A Belgian Story – The Road to World Cup 2006: Part 10 | @verbist_philip

The weekend is here! That means Philip is back in the blogseat to give us the latest from Beveren where a new season is about to get underway.

Hallo allemaal!

Happy 2021! I am wishing you all the very best during the new year and a lot of joy and goals when you play cm9798.

I am curious what 2021 will bring for my hometown club Beveren (where we are using only Belgian regens) and Belgium’s journey towards WC 2006. Last year we finished season 3, our most successful season so far. We won the Belgian Cup, reached the quarter final of the UEFA Cup and finished again 3rd in the league.

There are some holes in the line-up that we need to fill after the loss of Jansta, Rubinelson, De Vreese and Peersman. And oh yes, Silvagni retired. Van der Borght (Borkelmans) will pair up with Appels (Grun) as our new centre back duo. Van Den Eede goes back into the line-up as our number 9 and we still have Dutch man Torken.

On the defensive side I have back-up options, but I have no other forward or striker left in the team.

Let’s hope there are a few good regens I can pick up. When I look at the free transfer market, I am not happy at all. There are some interesting goalkeeper and defensive options, but there are very few offensive regens available. That worries me a bit as I absolutely need a few forwards.

You know my technique and I am sure by now you know all my anchor points by heart. I had to dig a little bit deeper than I usually do, but this are the regens I have an interest in.

In the database that I am using there are only 19 Belgian players with an ability over 140. Those I consider the top regens and will be above Krncevic in my short list. I already have the Grun & Preud’homme regens and there is a new one available at the start of the season. Who takes a guess on who Xavier Dhont is?

It’s a player that has a strong connection to Beveren. He was the indisputable number 1 at the Freethiel for many years. After that he moved first to Anderlecht and later on to Sporting Lisbon. I am talking about one of my childhood heroes, Filip De Wilde.

He was a very solid goalkeeper, even though his career for Belgium ended on a negative note. During Euro 2000 he made a few crucial mistakes and got a red card in the match against Turkey. You know already that Belgium didn’t survive the group stage and sadly he was one of the main contributors.

Anyway let’s start. There are 7 players I have an interest in. I am starting the bidding with this 5.

I am getting bid after bid for Appels (Grun). I am glad I got rid of his big club release clause, so I can reject them all. Some teams want him badly and go way beyond his value. Thanks, but no thanks Athletic Bilbao. Problem is though his contract is expiring at the end of the season and I am afraid I may not be able to keep him when the season is over.

I manage to sign all regen prospects. Let’s introduce the main ones.

Xavier Dhont: regen of Filip De Wilde. Top regen of this year with his ability of 145 and potential of 160. In my opinion Preud’homme & De Wilde are the best Belgian goalkeepers available in the game, and I now have them both.

Ronald Englebert: regen of Patrick Vervoort. With him coming on board, I will probably sell over time Vandenbergh (Quain), one of the first regens that came in.

Raymond Saelmans: regen of Gert Cannaerts. An absolute favourite of mine! With an ability & potential of 123 he doesn’t look spectacular, but I have had him during several saves in the past and he usually fits the right wing back position perfectly.

Kurt Laevers: regen of Marc Van Der Linden. He got 19 caps for Belgium in which he scored 9 goals. The game underestimated him with an ability & potential of 105. He is an interesting option when you start a save in the second league, but I would normally never get his regen. It shows how thin the offensive options were.

Lambert van Mol (regen of Alain Bettagno), Alan Lenaers (regen of Felix N’Gonge) and Roberto Bistrussu (regen of Piet Verschelde) will get introduced when needed.

I wonder what the season will bring. It may be more difficult than the previous ones as the new offensive regens will not be able to fill (immediately) the void Rubinelson, De Vreese & Peersman left behind.

The season starts with the Super Cup against Anderlecht and there are 8 regens in the starting line-up. Do we stand a chance? We lose, which is no big surprise. I am happy we played a decent match.

We lose our captain for the biggest part of the season, and we’ll have to put even another regen in the line-up: Fernando Scifo (Van Rethy).

Just before the start of the season, legend Johan Cruyff goes back to his home country. Strange move.

