Posted in Matches in Brief

Kortrijk are the Winners This Weekend

With my occasional mid weekend blog entry, and once again the impossible task of actually seeing any action I’ve missed, I’ve only seen the Friday night action and Mouscron vs Anderlecht goals. But forget the 2 teams currently occupying 2nd and 3rd, let’s look at those in the bottom four who I thought would have the tougher matches ahead.

And if we do go back to Friday, we’ll see Mechelen lose to Charleroi in a game where they barely laid a glove on Les Zébres. A goal in each half by Kaveh Rezaei, the second being a wonderful strike, Mechelen just didn’t show enough. I just don’t understand why Boureima Bandé doesn’t start, and the substitutions are becoming predictable.

De Kakkers will wait till they need a goal and then they bring on Bandé, Kolovos and Drazic. Charleroi have well and truly put that terrible run of results behind them, and just think if they even gained draws from those defeats and didn’t throw away that win to draw against Beveren. I do feel Mechelen will be too good to go down, but if these performances continue, then I may have to reassess my opinion.

Yesterday saw the rest of the bottom four play in matches where this morning, two out of three will be happy. I’ll start with Oostende who drew 0-0 against one of the dullest sides to watch in the Pro League in Standard Liège. I have heard on good authority that the referee did his best to ruin the match with 3 red cards.

But regardless, with the limited Pro League action that is out there, I have seen Standard play STVV, Gent and Antwerp this season and with the South American influence Les Rouches have, they just have no flair. And with a Portuguese coach…well, that means nothing really looking at the way Portugal won Euro 2016. De Kustboys on the other hand may reflect and say ‘9 men. Away in Liège. Good point’.

Eupen next. Claude Makélélé has his first match at home against Antwerp where you would’ve put money on an away win, and that’s what we got. Whether it would’ve been a 4-3 loss under Jordi Condom, or this 1-0 defeat under Makélélé, it’s still a loss.

I guess it’s positive that only 1 goal was conceded and not the usual 3 or 4, but it’s unlike the Pandas to not score themselves. The Great Old probably just don’t care. They haven’t won in over a month so Bölöni will just be happy with the 3 points in a late win!

Moving south west to the Stade Cannonier where Glen De Boeck oversaw a fine win, although the last 10 minutes probably had him going! Taking a 3-0 lead, it’s a huge positive that Perbet and Chevalier both got on the scoresheet. With a red card sandwiched amongst the 3 goals, De Kerels tried as hard as they could to spoil everything, scoring an own goal in the process.

Sint Truiden managed 2 late goals in the final 10 minutes to maybe do to Kortrijk what Eupen did to them, but there wasn’t enough time. STVV haven’t exactly crumbled, but they’re beginning to level out now. With the takeover during the week too, it’s been eventful at the Stayen.

Lastly, Mouscron are trying their upmost to get relegated after being top 6 at Christmas. In this match we’ve also seen how important Henry Onyekuru is to Les Mauves. Another winner and knee slide ensured the points went back to Brussels.

Mouscron are turning into the Mouscron I thought they’d be in pre season. Rednic needs to go back to basics as the club are slipping every week and sleep walking into a relegation battle themselves.

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Marvin Baudry

This weekend is a tough one to call in all matches. Not on paper but on the pitch, to echo a lot of what I’ve said this season, can you always put money on who’ll win week in, week out? No, you can’t with any real confidence. And this match at the Regenboogstadion is another you can add to that list. When you look at this match, it is possibly the ‘glamour match’ of the weekend in Belgium, but both have either faltered from the start (Genk) or have begun to fade away in Zulte Waregem’s case. But a player who hasn’t been ever present, but has been solid in his own way is Marvin Baudry.

The Congo international this week scored in a 1-1 draw for his country against Uganda and will hopefully look to take his international form into league football. A strong defender who looked to do alright against Oostende, despite the defeat, was a colossus with his teammates in the Europa League win against Vitesse a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve chosen Marvin because Genk share the same points as Zulte and a clean sheet is priority. A win is even more important, but there is a cluster of teams who share the same points, and are separated but 1 or 2 points too. Draws aren’t what anyone wants, but no points at all is worse. Waregem have won once in the Pro League since September and have unfortunately lost every other match which has seen them slide down the table.

