While Amakhosi have incredibly come from finishing ninth last season to topping the table since the beginning of this term, they have not convinced in their displays which tend to be over-reliant on set plays which their opponents look to have found a way to deal with.
Their big win over Orlando Pirates in the Soweto derby just over a fortnight ago looked to have set the team on a one-way path to clinching their first league title in four years but an unexpected loss to a troubled AmaZulu at the weekend bought back the fears that Amakhosi may not reach the finish line first.
Middendorp however remains unmoved by either the praise or criticism directed at him and his team as he focuses on the “next game” and nothing else.
“I am quite realistic at any time and I keep the balance. I am not running around celebrating,” said Middendorp.
“If you think about this, this is totally unfair…I was very clear last week that it was not the decider, nothing to celebrate (the win over Pirates).
“Yes, we have seen quite a confusing team on Saturday on our side. It’s not unusual. You have this big event (the derby) which we passed successfully, and I spoke the entire week about trying to get consistency.
“We changed only one position (Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya). The other one was forced by injury. We tried to put the same players, trust them, hoping they would top it up with a good game.
“There’s no doubt about it, we have seen an absolutely confusing game individually and as a collective. The question is: ‘how can this happen?’ Of course it has something to do with the mind-set.
“It should not happen. I believe if we had the right mind-set on the field from the first second from the attacking end and defending, the result would have been different.
“We took it too easy. And then, of course, in a critical moment (we conceded) and it became more difficult.”
Chiefs do have a bit of a break now to lick their wounds and come back fighting, as they are not involved in this weekend’s Nedbank Cup quarterfinals. Chiefs’ next game is against Bidvest Wits on 18 March, and they will certainly need to be back up to speed against Gavin Hunt’s side, who are also known for their own threat from the setpieces.