A Belgian Story – The Road to World Cup 2006: Part 9 | @verbist_philip

Happy Saturday! It’s back to Belgium where Philip is waiting for us with the latest from Beveren…

Hallo allemaal!

It’s Saturday again! Today we go through the finale of season 3. We are having a good season and we are still competing on all levels. We are in the semi finals of the Belgian Cup, we reached the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup and we are in 3rd position after 21 games.

We are starting the final chapter of season 3 with 4 regens in the starting line-up: Coene (Segers), Appels (Grun), De Wilde (Van Der Elst) and Nasden (Lemoine). Van der Borght (Borkelmans) and Van Meir (Preud’homme) had a few starts already, and I am planning to give them a few more.

Let’s find out how far we can go this season!

We start at Sclessin against Standard. This is my first match against a Big Three team with De Vreese at number 10. It doesn’t make any difference, we keep struggling against the Big Three this season.

Anderlecht is way ahead of the competition this season and with the addition of Albert, they’ll be even more difficult to beat.

Before we take the plane to Rome for our UEFA Cup quarter final against AS Roma, we get some bad news. I replaced Smid in the line-up with Coene without paying attention to his work permit. I am to blame for this one. He still has a contract till end of next season, so let’s hope I manage to sell him.

AS Roma is a strong team. Not only do they have Totti, they also have cm9798 legend John Curtis. We lose 2-1, but Velkeneers ensures we still have a chance at the Freethiel in a couple weeks.

Next we welcome Johan Cruyff’s Lierse. Coene picks up an injury and with Smid out of working permit, we start the youngest of the Scifo regen brothers on the left wing back: 17-year old Chris (Moury). Both goalkeepers play an excellent match and keep the score to 0-0. Unfortunately we lose De Vreese for a few weeks.

The international friendlies as preparation for Euro 2000 will start soon. Velkeneers and Appels get a call-up. For the U21 team 5 of our players are part of the team.

Without Rubinelson and De Vreese, we are far from dominant against Germinal Ekeren, but a win is a win.

Soenens, De Wilde (Van Der Elst) and Nasden (Lemoine): suspended. De Vreese: injured. Without all these starters our European adventure ends tonight. We don’t have the bench to be competitive against an opponent like AS Roma. But I am very happy with our result this year!

We recover De Wilde (Van Der Elst) and Nasden (Lemoine), but we still miss several key players. At full strength we are a good team, but as soon as we miss 3 or more key players, we become vulnerable.

Appels started a bit slow but in the meantime he is having a great season. Even when we loose, his rating is good. His reward? His first cap in the international friendly against Switzerland. Without injury, Leekens should take him to Euro 2000.

We are losing our form, Gent keeps us to 1 point.

We are not having the best run of the season and we have to step up our game. Rubinelson is an important part of that, but then London is calling. Our reputation is good enough to refuse offers from Anderlecht. Chelsea however is a level higher and we can’t prevent them from making an offer. We lose him, damn!

The loss of Rubinelson makes me put De Vreese back one line and Van Den Eede gets back his starting position. We pick up 3 important points at Waregem.

We didn’t get too many points so far this season against the Big Three. The lads make up for it though with a superb victory against Anderlecht.

With a win against Anderlecht we couldn’t have had a better preparation for our semi final in the Belgian Cup. The team for sure knows when to deliver!

Yes! The draw puts us as the away team and you know what that means: we should win the Cup! Let’s hope this weird Cup thing also holds when we are the away finalist…

We are on a roll now. Despite all the champagne for going to the Cup Final and a red card of Mommens (Verspaille) we win at Jan Breydel.

5 matches to go. Anderlecht will become champions no doubt. We are still in 3rd position and well on track for a top-5 position.

This is a perfect opportunity to develop further my regens. The last 5 games I am going to start 7 regens: Van Meir (Preud’homme), Appels (Grun), Van der Borght (Borkelmans), Coene (Segers), Mommens (Verspaille), De Wilde (Van Der Elst) & Nasden (Lemoine).

The regens are grateful for the confidence I put in them and we beat Oostende after a good game.

Euro 2000 is getting closer. Velkeneers and Appels get another cap in the international friendly against Turkey. Nasden was added last minute to the squad and watches the game from the bench.

In Mechelen it looks like we are going home with another 3 points, but we give it all away in the final 6 minutes.

The loss puts us back to 4th place. It doesn’t affect the confidence of my regens. We finish the season with 3 dominant wins in our final 3 matches.

Anderlecht wins the title and for the 3rd consecutive year we finish 3rd.

Three times 3rd. Are we making progress? I believe we are. Over the past 2 seasons we have gradually put our regens in the line-up and we managed to stay competitive. The title is too high to reach for now. In the next couple of seasons I am expecting (or is hoping a better word?) to sign some top regens, and I am confident that we can continue to play for a top-5 spot and later on for the title.

Time now for the Cup Final. I mentioned it already several times before: in my experience the away team always dominates and wins it. I am sticking by this comment until the blog proves me different. Will it also work in our case?

Yes! We finish our season with our most important victory and we are WINNERS of the 2000 BELGIAN CUP!

Before the start of Euro 2000 let’s try to get our contract management done. This is what the picture looks like.

Magerman and Smet didn’t have a start in 3 seasons and will be released. As per my rules of engagement, I say goodbye to Simba and Jansta. Simba was a decent number 8, but lost his place this season to first Nasden (Lemoine) and later on De Wilde (Van Der Elst). And Kamil Jansta? He became an absolute key player and won three times the highest average rating of the team. Thanks to both of you lads, and good luck in your further careers.

Final one is Tristan Peersman. Again top scorer of the team and the league with 36 goals. I want to extend his contract him at all cost. If of course he decides to accept…

Euro 2000 is just around the corner now. Leekens takes along 3 players of our squad.

Leekens wasn’t exactly known for his great decisions, but still I am quite surprised De Vreese didn’t get any single call up during these 3 seasons. After a stellar season PSV, Chelsea (again!) and Feyenoord make an offer. There is nothing I can do about and I am losing again a key player.

I am skipping the friendlies and moving straight to Euro 2000. In the real tournament Belgium became the first hosting country that didn’t survive the group stage in a European Championship. What will they do here?

They are in a difficult group with Switzerland, Denmark and France. Belgium starts against Switzerland. They better start with a win but Zuberbuhler keeps it at a draw.

Not the best of starts, but in their next match they upset Denmark. Would this have happened if Schmeichel was still around?

Despite a loss against France, Belgium advances to the next round and will play England next.

This time no overtime goal of David Platt. England is simply the better team and they will make it to the Final.

What France did in real life, is what Italy does in cm9798. After winning the 98 WC, they also win Euro 2000.

After several unsuccessful attempts to resign Peersman, Fiorentina swoops in and signs him for a ridiculously low amount.

We are now at the end of the season and I am given my first Manager of the Year award.

That’s it for today. We had a great season, but it came with a price. With Rubinelson, De Vreese and Peerman, I have lost my attacking power. Will there be some decent regen replacements next season to fill the gaps?

Tot volgende week!

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