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 Manager Profile

Vanderhaeghe in at Gent

For somebody who does a Belgian football blog, I feel I let myself down without putting two and two together. Yesterday was Anderlecht informing the world who their new manager was. Today was the turn of KAA Gent. Where I feel I’ve let myself down is that why didn’t I think Vanderhaeghe would go to the Ghelamco Arena?

The former Oostende manager has briefly been out of work and has now been rewarded with one of Belgium’s top clubs. If anything, it is reward for how well did last season at Oostende in my opinion. They aren’t at the level of the others who finished above them last season, as well Genk and Standard I believe, and he took them to a cup final and 4th place. 

Many rumours were bounded around yesterday regarding Yves’ future. He’ll be assistant at Anderlecht. His waiting for the Kortrijk or Standard Liege job. He is now a manager so assistant would’ve been well out of the question. The other options look tenable but could never happen. I’ve always said that there’s a managerial merry go round and that once you’re off you may never get on. Look at Nigel Pearson now at OH Leuven. Nothing was materialising in England but through his connections, he went elsewhere abroad. 

As much as its a rough ride, it’s the most coveted and maybe important jobs in the most watched sport in the world. There’s computer games dedicated to it, so to get that job is a privilege and a top one is unbelievable. I know I’m going on a bit now. Actually sounds like I’m having a bit of a go. I’m honestly not. I’m happy that a good coach has a good job and that only Oostende is left. It’s now a 21 game season for Gent in this marathon to get themselves in place for the sprint…and now, they looking to get on the inside lane.

Posted in Manager Profile

Hein Vanhaezebrouck at Anderlecht

Well, minding my own business and up pops some information that hasn’t shocked anyone. Hein Vanhaezebrouck is, apparently, being unveiled as the new manager of Anderlecht at 4pm today (European or English time I’m unsure. More likely in CET). I feel sorry for Gent as the minute he left he has been flaunted about as basically the next manager of Les Mauves for the rest of this league and Champions League campaign.

The heavy manager is also a good manager. Let’s not forget that. The best players move from good clubs to great clubs. Why can’t managers? Even if that manager is from a potential rival for honours. Off the top of my head, unless I’m wrong, in Europe the only manager I can think recently who has moved to a rival is Jorge Jesus who went from Benfica to Sporting Lisbon in Portugal. But the other thing about that switch was that he moved at his peak.

Vanhaezebrouck has underachieved this season with Gent. Maybe a fresh start is what he needed, but if René Weiler wins a league and then gets sacked in September, who says a poor start to next season won’t see the big manager on his way too? Obviously Anderlecht are sure they’ve made the right decision, and Frutos either didn’t want the job yet, even though there has been an upturn in form domestically. I guess what will please everyone right now is a continuation of that form, and maybe a point in Europe?

He is a proven winner too. He knows the league and has a philosophy, plus an eye for the odd player, even though he has what I felt, the best squad in the league before a ball was kicked. Up first for HVH is an away trip to Mechelen. For me, a nice opener. Even though Mechelen clawed back a fantastic draw for the jaws of defeat on Saturday, and did beat Anderlecht at home last season, I just feel new imputus, a fresh look and recent winning form for the champions may see a win regardless this Friday night.

But going back to the first paragraph. Not that the fans from Brussels will care, but just imagine losing your girlfriend publicly and then she’s being touted all around town that she may have even been talking to somebody you hate behind your back, to then see that in fact she’s going to be starting a new relationship sooner rather than later…with him!?! Obviously football has its own little world and many…ok, the odd one who may read this, will say I’m being a bit drastic? A bit over the top? Regardless, it not entire classless, but maybe could’ve been dealt with a bit better. Without contradicting myself, you can’t blame Anderlecht or Vanhaezebrouck because they’re only looking out for themselves, and that’s all you can do in football, but maybe being more private would’ve been better in my opinion.

At the end of the day, Gent are still managerless, even though they performed extremely well away at Club Brugge, and Anderlecht may feel a poor start could be converted into a brilliant finish. But starting with Friday, we’ll see how the early signs will show if that’s true…

Posted in Manager Profile

Manager Profile: Hein Vanhaezebrouck

The news that broke earlier upsetter me more than probably the fans of Gent. Hein Vanhaezebrouck has lost his job with De Buffalos. Another top top job in Belgium up for grabs much like at Oostende and of course Anderlecht. The reason I am upset is mainly due to the fact I can now spell his name before triple checking I actually spelt it correctly.

