Many great teams in the past have had a quality holding man, be it a Lothar Matheus, a Claude Makelele, a Roy Keane or a Neil Tovey.
Someone that can sit deep, read the game, break up opposition attacks, and also distribute well.
Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp has several vey good options in this position, but at the moment its Byrone Hendricks who is getting the nod.
The German’s thinking is that depending on a certain game, or on the formation he goes with, its better to have a player who is happy to sit in ‘the hole’ and not get caught out of position.
Hendricks has done that superbly in matches against Leopards and Chippa United; his tactical awareness, discipline and good passing technique resulting in a couple of very impressive displays.
He downplayed his contribution, saying he’s happy to help out in any role he can.
“The coach asked me if I can play there and I said its not a problem. I’m happy to play any position and will always give 100 percent, be it at right back, centre back or centre mid.
“I have played in midfield before as a junior and also at Santos for a couple of games, so it was not a shock for me. The main thing is to keep things simple. You need to cover the defence, and its also crucial not to lose the ball in that position.”
The player reveals that he was ready to fight for his place in defence, where Mario Booysen and Mohammed Awal have been the usual centre-back pairing this season.
“I was injured earlier in the season and this is why I wasn’t playing. Then when I recovered, the other guys were playing very well, so I knew I would not be able to just walk back into the side, I would have to fight for my place.
“Then the coach asked if I was comfortable in the midfield, I said yes, and so far its worked out well, I’m happy to be playing and contributing to the side.”
Coach Ernst Middendorp on Hendricks' new role
“It’s a tactical question. I know that when Michael Morton or David Booysen play this role, they do it differently. They want to move, they burn energy, but they run out of energy too.
“When we have overloading (down the flanks), like with Ruben Cloete allowed to go forward from full-back, we need someone with a clear tactical understanding to defend the centre of the field and make sure we are properly covered.
“I wanted to have a defender who knows how to keep his position, understand the position, have a good eye, have good anticipation and a good pass forward. With Byrone it worked perfectly.”