The season has ended. Well…not officially. But for one club in Belgium it certainly has, and on a major high too. Anderlecht put a run together that saw them crowned this season’s Belgian Pro League champions, and deservedly so, and one man at the helm of this historic and huge club in the capital is a modest and unassuming manager, René Weiler.
The Swiss took over in the summer, leaving Nürnberg and replacing Besnik Hasi who moved to Legia Warsaw. With Anderlecht not winning the league for a short time, it would probably be considered a drought for a club this successful in recent years, so a plan would have been needed by somebody who spent his entire football career playing in Switzerland. Looking at the summer transfers in and out, some inspired signings were brought in, like Spajic, Hanni and Teodorczyk who not only proved a huge success, but also sured up the spine of the team. He also appointed Tielemans as a club captain as well as Sofiane Hanni which was a good move in itself.
After a reasonable start, remaining unbeaten until late September, when a huge upset where relegated Westerlo beat Les Mauves at the Constant Vanden Stock, his plans were going along nicely, and for his sake, very well until the end of the season. Looking at his results and the club, he looked to have made the team more assured, knowing how good Anderlecht were in this division and showing how he trusted his players as squad rotation did come into play. He also proved how much faith he had in his players as he took that into the Europa League and heroically only lost to Manchester United through an extra time winning for the English side.
Averaging just over 2 goals per game in the regular season and the play offs (scoring 82 goals), that’s a fantastic goal return, knowing that his players had the capability to score anywhere if needed. They also conceded just under a goal a game, which isn’t too bad conceding 36 goals all season. One thing is for sure, you were bound for entertainment watching this season’s champions in action, week in, week out.
This was groundbreaking for Weiler too. This was his first title as a player or manager. To win your first trophy is huge, no matter what it is, and to do it at a club which may have felt that they needed new, fresh ideas and to see such a positive turnaround so quickly, not only repaid the faith in the board, but proved them right too.
Winning only breeds winning and I’m sure this club will continue to remain hungry for progression. This also puts the manager into good stead as he can now know what it takes to see out a title win. The only problem for the club is that keeping hold of their players will always be an issue, and if there’s continuous glory, holding onto the gaffer will always be a problem too incase he moves to France, or a bigger Bundesliga side, or even go back home but with Basel this time?
I don’t intend to turn a huge positive into a negative, but the reality is that this league discovers and churns out such names in world football, whether that be on the pitch or on the bench. This won’t happen soon of course, and hopefully for Anderlecht’s sake, he may build something big in Brussels, but in the back of every supporter, journalist and players head, they know that success sees progression, and that means new explorations for everyone involved, unless you just love Belgium or the club you play for.