Hustled in Brussels….Season 98/99 begins

We’re only a few games into the season, but it has been eventful, to say the least so I’m writing an update before I forget what has been going on..

As always, the summer transfer market was a busy one…

tran7 trans6 trans5 trans4 trasn3 transfers2

Paolo Maldini and Alex Del Piero swapping clubs in the space of 6 months, and Rio off to United without kicking a ball for Sunderland. Although that looks a great piece of business for Fergie, I have a feeling he might struggle to get in their team – I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if he becomes available in a year or two.

I (Anderlecht) had been keeping tags on ‘Andrily Sevchenko’ for months, and had planned on him taking over from crocked top-scorer James Obiorah. Unfortunately, the lure of the Joe Kinnear revolution obviously proved too much for me to match, and the Ukranian super-star chose to join Wimbledon. Quite a coup for them as they look to build on their top-4 finish last season

Talking of Anderlecht, we received this bombshell on the eve of the season

banned!

Now I’ve played a lot of champ in my time (can you tell?), but this is a first… I vaguely remember this happening to Anderlecht in the real world back in the day.. Here are the highlights from that game. I’ve not got much sympathy to be honest. It looks like the Forest goalie (Hans van Breukelen) is more to blame than the ref, look at the way he flaps at that first goal.

So it’s fair to say things aren’t going as planned in Belgium. To recap; a second-place finish in a league we should be winning, knocked out of the Cup by Lierse, our best player injured for the next 5 months, and a seat on UEFA’s naughty step for the season.

It was about to get worse though..After a mediocre start to the season (1 win, 2 draws). THIS….

sacked!A little harsh, but not entirely unexpected. I don’t remember ever being sacked before (honest!)..shame for me that it had to happen on the game that I am blogging, so the world can share in my ignominy, but overcoming adversity is the first step to success right?

Anyway, here’s my replacement, club legend, and ex-manager Paul Van Himst

vanhimst

After appointing a total unknown, it makes sense that they would want a safe pair of hands to steady the ship. Well, I̶ ̶h̶o̶p̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶’̶r̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶D̶i̶v̶i̶s̶i̶o̶n̶ ̶2̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶b̶a̶n̶k̶r̶u̶p̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶ ̶n̶e̶x̶t̶ ̶s̶e̶a̶s̶o̶n̶,̶ ̶b̶u̶n̶c̶h̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶r̶e̶f̶-̶b̶r̶i̶b̶i̶n̶g̶,̶ ̶u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶-̶a̶c̶h̶i̶e̶v̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶b̶a̶c̶k̶-̶s̶t̶a̶b̶b̶e̶r̶s̶  I wish the board, players and fans every success in the coming season.

Managing Anderlecht was a more difficult challenge than I thought. I didn’t do especially well in the transfer market – it was hard to know what kind of player to buy. The very best players aren’t going to come to Belgium, and the usual promising youngsters were either not available, or not good enough. I tried to buy Belgian as much as possible, but there just aren’t that many good Belgian players in the game (at least not within my budget). There’s no non-EU player limit in the league, which means you can look to pick up bargains from Eastern Europe and South America, but then you’re not going to get far in Europe where you can only play 3.

I also couldn’t fully recreate my world-dominating tactics from all those years ago, I think I’m getting closer though, so hopefully my next club will reap the rewards..

Lessons learnt for my next managerial attempt in Belgium (I’ll be back!), I think the way to do it is join a mid-table or Division 2 team and build a squad over a year or two. For now, I’ll pack my suitcase and wait by the phone for a manager to be sacked somewhere in Europe

Oh and here’s some actual football…

charity shieldbelgian supercupsupacoppa

Still, while my Belgian doppelganger is kicking his heels on the golf course, I get to have a crack at Serie A with Torino, and Doncaster will be looking to continue their rise through the divisions, so not all is lost eh?

Predictions for the season ahead?

It’ll be as you were in Italy, England and Belgium – United, Standard and Juve all look too strong. Wimbledon for a surprise UEFA cup run, Doncaster to storm to promotion from Division 2 and Torino to struggle at first but finish upper-mid-table..Join me next time to see how it pans out

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