A Belgium Story With A Leicester Link

FM_TNSSO

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For my new save, I have taken over as manager of Oud-Heverlee Leuven (or OHL for short) in Belgium. I will be treating this as a nation save, only signing players for the club that are of Belgium nationality and with that team, trying to become the best team in the country and reach the dizzy heights of the Champions League (and hopefully compete in the long term too).

Now there is one little twist on my story. The one rule of the save to sign players of Belgium nationality can be broken....but only in one instance...if we sign players from Leicester City. Why Leicester you ask....well, it's because both clubs are owned by the Srivaddhanaprabha family. It's actually the main reason that I chose OHL for this save, because I like the family and respect them for the way they run Leicester...the proper way a football club should be run!

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The club themselves don't have the greatest of histories, having never previously won the top tier or the Belgian Cup, with only some minor trophies to their name.

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As far as the Pro League A goes, we are the new boys to the division, so expectations for the first few seasons are likely to be low.

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As per the Leicester link, club sponsors and stadium name go by King Power.

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As far as the squad goes, I've got a long way to go to turn it into an all Belgian side. Only 10 of my first team squad were born in the country and 3 of these players are not even mine and are only here on loan!

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Good luck with this. Will be following. I tried something similar with OHL in FM20, but also with the twist of signing Thai players only as well (given he owners origin).
 
Looking forward to this one! Will keep a close eye as I may try this myself.

Just wondering, on the squad list, how did you get the proper nation badges? I just have the nations standard flags!
 
Cheers mate. Just signing Thai players would be incredibly tough I reckon!
 
Looking forward to this one! Will keep a close eye as I may try this myself.

Just wondering, on the squad list, how did you get the proper nation badges? I just have the nations standard flags!

Cheers mate. Not sure....must be part of the mega logo pack I downloaded maybe?
 
It was day one on the job and time for the board to lay down their vision for the next few years. They want to see entertaining, attacking football with a focus on signing younger players for the future. A mid table finish will be considered a success this season, but there are big ambitions here and they want me building a title challenging side within a couple of years.

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Now there is a couple of million in the pot for me to use this season to bring in my own players.

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But before that happens, I'd need to trim that squad as it's massive. To pick out three of the best players who likely won't be going anywhere this season (despite their non Belgian nationality). First up is ex Leicester centre mid, Andy King. He'll play a major role for me this season and at the age of 31, I'll probably utilize him as best I can before replacing him next year for a Belgian player.

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Central midfield is clearly out strongest area of the pitch as another of our better players is Kristiyan Malinov who has just joined the club from CSKA Sofia. He's 26 and might have a couple of years at the club before he gets replaced by a Belgian...there will defnitely be plenty of other non Belgian players ahead of him in the que to leave the club that's for sure!

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Big Croatian, Filip Benkovic, is a top centre back for this league and he'll spend this season on loan with us from Leicester. He'll play a huge part in my first season in charge and might prove hard to replace when he returns to England at the end of the year.

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One thing was for sure and that was there was plenty of interest in a large number of our players. With the focus being on brining Belgian players in, it was actually one of our home nation that was the first to leave the club. Pierre-Yves Ngawa is just not up to the standard for me and I allowed him to move to FC Twente for £550k to generate some funds.

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With the squad I had available, this is the formation I'll be kicking things off with. Focus is very much on attacking the wide areas of the pitch with both wing backs playing high up and supporting the attacks. They will be covered by a DM who won't venture forward at all. The central midfielders act mainly as a support function to feed the front 3.

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And using that tactic we had a mixed pre season. Plenty of time for the team to gel though and I won't be reading too much into this.

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With the league campaign about to kick off, the preview shows that the bookies rank us as a mid table side with an 8th placed finish on the cards. At 100-1, they simply have us as the best of the rest after the top 7! No surprise to see clear title favourites Brugge dominating the media dream eleven.

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Talking of Club Brugge, that's who we kick off our season against. Talk about thrown in the deep end and nobody expects us to get anything out of this one with our opponents being odds on to win the game.

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The current holders of the competition have won the league in 3 of the last 5 seasons and are one of the most decorated clubs in Belgian football.

