Posted in Uncategorized

All about nothing

The time I am beginning this is at 00:46am on Saturday GMT. I’m watching Sexy Beast and have had a couple of beers. I mean why not? It’s a Friday night. It’s also got me thinking…why have I been so lazy in literally writing nothing, along with taking my own time out from writing. When I wrote my mid season gradings, I thought in my head that I would write and write and write everyday of every week of every…you get it. But the playoffs really put me back.

Yeah I get the process and a lot of you think I don’t. But I can’t help being set in my ways. Not picking a Standard player raised some eyebrows in my team of the season, but you take every game individually. If someone has been consistent over a 40 match season rather than digging deep for 10 matches, you have to give credit. Hey, that’s my opinion and you’re entitled to yours. I’m just getting some things off my chest.

Moving forward rather than backwards, I’m still wondering about who’ll be the cream of the crop and who’ll be languishing? I nearly, nearly did a prediction of who’ll finish where. I then realised not even the World Cup has kicked off! Jumping the gun a bit, but I have an idea who’ll finish where, but the real decent predictions will be made on September 1st rather than July 26th. The window can see people going through in either direction and that can make a big difference. Could be make or break for Standard Liège for example, as well as Anderlecht, Gent and Genk in my opinion.

Last night saw some friendlies too and it made me think ‘what’s the fucking point?’ Pub teams ripped to shreds by Gent and Club Brugge. Highly disrespectful I know. But an 8-0 and 11-0. It’s great for lower league fans seeing Kubo and Schrijvers but other than fitness it’s meant nothing. You still need to test your players to see if you want to keep or get rid. Not just who’s fit, has the best recovery, blah blah blah you know? Again, probably over critical, but no one likes seeing a pointless match being totally one sided.

There’s still such a long summer, for good and bad. Bad because on a personal note, I’ve had a lot on my plate that only 2-3 people know. I’m getting personal and people do that. Venting. But adding to that, I’ve been Dublin already and got Amsterdam, Köln, Antwerp, yes, I’m spending time in Belgium briefly this summer, and Prague all lined up over the next two months. Beautiful right? Better than spending time wasted on the Costa Del Sol or something. Fresh faces for the family and fresh places rather than sweating your bollocks off.

Hope everyone’s had a great summer and World Cup so far! All the best. Chat soon…

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Posted in Transfers

Smart Business by Brugge?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Anderlecht doing some smart and quick business. The season wasn’t finished and some of the signings were looking decent. They still are to be honest. But then a day after I published that post they’d signed Musona and Milic from Oostende and then my opinion changed. It was like a scattergun/lets raid Marc Coucke’s old club approach and then it didn’t look all that. Obviously I could be wrong again, but on the face of it right now, I have to say Club Brugge are signing quality and early.

I’ve always been a fan of getting players in early so that they can get a full pre season. It’s not always the case cause of medicals, negotiations etc, but if possible, integrate them ASAP! What I like most is that two of my favourite players in the Pro League have joined the champions and that’s what top clubs in their league need to do. Not farm players and just bring them in unfairly, but plan for the future and with that, add the quality that’s better than what you have, or could be better.

Mats Rits and Siebe Schrijvers are two of my favourite players in Belgium and both deserve the opportunity to progress. I’m probably incorrect, but is Rits the long term replacement for Vormer? Is Schrijvers the delayed replacement for Izquierdo? On a side note, last season’s success shows how well the club reacted to the loss of a quality player, whereas Anderlecht couldn’t cope with Tielemans leaving. But the youth and quality coming in is a sign of real progress on all fronts. You obviously have Groeneveld who could be a gem once his raring to go.

I guess the main business will have to be in goal. The manager and fans look undecided on all options. How Gabulov is in the Russia squad I don’t know. I like Horvath but I’m sure others don’t and so on… I love Vermeer and whether he’ll become permanent we don’t know. I’d also say another centre back personally, but the rest of the squad looks set. You have competition up front, youth on each flank and the biggest worry is keeping hold of Cools and Limbombe long term.

