I felt that I rather wanted to write tonight rather than need to. Football isn’t how it used to be for me. And it’s echoed by everyone, well, most here in England. Football is money money money! When you see Manchester City spend £200 million this summer already and majority of that on full backs, one of whom hasn’t even got a plethora of international caps, it makes you wonder when will the bubble burst?
I shouldn’t compare the Pro League with the Premier League I know. When I went to Lokeren, the press officer did say ‘whatever you do, don‘t make comparisons with the Premier League‘ when I arrived at the Daknamstadion. I didn’t. I did however compare it to lower league clubs in England, where the club I’m most local to, a League 1 side, has the same capacity as Lokeren, and they’re nowhere near the biggest club in League 1.
Watching the Pro League has made me realise that football is beyond the money. The only problem however is the lack of support at some matches. You do have fantastic stadia in Belgium, with fantastic support. But some clubs are let down by their fans when the matches aren’t sold out. Okay, the population of the country is a third of what it is here AND football is a religion in England. It’s also a fad to some people where it has now become ‘trendy’ to associate yourself with a football club. With the Pro League though, I’ve dived in two footed and when my mum, who I do go to football with, asks me about certain things in the Premier League, I tend to know about what’s currently happening in Belgium, amongst the broken French I know and Dutch that I definitely don’t know looking at the news!
But less of that and more of this. My opinion (which may count for nothing to some people) and I think that, and wait for it, Anderlecht will win the league again. There I’ve said it. If anyone asks me, and nobody actually does because England doesn’t particular take notice of any leagues other than their own, I look at Les Mauves and just see quality. Losing one player basically and having the depth to fight in league and cup. Of course the players aren’t going to be content with being squad players, like Hamdi Harbaoui and Diego Capel who’ll want regular football. Maybe the obvious reason for why Franck Acheampong left?
But when I look at other teams I actually feel Standard Liege could be the closest contenders. New manager. Fresh ideas. Good recruitment. No European football. It looks good. Their first few matches is a real acid test as the opposition are very good in the opening 8 matches. The only reason I put them ahead of Club Brugge, Gent, Genk and Zulte Waregem is because they all have European football (apart from Genk) and that could make or break their season. Brugge out of the Champions League early on could put a dampener on the season early on. Gent haven’t brought in enough in my opinion. Genk as well haven’t recruited enough and Zulte Waregem have personally brought quality in, but juggling the Europa League with the Pro League may be tough?
I know I’ve left out Charleroi and Oostende but I think the 5 I have already mentioned could be within the Championship Play Off come March. Lokeren could be the 6th team with their solid signings, and Rùnar Kristinsson has assessed the league now and could surprise some this coming season. I maybe totally wrong, and the likelihood that I am could be high. These are just predictions which I may reel out from time to time! But who knows in Belgium? Over the course of recent history, Anderlecht have dominated with a spluttering of teams who look promising like Gent, Genk, Club Brugge and Standard. René Weiler just seems too focussed when it gets down to it and uses his squad well.