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Wish me luck!
 
nice one. I'm looking at starting a save in Belgium as well with similar rules
 
Well, well, what a turn up for the books that is. We beat the champions on their own turf in the opening game of the league campaign. It wasn't a ****** and grab either...it was actually a very even game that could have gone either way, but Josh Eppiah's strike from the bench was enough to take the victory for us.

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And we followed that up by winning our first home game of the season too. We absolutely battered Beerschot as well, creating 29 shots on their goal and probably should have won by more than 2 goals!

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Our 3rd game of the season saw us taste defeat for the first time as we were beaten away at Mouscron, despite having double the amount of chances they did in the game.

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Gent made it back to back defeats for us and again it was a difficult one for us to take as we were the better side throughout and without the sending off in the 54th minute, I'm convinced this would have been a different result.

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Oh dear this isn't good. After a solid start winning our first two games, we're now on a run of 3 straight defeats after losing 1-0 again!

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So it wasn't the best time to be taking on the most decorated side in Belgian football.

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And we were well beaten by them. It wasn't even close and our form is seriously worrying.

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Our biggest problem has been scoring goals, so it doesn't help that our best striker (on paper) will now miss 3 months of football!

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I wondered if a little tinker with the formation might bring about a change in fortune...

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It did!

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So that leaves us bang mid table after the opening 7 games. Much improvement is needed, although it isn't disastrous as this stage.

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In transfer news, my first signing for the club came on deadline day as we raid Club Brugge for their promising young keeper, Senne Lammens. I've forked out £800k to bring the 18 year old to the club but with a 4 star potential ability (according to my AM), he could be our future keeper for years to come.

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Over our next seven games, we had mixed results with 4 wins and 3 draws.

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The best of those results was an excellent win over Standard Liege, which ended a 7 game unbeaten run for them!

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And we're up to 5th in the table now with 7 wins and 7 losses to our name overall.

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Josh Eppiah, on loan from Leicester, is embracing his role as the front man with the injury to Thomas Henry. He now has 5 goals in 11 league appearances.

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Making him the 6th top goalscorer in the division.

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At that point, I was asked to give my vote in an award that I didn't know even existed.

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Then there were three other awards I was asked to cast my vote on. I all of a sudden didn't feel like a football manager, but instead a stand in judge on the X Factor! All three awards were for domestic players in the Belgian top tier and the golden boot award allowed me to vote for players in my own team so naturally I showed loyalty to my players!

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Anyway, back to league action and our first draw of the season came at home to Genk, before a very narrow win away at STVV. Goals are again proving hard to come by but clean sheets are always good and if we continue to keep them, we won't lose games!

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So we dropped a place to 6th in the division, but it's tight with only 7 points separating 3rd to 11th!

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Our first venture into this year's Belgian Cup competition saw us very nearly embarassed by 3rd tier side, Dessel, who were leading right up until the 81st minute. It took a wonderful solo effort from substitute Barnabas Bese to save our blushes and Xavier Mercier finally bagged the winner in the 118th minute to avoid a penalty shootout.

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Despite us completely dominating against KV Mechelen (9 shots to their 1), we couldn't find the back of the net and have to settle for a disappointing point.

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A proper emotional rollercoaster for me and the fans against Club Brugge, who were expected to batter us. And it looked like they might when they raced to a 2-0 lead inside 18 minutes. However, my lads showed incredible character as we fought back to take a 3-2 lead into the break. We knew Brugge would come out all guns blazing for the 2nd period and sure enought they were back on level terms within 7 minutes of the restart. However, we didn't crumble and held our own for the remainder of the game and even had a potential winner chalked off for offside.

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Back to winning ways with a good away win at Beerschot, before the Winter break.

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As we move into the end of the calendar year, it's award season and on loan centre back, Filip Benkovic, lifted the Belgian Golden Boot award. This is an award given to 'the best' player playing in the Belgian league.

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Whilst Kevin De Bruyne unsurprisingly lifted the best Belgian Player Abroad.

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And with the transfer window opening, it was time to welcome my second signing to the club. 17 year old left back, Dylan Dassy, looks to have a bright future in the game and I was happy to pay out the £1 million that KV Mechelen wanted to bring him to the club. He could be worth several times that in the future so it seems like a decent investment to me.