Obviously the other bonus is having Champions League football next season. As I typed that, a thought came into my head about why not try and bring Chuba Akpom back to Belgium? But with having that, you could sign good players on loan from top clubs who may be considered as ‘fringe players’ or carry on down this route of signings the star players from decent clubs. Both good options and could prove a good idea in building a squad for the league, cup and especially Europe. We saw how badly Belgian clubs did in Europe last season (all two of them) and maybe that was down to lack of depth rather than lack of quality.

This already looks exciting to me and Blauw-Zwart and there’s still plenty of time left. Leko can only get better (you’d think) and this upcoming season is the real test as retaining a title is usually more difficult than winning it. Club Brugge haven’t done that since 1978-78. Could the club not only do it, but continuously rebuild itself and have a dynasty under such a youthful coach? There’s still baby steps but it’s certainly not impossible, and longevity is tested through recruitment more than anything in football!

Posted in Uncategorized

My Team of the Season

After seeing HLN’s Team of the Season, I wanted to do one myself. It’s taken me a week through laziness and the fact that I wasn’t sure who I’d put in. I guess after giving it a week and digesting the results of who got in and who didn’t, it isn’t actually as bad as I thought. The only thing that doesn’t sit right with me is that the attacking three and Edmilson, in my opinion, shouldn’t be in there. The only other one I’m torn with is my left centre back, but overall, you can’t really disagree with that either.

So far, going over these players, you have to stick Kalinic in goal. The Croat has kept the most clean sheets and didn’t play every game. Keeping 15 clean sheets in a league full of goals (most weeks) is a great achievement, and with some of these players, and you’ll see later, you’ve got to take into account the fact Gent played Anderlecht, Club Brugge, Standard and the rest of the top six four times this season. I have to separate who I like to who should be in here too. Not saying I don’t like Kalinic but Kaminski could’ve been in here. Bolat has had a great season and so has Sels. Only player who could be in here with quality but isn’t even in my thoughts is Ochoa.

To follow the 3-4-3 formation, you can’t argue with Gigot and Mechele in their either. One has performed so well that he’s off to Spartak Moscow, and the other won the league. Both rocks at the back of their respective defences and Mechele has especially shone for Brugge this season. That’s not to say Denswil hasn’t, but I still look at and consider Dessoleil. The things that put Denswil over the Charleroi player is that he is a champion, and you do have to take that into consideration if there’s a toss of a coin, and also, Charleroi have crumbled, especially against Brugge this season, and top players shouldn’t be ripped apart defensively against top teams as consistently as Charleroi were.

Without being too Brugge heavy, you can’t disagree too much with Cools-Vormer-Nakamba across the midfield. One will surely move on soon in Cools to bigger things with his youth and quality. The other set up the most goals in the Pro League this season and is now in the Dutch squad, and Marvelous Nakamba has been an inspired signing, acting as the wall who allows Vormer and Vanaken to express themselves. He is the one who breaks it up and passes it to those who’ll do the damage. But I don’t agree with Edmilson out wide. Yeah, quality player, but I think the playoffs have had as big a say in this selection than over the course of the season. In saying that, who else do you put out wide?

The only player that immediately sprung to mind was Ampomah. If not, again another Brugge player in Limbombe. But with how Ampomah has really stepped up and was part of such an attacking and entertaining team for most of the season, I’m putting him in. His energy and attitude is spot on and that’s why he is linked with moves away like the rest of the Beveren squad.

Now with the attacking three, I’m having none of the HLN three at all. I’m going to have a fluid three up top rotating and maybe play a false 9 thing. They’re all capable of goals and assists and I don’t know how they weren’t in that HLN Team of the Season. These playoffs have swayed a lot of this by the looks of it. I mean, this isn’t me saying those top three aren’t real top quality players, but over a season? All three have only played for five months haven’t they? In any position, any order, with this flexible front three, it has to be Morioka, Vanaken and Chevalier in attack. This top 3 have a combined 45 goals and 33 assists between them. Obviously that doesn’t mean there’ll be 78 goals guaranteed but that is impressive from three players, and two of them played for Kortrijk and Beveren last season.

