TNSSO - The Wheel Of Fortune - Antwerp & Beyond


May 10, 2018
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The Not So Special One - The Wheel Of Fortune

After my Swansea save came to an end, I had no idea where to start my new game, so I thought the best people to ask would be the FM community. On the Football Manager Facebook group, I posted the below asking for suggestions of where to go next.

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I got an incredible amount of responses to my post and rather than limit it to the first 20 as I said, I thought why not go through and add every single team that was suggested. So I weeded through the comments and picked out all those that met my criteria (as there were a fair few suggestions that didn't) and here is the wheel of fortune that has been created to decide my fate. I will spin and eliminate each club until we are down to 1! For now though, let's just get it down to 15!

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With 15 teams remaining on the wheel, there is still a real mix of clubs left where I could end up. With 4 clubs from Italy and 3 from Scotland remaining, they are currently favourites as my final destination. Let's lose 7 more teams!

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We've now got 8 clubs left and 7 nations still represented! I really have no clue at this stage what country I'm likely to end up in!

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Down to just 4 sides now and it's Scotland, Belgium, Italy or Holland!

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Roma are out of the running! Either way now, I won't be taking over a huge European club.

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And I won't be going to Scotland either. Antwerp in Belgium or RKC Waalwijk in Holland await my managerial expertise...who's it gonna be!

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Belgium, here I come!

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It's fair to say that Antwerp is a club I never would have thought of to take over, so this has been a really fun and interesting way of deciding on a save and I'm really looking forward to it!

Royal Antwerp F.C

So it would seem that my new football club have some history in Belgium. Established around 1880 as Antwerp Cricket Club by English students residing in Antwerp, 15 years before the creation of the Royal Belgium Football Association, they are recognised as the oldest club in Belgium! At first there were no football members though, but only 7 years later in 1887, that came when the football division was founded.

Despite going for such a long time though, Antwerp have not experienced huge amounts of success and only have five Belgian league titles to their name and four Belgian Cups. They've also never won a European trophy, so there is definitely opportunity for me to build my own legacy here over the longer term.

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As far as domestic success in Belgium is concerned, Antwerp have been hugely overshadowed by the likes of Club Brugge, Anderlecht and Standard Liege and these will be the teams we are looking to overthrow.

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The Belgian Cup though (or the Croky Cup), doesn't have any real dominance from one club at all and could possibly be one of the most widely spread cup competitions amongst different winners in world football!!

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Despite the club living in the shadows of some of the above mentioned clubs, none of them are seen as major rivals to Antwerp. In fact, our most fiercest rivalry is with Beerschot (who we are unlikely to play in the near future as they are in the division below). When the clubs meet, there is usually fan violence and seems to be some genuine hatred there between the two. Antwerp are often seen as a culture club with a diverse, cross-class support across the city, where as Beerschot supporters are eitherly heavily working class or heavily upper class with not much in between. Beerschot fans refer to Antwerp fans as 'The Jews' based on the fact our supporters pass through the Jewish district to get to the return, Antwerp fans commonly refer to Beerschot supporters as 'The Rats'. It's no wonder the club's supporter profile demands good results if we come up against them and it should make for a fiery affair if and when I get the opportunity to manage Antwerp in one of these games.

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In terms of the board expectations, I am expected to finish in the top 3 in the league this season and qualify from our group in the Europa Conference League too. Longer term, my board have ambitions for Antwerp to have the best youth system and be the most reputable team in the country...I'm fully on board with this!

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As it currently stands, the club's facilities are not bad, but there is definite room for improvement.

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The Bosuilstadion has a capacity of 16,144 which is only the 7th biggest in the Belgian top tier.


The squad I have inherited looks to have a couple of stand out names in it that I will likely build the team around and on the whole looks solid enough just based on my assisstant manager's star ratings (which can of course be taken with a pinch of salt). In my next update, we'll delve a little more into the team, key players and put a tactic together from those I have available.

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Squad & Tactics

I have two goalkeepers in my team and neither of them are fantastic. They're not bad, but not great either. When you compare the two, there really isn't much to split them, but I am probably just about leaning towards Ortin De Wolf as my first choice, although the position is very much up for grabs. Both will get their opportunity in pre season to show what they can do.

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In defence, we have a Belgian legend to build around. Toby Alderweireld has returned to his homeland with 121 international caps under his belt and will be our new captain and lead us to glory for a season at least (33 years old now). His pace is a slight concern, but he has every attribute still of a very, very good centre back.