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After a couple of weeks off, the lads returned and continued our run of good form as we ended an 8 match unbeaten run for Mouscron with a 3-0 victory! Possibly the best football we've played all season here!


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And we're on our own little run now of 6 games without defeat, mustering up 5 clean sheets in that run as well!

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Now I'll be honest. I fully expected our unbeaten run to come to an end in our next game as we went away to AA Gent who'd won their last 3 games and sat top of the table! However, we were absolutely superb throughout and earned ourselves a massive 3-1 win to show just how far we've come since the start of the season!

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We're up to 3rd in the table, although there is a 6/7 point gap between us and 1st/2nd. Club Brugge certainly don't look like retaining their title at this stage!

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In the Belgian Cup, the 7th round draw had pitted us against Standard Liege. However, with our current run of form and home advantage on our side, the bookies did make us slight favourites to progress in the competition.

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But it wasn't to be. A very even game all round that could have gone either way, but they got the all important goal with a scrambled effort over the line on 37 minutes.

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We were far from being at our best against Waasland. They had double the amount of shot as us and had a goal chalked off for offside by VAR in the 94th minute. However, a win's a win and we'll take it even if we didn't quite deserve it.

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Disaster strikes as Golden Boot winner, Filip Benkovic, picks up an injury in training that will see him out for up to 2 months!

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Benkovic has been ever present so far this season and will be sorely missed!

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Our first game without our best player was to be aaginst an Anderlecht side that had walked all over us earlier in the season (even with Benkovic in the side), so to say I was worried would be an understatement. My worry was confirmed when they raced to a 2-0 lead inside a quarter of an hour and I thought we might be on the end of a thumping. However, my lads recovered well and gained their composure and in the end we actually dominated large parts of the game and were unlucky not to get at least a point in the end, especially when you consider we had two goals disallowed by VAR for very narrow offsides.

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But we quickly bounced back with an away win at Charleroi.

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And we quickly followed that up with another win against relegation battling Eupen. Nice bit of revenge for us here after they beat us earlier in the campaign.

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Our next game against Standard Liege came only 2 days later and due to tiredness in the squad, I had to make no less than 7 changes to the starting lineup. It completely disrupted the flow of the team and we were well outplayed and lucky to get away with just a 1-0 defeat.

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With a week's rest behind us and back to full strength, we got back to winning ways against Cercle Brugge. The scoreline didn't really reflect the game though as we should have had 4 or 5 as we demonstrated our most dominant performance of the season by far, with nearly 30 shots at their goal!

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So with 7 games remaining, we sit 3rd in the league and are hugely overachieving against what I expected this season! I would have been more than happy with a top half finish in my first year in charge, so anything from here will do as I can't see us finishing below 9th now. Antwerp look to be running away with it and are now odds on to lift their first Pro League A title since 1957!

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And our next game....Antwerp away!

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One other thing worth sharing is the new formation I've been playing with since the injury to Benkovic. I'm kind of in exactly the same boat as Gareth Southgate with England going into the Euros. I had a much weakened defence which of serious concern and I felt I needed extra cover. So I thought to myself that I would create the exact formation (with player roles) that I think Gareth should be starting with....and so far it seems to be working for us!


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An absolutely brilliant performance against the league leaders saw us beat them with relative ease. Granted that the sending off and penalty was a pivotal moment in the game that gave us the upper hand, but my lads went out and got the job done after that with a thoroughly professional showing!

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KV Kortrijk have been the overachievers of the season so far and have been in the top 4 for long periods despite being only tipped for a mid table finish at best. And they gave us a game here and on the face of it a draw was probably fair.

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Another draw followed and this one was disappointing as Zulte Waregem sat 13th at kick off. We were the better side but just couldn't find a winner.

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I was keen for us to get back to winning ways after a couple of draws and we did just that against Oostende. Not in the most convincing fashion, but a win's a win!

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So with 3 games remaining, we'll definitely be finishing in the top 5. Antwerp look to be completely throwing away that big lead they had and now have Gent challenging them for top spot!

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At this point, it's worth sharing with you how the league splits after everyone has played each other twice. The top 4 will go into the Championship Group, whilst 5th-8th will go into the European Places Playoff.