A lot of positives came from these three this season and the great thing is that there are quality attackers in Belgium. Diaby and Rezaei were my other option as an out and out striker, but who do you make way for? Looking over the season overall and who actually was selected, you can’t disagree with about 60% of the team, but in attack I just couldn’t agree. Harbaoui, Carcela, Trossard and Edmilson are real top players, but with the longevity of a season, some were either inconsistent or played the majority of games in the playoffs. As always, it’s opinion and people will definitely disagree with me, but then again, there are footballing reasons behind why I chose my players, not through dislike.

Goalkeeper – Kalinic

Defence – Gigot Mechele Denswil

Midfield – Cools Vormer Nakamba

Ampomah

Attack – Morioka Chevalier

Vanaken

Posted in Uncategorized

Too early for pre season?

Everyday I look at myself and I think ‘can I do my old pre season training?’ I haven’t played football competitively since I was 21 (I think) and as much as I hated pre season training, I loved the results. The exhilaration of getting fitter, eating right, seeing the fruits of my labour in physical results and when you’re doing press ups and you can feel the sweat dripping down your face and you could ring your shirt out. Maybe too graphic, but I insanely enjoyed being fit.

Obviously the road to getting there is difficult. We all know gaining weight is easier than losing it, but unless you mentally dedicate yourself to doing that you’ll never achieve it, and I should take my own advice, but without making excuses it can be difficult with certain things I can, or rather can’t do. My upper body has tended to save me, meaning when it came to weights I looked alright. But my legs are in an awful state.

My lungs and heart rarely ever stopped me running, but until I joined a club where I had the luxury of a physio, my legs were in bits. I’m going back a bit here. When I was 18 I was with an old girlfriend who’s dad made taking me two miles to the train station a chore. I’d walked a fair few miles that day and it was before a match on the Saturday and for some reason, my legs were shot. The physio massaged my calves and told the manager that I had 30% muscle in my right calf and hardly any in my left. I went from starting to the bench in a match where it took me two and a half hours to get to.

I had to stretch so much all the time because my legs would tire so easily. I used to do four mile runs every other day, with 100 sit ups and 50 press-ups everyday to tide me over when I wasn’t training. But pre season at that time wasn’t as technical as it is now. Because it worked I loved it and it was like this:

One minute of press-ups, sit ups, burpees, star jumps, squat thrusts and then a lumbar stretch. One minute break in between. Five sets of each. Then we’d do a 1500 metre run, then 800 metre run, 400, 200, 100 and 50 metre sprints, rest, and then work backwards from 50 metres and so on. Twice a week, which isn’t a lot really, and we’d have the ball out one session a week. Players would wear black sacks to sweat it out, but you’d love it once it was finished. Then when I had an agent I had to do shuttle runs which totalled about 702 metre sprints. I had 1 minute 45 seconds to complete it in, which was ok. My record was 1.32 minutes. But when you have to do it on the 3rd, 4th, 5th time, etc, it got tough because you do it as a group and not individually, so if you were slow, the whole group had to redo it.

It’s all technical now though. Players run specifically for their position. Box to box, anaerobic, aerobic and so on. The thing is, I’d brag about the time I’d run and I’d be told ‘so what’s your recovery rate like? How long til your heart rate gets back to normal?’ I thought the running was enough, but I was wrong!?!

This was back in the late noughties, where being 6’2 and basically being Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry was what people wanted, even though Xavi and Iniesta would go on to rule the world. I’d never fault my technique, but drinking nearly two litres of coke a day and being in love with mayonnaise never helped with my six pack.

Above everything, physique is the second most important factor of reaching the top in football. Mentality is everything. I remember hearing a story:

A man survived a plane crash in the desert, and needed water, until he came across an oasis. When he finally reached it, and went to get a drink, he

drowned.

The moral is, you could have the ability, skill, technique, physicality, EVERYTHING. But if you haven’t got it between the ears, then you’ll never know how to react, to cope with pressure of anything that happens, or doesn’t happen around you. Like most I wanted everything yesterday and couldn’t wait to make it, when unfortunately I didn’t.

This has nothing to do with Belgium football really. It’s a regime that I’d love to do again, but life gets in the way. The same old ‘if you’re not happy, then do something about it.’ But that’s easier said than done. I’ve become comfortable and lazy, where right now only my diet has changed. But for those who now see a little bit of how hard it can be to make it in the best sport in the world, where everyone wants to make it, I wonder how many of those who have really know how lucky they are?

