Jupiler Pro League: It’s going to be a big week for…
After a full mid week schedule there is even more pressure on some teams going into the weekend. Standard falter as Waasland-Beveren profit. Anderlecht steady the ship a bit and Jelle Vossen gets on his bicycle against Kortrijk. Who is in for a big weekend as the teams go into their fourteenth match of the season?
It seems managers all over the league are in for a tough weekend. John van den Brom has been under intensifying scrutiny over the past few weeks and after seeing his Anderlecht side defeat KV Oostende in mid week, van den Brom can only count on half the job being done so far. Anderlecht take on OH Leuven this weekend and anything but another comfortable victory for De Paarswit could spell trouble.
The reigning champions have coughed and spluttered since the back end of last season, despite seeing out the league, and that form has continued into this season. Youth is top of the order these days but it was five million Euro man Alexander Mitrovic who opened the scoring. Chancel Mbemba and Sasha Kljestan added close range second and third goals for Anderlecht but a routine win against a newly promoted side will not abate the anger towards the management.
But it is not just Anderlecht from the big boys who has a manager in the fans’ crosshairs.
Guy Luzon has failed to win any of his last six games as Standard manager and after an unbeaten opening nine games les Rouches now sit just one point clear at the top of the table after labouring to a 2-2 draw with Waasland-Beveren on Thursday night. Luzon was in the stands for the match serving out a suspension so it was left to Ivan Vukomanovic to issue the orders at his bosses behest but having twice taken the lead Standard were twice pegged back by the underdogs. It would be unseemly that Guy Luzon’s job could be on the line so early in his Standard career after such a glorious start but the boos that filled the Sclessin at full time will not comfort him. Away to Gent on Sunday night it may begin with Standard in second place as Genk travel to Mons the night before.
Michel Preud’homme is also enduring a rough time of it at Club Brugge. Having made himself available and forced Javier Garrido out of job despite the Spaniard barely putting a foot wrong during his tenure it seems to have backfired on the Blauw-Zwart. They have lost their last three leagues games, being embarrassed against Kortrijk, losing at home to Genk and now suffering another derby defeat as they went down 2-0 to Cercle Brugge. Down to fourth and with a difficult match against Lokeren coming up it may be Club Brugge are soon off the pace entirely in the league.
Mircea Rednic will also be sweating on his job having had a less than spectacular start to his reign at Gent having taken over from Victor Fernandez. Having started last season with Trond Sollied, they have now seen off Bob Peeters as well as Victor Fernandez while Manu Ferrera has had two interim spells. Gent don’t seem to be improving despite the constant changes but that wouldn’t stop chairman Ivan De Witte firing Rednic all the same should results not pick up soon.
So despite only being a few short months into the season, already managers around the league will be beginning to sweat on their positions should their teams not match their owners lofty ambitions.
Waasland-Beveren’s unlikely 2-2 draw in Liegé comes just a few short days after Glen De Boeck was relieved of his managerial duties. With names circling the vacant managerial position such as Hugo Broos, Bob Peeters and even Georges Leekens it would seem Danny De Maesschalck has done his own case no harm should he want the job on a permanent basis.
Achieving a point was a pleasant and unexpected surprise for the side who have struggled of late and found themselves in fifteenth prior to kick off with the league leaders. They remain second bottom by virtue of not winning as many games as KV Oostende having now moved on to equal points with them, but with Mons increasingly looking like perennial bottom dwellers and several teams set to struggle this season a change in coaches at this stage of the season may prove a shrewd move for Waasland-Beveren.
Having fired Glen De Boeck, for reasons he claims were unexplained to him, it meant that the match with Standard was essentially a wash. Nobody will have expected anything from this game and with a big match coming up against Cercle Brugge at the weekend the playing boost that accompanies a managerial change may be enough to lift the side out of the bottom two.
Things won’t be easy at the weekend though as Cercle Brugge are coming off their own confidence boosting 2-0 win in the Bruges derby, and out of the six teams ear marked for a difficult season are probably the strongest team on hand. Should Waasland-Beveren manage to win here, then it could be they can harbour real hopes of staying up and with a new manager unlikely to be in place by the weekend it may shorten De Maesschalck’s odds for the job even further.
Things can look a little bit rosier on this front than they actual are. Michy Batshuayi scored his eighth goal of the campaign against Waasland-Beveren when he temporarily put his side 2-1 up but things seem to run deeper, and more difficult than that.
There is a lot made out of the young players currently populating the league and no more so than Batshuayi and his strike partner Imoh Ezekiel at Standard. The problems arise that while undoubtedly talented players neither of them seem to link up particularly well with one another. Standard have been renowned recently as a side that attack on the break very well, against equally adventurous sides this is more apparent but against conservative sides they seem to encounter problems.
Ezekiel, Batshuayi as well as Jean Paul M’Poku and Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez are all relatively young players who seem very keen to get themselves on the scoresheet at all costs. At 1-1 and 2-2 on Thursday evening at Waasland-Beveren, as Standard looked to force the issue, it would not be surprising to see one of the Standard attackers get the ball, put his head down, run at the defenders and take a shot. It’s not a problem confined to their midweek game either, pay close attention and you will see several instances during the game where this happens.
It may be true that this is what attackers are paid for; scoring goals. However if the team can not find a natural way to combine and continue to operate as individuals rather than a cohesive unit then their six game winless run may extend further.
Onur Kaya was not a happy man after Sporting Charleroi drew 2-2 with KV Mechelen on Wednesday evening. Throwing away a two goal lead late in the game and therefore two points as well must have been a bitter pill for the side but Kaya’s reaction was closer to furious rather than disappointed.
Slamming the team as playing like children, and unable to close the game out, it will be a bit of a gut punch to les Zebres. For Charleroi there may not be a lot to play for this season, looking a few levels below the PO1 confusion but too strong to be in danger of relegation it would seem the likes of Charleroi, Mechelen and Gent may well be settling for PO2 – and at the end of the season they’ll finally get a chance at glory.
David Pollett had put the home side ahead and Kenneth Houdret’s 83rd minute strike should have confirmed the three points but the defence switched off before the full time whistle to allow Iddi to pull one back. And then a challenge in the corner of the box was deemed a foul and Seth De Witte sent Parfait Mandanda the wrong way to claim an unlikely point.
For Charleroi they will look to recover with an away match against Lierse at the weekend where three points should definitely be the minimum aim.
Once again Racing Genk seem to be enjoying a largely unheralded hot streak in the league. With all eyes on the managerial difficulties at their rivals it has put Racing Genk in a prime position to usurp the top position in the league. Jelle Vossen’s sublime bicycle kick caught the attention and that was enough to give Genk all three points against Kortrijk and move temporarily to equal first in the league. Standard’s subsequent draw against Waasland-Beveren restored the difference but with a very winnable game against Mons coming up, and Standard seemingly all over the shop, it may be Genk who sit at the top of the pile come the weekend.
With Vossen in his usual good form and Ilombe Mboyo to return to the side it could be an irresistible strike force working together for Genk as they look to capture the league title after their last triumph in 2011.