I wrote a piece very early into the season at my concern at the direction the club were heading. Could’ve been bad preparation, considering, in my opinion, the dismal start to the league season and their exit from the Europa League before it properly started. Could it have been poor recruitment? Not sure. Players did leave and those who have stayed just haven’t performed. There are players within this crop who can get into every team in Belgium and potentially, bigger clubs abroad, but individually they have let the manager down.

Of course HVH isn’t blameless, and I’m culpable to blaming a manager, but not initially. I usually give the manager time before pointing fingers. The reason I suggested his sacking is because of you’re going to let your manager go at Anderlecht and Oostende, then every manager at an underperforming club has a target on their back. The manor of certain defeats certainly haven’t helped (Mouscron away).

Vanhaezebrouck has been fantastic over his time at the club and last season going into the play offs, I felt that Gent would overtake Club Brugge going into the Champions League qualification places, but with that momentum, it just never carried over into this term. But moving from Gent, if we go down the table, the amount of fresh faces at clubs, rather than faces to the league, has surprised me. Not so much at the leaving or sacking of managers, but just the numbers. Ten managers have left or lost their job since last season and a couple have happened at the same club.

In England, people ask why would anyone go into management when media is an option? It’s a short lifespan and if you don’t get back onto the Merry-go-round, you may never find another ride as some clubs, leagues and countries have a revolving door. I’m still saving space for Mechelen and Eupen, but until then, Hein Vanhaezebrouck is the focus.

Good luck…

Posted in Manager Profile

Manager Profile: Nigel Pearson

A familiar name to English fans, Nigel Pearson is the new Leuven manager in Belgium’s second tier. The 54 year old takes the short leap east across the English Channel/North Sea to take charge of the coincidentally owned King Power club. The Leicester City connection is strong after his dismissal from the club, the year after the great escape, and the season at the beginning of their title winning campaign.

I honestly believe he is a good manager, regardless of his stint at Derby County which wasn’t the best. He can round up a group of players and succeed as well as get a club out of the division below, into the top tier. It’s one of those hirings where I’m slightly shocked OHL have dismissed Dennis van Wijk because I felt the club weren’t doing too badly, but then again, I’m not surprised between the link of the ownership and new management.

Pearson will come in and have people on the playing staff where English is their first language, which will help him to begin with, and depending on the length of his stay and how commited he is, then we’ll see the progression of the club. As I’ve said, regardless on how fair or unfair the initial sacking was, Pearson is a very good replacement. He is a manager who expects 100% in effort and I feel the players will be too scared to give anything less.

The only problem, potentially, is the baggage that comes with him. Whether it’s holding a player down in his dugout by the throat, to calling journalists ostriches, to even having his son…well I won’t go into the Thailand fiasco without getting all the details wrong, even though most of Twitter saw what actually happened.

I’ll end by being honest, as this is a short post from me, but with this hiring, I do think OHL may well get promoted now. My opinion on manager hirings in Belgium hasn’t always been on point, but I do feel he won’t only succeed this season, but even do well the next with the backing of the board, the quality on the pitch and the quality in the dugout too!

All pictures courtesy of Getty Images

Posted in Back in Time, Manager Profile

Back in Time: Bill Gormlie

I’ve decided to blog random bits of history, whether it be about the Belgian Pro League, the second tier, European competition or The Belgian Cup (Beker van Belgie). The reason I’ve thought up this segment is not only to educate myself about the past, but to anyone who reads this, if anyone actually does, and to see that Belgian football isn’t about 1 or 2 teams, or the odd great player produced quite regularly actually, and that teams in the past competed and that the impossible is sometimes possible.

After this week in the Belgian top flight, I thought I’d look at the longest serving manager in Anderlecht history. I’m guessing his the longest serving as he has managed the most amount of matches, along with the fact he has won the most league titles for the club. Bill Gormlie was a remarkable coach in that he did what most Englishmen won’t do. He went abroad!