Posted in Uncategorized

A lots happened this week

Since we ended the playoffs, a few things have occurred and I don’t really know what to make of it. It’s true, I am writing to keep my eye in. There’s no football apart from Genk-Zulte Waregem and I can’t really comment on transfers because they could actually come good, although I have a bad habit of contradicting myself within the same blog post, so no doubt I’ll say something.

Obviously the week started with Standard hiring Michel Preud’homme. Everyone knew it was going to happen and it did. I said the other day that I don’t actually think it’s that great an acquisition. My predictions aren’t exactly accurate, but my gut’s telling me it isn’t the greatest hiring. Is MPH just destined to work in Belgium? I really thought he’d progress this season and didn’t. Whether it was just speculation then you can’t really judge, but he has ticked off Belgium. Go elsewhere and try and succeed.

Another hiring is at STVV with Marc Brys coming in. In a way it’s a good hiring because Sint-Truiden don’t really have huge expectations. That is extremely unkind but true. They nearly, massively overachieved this season and with a better playoffs, they could be playing local rivals in Genk. It’s tough to know how any managerial signing will go and the same goes here. I just hope Brys can last til Christmas because the rate of sackings in Belgium has been unbelievable. Hopefully this is more Jonas De Roeck and less Tintin Marquez.

Out of the dugout and onto the pitch, I wrote that Anderlecht may be doing good business getting deals done early. In practice, it is good. It’s bedding players in and focussing them on the season ahead. However, for the owner to pinch players from his former club is lazy scouting, if this was his idea. When you look at the players faces, it’s not so much ‘I’m happy to be here’ but rather ‘How the fuck am I here? Give me a pen before they change their mind!!!’ It’s like scattergun signings and more quantity than quality now.

Because Anderlecht and Beveren have different objectives, they’re doing the same in a way at the Freethiel, but they’re hoping to stumble across that gem to either create that memorable season, which this could’ve been if Morioka stayed, but it ended up falling like a house of cards. If they get that one player who they can also profit from, it’d help massively. The running of Lierse could send a warning throughout the lesser clubs that at any moment, the unthinkable could happen. So ‘farming’ players could prove vital if a decent bid comes in around January.

And onto the playoff. I really believe what I tweeted on Wednesday. Kortrijk, Antwerp and STVV deserve better than nothing this season whereas Lokeren, who could’ve still been relegated if they didn’t beat Mouscron away, Zulte Waregem who were hopeless for four months and Genk, who were equally poor until Phillipe Clement came in, were given the opportunity of Europa League. Obviously next season could be different, and you’d think Essevee or De Smurfen would represent Belgium a bit better. That’s my opinion anyway. But over a long season, it’s tough to argue their case as the playoffs have aided in their fight for Europe. Above everything, you can have sympathy for Charleroi too who for nearly 6-7 months, were second to Club Brugge and have ended up with nothing at all!

I’m probably wrong as always with what I’ve written and may predict, but teams have different expectations and ideas for what they consider a success. Next season will be as big as ever and hopefully as unpredictable too.

Posted in Transfers

Anderlecht mean business

This season one team steamrolled the opposition points wise until the playoffs. It was as impressive as it was boring to be honest. Where Club Brugge were dominating, Anderlecht were dealing with a hell of a lot of stuff. Champions League football, managerial appointments, new ownership, mixing youth with new signings and with all that, Les Mauves missed out on Champions League football. Personally I think now looking on, the Europa League could be more of a blessing and finishing third could also be looked at as a blessing too.

The club now have what looks to be a positive future. Marc Coucke who is always bubbling with enthusiasm has such drive and willingness to win. This upcoming season already looks promising, even if you lose Dendoncker. The club are already preparing for that. Signing Cobbaut, Makarenko and today, Nkaka looks to be coming in too. It’s like the last two windows have been focusing on certain areas of the pitch. January was attack with Saief and Morioka and now it’s the defensive side.