Genk this season could win, lose or draw in any match. They have been the epitome of this Pro League season as you never know if they’re coming or going. They have a terrific squad but no consistency. They’ll look to exploit Zulte Waregem’s fragile defence, which does include Baudry, but Francky Dury has had some time to look at some players over this international break and would’ve hopefully fixed any leaks in any department.

The other problem writing about Marvin Baudry is that there is no guarantee he’ll even play Sunday. With a plethora of decent defenders, Dury will look to play his strongest line up available, and with a very good defence, regardless of the club leaking goals, who knows if Baudry will be the plug in there to stop the likes of Samatta, Schrijvers and Ingvartsen.

I’ve been watching Rocky 4 whilst writing this so I have been floating in and out of this one. But all I know is Essevee will hope to attack and produce the knockout blow to slow the chasing pack down and get themselves back into the top 6 and stay there. With the power and fight of Baudry, his aerial ability and teamwork will be pivotal in this battle!
All pictures courtesy of Getty Images

Posted in Matches in Brief

JPL Preview Week 15

Now that the international break is over, the games will come thick and fast as we head towards the winter break. We see 2 new managers who basically have a 16 game campaign to save their clubs, teams hoping to come back to form and others who will hope to continue down the road they were already on.

I usually do this in chronological order but I feel like just assessing clubs. Not a full assessment but…well just go with it. Although I’ve already lied because tonight we see Charleroi host Mechelen. Charleroi look like they’ve come back into any title reckoning. A once 8 point gap has now been cut to 6 and could be 3 points come 9:30pm tonight. Christian Benavente has been outstanding recently too, and with Peru qualifying for the World Cup, he’ll either be emotionally drained or buoyed by it. De Kakkers on the other hand won their first match in 6 weeks last time out and will hope to build, even with a positive draw, but I can only see a home win.

Saturday sees matches where you could pick a winner in each, but as we’ve all done this before, you can’t say that for certain. I would say Anderlecht, Antwerp, Sint Truiden and maybe Standard should win, but 2 clubs do have managers in Eupen and Kortrijk, Mouscron haven’t won for 6 weeks either and Oostende look like they’re coming back. However, I do think the favourites will win all their games, with the exception of Standard Liege, which I feel could be a draw, mainly because De Kustboys do look a lot better and have won 4 of their last 6! Another thing is that for all of Anderlecht’s quality, they allow teams a chance to get back into the match. They’ve conceded 6 in 5 since Vanhaezebrouck has come in and in 2 of those they won, they allowed lesser teams a sniff of a draw!

Sunday is not exactly fascinating, but more intriguing. Okay, I’m talking rubbish again. Phillipe Clement goes back to Brugge and has been a huge success at Waasland Beveren. This will be a lot tougher for the leaders with the quality Beveren possess and I wouldn’t be surprised if an upset were on the cards. However, you look at the strength and quality of Club Brugge and realise they look a monster compare to the rest. Waregem host Genk who are hot and cold and anything could happen because Zulte Waregem are as much of a basket case right now as well. And lastly, Lokeren vs Gent… Draw. Simple as that in my opinion.

That’s the thing though. New managers, unpredictable and errors galore will make for another classic weekend this season as we reach the 50% mark this term!

Posted in Uncategorized

Who Will Go Down This Season? 

Eupen… Only joking… Erm… Anyway, I do think they will unfortunately unless Glen de Boeck gets Kortrijk’s act together, but if we split the league up into percentages, the bottom four are separated by a single point and we’re almost 50% into the season. Every club in the bottom 6 have all changed their manager this season and one way or another it has helped with the club’s former thereafter.

Gent were just awful until Vanhaezebrouck left. Lokeren lost their first 2 meaning they were within their rights to sack Kristinsson. Oostende were the worst club in the league when Vanderhaeghe left so that was understandable. Mechelen then became the worst team in the league so, again, understandable. Kortrijk were beaten by Mechelen, the worst team in the league, and no win in 2 months meant bye bye to Anastasiou. And of course, Makelele has been hired by Eupen. Bottom of the league, but, for me have done extremely well despite their position.

Looking over the past 10 years its tough to get a gage of how many points you need to stay in the division. Last season Westerlo were relegated on 23 points, meaning the bottom four need just 4 wins to stay up, apart from Eupen who would go down. But me typing that is easier said than done. If we look at the bottom 4, they all have their down points. Eupen can score but can’t keep a clean sheet. Kortrijk can keep a clean sheet or at least keep the score down, but can’t score. Same goes for Mechelen as their strikers have a combined goal tally of… 2, IF it wasn’t for Boureima Bande. And Oostende will most likely just have a disappointing season this year with a half decent team, too good to go down. Beyond these 4, there’ll have to be a total collapse from the other 12 teams.