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His importance to us can't be underestimated as well, with him being the bookies favourite to be the best player in the entire division this season!

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Alderweireld may be getting on a bit, but we do also have a youngster good enough to hold down a first team spot as well. William Pacho is only 20 years old and I'd love to be able to say we could build our defence around him for years to come, but unfortunately that's not the case as he will be joining Eintracht Frankfurt in January in a deal worth £10.25 million! Gutted to be losing him even before he's played a game for me!

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Another player that will be recognisable to English football fans is Ritchie De Laet who played more than 100 times for Leicester, amongst a whole load of other spells with numerous English sides. Again, he is 33 so we might only get 1 season out of him, but his attributes suggest he still has something to offer for now.

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In central midfield, my workhorse is Alhassan Yusuf. His reading of the game, work rate and tackling ability will be vital in us winning the ball back from the opposition before starting our own counter attacks and Yusuf is likely to be right at the heart of that! At only 21 years old, he'll only get better too!

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Yusuf will likely be partnered in central midfield by Pieter Gerkens. He's not quite the same player in terms of defensive ability, but might be able to offer more as the link up player between defence and attack.

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In terms of creativity through the centre of the park, we will look to Jurgen Ekkelenkamp. The 22 year old Dutch attacking midfielder is our more exciting player with more ability to pick those passes to open up opposition defences.

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Out wide, our key threat will be the on loan Calvin Stengs. He's a good dribbler of the ball and has great passing ability with the vision to pick out the strikers too. I'll be encouraging these strengths by getting him running at the opposition defence, wreaking havoc, before playing those passes that create goalscoring opportunities. It would not surprise me if Stengs is our top assister this year!

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In terms of putting the ball in the back of the net, I'll be looking to Vincent Janssen as our main threat. The ex Tottenham striker had his best season in an AZ shirt back in 2015/16 when he scored 27 goals in 34 gmaes and I'd love to get those sort of numbers out of him again!

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Now pre season didn't exactly go to plan, losing 3 of our 5 games, although it can be argued that Rennes and RB Salzburg are bigger clubs than we are at this stage. The win over Marseille was a highlight though.

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The tactic I am going to be using to kick off the season is as below. It's what is best suited to the players I have main concern is the goalscoring ability I currently have in the team as the goals haven't exactly been free flowing in our friendlies but with a few tweaks over the opening matches and one or two signings, I'm hoping I can get it right.

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Injury: One thing that wasn't ideal during pre-season was losing my only out and out right wing back for the first 3 months of the season.

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Injury: And then to make matters worse, I lost one of my centre backs for majority of the season as well!!

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20th August 2022

My first competitive game in charge wouldn't be a domestic one. In fact, it would be a qualifier for the Europa Conference League and if I am to fulfil the board's expectations, it's one I must win to get us into the group stages of the competition.

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Europa Conference League
League Path 2nd Qualifying Round 1st Leg

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Well my career couldn't have got off to a worse start. A lack of decent finishers is definitely going to cost us if I don't bring new faces in quick - we had 19 shots here and could only get 3 on target!

Transfer News: My first signing for the club is 27 year old Yanis Rahmani who comes in from Eibar for £3.2 million! Hopefully, he's going to add a bit of firepower to a pretty poor front line!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 1

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Much better in front of goal to ensure we get off to a winning start in domestic football at least! Rahmani went straight into the starting lineup and bagged the assist for the 2nd goal on a good debut!

Transfer News: A further boost to the attacking setup as Ellis Simms comes into the club on loan for the season from Everton!

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Europa Conference League
League Path 2nd Qualifying Round 2nd Leg

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There will be no European football for us this year after this embarrassing result! We only have ourselves to blame after having 39 shots at their goal across the two legs whilst they only managed 14 at ours!!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 2

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Ellis Simms comes off the bench to score an injury time winner on his debut! A fantastic win away from home against one of the only 2 sides predicted to finish above us this season!

Finances: Oh ****! I didn't realise the club was in such a dreadful financial state!!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 3

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Oostende clearly came with a very negative game plan, looking for a draw, and we weren't good enough to stop them getting it. We created more chances and even had 2 one on ones which we missed!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 4

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Another poor day in front of goal costs us points. We had 15 shots here (only one of which was classed as a long shot) and only managed to get 3 on target! In comparison, it's a great point for USG who had 34% possession and 5 shots!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 5

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Another dominant display of football. Another terrible day of shooting!