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The Championship Group will decide the title winners along with who qualifies for the Champions League and Euro Cup (top 3). 4th place will then take on the winners of the European Playoff Group for the final European qualification spot.

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In the European Places Playoff Group, there is no consolation prize for 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

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Back to the football and KRC Genk have been one of the biggest underachievers of the season so far and came into our fixture 8th in the table and desperate for a win to ensure they cement a place in the European Playoff Group. However, we had other ideas and dominated them for majority of the game, recording an easy win and putting real pressure on them!

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We finished the season with another win and and a defeat, which secured us a 3rd place finish in the league.

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And so we are in the Championship Group with a chance to win the title. At this stage, the points for the season are halved and we will now play each other twice more to decide the league championship and European qualifications.

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In amongst all the football, there was the small matter of this year's youth intake. It was a bit of a confusing one for me...My Head of Youth Development was tipping this as a potential golden generation, but the potential ratings of the players didn't exceed 3 stars so I'm not convinced.

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Attacking midfielder, Yassine Harb, looks like the most promising of the lot to me.

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We didn't get off to the best start in the Championship Group as we were beaten by Gent. They have to be the favourites out of the top 4 to lift the title, so going away to them was always going to be our toughest game.

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After losing to Antwerp as well, it's safe to say that the league title won't be coming to the King Power stadium this year and we are now probably playing for 3rd and Europa League qualification.

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Our first home game in the Championship Group sees us pick up our first point with a hard fought draw against Anderlecht. I have to be pleased with this after they beat us twice in the regular season.

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Gent were up again next and again we were well beaten and I'm starting to think we're a little out of our depth at this Championship Group level!

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Only our 2nd point of the group came at home to Antwerp. For the first time we were actually the better side and deserved to win this game.

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It is a bit of a shame that as we go into the last game, we are the only one's not in contention of winning the title :-(

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Our final game was against Anderlecht, who we hadn't beaten in 3 previous meetings this season. And they went 2-0 up and we were staring another defeat in the face. They were within just seconds of clinching the title when Henry stepped up and hammered home a 91st minute equalizer to rip it from under their noses though and we pick up another draw. It's AA Gent that are crowned champions!

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We were simply outclassed throughout the Championship Group phase and with a 4th placed finish, we'll now take on Standard Liege in the European Playoff Final.

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It's fair to say I wasn't feeling confident going into the game. Not only had we gone 7 games without a win, but Standard had beaten us 1-0 in our previous 2 meetings as well! However, we absolutely turned it on for this one and were fantastic throughout and I'm delighted to say we'll be playing European football next season.

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2020/21 Season Review

The league campaign this year saw us finish 3rd, which ensured our place in the Championship Group. Unfortunately, we flopped at that stage and struggled to compete with the other 3 sides competing for the title, eventually finishing 4th. However, we recovered to win the European Playoff Final and this has to be seen as a hugely successful season after defying our pre season predictions of a mid table finish.

Without doubt, Club Brugge and Genk were the biggest underachievers and neither will feature in European competition next year.

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We only had two outings in the Belgian Cup this year, going out early to Standard Liege. Oostende were the eventual surprise winners.

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Looking over the revenue this season, it's obvious to see there's not much money in Belgian football at the moment.

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And the board have made just over a million quid available to spend this Summer.

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Although I'm not even sure how we're affording that when, on the whole, the financial situation is terrible with the club in a precarious position.

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No arguments from me with the best eleven though. I'd agree with every position.

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Looking over the squad, it's clear to see our strength was in our defence and our top performers were definitely across the back line. Benkovic and Jemelka proved to be a good partnership in the centre back positions, whilst Rafael Romo had a good season between the sticks. We missed a top quality goalscorer this year with Henry only getting 13 across the whole season.

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Fan's Player of the Season = Filip Benkovic
Young Player of the Season = Filip Benkovic
Signing of the Season = Dylan Dassy

My Player of the Season = Filip Benkovic
My Young Player of the Season (U23) = Josh Eppiah
Most Disappointing = Siebe Schrijvers

Top Goalscorer = Thomas Henry (13 in all comps)
Most Assists = Xavier Mercier (10 in all comps)

Both Rafael Romo and Filip Benkovic were testament to the strength we had at the back by both making the Team of the Year.