If we also look at the fixtures, schedules can make a difference too. If one club kick off on a Friday night and win, that’s pressure on the others. If they kick off on a Sunday night and results went against them, they can be unbearable. This weekend only Mechelen have a head start but with a tough away game at Charleroi. The week after, it’s Kortrijk who need to react as every other club plays on the Saturday, including a 6 pointer! Then Eupen have the pressure match in 3 weeks. I could go on but you can look it up.

At the end of it all, I do unfortunately feel Eupen will go down, and if they stay up, I do feel it’ll be Kortrijk. I’ve been wrong countless times, but each club other than those 2 have either saved themselves already with a tremendous start, or are ‘too good to go down’. The problem with going down is that the second tier does have good teams in it. Players will be snapped up (just ask Westerlo with Acolatse and Ganvoula) and with quality at Eupen and Kortrijk, for example, the players will be gone.

As I have always, ALWAYS said, I have no allegiances to any club and hope there’s simply good football, but I can still have an opinion and I can’t help but think that it’s a 2 horse race for relegation.
Pictures courtesy of Getty Images

Posted in Uncategorized

Am I Being Harsh Here? 

As we all know, these past two weeks have been so dull. Well, not for some individuals or even nations for that matter, but this week has given me a thought, whether it right or wrong, and I can only compare with England as a football nation. This week, Belgium played out a 3-3 draw against Mexico and face Japan tonight. I rarely ever write about the Belgian Red Devils, and because I have been extremely lazy recently in regards to picking up my tablet and letting my thumbs do the talking, I’m almost certain not one of my blog posts has been about international football, mainly because I like to keep this strictly Pro League, unless I rant about something and vent about football personally.

Anyway, after that minor venting session, I do have a point to this, well, short post. I say short because I haven’t thought it fully through, and as you can tell, I’m rambling on rather than getting to my point. So here goes….is the country of Belgium, as football fans, one big supporter of second rate football? Now my title makes sense. Allow me to explain. In England the Premier League is not only supported in England. It is a global league which generates BILLIONS of pounds season in, season out. I’ve written about the potential Facebook and Amazon deal worth £15 billion a season (I think I’ve written about it) but in a country where I will always pick club over country, if anyone does read this, and especially outside England, you will see the cross of St George scattered around stadiums across the world when England arrive, but they display lower league clubs or non league clubs.

England have amazing fans who follow their nation everywhere and they are mainly supporters of second, third, fourth tier (and lower) clubs, because they never get to see those players on a regular basis. This is where my Belgium comparison kicks in. The stars of today that pull on the Belgian shirt turn out at Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Napoli and elsewhere, but not in Belgium. England rarely sell out now at Wembley, although they may do against Brazil. But I’m sure there’s packed houses when those superstars arrive back in their native land for Belgium. Obviously I haven’t surveyed a single fan that will rock up to see Belgium vs Japan, but I wonder how many support the 16 clubs in the Pro League.

I suggest a fair few might because these players no longer play there, or haven’t even played there at all in Eden Hazard’s case. And that’s why I wonder if you can compare the Pro League as a lower league in England because of the lack of star names that play. I see the Pro League as it is. A hard fought league with hidden gems, loads of potential and some real quality. Every match can be a battle due to the lack of funds and I love it, so please don’t get me wrong. But can you see what I mean when you make similarities between fans and players?

Belgium are now a pull in European football. I always remember Belgium being average if I’m honest, although I’m only 28, so I don’t need reminding of Mexico 86 or anything. I just remember France 98 and bowing out of their own tournament in 2000. I’m sure back then more Club Brugge and Anderlecht players turned out back then. Now Dendoncker is the first, and really, only name that springs to mind, although I can’t remember the full squad.

To cap off, I hope this hasn’t been too unfair. I’m just asking because none of the real big Belgian stars ply their trade in their native country, do people turn out regularly because of the lack of stature in terms of player pull or is it simply due to their patriotism? Only the fans will know and be totally honest with themselves….

Posted in Player Interview

Player Interview: Aleksandar Boljevic 

On Wednesday I made the long journey to Waasland Beveren to talk to Montenegrin attacker Aleksandar Boljevic. A player who has helped his side climb to fifth in the table with attacking flair and a real team effort. He was open, honest and humble after heady heights early in his career as he reflects on a fantastic past and hopefully an even better future now settled in Belgium. 

