A Belgian Story – The Road to World Cup 2006: Part 16 | @verbist_philip

Happy Saturday! Philip has a new season to prepare for in Beveren but are there any regens taking his fancy?

Hallo allemaal!

Saturday morning! Time for our weekly trip to the Freethiel. Let’s start Season 6 with our Beveren Boys!

Last season several top regens joined our team and that had immediate effect: after an excellent season we won our first title! And not only that: we made it to the Belgian Cup final and participated for the first time in the Champions League Group Stage. That calls for more, doesn’t it!

With our title The Big Three became The Big Four and the question is: can we live up to the expectation? Theoretically I’d say yes: the core of the team is still there and our regens are 1 year older. But there is nothing as difficult as repeating an excellent season.

We may have a good core, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be on the lookout for new regens. Let’s see what the Free Transfer market has to offer.

Options are limited, but that shouldn’t bother us. The team is good, so as of now I only add regens that bring added value to the team. Just 2 regens fit that bill, and one of them is a legend. Let’s get started!

I am happy he finally became available. Without further adue, let me introduce you to Johan Cannaerts, regen of CM9798 legend Marc Emmers. In the game he is one of the best players to pick up when you start a new save, regardless of what competition you are playing. In real life he was a very talented and versatile midfielder. He is most well-known for his period at KV Mechelen during the late 80s & early 90s.

In 1988 KV Mechelen won the Cup Winners Cup, and to date is the last Belgian team to win a European trophy. Emmers played an important role in the final against Ajax. In the 15th minute he broke through the Ajax defence and was tacked by Danny Blind, who was sent off as a result. Mechelen only took advantage of that in the second half, when Piet den Boer scored the winning goal with a powerful header.

Oh, and for completeness sake, the other new player in the team is Rudy Lauwers, regen of Gunther Hofmans.

Advantage of being Champions is that we enter the Champions League in the First Round, no more Preliminary Round. The draw links us to Spartak Moscow. Hmm, that could be tricky, but it could have been worse when I look at the draw of Anderlecht.

We start the season with the Super Cup against Club Brugge. We made a promise last week to move to a full regen squad this season. Why don’t we start immediately? We move Abeels (Nilis) up one line and Van Den Eede, our local legend, moves to the bench. It works out just fine. Our first price this season!

We travel to Russia full of confidence. I recover Nasden (Lemoine), but he goes on the bench as I reward Six (Brogno) for his great performance in the Super Cup. Bistrussu (Verschelde) is suspended and Goor (Van Kets) replaces him. What the hell? Even in my wildest dreams I wouldn’t have pictured a score like that.

I can’t make a change to the team after such a performance. We start the regular season with the same line-up and a win at Harelbeke.

The season is just one month old, but I cannot count the offers I received so far for Appels (Grun). Eric Gerets is known as a stubborn man and he doesn’t like no for an answer. I have to keep the phone away from my ear when I refuse his offer once again.

In our first home match this season we host Club Brugge. They are much stronger than a few weeks ago and we have to settle for a draw.

It’s a tough start of the season as Anderlecht is next. We play a decent match, but return home empty handed.

How motivated can a team still get when they are 6-0 ahead in a return game? In our case not too much. After the match I give the lads a lecture in the dressing room and make them clear that it is their job to entertain the home crowd.

Cyril who I hear you say. I don’t blame you, I had the same when Anderlecht payed the national record fee for this guy. Is he even worth it?

The Champions League draw links us again to PSV. But I am not complaining, we have proven in the past we can beat Fenerbahce.

The draw for the first round in the Belgian Cup is even better: a non-league team.

We have now played 2 home matches so far and we didn’t win one of them. So what do we do about that lads? Indeed, we stop that.

Time’s flying when you’re having fun. It’s hard to understand why Leekens is still in charge. But I am glad he finally show a bit more appreciation of our team.

Also on U21-level we are well represented.

Before we go on the international break, Lierse & the Southall regen are next. All the call-ups must have boosted the lads’ confidence and we easily win 0-3.

On international level the qualification for the 2004 European Championship begins. Believe it or not, but this time Belgium takes a good start: they return from Copenhagen with an important point. Despite all the call-ups, Appel (Grun) is the only one that earns a cap. Nasden (Lemoine) & Van Den Eede are only good enough to keep the bench warm.

Just before our next match Appels (Grun) is a bit overenthusiastic on training and picks up an injury. The doctor’s verdict: out for several months. Bummer!

That’s the first time we will miss him for a significant period of time. We’ll find out how good Englebert (Vervoort) & Van der Borght (Borkelmans) are as central back duo. And they will be tested immediately. We host Charleroi who took a perfect start with 5 wins in a row. And we can’t stop them either: a 1-2 defeat.

That can happen against a team that’s on a roll. But it makes me wonder: did I lose confidence too quickly in Van Den Eede and especially Bistrussu (Verschelde)? We travel to Paris for our first CL Group Stage match, and I decide to start Bistrussu (Verschelde) over Abeels (Nilis). In the 80th minute he does score a goal, but for God knows what reason the referee decides it doesn’t count. And as it usually goes in football, 2 minutes later PSG scores the winning goal.

Nilis (Abeels) is back in the line-up sooner than I expected.

He does score in our next match, but man of the match goes to our interim captain Van Meir (Preud’homme). You can have the best players, without a good goalkeeper you are nowhere in this game.

Van Acker (Staelens) is the next one with a serious injury. We will miss him, he was having an excellent season so far on the DM C position.

With that many injuries, in combination with a few suspensions, it is really no fun playing at Standard.

Abeels (Nilis) shows us how good he can be and bangs in 2 goals as we get our very first win in the Champions League Group Stage. We overpower Fenerbahce in a dominant 4-0 win.

In our next match we score again 4 goals. Victim this time is AA Gent.

Belgium’s qualifying group is quite small, so they play a friendly match in October. With Appels (Grun) injured, Van Meir (Preud’homme) – his very first cap! – and Nasden (Lemoine) are our representatives in a 1-0 victory over Austria.

Unfortunately we cannot continue our good form domestically and draw 1-1 against Diest. We play good, but forget to finish it off.

That was our last match for today’s update. Where does that put us in the standings?

We are making the transition to a new attacking combo. I wouldn’t say we’re playing bad, but we are not as dominant yet as last season. I am not worried at all, we’re only 5 points behind and everything is still up for play. However, the board has a different opinion!

That’s it for today! Will we be able to please our board a bit better next week? And can we get another win in the Champions League?

Enjoy your weekends!

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