Five things from JPL match day 16
After the international football break some clubs hoped to get a fresh start. Mons, who really are getting desperate in the search for some points, had the difficult task of playing Standard Liège. Racing Genk wanted to give their fans something back after their defeat against Anderlecht in the previous round while the clash of the weekend was between Lokeren and Club Brugge but there were some more important things to discuss. Bjorn De Cock looks at some of the talking points from the latest round of matches.
Zulte Waregem jump over Racing Genk into second place (Bjorn De Cock)
Francky Dury and Zulte Waregem had an amazing season last year and many thought it was a once in a lifetime experience. This season, after 16 matches in the regular season, Zulte Waregem are second in the standings, the position they occupied at the end of the last campaign. Francky Dury is doing a terrific job at the Gaverbeek. His club rightly extended his contract for another ten (yes, you read that right, TEN) years. He’s the first coach/manager in Belgium who’s been given full responsibility for the transfers, comparable with the managers in England. Zulte Waregem won this weekend against KV Mechelen, who didn’t really show any spirit to win this game though. Thorgan Hazard and Junior Malanda are two important players for Zulte Waregem who will both leave the club this summer, Malanda maybe even in January. Francky Dury will have a hell of a job to replace these two players next season.
John van den Brom feels the pressure, you can see the reflection on the pitch (Bjorn De Cock)
We’re almost sure that if John van den Brom was leading the table with Anderlecht that we would have seen Youri Tielemans in midfield this weekend against Charleroi. Dutch coach John van den Brom instead opted with Luka Milivojevic, Demy De Zeeuw and Sacha Kljestan instead. Anderlecht is a club with a classy history of players, such as Enzo Scifo, Pär Zetterberg, Alin Stoica, Walter Bassegio plus several other gifted playmakers who were dubbed the Princes of the Astridpark. Flash forward to 2013, John van den Brom plays with midfielders with defending and tackling as their only option. We’re sure that even John van den Brom himself doesn’t want to play like this. He’s even using Dennis Praet, who should be the next heir to the Anderlecht midfield throne, as a winger. In his search to dominate midfield against his opponents he forgets to play proper football. Anderlecht fans expect to see Champagne football, let alone proper football. Is the pressure too high for the Dutch coach?
Marc Coucke was a gift for KV Oostende (Bjorn De Cock)
KV Oostende’s 4-0 win against Racing Genk this weekend is surely the most stunning performance of this season in the Jupiler Pro League. Until this weekend Racing Genk were the only big club who showed consistency and stability even if they dropped points. This weekend was a general off day from the Flemish club. Fernando Canesin and Jordan Lukaku, who are both on loan from Anderlecht, had a tremendous evening with KV Oostende. Fernando Canesin was the man of the match and showed again those sparkling moments he showed two years ago in Brussels. Marc Coucke, the new President of KV Oostende since the beginning of the season, would pull off a big one if he keeps his club in the Jupiler Pro League, but his signings appear to be paying off. Nobody gave them a chance at the beginning of the season, me included.
Mons deserved much more against Standard Liège (Bjorn De Cock)
Standard Liège is still, somehow the leader of the Jupiler Pro League after this weekend’s terrible match against bottom of the table club Mons. It should tell you all you need to know that the fans of Standard Liège booed after the final whistle, despite the win. Most of the players went inside when Laurent Ciman and captain Jelle Van Damme thanked the crowd. Michy Batshuayi played one of his worst games ever this weekend. The very talented and highly rated striker couldn’t produce a pass of three metres while the midfield also struggled to keep possession. Standard Liège was lucky that Mons have found it so difficult this season to score and especially create danger in the box. Guy Luzon, coach of Standard Liège, has some work to do despite their three points.
Hein Vanhaezbrouck and KV Kortrijk are losing grip (Bjorn De Cock)
KV Kortrijk had a fantastic start start of the season. Ivan Santini scored goals with his eyes closed and Elimane Coulibaly and Benito Raman gave Hein Vanhaezebrouck what he missed last season: depth. However in the last few weeks KV Kortrijk have found it difficult to dominate a game like they did in the beginning of the season. One of their key players, Gertjan De Mets, is a little bit out of form lately and to compound matter, picked a red card this weekend against OH Leuven. KV Kortrijk survived miraculously and saved one point against a much stronger OH Leuven. Darren Keet was the man of the match this weekend and not only for saving Messoudi’s penalty. Hein Vanhaezebrouck will need to change some things if he and KV Kortrijk want to compete with the five best after the regular season.