Jupiler Pro League
League Table

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I feel like we could definitely be top of this division with a 100% record right now if we could actually put the ball in the back of the net. Still, we are unbeaten I suppose and can at least take something from that!

In these early stages, we are easily the most physical team in the division with more fouls than anyone else! Luckily, other sides have not taken advantage of the set pieces we give away, but it might be something I need to keep an eye on.

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3rd October 2022

Jupiler Pro League

Matchday 6

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For the third game in a row, we dominate proceedings but fail to score and this time we are punished by our opponents as we lose for the first time in the league.

We've got real issues in terms of our finishing. The creativity is there as only Genk have had more shots in the league than us this year, but we have the worst expected goals underperformance in the division!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 7

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This was a must win game, so I'm pleased that we got the job done in convincing fashion and hopefully we can push on from here. Janssen bagged a hat trick but I was happier to see 19 year old Anthony Valencia on the scoresheet after I promoted him from the U23 side!

Transfer News: As deadline day came around, I needed additions to the squad. The main thing I needed was a goalscorer. Despite Janssen's hat trick in the last game, I had no confidence he was going to be the man to lead my front line this season and score 20 goals in a season. However, my new man is a proven scorer and got 29 goals in 55 games for Partizan last year and I've invested £2.5 million to bring him to the club in the hope Ricardo Gomes brings his shooting boots with him!

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Transfer News: I also needed a new right back. With Jelle Bataille being injured, I've been asking De Laet to fill in there and although he's done a job, he is better at centre back. The new right back I've brought in is ex Brighton player, Martin Montoya who signs from Real Betis for £1 million.

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 8

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Gomes had a great debut up front, scoring one and getting an assist, but overall this was a disappointing result against the side that props up the league table.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 9

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We absolutely blew them away in the first 27 minutes of the game!! 2 in 2 for new striker, Gomes, and he is already looking like a fantastic signing!

Takeover: Well, the club has had a much needed takeover and the new board have cleared all the old debts and brought some level of financial stability back to the club. There is a £58 million bank loan that needs repaying but at £500k per month, it should prove affordable!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 10

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A good result although it should have been by a wider margin based on the match stats. I can see me falling a little bit in love with Ricardo Gomes this season if the goals keep coming the way they are in the early stage of his career with us.

Jupiler Pro League
League Table

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We've hit a run of good form of late, winning 3 of our last 4 games and that has lifted us up to 2nd place in the league, with only the current champions above us. After being so poor in front of goal at the start too, it's good to see my signings coming good as we've turned things right around and have now scored more than anyone else.

Talking of new signings, Yanis Rahmani is looking like he has been an excellent addition as he leads the way in the league's assist charts!

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31st October 2022

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 11

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An easy win away at Charleroi in which Ricardo Gomes picked up another brace. He now has 6 goals in his opening 4 games for the club!

Facilities: With the new board taking over, I decided to test their commitment to the club by asking for an upgrade to the youth facilities. I'm pleased to say they didn't take much convincing.

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 12

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Mechelen were the early leaders this year after a solid start, but they have fallen by the wayside a little over the last few weeks and we made relatively light work of them here too. Janssen came off the bench to score a late second goal to give us a more comfortable scoreline that our play throughout the 90 minutes deserved.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 13

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Considering Eupen are down in 15th place, they gave us a really competitive game here and it's hard to see why they are so far down the table. Apart from putting the ball in the back of the net, they were decent and made us work very hard for this win. Yanis Rahmani scored both the goals, but was Sam Vines who bagged the man of the match for a stellar performance at left back!

Jupiler Pro League

Matchday 14

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The referee certainly wanted to have his impact on the game today as he gave 3 penalties. Only one looked dubious though and that was theirs as we cruise to a comfortable victory over the side at the bottom of the table still on single figure points. Calvin Stengs was sensational today as he scored one and set up 2!

In fact, Stengs has been pretty unreal all season so far, contributing to 12 goals in his 8 league appearances so far! It's so gutting that he is only here on loan!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 15

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This is one of those games you look out for on the fixtures calendar and this was my first experience of taking on the most successful club in Belgian football. So it was great to come away with all 3 points. We weren't great in central midfield here to be honest, but our wide men were fantastic and as the game went on I encouraged us to spread it into the wider areas more and more. Yanis Rahmani was sensational, scoring the first two and then setting up Calvin Stengs for our 3rd!