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2020/21 Season Review

The league campaign this year saw us finish 3rd, which ensured our place in the Championship Group. Unfortunately, we flopped at that stage and struggled to compete with the other 3 sides competing for the title, eventually finishing 4th. However, we recovered to win the European Playoff Final and this has to be seen as a hugely successful season after defying our pre season predictions of a mid table finish.

Without doubt, Club Brugge and Genk were the biggest underachievers and neither will feature in European competition next year.

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We only had two outings in the Belgian Cup this year, going out early to Standard Liege. Oostende were the eventual surprise winners.

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Looking over the revenue this season, it's obvious to see there's not much money in Belgian football at the moment.

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And the board have made just over a million quid available to spend this Summer.

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Although I'm not even sure how we're affording that when, on the whole, the financial situation is terrible with the club in a precarious position.

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No arguments from me with the best eleven though. I'd agree with every position.

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Looking over the squad, it's clear to see our strength was in our defence and our top performers were definitely across the back line. Benkovic and Jemelka proved to be a good partnership in the centre back positions, whilst Rafael Romo had a good season between the sticks. We missed a top quality goalscorer this year with Henry only getting 13 across the whole season.

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Fan's Player of the Season = Filip Benkovic
Young Player of the Season = Filip Benkovic
Signing of the Season = Dylan Dassy

My Player of the Season = Filip Benkovic
My Young Player of the Season (U23) = Josh Eppiah
Most Disappointing = Siebe Schrijvers

Top Goalscorer = Thomas Henry (13 in all comps)
Most Assists = Xavier Mercier (10 in all comps)

Both Rafael Romo and Filip Benkovic were testament to the strength we had at the back by both making the Team of the Year.

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good season my dude europa conference league here we go
 
So there has been a development that is going to give this save a little twist. We were planning to use the link with Leicester (with us both having the same owners), as well as signing Belgian players only from any other club.

However, we've had a club takeover and Welshman Mark Crook is the new owner of the club.

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And his first job was to cut the link with Leicester!

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So I asked him to go out and find us a new senior affiliate, to which he agreed. And he delivered Atletico Madrid as our new senior affiliate. So from here on out we will now be allowed to sign Belgian players only and also any players of any nationality on loan or transfer from Atletico Madrid.

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Now before any of the above happened, I'd already completed one deal whilst we still had the Leicester link. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall will join us on loan for the season from our old affiliate and will fill the role of Andy King who left the club to join Wolfsberger at the end of his contract.

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Also coming into the club on a permanent deal is Casper De Norre. He was here on loan last season from Genk and the permanent deal was already agreed before I arrived at the club. I'm happy with it though as he played a key role for us last year.

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With Filip Benkovic returning to Leicester and me unable to extend his loan due to him not being Belgian or Leicester being our senior affiliate anymore, I needed to replace him with another centre back. The man I turned to is Noe Dussenne who signs from Standard Liege for £190k (which could rise to £300k with add ons).

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My biggest signing of the Summer saw the arrival of Geoffry Hairemans from KV Mechelen. I forked out half a million pounds to bring him to the club in the hope that he will play a key role for us in that advanced playmaker role.

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Building for the future is going to be key in this save with such small amount of funds available, so signings like this next one could be crucial. Aaron Brousse was signed for just £10k from Liege and the striker already has some impressive attributes despite being just 15 years old. He could become a superstar!

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Now I might not have the link with Leicester anymore, but Josh Eppiah who had a good season with us last year, is Belgian, so he still ticks the box for me and was well worth bringing back here for another season on loan!

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Our biggest loss this Summer was the departure of Xavier Mercier. He was easily our most creative player last year, but I couldn't match his wage expectations to keep him here and he has moved to the USA to wind down his career on three times the money he was on with us.

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Back to the incoming players now though and Stef Peeters was the latest through the door. He joins on loan for the season from last season's strugglers, Eupen. If he does well for us and the money allows, we have a future optional fee of £1.8 million agreed to sign him.

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Another Belgian loanee in the form of Xian Emmers comes in from Inter Milan for the season. The 21 year old looks decent enough but I mainly signed him for his versatility as he can cover so many areas on the pitch.

emmers.jpg
 
So there has been a development that is going to give this save a little twist. We were planning to use the link with Leicester (with us both having the same owners), as well as signing Belgian players only from any other club.