With this blend, the Brussels club really do look, in my opinion, to be progressing and may do for the foreseeable future. Steadily adding to the team, they’re picking players from the teams in the league who know the division and are too good for that middle level. They’re one step ahead of Club Brugge who should look to next season right now, just as those at Anderlecht are doing. The only negative, and it’s Belgian football, not Anderlecht, is that when you have Atletico and Arsenal competing in the Europa League, Anderlecht will never win it, merely being that feeder club for those teams and others.

Coucke looks to have the foresight of what the team can do long term with this plan to promote youth, because we all know what quality Anderlecht can produce for profit, and who ‘may not be good enough’ will stay and be the best in Belgium. However, if you’re a player there already like Mbodji, Trebel, Teodorczyk and others, will they want more elsewhere? Will they feel they’ve achieved everything in Belgium and what a tougher task? Without being unfair, Morioka, Pieters and Kums will be more than happy at the club, especially Kums who has gone elsewhere and may want to stay long term in Belgium, but the others are young enough to win stuff and maybe progress on again.

This season was an eye opener in my opinion for what you can do with passion, vision and opportunity. That’s what Leko brought to the table and that’s almost what Coucke will do rather than Vanhaezebrouck, again, in my opinion. I never care about who wins the league because I am just a Pro League fan and nothing more. But this could be so exciting as the battle for the title could see Brugge, Standard and Anderlecht wrestling til the end, and not just proving to be a wasp at a picnic, buzzing around and irritating without stinging the main protagonist.

Posted in Manager Profile

Tell me if I’m wrong

Of course the Pro League is basically over. Well it is. Other than the playoff just call it. But this is mainly about one thing this time and that is Sa Pinto at Standard. He went from laughing stock to laughing loudest. One massive ball of unpredictability, energy, enthusiasm and passion. I thought it and you probably thought he’d get sacked during the winter break. His touchline antics were theatrical and unnecessary, yet I couldn’t dislike him. Almost a pantomime villain to others and even though I didn’t like that side to him, I felt he wasn’t showing the discipline to do well at a club like Standard. Something clicked and Les Rouches did amazingly well in 2018.

It’s weird how Portuguese managers are THE best in the world tactically. Mourinho, Jardim, Villas Boas (was) and they won the Euros through tactics rather than quality, and with Ronaldo cheer leading. However, those three are students of the game and Sa Pinto played, maybe looking at coaching from a different angle to the previously mentioned. I think the good thing he did was coached, but then again, didn’t coach if that makes sense. I mean you can’t coach Carcela because he is a top player. Quality is just within them. Same for Edmilson and Mpoku. But you’d think he may have helped Emond who is a striker. It helps when you have a beast in Luyindama at the back and Ochoa. There is a superb crop of quality players in that team. Players who could get into any team in Belgium. Surely it’d be harder to not succeed, which was nearly the case.

After only gaining 26 points in the first half of the season, it could’ve been calamitous. But then collecting 39 points, including the playoffs, that’s an unbelievable feat. Add to that a Croky Cup win and second in the league. His either left whilst his stock is high to get another job, or because these Michel Preud’homme rumours were hurting. It’s almost turned out so well for the Portuguese. I was thinking earlier today about why hasn’t Preud’homme moved on elsewhere? I’ve asked a few times for why Belgian managers don’t crack on elsewhere in the bigger leagues, and Preud’homme is a big name in goal and in the dugout. Why hasn’t he gone onto other things, despite the Rangers/Bordeaux/Saudi Arabia rumours? Why leave the now best team in Belgium, have a sabbatical and then join the second best team (positionally)?

When all said and done, you will know more than I. Management is almost a freelance job. The more successful you are, the more work you’ll get. If you’re lucky you’ll get plenty of offers, and if not you’ll have to rebuild your reputation. Standard turned out to be a rocky relationship, to a match made in heaven going by results. Good luck Ricardo. No doubt you’d be flinging yourself to the floor in Turkey or Greece or wherever you’ll end up.