We start the regular season at Turnhout, who won promotion last season. We start with a decent performance and a win.

We host Antwerp in our first home match of the season. Again a win and a rather easy one.

9/9. I couldn’t have hoped for a better start.

It’s still very early in the season to make statements. But here is one: already in his 2nd season Van Meir (Preud’homme) shows how good he is and will be a key player in the team. I took a bit of a risk starting him over Velkeneers, but I am sure it was a good decision.

Another key player is Nasden (Lemoine). His contract is expiring this season, and I cannot make the same mistake as I did with Peersman. I have to resign him now that he doesn’t want to go to a big club yet. There is plenty of cash available and I am making him a good offer.

This year no UEFA Cup for us but the Cup Winners Cup. I am guessing this will be a very short experience as we draw Atletico Madrid in the first round. Damn!

That draw couldn’t have been much worse. I was hoping on a strong performance in Europe to convince Appels (Grun) to extend his contract. We’ll see how it goes. But there is also good news.

With Flies out on injury we have now 10 regens in the line-up. And that’s too many for now it seems. In a difficult first half we are 0-1 down against Aalst. We play a much better second half and manage to equalise. Losing De Wilde (Van Der Elst) however changes the momentum and we lose 1-2.

Time now for the September international break. The qualifying campaign for the 2002 WC is about to start. Belgium is in Group 6 with Holland & Romania as main competitors. Velkeneers lost his place to Van Meir (Preud’homme), but Leekens still relies on him. Belgium starts the campaign with a bad performance at Albania. A boring game with in total 1 shot on target. That are 2 very valuable points gone!

We recover Flies & De Wilde (Van Der Elst), but it’s not enough to pick up any points at Club Brugge. We go back home with a 3-1 defeat.

With 2 defeats in a row at domestic level we travel to Madrid without too many expectations. We lose 2-1, but the away goal of Flies gives us a bit of hope.

So far I used Laevers (Van Der Linden) on the attacking line. He didn’t perform too strong until now, but I cannot be too harsh on regens that are dropped in the line-up as of the first match and have big shoes to fill. He picks up an injury and I decide to start Saelmans (Cannaerts) on the 7-position. He is a wing back but can he perform when he is positioned a line higher? Yes he can! He scores twice in our strongest match so far this season.

Before facing Atletico Madrid again we travel to our rivals in Lokeren. We equalise quickly after an early deficit, but we need a penalty late in the game to get ahead. Van Den Eede secures the win the final minute. The Big Three isn’t off to best start and the win unexpectedly puts us in 1st position!

Can our first place stimulate the team in our match against Atletico Madrid? We play a decent match, but we simply don’t have enough firepower to put such an opponent under pressure. A 0-0 draw ends our European campaign.

Domestically we continue performing well. We take an early lead in our next match against Mechelen. Despite 2 red cards we don’t manage to score a second goal. I am not bothered at all, another 3 points is what matters.

As I said, the Big Three isn’t off to a good start. After 8 matches Standard isn’t even in the top-10. Aad De Mos feels the pressure and decides to take the Feyenoord job.

Off to the second WC qualifier. Holland is the group favourite and the team to beat in the group. But if you want to qualify, this one you need to win. Talking about job security, Leekens better starts winning the next matches.

Then this comes in. I am flattered by the offer, but in this save the only offer I will accept is the Belgium job. I am very sorry Standard!

Lierse is next. Another win, our 7th victory in 9 matches.

Right before they travel to our Freethiel stadium, Standard makes the following announcement.

Broos is a good coach and he immediately adds value. He keeps us at a draw.

Earlier in the blog I extended the contract of Nasden (Lemoine). And there is more good news to share: I managed to get rid of the big-clause release clause of Van Meir (Preud’homme).

The final 2 matches for today’s blog. We have the winning spirit and we finish with another 2 wins.

Honestly, I am a bit surprised we were are at this moment. On the offensive side we do not have the same strength and power of last season, but after 12 games we find ourselves in a great 2nd position. Of course I am disappointed at being eliminated in the first round of the Cup Winners Cup, but honestly, Atletico Madrid was out of our league.

Can we keep this form as the season continues? And will we be a worthy Cup holder?

Tot volgende week!

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