Born in 1911 in Liverpool, he went on to play as a goalkeeper for Blackburn Rovers and Northampton Town. But he really excelled as a manager. He originally became manager of the Belgian National team in 1947 around the age of 37 which would never happen now if you think of it. His first match was a derby against the Dutch. The problem at the time is the Belgian FA didn’t want to participate in the 1950 World Cup, so no qualifiers were played.

Because of that, maybe that was the reason he split his role with the national side, as he took charge of Anderlecht in 1950! He quit the role of Belgium manager in 1953, leaving them in a good position at the time as they’d defeated Finland and Sweden, helping them towards the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. But as I were saying, he took charge of Anderlecht until 1959.

In those years he won 5 titles, winning one in his first season, following on the good work of Irishman Ernest Churchill Smith. In that first season however, Les Mauves won the league on goal difference and only winning 13 matches out of 30! Remarkable. It then took 3 seasons til his next title, but after the 1953/54 season, Anderlecht were ruthless. 

In that season, they scraped the league by a single point, but then the next, not only did they win the league by 3 points, they also managed qualification for the European Cup. They repeated the feat the next season before he won his last league title in his last season as manager in 1958/59. Five league titles in 9 full seasons is fantastic. 

Unfortunately for Gormlie, he couldn’t take his league form into Europe. Okay we know Real Madrid ran Europe then…much like they do now. Anyway, the inaugural European Cup saw Anderlecht lose 10-4 to Vörös Kobogó (I know) and were out immediately. The next season was no better after the Belgians were, frankly, demolished by Manchester United 12-0 on aggregate, the second leg being 10-0! The season after Bill Gormlie was let go, Anderlecht still disappointed on the European stage as the went out to Glasgow Rangers in the first stage again.

Bill Gormlie laid the foundations, and carried on good work from those before him too to be fair, for Anderlecht’s domination to this day. He helped in their history to shape the club in some way. He did do ground-breaking stuff, such as beating Arsenal in 1954 at Highbury, the first foreign side to achieve this. He was credited in finding Paul Van Himst, one of Belgian football’s greatest players. To only manage in Europe and succeed doesn’t happen often, especially for Englishmen, so this is one story which many won’t know, and maybe should know. 

Posted in Manager Profile

Vanderhaeghe Gets the Chop

I feel bad as I have run out of phone data and I have to wait til I’m home to actually find out things about the world not around me. I walked in last night to read the inevitable. Yves Vanderhaeghe has been let go by Oostende. The 4th manager to lose their job in the Belgian Pro League this season and we’re still in September!

I feel guilty within myself because I happened to not only have data, but be free to write about René Weiler losing his job, as well as vent and give opinion on the other sackings which had already happened. Not that Oostende fans read this daily or probably care about one Englishman’s opinion, but still, it comes across that I either don’t care or that another club has preference over the other.

I was touting other managers to see their P45 before Vanderhaeghe. I don’t know why. I guess I just believed the next game will be the one where they get back on track. For me, the signs were incredibly early that things weren’t clicking however. Losing their first match against Mouscron. Other home defeats to Antwerp and Beveren. Gaining just one point which should’ve been three. Confidence could be at its lowest at the club for a while and it may have gotten to the point of no return.

Losing certain players too. Namely Dimata and Proto. Knowledge Musona has been injured too. Siani being suspended too. Those are big names who were unavailable to the gaffer and maybe that didn’t help. I really thought all was rosy in the garden. Two-year deal signed (if memory serves) Europa League on the horizon which was unfortunate because Marseille are Marseille at the end of the day. If was always going to be tough. But results are always what matter.

Certain clubs go on style. Some go on lack of attendance. Some go on results. Either way, Vanderhaeghe had to go. If I’m now sounding repetitive I’m sorry. I feel bad for the former manager but these things happen. His CV is certainly still adequate and maybe will get back in to Pro League football before the season is over. With who? Who knows, but he is decent regardless going by a 4th place finish and runners up in the Croky Cup. Good luck Yves. I’m sure this was done with a heavy heart…

All pictures courtesy of Getty Images

Posted in Manager Profile

The Sack Race has Begun

I ended today’s post by stating I’d write something this week regarding the ins and outs of managers and who’d be next. We’ve already seen 2 managers part company with their clubs this season. One of whom we’d never no how well he would actually do, but his predecessor has been fantastic. In all fairness, Lokeren have looked to have done the right thing too as they have kicked on. Whether or not they would’ve done that under Kristinsson we’ll never know.