Focusing on our wide men, they have been extremely effective in the way we play so far this year, with both Rahmani and Stengs right up there in the division's leaders for assists and chances created.

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That Anderlecht result now makes it 7 wins in a row in the league for us! It's fair to say that we have picked up momentum after a slow start.

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Jupiler Pro League

League Table

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Our recent run has seen us move to the head of the table with a 2 point lead over defending champions, Club Brugge. Genk are the only other club near the two of us at the moment. It's been really disappointing for both Anderlecht and Standard Liege so far, who both find themselves in the bottom half of the table!
2nd January 2023

Award: I picked up on just how good Calvin Stengs has been for us in the last update, but that has now been backed up further by the fact he has picked up the Player of the Month award for October.

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Our next fixture would be the big one. 1st vs 2nd as we faced off against Club Brugge!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 16

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We can feel a little hard done by here. We scored twice in the first 20 minutes and both goals were ruled out by VAR...if those two goals stand or even one of them does, then this is probably a very different scoreline. As it was, it's Brugge who take the points and bring our 9 game unbeaten streak to an end.

Croky Cup
Sixth Round

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I rotated the team quite heavily for this one against our lower league opposition but 21 year old left back, Laurit Krasniqi let me down immediately with a 2 footed lunge that saw him sent off in the opening 60 seconds. I had to shuffle the positions a bit and player roles, and in the end we came through in extra time. Yanis Rahmani was one of the few players to keep his place in the starting lineup and he bagged all 4 goals as he enjoyed his first experience of the Belgian Cup.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 17

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Standard Liege are having a really bad season so far and look a shadow of their former selves. Despite going down to 10 men here in the first half, we still went on to win the game easily and the result never looked in any doubt.

We then had a break from domestic action for over a month, whilst the Winter World Cup in Qatar went on. It was Germany that triumphed, beating Spain in the final. Belgium were knocked out in the second round, as were England.

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Whilst the World Cup was going on, we did play a couple of friendlies at home to two North London rivals, in order to keep fitness up and bring in some gate receipt money.

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Croky Cup
Seventh Round

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There are only 3 teams from the division below left in the competition and we were lucky enough to draw one of them. Despite that, we still made ****** hard work of it to get through and with 3 minutes to go we were staring defeat in the face. However, we finished with a flourish and go through to the next round...just!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 18

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A really nice win away from home on Boxing Day.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 19

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A statement victory over 3rd placed Genk. Our attackers were in top form but it was an excellent defensive display that was the foundation of this win.

Jupiler Pro League
League Table

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We've opened up a little 4 point lead for ourselves at the top of the table now and possibly more importantly than that we have a 13 point lead over 4th placed Mechelen! At the other end, are Anderlecht and Standard Liege involved in the relegation battle?!
5th February 2023

Transfer News: The January window is now open and the first player to leave is centre back Junior Pius. He hadn't made a single appearance for me all year, so it was only fair to let the lad leave to get some football. He joins OH Leuven for nothing.


Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 20


Oostende held us to a 1-1 draw earlier in the season and again they proved to be stiff opposition here. But this time, we just about got the better of them.

Croky Cup
Quarter Final


There will be no Croky Cup for us this year as we're knocked out by Genk. We were actually really bad here and never really threatened them...we scraped extra time to be fair and I'm not quite sure how. The better team won on the day and we can have no excuses.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 21


Another narrow win against a side that held us to a draw earlier in the season. Defensively we were brilliant here, which was lucky as our attacking play left a lot to be desired.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 22


Solid performance at home against a top half side. It's really good to see us record back to back wins after the disappointment of going out of the cup.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 23


Only 2 sides have beaten us in the league this year and one of them was OH Leuven earlier in the campaign. So it was nice to get a bit of revenge for that here!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 24


We were totally dominant for the entire match, but it took us beyond an hour to finally get our noses in front. When we did, it never really looked in any doubt, even when they got one back late on.

Transfer News: Deadline day came and I didn't really feel like I needed anyone for the squad, but still kept my eye on my scout's recommendations as I had some transfer budget left to spend. They popped up with 19 year old Alberto Moleiro and he looks decent and could still improve further as well, so I spent £2.4 million to bring him to the club from Las Palmas.


Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 25


I think it's safe to say we've found our bogey team. Despite Seraing being bottom of the league, they have taken 4 points off us this season! Shocking from our perspective really!