Posted in Back in Time

The last round

I’m actually gutted how this is it. It has been a long and hard season. It’s been fun. It’s been exciting, jubilant, devastating and unpredictable. A season where Club Brugge are deserved champions. A season where Standard, Gent and Anderlecht turned up fashionably late but kind of too late and where Mechelen had to say goodbye early for all the wrong reasons. There has been sacking, after sacking, after sacking. There has been the rollercoaster of Antwerp, Beveren and STVV going up but booming too early, with Genk coming in with Standard, Zulte Waregem hitting form at the perfect time, and what could be the great story of Lokeren potentially getting Europa League football. We’ve had Mouscron cause the odd upset, and possibly the performance of the season at home against Gent, and Eupen staying up by the skin of their teeth. Charleroi unfortunately flattered to deceive and just to mention them…Oostende. The only team I haven’t mentioned are the darlings of Twitter which are Kortrijk (and again, I’m not an outright fan of them, but a Belgian football fan as a whole) who went from relegation battlers to almost top six!

Have I missed anyone out? I literally just checked and I haven’t. Without putting my neck on the line in these playoffs, I did say Brugge would win the league (shock) and I had Anderlecht as third. Other than that I can only get Genk and Charleroi right, depending on their results. I had Gent second and Standard bottom! What a playoff they’ve had. They have made these playoffs. I should’ve done the predictions for Playoff 2 but I was either lazy, or let’s have it right, nobody cares.

Individuals have lit up the league with Morioka, Govea, Mamadou Kone (in 2018), Cevallos in the playoffs. All great signings, along with Rezaei too. All from around the world and all have done extremely well for their club (or two). There is great talent who will be here to stay for 2018/19, and unfortunately those who won’t be come August. The highlight already is who will be the star for next season? Sometimes I wake up and wonder ‘what will happen to me today?’ Sometimes we have no say on what can happen to us every single day. I know that’s weird but it’s true. Somebody can make or break our day with the smallest or biggest thing. I’ve slightly gone off the rails there, but right now somewhere in the world, somebody will grace the Pro League next season and take it by storm.

Adding to that, who’ll be entering the dugouts next season? A huge merry go round with Vanhaezebrouck, Vanderhaeghe, Maes coming back in with De Boeck, and Clement managing two clubs in his first full season of first team management. We’ve also had an absolutely massive name come in in Makelele. Could this league draw in another huge name and will there be more stability in the dugout? So much to look forward to when this season hasn’t even finished. I’ve kind of gone off on one here because if we think back, clear your mind and actually think about how entertaining this season has been, it has been nothing but enthralling, all the way up to the penultimate match day in the title race.

I’ll finish for now and just take in the last round of matches before we find out the last representative in Europe. I guess that’s the only thing I’ll change. Belgian clubs better in Europe! I’ve ended on a sour note but fuck it. Do what I want. My blog…my blog.

Posted in Uncategorized

Congratulations Brugge

This season in Belgium, there is a double celebration in West Flanders. Of course we know about Cercle coming back into the top flight, and now we have the best team in the land, and let’s have it right, it would’ve been a travesty if anyone other than Club Brugge won the league. If anyone has ever read my blogs, they’ll know how I feel about playoffs. Yes they make things more interesting, but they can be an injustice and that would’ve been so if the Blauw-Zwart were pipped at the post.

I was so sceptical when I read that Ivan Leko was hired as manager. I felt it was rushed in a way because he has ties to Brugge and is young, almost getting STVV into Europe. Certain times during the season he showed his naivety with the rotation of goalkeepers and it looked like he may not have handled pressure extremely well during these playoffs. When he said Club Brugge were better than Anderlecht, that’s fair. You can be confident and use it to inspire your players privately, but don’t do Vanhaezebrouck’s team talk for him, and Anderlecht of course won 2-1. That will come with experience. If you want to play mind games, do it after and rub their face in it, but don’t do it before.

When we look back at the five goalkeepers used this season. I mean, what’s that all about? I didn’t trust Gabulov from the minute I heard he signed. I surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) had a lot of Russians liking tweets about my criticism. I like Horvath and even though I maybe wrong, I’d have stuck with him, although I love Kenneth Vermeer so once he signed, he had to start. Hopefully he’ll be at the Jan Breydel next season.

But without being overly critical, the positives outweigh any negatives. Mechele and Denswil were quality. I love Dion Cools and the Marvelous Nakamba (see what I did there) has been a great signing because he has allowed Vormer and Vanaken to flourish. You’d think somebody would take a punt on Vanaken because he is just an outstanding individual. For me the best in the league, or at least top three. And up top, Bonaventure started so brightly, but Diaby took over and was so vital with Wesley. A real quality front line that all played their part in winning the title.