How have you found life in Belgium and do you feel you’ve adjusted to life in your second season at the club?

Its good. The first year was a little bit difficult because I was in Holland for three years and I change everything and the country. It was difficult to find everything. Now it’s nice, especially about football. First year I change teammates and club, but now everything is okay. 

Moving from PSV Eindhoven to Beveren, how did you find that mentally regarding expectation level and stature of club?

It was difficult because PSV are a really big club. It was an amazing time. Then I come here and I cannot say we’re a small club, but we are smaller than PSV. Everything is changing because in my first 3 months I look at everything as bigger. I try to change my mind, change everything. The second year started really well for me and the team and now it’s good. Better…much better.

I noticed whilst at FK Zeta you were heavily beaten by PSV. Were those matches almost like trial matches? You must’ve performed well to then be signed by the club who defeated you so heavily

Yeah true. It’s nice to be part of a team like that. I play with Wijnaldum, Memphis Depay, big players. The coaches, Van Nistelrooy, Van Bommel, Cocu. Was amazing. But for me it was one big, nice experience where I can learn from these guys. They taught me a lot. I go there at 17. They all helped me a lot. Now I am here and I have learned so much more, but it’s more easier now that I have come from there (PSV)

Football wise, how was it growing up in Montenegro?

For me everything is different. In Montenegro it’s the most popular sport, but it’s not so good. Coming as a 16/17 year old to PSV was incredible. Was really, really difficult because all I know is running, and then I go Holland and it’s strong passing in the first few months and then it’s like I learn football from the beginning because I think ‘Okay, I’m a good player’, but then I go PSV and I think there’s a difference between a professional player and a good player and then I have to start everything again. 

Who did you idolise whilst growing up in Montenegro?

For me, my idol was Vucinic at Roma. Now the best player is Stevan Jovetic. Vucinic was amazing. He was a crazy player. When he wanted to play he’d play and then sometimes he was like ‘I don’t give a fuck!’.

Did you feel you were given much of a chance at PSV Eindhoven?

When I came over I was given a one year contract. Then after that I was given a contract for three years and I thought things were going well for me. In the first half of my first year I was in Jong PSV and it was going really good. I was top goalscorer and then they like me in the first team. I would then do everything with them. I go to training camp with them. I was selected for all the games and I make my debut against Cambuur, few minutes, and I was thinking, okay I was young and in the team and I was thinking ‘that’s it. I’m in the team’ and that was my mistake because it changed my head. I bought a car. I was totally clear in my head. I think they could’ve really given me a chance but then I think maybe I don’t deserve it. I was thinking about everything but not about football. I think it was a really nice experience for me.

Was there enough guidance for you to make you think ‘just focus on the football and then everything will then come?’

I had my family and agent always with me. I was listening but it was going in here and then going there (whilst gesturing to his head and ears). I learned, if anything, too much at PSV but I think I could’ve done more there, but now I was maybe too young.

Did you know much about the Pro League before you came to Belgium?

I really didn’t know, no. Okay I’m a professional player. I know Anderlecht but I never followed it no. It was nothing special. Also whilst I was at PSV I know I had to make the next step but no I never followed the Pro League. That’s why I had a difficult first year because I knew nothing about the League. In Holland it’s more about football, but in Belgium it’s more about physical, that’s why I have a big problem in beginning.

Last season the club finished 14th and were in a tough play off group. How did you feel the season went for you personally?

Its interesting. The humour is different between Holland and Belgium. I had to find out how to be with other players. If I say something here they look at me differently and I say ‘what the fuck is this?’ You know? It’s an interesting question. But now it’s going well. I have to find who I can play with. Also here it’s better now than last year. But you know you have to have some guys who speak French, then some who speak Dutch.

I totally understand as there is more than one language spoken, depending on where in the country you are

That’s why it’s sometimes difficult. At lunch you have a Dutch table, and a French table there and then a rest of the world. This year we’re altogether and it’s much better.

Coming towards the end of last season I felt Cedomir Janevski would be on his way out. How was he with you and as a coach?

Going back, when I first came here it was difficult for the club. But this year it’s much better to be here, much better atmosphere for the club. Last year was all about survival. Cedomir, you know he was a good person. He was a good coach. He also came at a tough time for the club. He was fired at the end but he was good because he spoke some of the same language as me because he is from Macedonia. I didn’t play much under him but in the play off I played much more. It was just important that we stayed in the division. Because of that I feel we’ve grown and become a better team.