However, we've had a club takeover and Welshman Mark Crook is the new owner of the club.

View attachment 555942

And his first job was to cut the link with Leicester!

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So I asked him to go out and find us a new senior affiliate, to which he agreed. And he delivered Atletico Madrid as our new senior affiliate. So from here on out we will now be allowed to sign Belgian players only and also any players of any nationality on loan or transfer from Atletico Madrid.

View attachment 555944

Now before any of the above happened, I'd already completed one deal whilst we still had the Leicester link. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall will join us on loan for the season from our old affiliate and will fill the role of Andy King who left the club to join Wolfsberger at the end of his contract.

View attachment 555945

Also coming into the club on a permanent deal is Casper De Norre. He was here on loan last season from Genk and the permanent deal was already agreed before I arrived at the club. I'm happy with it though as he played a key role for us last year.

View attachment 555946

With Filip Benkovic returning to Leicester and me unable to extend his loan due to him not being Belgian or Leicester being our senior affiliate anymore, I needed to replace him with another centre back. The man I turned to is Noe Dussenne who signs from Standard Liege for £190k (which could rise to £300k with add ons).

View attachment 555947

My biggest signing of the Summer saw the arrival of Geoffry Hairemans from KV Mechelen. I forked out half a million pounds to bring him to the club in the hope that he will play a key role for us in that advanced playmaker role.

View attachment 555948

Building for the future is going to be key in this save with such small amount of funds available, so signings like this next one could be crucial. Aaron Brousse was signed for just £10k from Liege and the striker already has some impressive attributes despite being just 15 years old. He could become a superstar!

View attachment 555949

Now I might not have the link with Leicester anymore, but Josh Eppiah who had a good season with us last year, is Belgian, so he still ticks the box for me and was well worth bringing back here for another season on loan!

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Our biggest loss this Summer was the departure of Xavier Mercier. He was easily our most creative player last year, but I couldn't match his wage expectations to keep him here and he has moved to the USA to wind down his career on three times the money he was on with us.

View attachment 555951

Back to the incoming players now though and Stef Peeters was the latest through the door. He joins on loan for the season from last season's strugglers, Eupen. If he does well for us and the money allows, we have a future optional fee of £1.8 million agreed to sign him.

View attachment 555952

Another Belgian loanee in the form of Xian Emmers comes in from Inter Milan for the season. The 21 year old looks decent enough but I mainly signed him for his versatility as he can cover so many areas on the pitch.

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you should change the name of title Leuven : Story with Leicester Link to the life after Leicester link,so what is the plans from leuven this season will Leuven get an step to group stage of Conference league
 
As all the new signings settled into the club, we played a few friendlies and it was good to see us scoring plenty of goals, even if it was against lower league opposition.

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That was before we took on Lithuanian side, Riteriai, in the second qualifying round for the Europa Conference League. We made light work of them!

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The one area of the squad I was still concerned about at this stage was the lack of strikers. So I addressed that by bringing in 24 year old Hugo Cuypers from Olympiakos for a fee of £500k. He has a half decent record in his career to date with 39 goals in 87 appearances mostly in Greece, and will provide good competition for Thomas Henry up front.

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With the league about the to kick off, the board remind me of their expectations for the season.

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And as we look at the preview, the bookies have us down for a 7th placed finish this season, which is a little better than they predicted for us last season.

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The opening few games of the season were....well, not good! A defeat and a draw in the league and knocked out of the Europa Conference League by Hungarian side, Ferencvarosi. We must do better!

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After our disappointing start, it was time to give the boys a bl000dy good kick up the jacksy!

And it worked a treat as we beat Anderlecht for the first time under my management. Four previous meetings had been and gone without a victory and hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

anderlecht.jpg


Although, based on our next result, it might have just been a freak result against Anderlecht!

stvv.jpg


As it turned out, it was a complete freak result as we went on to gain only 3 points from our next 7 games, failing to win any of them. Combine that with an embarassing defeat to lower league opposition in the cup and it was enough for the board to sack me with us languishing in 16th place in the division!

results.jpg


So another save/story comes to an abrupt end and I'm starting to think I'm rubbish at this year's game!!
 
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