Adding to that, the never say die attitude instilled in these players. No matter how you look at it, the team scored three or more goals on sixteen occasions. Kept eleven clean sheets, scored ten goals in the last five minutes, with the awesome Anthony Limbombe proving so vital and have taken 28 points off of the other top six sides throughout the season. They did drop 29 points against the top six clubs too but this season shows us some big things.

Firstly. Don’t drop points against the rest in the league. By not dropping points against Lokeren, Mechelen and Oostende, they managed to be top consistently and Brugge could be eight points short right now? Secondly. Consistency. The first 21 games made a mockery of the league the team were performing that well. A real joy to watch. Thirdly. Getting the start right has aided in Club Brugge winning the league as Standard, Anderlecht and Gent were playing catch up. And lastly, luck. When the team hit a bit of a wall physically and no doubt mentally, luckily other teams didn’t capitalise at all, especially Charleroi who have dropped like a stone. Obviously decisions have occasionally gone the Blauw-Zwarts way, but it works both ways. It wasn’t a one way street in how errors helped as they also cost now and again too.

Next season will be tougher though. Granted the team didn’t have an Izquierdo but they also didn’t have European football at all. Gent didn’t either nor Standard but Brugge have a vaster amount of quality in comparison. To deal with that next season with the challenge of defending their title, that’ll be a huge test. But for now, I’d be revelling in the success and know that you are, in fact, the best in the country.

Posted in Matches in Brief

I thought it was on!

After 4 o’clock English time yesterday, I had seen an unbelievable result in Playoff 1 that didn’t exactly surprise me. Fair enough I predicted a draw, but I couldn’t see an Anderlecht win. Standard Liège have been the best team in these playoffs with 19 points and you feel confident they’ll dig in til the end and break with pace and power. It helps when you have Mehdi Carcela and Edmilson Jr in attack, pulling the strings.

They’re entertaining and just exciting. Without this turning sour, I still disagree with the playoffs and I do feel Club Brugge deserve the title over a 38 game season that has already been played. But an unprecedented double isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. The way Les Rouches broke and then took advantage instead of wasting these chances. If we compare it to England, Anderlecht’s non existent defence was like Arsenal and the clinical quality and pace of Standard reminded me of Liverpool. I’ve commented before saying could Emond get a World Cup call up? Maybe not a start ahead of Lukaku etc, but he is a match winner and a goal scorer. The great John Chapman tweeted that Edmilson could get a call up too. And why not? You, and we of course, have Panama and Tunisia. You telling me those two couldn’t have an influence against them in Russia?

I’ve digressed. With Standard vs Brugge this weekend, it really is a cup final for Standard and nothing less than a win will do! It’ll be so tense and pressurised. With that said, Brugge need a win too. If Anderlecht decide to win and by a big margin, and Brugge draw, its not impossible for Les Mauves to overtake them on the last day. It’s highly unlikely, but Ivan Leko would surely love a win regardless of any other permutations. A big win yesterday evening and when Vormer and Vanaken turn up, its always going to be tough for Pro League opposition. That’s 19 goals in five matches against Charleroi for Brugge which is ridiculous. Nearly four a match?!? Fucking disgrace! How can Mazzu not learn? And speaking of World Cup selection, what about Vanaken…? Am I deluded?

It now makes fourth spot even more exciting because Gent and Genk don’t want to take advantage either for that Europa League playoff spot. Personally I’d like Gent to get it because I think they’ll fair better. I’m not saying I want them in Europe ahead of Zulte Waregem or Lokeren/Antwerp/STVV. I’m saying I want them to try and get fourth.

Going back to Wednesday slightly. A superb away win for Lokeren really has put them in pole position for that match against Essevee. I thought the late Antwerp defeat may have ruined everything, but Peter Maes rallied the team to get a fine away win. With a good victory this weekend, they’ll be hoping STVV nick a win for their sake, or a draw and guarantee themselves as winners of PO2B. Never even looked at Lokeren to finish top. Thought it was only between Antwerp and Sint-Truiden. Maybe there’s still life in this unpredictable season…