Jupiler Pro League
League Table


Despite the shock defeat to Seraing, we maintain a 5 point lead at the top of the table and a 10 point lead over 3rd! Standard Liege have totally turned their season on it's head and gone from relegation battlers to challenging for the top 4 all of a sudden! Anderlecht continue to struggle though!
Last edited:
14th March 2023

Jupiler Pro League

Matchday 26

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It was important to maintain our title challenge by getting straight back to winning ways here. And it was well deserved as well as we dominated the side sitting 17th in the table and staring relegation in the face!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 27

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I gave Ellis Simms a rare start up front after he had been performing well for our U23 side and the on loan youngster grabbed his opportunity with both hands as he bagged a brace.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 28

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Calvin Stengs terrorised the Charleroi defence all afternoon and earns himself the match ball with his first hat trick for the club! Our defending wasn't great here as they managed to score twice from only 7 chances they created, but we had more than enough in attack to counter it.

Stengs has become my favourite player for sure, so it's such a shame he's not one of ours and is just here on loan from Nice. We're really going to miss him next year...he's been sensational this season with 11 goals and 13 assists in 21 league appearances.

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And his recent form has earned him his 2nd Player of the Month award of the season.

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 29

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Although the scoreline was pretty standard, this was probably our most dominant performance of the entire season! Ricardo Gomes came back into the starting lineup and within 20 minutes, our top scorer had us in front! Then 16 minutes later, Krasniqi had his 1st of the season to kill the game off.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 30

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This was a really odd game from our perspective. In the first half, we didn't create anything at all and only managed 2 shots from distance. But then it was like we woke up and in the 2nd half, we had 18 shots at the Eupen goal, scoring twice to take the points. Just not sure what was going on in that first period.

Jupiler Pro League
League Table

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With another 5 wins in a row, we have stretched our lead at the top of the league to 10 points now! The gap between us and 5th is an incredible 21 points and most of the teams in the division this year have struggled to live with us!

Finances: Things might be going swimmingly on the pitch, but off it, this club seems to have real problems. Despite a takeover early in the season and what I though was a rebalancing of the finances, the club continues to hemirage money and again the bank balance is over £13 million in the red! It's not that we are overspending either as I am using about £90k less of the available weekly wage budget as well. I can only hope there is some sort of windfall in the Belgian league that comes at the end of the season to sort things out?!

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22nd April 2023

League Format: Now with only 18 teams in the league and effectively 4 matches left to play, it might look like we are just 1 win away from winning the title, but that isn't the case! What happens in Belgium is that the top 4 clubs go into a Championship Group, whilst 5th to 8th go into European Places Playoffs.

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The European Places (5th-8th) basically all play each other twice and the one who eventually finishes 5th goes into the European Places Playoff Final.

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Meanwhile, the top 4 in the Championship group also play each other twice to determine who wins the league and who qualifies for what European competitions the next season. I think the 4th placed team plays the top team from the other group (so effectively 4th vs 5th) in that European Places Playoff Final but I think this is dependent on who has already qualified for Europe or not (maybe through the cup).

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It's worth noting that in both groups, I think all the teams have their point halved before you play each other again. So effectively, a 10 point lead at the top of the table could become only a 5 point lead going into this final set of games!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 31

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2 goals in the first 5 minutes from Janssen made this look like it was going to be a romp! However, that wasn't the case and to be fair to our opponents, they rallied and made a game of it, although the damage was already done and we extend our winning streak to 6 games.

NXGN 2023: We have one player named on the list of top 50 wonderkids this season. 18 year old central midfielder, Arthur Vermeeren, who has made 15 league appearances for me this season and done alright when he has come into the team.

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 32

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Anderlecht have been incredibly poor this season and this game really just eclipsed how bad they are at the moment. They were never in this game and it was a lot easier for us than it should have been. Great to see new signing, Alberto Moleiro getting his first goal for the club - an easy tap in from a De Laet cross.

Youth Intake: This year's youth intake as an overall isn't as good as my head of youth development is suggesting and I don't agree that it is a golden generation.

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However, I don't care about the overall when I'm getting an absolute gem like this. Stanislas Mboyo is 15 years old and is pretty much ready for the first team already! He could be an absolute superstar moving forward!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 33

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Our penultimate game of the regular season was against our closest rivals and it was a case of defence wins the day as both sides look solid at the back, playing out a 0-0 draw.