Phillipe Clement took his place of course. How has it been playing under him?

Cause he came from Club Brugge, he have bigger goals. Sometimes it’s good but sometimes he expects more from us. Of course at Brugge there are more technical players. It was a little bit difficult in the beginning cause I felt he asked more from us, but for young players, like me and others, it’s good. I feel he is improving this team. The level is much better. For me I’m thankful I can work with him because sometimes in a game I need extra motivation and he is always there to push you. You can sometimes have a bad game, but when you see him, you can at least always try. When he is next to the line you always try for him and the team. That’s why I like him as my coach cause he push me to the maximum.

He seems to have created an exciting, more attacking side. Did he say that was an aim at the start of the season?

He tried to play and bring with him what he had at Brugge. We have quality in this team and we try to play football. I was surprised in a way because we had really good preparation in pre season. It showed we can play against big teams and in the beginning I was really happy and we play good football. People talk about us as a surprise you know. We had this quality in the team before but we needed someone to get it out of us. Now he is here it is perfect.

You have the joint 4th best home form in the league. Did Clement focus on getting points at home when he joined?

When Clement came here he said our aim is to stay in the league. When we start we took a point against Genk, next game we continue, we kept going and then people start to talk about us, so one meeting he said ‘keep going but don’t lose focus. If we lose two games we’re down again.’ We just go game by game, but now we start to talk and think because we’re nearly halfway through and if we stay in the top 6, in the first half of the season, why not the second half? No looking back and just go for it!

I was worried for Beveren when Zinho Gano left because you lost 2 in a row. How vital did you feel he was for the team and how great is Isaac Kiese Thelin and Ryota Morioka?

We start really well with him and then you could see in the mangers face he was angry. We let him (Zinho Gano) go. We played good football. To lose the best striker from the team, you can’t just go out and buy a striker like him. We’re not Manchester United and spend millions trying to replace him. After a few games we tried different combinations with me and a striker, wingers, fake striker. At first I was scared but then we think we go again. But after they find Thelin. At PSV they had De Jong and now I think Thelin is a quality striker. He is perfect. You don’t have to give him a good ball or cross and he puts it in the goal and makes me look good.

On social media, some Anderlecht fans said they don’t want him back…

This guy has scored 8 goals you know. Of course he is on loan and we can’t keep him. I think he is progressing really fast. For sure they’ll take him back after this year. If we lose a striker like him we have to start again and get a new striker.

I was speaking to a Beveren fan on Twitter about Morioka after the Zulte Waregem match and they’re worried they’re going to lose him. To be honest, he is fantastic… 

This is true. It’s like this with not so big clubs because you can’t keep these players if a club comes along with a big offer. What are you going to do? You have to let him go. We’ll try and do our best this season and then we’ll see next season what will happen. I don’t know how but I want us to stay as a team next year. But yeah, it’ll be really difficult to keep Morioka.

Lastly, how close do you feel to getting into the national side now that you’re playing regularly at Beveren?

I think if I continue to play like this and sometimes I think a team can make players. With me and the team playing like this I have a chance. Montenegro national team isn’t like Belgium. I feel I could make the qualifiers next campaign. Before we had an older team but now I feel we’ll have a better chance next year with younger players.

After the interview, we shook hands and I had a 2 mile walk to the station!  A really enjoyable and honest conversation with a young talent who seems to have learned from his mistakes and really does seem to have Beveren in his heart. With the season going so well for Beveren, I just hope Boljevic kicks on too and both succeed come May! 

Posted in Manager Profile

Another One Bites the Dust

This week has not just seen one manager leave their post, but 2 in the Belgian Pro League. Monday saw Jordi Condom leave Eupen with Claude Makelele filling the gap immediately. And now we say farewell to Yannis Anastasiou at Kortrijk, with Glen de Boeck slotting in at the Guldensporen Stadion. An atrocious run of formal has seen the Greek manager go and I did say at the weekend that his days were surely numbered.

The club haven’t won in the league since the 12th of August away at Eupen and whenever I’ve seen them, they haven’t played terribly, but the reliance on Thomas Kaminski is a bit too much. The goalkeeper has probably kept him in a job for a bit longer, especially claiming pretty decent draws at home against Gent and Genk, but wins are what are needed and their early season formation seems a long time ago.

