do that. Because he’s going to have to do things a bit differently.

“I’m part of the old school where if I have a coach like Eddie Lewis or Gavin Hunt‚ and it comes to training or I have a bad match‚ or half-time he lashes you – he expects a reaction.”

“That’s Huntie’s players he uses. Now it’s a different ball game. You need to tell Billiat‚ ‘Listen’‚ you need to explain to Willard Katsande why you’re dropping him,” he added. 

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“And I’m sure he knew that going into the job. And that is something we will have to see‚ and I would love to see – how he manages that aspect.”

Chiefs will be looking to return to winning ways when they face Lamontville Golden Arrows in a league clash on Saturday having succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to Pirates in their last game which was the MTN8 semi-final second-game on November 8.

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