A Belgian Story – The Road to World Cup 2006: Part 1 | @verbist_philip

Hallo allemaal!

I am very happy Dave @cm9798 added me as a guest blogger. The next couple of weeks I will try to entertain you all with one of my new saves. I am Belgian, so my blog must be about Belgium.

With players like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Jan Vertongen, nobody likes playing the current Belgian national team. The 2018 WC in Russia was the most successful in Belgian history, beating England 2-0 in a battle for 3rd place. Belgium wasn’t always such a great team though. Despite qualifying for 6 consecutive world cups between 1982 and 2002 (with a 4th place during the 1986 WC in Mexico), they missed the world cup in 2006 & 2010.

This got me thinking. Can I change history using the cm9798 game and not only qualify for the 2006 world cup, but also lead them to the best performance in their history?

This are my rules of engagement:

1 – I start the game with my hometown club Beveren, where I intend to stay in position until after the 2006 world cup.

2 – New incoming players must be Belgian regens with the intention to use them (so no loans), develop them and (try to) bring them to international level.

3 – I can use the squad available at the start of the game. Non-Belgian players I can use until the end of their contract (or I sell/release them before their contract expires). Belgian players I can resign if I want to.

4 – I try to become head coach of Belgium and lead Belgium to WC glory in 2006, using my Beveren regens squad.

I am curious how far I can get on domestic level. Beveren’s most successful period was between the end of the 70s and early 80s. During that period, they were called “little Anderlecht”, winning the title in 1979 and 1984, and the Belgian cup in 1978 and 1983. Those were the days according to my father; he saw them eliminate Inter Milan and almost beat Barcelona.

The big-club release clause could make this quite an annoying game. I increased Beveren’s reputation to 12, which is right below the Big Three (Anderlecht, Club Brugge & Standard). A risky move because in the 97-98 season, Beveren enters the first league after winning promotion. Higher reputation means without any doubt also higher expectations from the board, so I will have to perform strong enough as of season 1. Regens need however some time to grow, therefore I allow myself to sign 5 Belgian free transfers at the start of season 1.

I decide to load next to the Belgian league also the Dutch and Portuguese one. I rarely played the Dutch and Portuguese league, so maybe I can try something there after the 2006 WC!

The last few days I tried out the new MW2 tactic of @9798Nikolai. Got very good results, but for this blog I will consistently play the 1-2-3-1-2-2 direct style for Beveren and later hopefully also for Belgium. I have used it successfully in previous saves, but this save will put this tactic to the test.

Without any reinforcement these guys would be my starting 11:

I need help on several positions. Cash is not abundant, so I need to be careful. I decide to wait to make offers until end of July. Typically, the board allows for higher wages as of August, so I take the risk…

28 July 1997. So far, no approaches on the players I am targeting. I am not going to push my luck any further, I am starting the bidding!

Too early! The board only allows a weekly wage of 900, so I only manage to get De Vreese in. Brogno signs for Mouscron, but I still have a chance on the others, including Emmers. There goes round 2.

The board allows over 7,000 a week. I triple the wage Emmers requests, but it’s not good enough… Damn!

Rubinelson & Gérard accept my offer. 3 down, still 2 to go. Here is round 3.

They both accept. These are my Belgian 5 free transfers.

I have played the Belgian leagues multiple times before, and I am happy with these additions. They will for sure make the team stronger the first few seasons and they all go immediately into my starting eleven.

This is the squad for the season opener at Charleroi.

Charleroi typically ends up in the second half of the table during the first seasons. Clearly this is not the result I was hoping for, knowing my next match is at home against Standard.

The award of the first big transfer in the Belgian league goes to Club Brugge.

0/6. We are decent and we are not overrun. We had our chances, but we do lose again.

Next are Lommel and Westerlo. We should by taking our first points of the season, and we do! A strong performance and a lot of goals.

With 6/6 and a bit of momentum we travel to Brussels for our next match against Anderlecht. One of the most difficult matches this season, but who knows with our increasing form?

A loss, but we again weren’t overrun. This is not the match anyway where I was counting on to get points.

Next is a home match against Antwerp.

Despite a red card from Rubinelson we get our 3rd win of the season. Kurt Soenens proves he is an addition to the team.

With an ability/potential of 116/119 he is not the regen I would be looking for later, but early in the game I find him valuable. Aged 30 and with an influence of 17, I used him as captain in a previous save when I started in the second division.

Considering we already faced Anderlecht and Standard, I would say this is a decent start.

And we keep gaining momentum. Sint-Truiden is perhaps not the best reference, but I take a win like that every time.

Our performance must be getting some attention. Bart Van Den Eede is rewarded with a call-up for the U21 squad. He typically makes the U21 squad, but with an ability/potential of 105/120 that’s usually the furthest he gets. Perhaps we can change that in this blog!

Before the international break we get a win against our arch rivals Lokeren.

Bart Van Den Eede gets a start but doesn’t have a lot of impact. Belgium needs to beat Scotland in order to make the world cup.

The next 4 matches will give us a good indication how good we really are and if we can claim a spot in the left column of the standings.

Three consecutive draws, 2 times we manage to come back and score the equalizer. That concludes it for my first blog. We are now 12 games in the season and despite the draws we climb to 4th position.

Very curious if we can keep this position as the season progresses. Tot de volgende keer!

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