I said recently they’re missing the Stojanovic-Lepoint combination in attack and maybe that’s been proved right. Teddy Chevalier has dipped goalscoring wise and without a regular goalscorer like Idriss Saadi like last season, when the going gets tough, it’s difficult for the team to pull themselves out. Kortrijk do seem to be a streaky team who go on runs like this, but come good eventually. Falling to 15th in the table as well, Vincent Tan had probably seen enough and felt justified to see the back of Anastasiou with this international break.

In comes a familiar name in Glen de Boeck take his place. With his last job being at Mouscron, he has a…erm…reasonable managerial CV, managing in Belgium, Holland and the business world. It’s a baptism of fire for the Belgian however. The run of forms till just after Christmas is very tough with matches away to Anderlecht, Gent and Genk, and home matches against STVV, Beveren and Mechelen (with 3 of those teams being former employers of de Boeck). The good thing is that de Boeck was a good defender, so defensively they should be sound, you’d think anyway, but it’s in attack where they need to get their finger out and really start banging goals in! 

The thing is, this is the 9th sacking of the season out of 16 clubs even though only 8 clubs have installed new managers. Let’s just say from August, rather than July (when the season started) there have been 3 and a half months. Nine changes in that amount of time is unbelievable. How is that even possible? The only one who was given a chance was Jordi Condom in my opinion, but even I felt that was inevitable. I won’t reel off the list, but if we look at this, a manager is replaced every 11.5 days in the Pro League this season. Incredible. It’s as if every 2 match days a manager is relieved of his duties. 

I hope Glen de Boeck does do well, as all managers because it can be the most rewarding when things go well…and badly I suppose, if there is a pay out. But with the ruthlessness and stress, why not take the packet of money offered when you are sacked? Nobody is safe right now by the looks of it and literally take the job one day at a time. 
Pictures courtesy of Getty Images 

Posted in Manager Profile

Manager Profile: Claude Makelele 

In England, as this news was slightly older, Slaven Bilic was being sacked at West Ham United, There was unfortunately another sacking but in Belgium. Spaniard Jordi Condom was given his marching orders by the Eupen board after an heroic draw away at Sint Truiden. I felt it were coming for a long time, even as early as the second or third match, but the signing of Mbaye Leye helped with experience and the odd match winning performances. The problem that has always hindered the Pandas is that they just can’t keep a clean sheet. You shouldn’t have to score 4 away just for a point at the second placed club in the league!

Taking the small club on the German border to a semi final and survival was a success. Having an influx of youth players season in season out can’t always help either. But alas… Senor Condom’s time is up. And in his place is a huge name. A Ligue 1, La Liga, Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League winner in his time, Claude Makelele, yes, Claude Makelele has pitched up at the Kehrweg Stadium.

However, with a glittering playing CV, he has a rather modest coaching career. Assistant at Paris Saint German and recently, Swansea City, he has only been the head coach of one previous club at Bastia on the beautiful island of Corsica. But, his stint was short lived as they felt he had an inability to make an impact (not my words, honest) and was swiftly let go. What’s funny though is that he has done a bit of a Paul Clement in that he has been assistant at clubs he has been at, and now has spread his wings once this opportunity has arisen.

Obviously fluent in French, Spanish and English, he will do well language wise because when I was there, they spoke French, even though the club seemed to primarily speak German going by Twitter, Facebook and their website, but I feel this appointment is actually quite smart. Born in Africa with a lot of young Africans talent coming from Aspire, he is a superb role model. They may feel that if he rates you individually, they will instill confidence in you. Also, this could be a project of sorts for Makelele. A team bottom of the table with just one way to go, he has nothing to lose. 

As a defensive player in his time, he may aid with tightening up their defence too. A team shipping so many goals averagely week in, week out. I’ve lost my trail of thought… Erm… Anyway, a huge name coming to Belgium can only be helpful and what an acquisition from Eupen in general. This must’ve been lined up as he has just slotted straight in, and with an international break, this can only help too with getting points across and training methods. Good luck Claude, but especially good luck to Jordi! 

Posted in Matches in Brief

The Pro League Never Disappoints 

Unfortunately for me, and probably us, another match week comes and goes in Belgium and at one point, was threatening to be a damp squib. As the title says, it rarely let’s you down, especially this season, in a weekend where all the lower teams all plucked up the courage to take the game to those above and around them and upset the odds, in some cases anyway. 

