The Unexpected Champions – Part 6 | @Verbist_Philip

Happy Saturday! There is no better way to start your weekend than catching up with Philip and his Belgian journey.

Hallo allemaal!

Am I glad it’s Saturday and weekend again! Are you guys ready for the final part of season 2 with our unexpected 96-97 champions Lierse? The lads definitely are! We are having a great season and getting the double is possible!

Our good mojo continues against Waregem. Once again our minus player Neca leads the way. When he plays like that, he makes the team better and is our indisputable number 8. If you are a regular to the blog, you know Valencia is still recovering from injury. Who will play when he is fit again? I’d call that luxury problems!

Cup time again! And I have to make that tough decision sooner than I imagined. I decide Valencia starts and it becomes crystal clear: when he’s fit, he starts. Can we repeat this great performance in the semi finals?

On transfer deadline day we make 2 important bids. Not internationally, but on the domestic market. I hope we can close the deals, but first we visit Germinal. They make it difficult the first 15 minutes, but after that we restore order and we show them who is leading the league.

Welcome Lokonda! He’s the most talented of the Mpenza brothers. A great player with the potential of a top striker. Can we get that out of him?

And welcome Didier! He doesn’t have the highest ability, but he is so versatile and so useful. Apparently Anderlecht doesn’t need him anymore. He’ll be a perfect addition to the squad.

Next up is our clash against 2nd placed Antwerp. Dheedene immediately starts. He replaces Garde, who in my opinion turned out to be the weakest link in the team. Our striker combo De Gier/Pedersen is delivering at the moment, so Mpzena starts for now on the bench. We get an important 3-1 win in our title race.

Valencia and Kanchelskis in the same squad? Didn’t you think of that solution before? I did, but I wasn’t prepared to put Citko on the bench. His injury paves the way. Neca moves up a line and Valencia gets on the Nr 8 position. And it works!

A few days after the match we lose both Valencia and Neca to injury, taking out my number 1 & 2 choice for the Nr 8 position. Fear not: there is still Pieter Bijl. I told you in Season 1, sign him if you can, don’t let his age or position fool you.

Hmm, do we have an option 4 available? Of course we have. His name? Geoffrey Claeys.

But for our next match we have to travel to Liege. Even though we weakened them by signing Lokonda, Standard remains a dangerous team. Especially at home. In the locker room I tell the lads the story of a relocated team that are currently shaking things up in the Spanish 2nd League: CD Dons. Our target? Van Der Doelen. Take him out and they go down. Totally psyched up the lads enter the field. Poor Bjorn doesn’t even last a minute. After he is carried off the field, it’s basically a walk in the park.

Anderlecht, you are a bunch of idiots. They come to our Lisp stadium playing ultra-defensive. Can you imagine? But unfortunately it works. They are the better team and we are saved by a regen goalie.

It’s clear: expectations are growing.

Let’s have a look at the standings. Antwerp manages to keep the gap reasonable, but with 3rd placed Anderlecht the difference is already 13 points. Why am I keeping Lokonda on the bench? I am very sorry Per, it’s nothing personal, but he is the long-term option. And he immediately scores in his first game!

Both him and Didier are cup-tied in the semi finals of the Belgian Cup. So far we haven’t lost yet against Club Brugge, but not today. I would happily trade this loss for a domestic win, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Winning the Cup is not easy. We set ourselves a new target: we have to win the Cup at least once during the 5 seasons we’ll be in charge.

Luckily there is always Lokeren to release the pressure after missing the Cup final. We get very close to a new title!

We are the best team at the moment and I am sure Mechelen agrees to that. Antwerp wins as well so we’ll have to wait at least 1 more week to celebrate the title.

A new title is best celebrated at home, wouldn’t you agree? Club make it difficult, but the lads get their revenge with 2 late-game goals of Lokonda. Our second TITLE! And if you consider also the 96-97 one, that’s a three-peat. Well done lads!!

Valencia winning this season’s UEFA Cup, how cool is that? The Eddy Wally song came 1 week too early!

We’ve had too many beers celebrating the title and we lose to Harelbeke.

2 goals of De Gier make sure we won’t go 0/6 in our final 2 league games.

It’s not Club Brugge, but Waregem that wins this season’s Cup!

This are the final standings. In terms of points it’s pretty similar to last season. But the big difference is the number of goals scored. We were definitely less dominant than last season.

But with Lokonda in the team, I am sure scoring goals shouldn’t be too much of a concern the next 3 years.

Menzo has enough of playing 3rd string and leaves the team.

Also McClair is fed up with his role of super-sub and decides to leave as well.

We’re at the end of the season and to my surprise De Gier picks up his second Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year award. What about Esteban Valencia, seriously???

I am enjoying the last part of my beer when this happens. AGAIN!!! I am even more stupid than a donkey. You don’t fool those animals twice, but for the 2nd year in a row I’ll be starting the new season with red numbers.

That’s it for today! We had a great season and there’s only 1 team that deserved the title and that’s us. But starting with a deficit, can we make the team even more powerful next season?

Happy Saturday everybody! Tot volgende week!

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