But coming into the present, Anderlecht same sacked Rene Weiler. We all know Anderlecht have underperformed, but is that totally down to the manager in his second full season? Seven matches played and just 2 wins. Not good. But, I don’t know. Is it weird I’m in shock? The Belgian Pro League is such a small, compact league that losing a couple or dropping points can be disastrous because if your opposition put a run together, the gap in points can be caught up. 

I’m a believer that the cream rises to the top. As long as Anderlecht reach the top 6, who says they can’t win their 10 play off matches? One of the only leagues where you get some sort of second chance at a title and Europe. Losing Youri Tielemans couldn’t be that bad could it? Which is why some, if not, majority of the blame could be left with the players. Fans in Brussels will know more than me, obviously, but I can’t get my head around it.

Which leads me to this…if Weiler has gone, then how long has Ferrera, Condom and definitely Vanderhaeghe have left? The worry for these 3 is that if the champions are willing to sake their manager, these 3 won’t have long left either, especially Yves Vanderhaeghe and Yannick Ferrera! Both haven’t won this season, and maybe after the Croky Cup matches, we’ll know more then. 

I hate seeing managers go, unless it’s deserved, but I’m not sure what to think at Anderlecht. I immediately mentioned Frank De Boer at Les Mauves. Probably won’t happen, but he is a big name and has won league titles. He is also desperate to get his reputation up and running again. Perfect match? 

When it’s all said and done, I just feel there could be 4 more sackings sooner rather than later. The 4th being Vanhaezebrouck at Gent, who may have saved his job for another week after yesterday’s win. Only time will tell though. In my opinion all bets are off and anyone could be next! 

Posted in Manager Profile

Manager Profile: Yannis Anastasiou

I have procrastinated for long enough. Amongst all the ins and outs in the Pro League this pre season,and already this season too within the dugout, I’ve missed the hiring of Yannis Anastasiou at Kortrijk. Laziness, lack of coverage and, well, a number of things really. A lot more sacking were broadcast a hell of a lot louder than the news of former Roda JC manager in at Guldensporenstadion. With the start Kortrijk have had as well, the Greek manager deserves a bit of spotlight, even if it is after 3 matches.

Going back through the archives, the one time Anderlecht striker was appointed on the 20th of May. I was in Belgium and Germany the day before so as my excuse, I’ll take some sort of readjusting to the time difference and my familiar surroundings as my way of not knowing anything… or that I’m useless, you’ll decide (most likely the latter). A summer of multiple signings, which I’m sure isn’t over in regards to more acquisitions and outgoings, the team have been impressive this far, with 2 wins out of 3 and a loss away to unbeaten Charleroi by a David Pollet penalty is the only blotch.

Being shrewd in this window, the Greek manager has brought in players from the Pro League, nations around Russia, namely Ukraine, who have had successful players within Belgium, and areas he will know about around Greece such as Gary Kagelmacher from Maccabi Haifa and Abdul Jeleel Ajagun from Panathanaikos. One major success so far is Christophe Lepoint who has directly had a hand in Kortrijk’s last 3 goals!

On the other hand De Kerels have lost Idriss Saadi, Joãozinho, Andriy Totovitskiy and Nebosja Pavlovic. Key players who would all aid the team, some more than others, in keeping Kotrijk competitive last season. For me, they were very inconsistent and everyone will know that of course. They had 2 halves to the season, with the first half really being their saviour. Twenty four points gained before Christmas helped with survival really, seeing as in the regular season, they only gained 7 points in the second half (2017), one point more than they’ve already gained so far this season.

Without being too negative, Yannis Anastasiou will hopefully get a full season, and the way Kortrijk are going, the only way he won’t be at the club is through being poached? With a wealth of experience, playing and coaching, he could go anywhere IF he continues, although credit has to go to the playing staff too, but with his playing CV including Anderlecht and Ajax. And with a managerial CV including Panathanaikos, he can deal with pressure well and perform. With Roda JC seemingly being a one off right now, for Kortrijk, he’ll aim to get them firing in a continuous manner.

(All pictures courtesy of Getty Images)