When I say was potentially turning into a damp squib, it’s because in a weekend of 23 goals, 7 teams actually didn’t manage to hit the back of the net at all! Including 2 nil-nils. But the lucky ones would’ve been those at the Stayen. Two absolute stunners, 8 goals and a share of the spoils. Sint Truiden should’ve been home and hosed but this time they were the ones to taste last minute disappointment. Eupen never gave up and you can never doubt their fight and attacking prowess, even though they are rooted to the bottom, but they just cannot defend. STVV would feel like it was a defeat, and maybe these heady heights are putting pressure on these players, but with an international break, they’ll look to get their heads right.

Possibly the let down of the weekend was Anderlecht vs Club Brugge in a goalless draw. Anderlecht look, on the surface, like a frantic, worried animal who instead of coming out fighting, they’re cowering. A defensive line up in my opinion who can either defend or attack, but can’t get the symmetry right. Brugge will only feel down in that their lead has been cut and have picked up their first league draw of the season. No problem really. Taking points off of those around you away is a staple with title contenders. But when Les Mauves are there for the taking right now, you should take advantage. 

Another top match, which I luckily saw, was Oostende-Zulte Waregem. Six goals, red card, penalty, bookings, good attacking play and chances taken. Essevee showed their tiredness in the first half after a long slog against Vitesse on Thursday and showed signs of a European hangover, but Jali’s red card sparked a mini revival. Lack of discipline from the players, as well as pushing forward culminated in their downfall with a late flurry of goals at the Versluys Arena. Really good match from a neutral perspective but a grind if you supported either.

Mechelen performed well grabbing a win too against a disappointing Kortrijk. I said on Saturday that maybe Yannis Anastasiou’s days were numbered. I didn’t enjoy saying that, but when you have to rely on Thomas Kaminski every week to put in an 8 or 9 out of 10 display, you can’t progress up the table. Not won in 2 months come the next game day and when you have Mechelen who have been dreadful beating you, there has to be an inquest. Well done to Mechelen though. Much needed win and gave them confidence in a team full of good players, but it just wasn’t being converted into results.

Other results included a poor 0-0 between Genk and Lokeren and a 1-0 home victory for Gent over Standard Liege. Managed to catch the back end of the latter match which didn’t look great in fairness and felt quite lucky I missed it if I’m honest. Along with these was a fine win by Beveren over a now stuttering Mouscron who have gone by the wayside of late. The early season former may come in useful come February, but right now they just can’t click into gear.

Lastly Charleroi have turned that poor form into good performances with a great away win over Antwerp. Benavente hit a brace and has turned the club’s former around with great goal scoring performances for a team who just couldn’t win for love nor money. The Peruvian is now key to Mazzu and now Les Zebres are 6 points off of Club Brugge now going into the international break. 

Posted in Player Profile

Player Profile: Łukasz Teodorczyk 

This weekend, in my honest opinion, hasn’t brought up the matches we all would like to watch. Gent-Standard looked promising, until I watched the last half hour. But until today, a day full of quality matches (on paper…always on paper) one player, in my opinion, has to turn up to the party.

The big 6’1 Polish striker seems to have a touch of the Yuya Kubo’s. In other words, second season syndrome. Maybe that’s harsh, but another Anderlecht striker, Isaac Kiese Thelin, has gone the other way and become better, whereas Teodorczyk has been outshone by Henry Onyekuru. Although in saying that, the Nigerian has double the goals, which only amounts to 3 more, but has played 45 minutes less.

The Rene Weiler signing is still a favourite with Hein Vanhaezebrouck, and of course that’s no surprise as not only is he a top player, he is different to Onyekuru, although Harbaoui is slightly similar and has done well with his chances too. Tall, strong, a battler. Perfect really in a league where if he does do well, unfortunately for Les Mauves, he could move on to a 4th country.

I have picked Teodorczyk because of the huge match today. Club Brugge come to the capital. The team blowing nearly everyone in their sights so far and Anderlecht need a huge performance all round, and the big man will know if selected, unlike during midweek, he could become the hero. A win will push Anderlecht into second (depending on Antwerp-Charleroi) and just 6 points behind Brugge in early November. Not bad for a club in crisis about 6 matches ago.

Diawandou Diagne told me he was one of 2 of the toughest players to play against in the Pro League. He needs to prove that I’m a big way today.  
All pictures courtesy of Getty Images