Jupiler Pro League

Matchday 34

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We finish the regular season in a completely uninspiring game against Liege. Both sides looked like they already had one eye on the Championship/European groups that we will now go into after this game.

Jupiler Pro League
League Table

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So the regular season finishes with us topping the table by an impressive 13 points over Club Brugge. OH Leuven sneak into 4th spot ahead of Gent on the final day.

The points are now halved and we enter the Championship group to see who will win the league title. There is pretty much no way OH Leuven can win from where they are and we have a 7 point lead with 6 games to play so it's definitely ours to lose!

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4th June 2023

Jupiler Pro League - Championship Group

Matchday 35

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We kick off the Championship Group with a comfortable win over the worst team in the group. With all due respect to Leuven, they look well out of their depth alongside us, Genk and Club Brugge and could be the whipping boys over these last few matches.

Jupiler Pro League - Championship Group
Matchday 36

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Yanis Rahmani and Calvin Stengs have been immense all season down the wings for us and it was those two that completely blew away Genk here to move us within just one win over Club Brugge of the title!

In fact, Club Brugge were beaten at home by OH Leuven, which now leaves them 12 points behind us with just 4 games to play and we have a pretty hefty goal difference in our favour too. But basically, we are just a single point away from lifting the title in my first season in charge!

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Jupiler Pro League - Championship Group
Matchday 37

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A draw we needed...a draw we got and we are champions of Belgium! I am elated!!

Jupiler Pro League - Championship Group
Matchday 38

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Our last 3 games were just a formality now and I would take the opportunity to hand some extra game time to some of the squad/fringe players. 8 changes to the starting lineup definitely disrupted our flow and we lose in a tightly contested game, but in all honesty I really don't care.

Jupiler Pro League - Championship Group
Matchday 39

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This game was all about 1 player. 15 year old Stanislas Mboyo made his debut, scored a goal and got man of the match! This kid could prove to be something very, very special!

The youngster has written his name in the history books, becoming the league's youngest ever player and youngest ever goalscorer!

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Jupiler Pro League - Championship Group
Matchday 40

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We finish the season with a bore draw away at Brugge.

I'm always looking for things to build on with my careers and one thing we have already here is our record against Brugge. We have played them 4 times this season and failed to beat them on any of those occasions...that's something that has to change, especially as I am sure they will come back at us strong next season to try to reclaim their title.

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But for now, we will just revel in the fact we are champions of Belgium, by a pretty comfortable margin!

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End of Season 2022/23 Review

Well I could only dream of a league title in my first season in charge of the club and we pulled it off! Now we just have to try to defend it and it's worth noting that Antwerp have never won back to back titles.

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It would be nicer to go challenge for the Croky Cup next season too. This year we went out as soon as we met top tier opposition.

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And it was really disappointing not to be playing European football this season after going out in the qualification stage...although it might have contributed to our league win.

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New Arrivals

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Overall Squad Stats

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The Best 11

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Club Awards

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The bar has been set high in season 1 and because of it, the board now want to see us as regular winners of the league every season!

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The supporter profile mimics the expectations of the board, with the fans now expectant of us finishing above Brugge at all costs. We've gained another 100k+ social media followers this year which is a significant rise!

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League Awards

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As you can see, it's going to be hard to improve the squad this Summer with nothing left in the wage budget and a minimal transfer budget too. I do worry about the long term stability of the club, as my owners have just taken out another £19 million loan for the running of the club!

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The Belgian Jupiler Pro League has moved up two places in the European rankings which has had a positive effect on our European qualification places. Future league winners will go straight into the group stage of the Champions League without needing to qualify!

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Before we sign off for the end of the season, it's worth mentioning that this was a double championship winning season for us, as Young Reds (which is our U23 side) won the league in the 3rd tier as well. They have won promotion and will play just one level beneath the senior side next season. It should be great for player development for our youngsters to be playing at a decent level.

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Going to be difficult to find a player to come in and fill Stengs boots next season but hopefully can pick up a bargain
Going to be difficult to find a player to come in and fill Stengs boots next season but hopefully can pick up a bargain

Stengs was absolutely unreal mate! Such a shame I didn't get the budget to be able to buy him, but I'll certainly be keeping an eye on him for the future if I can increase our budgets with some European football money over the next couple of seasons!
24th July 2023

It wasn't exactly a clearout this Summer as a few players are released from the club, but not many. The most notable name is Koji Miyoshi who played 18 times for me last season, but only managed 2 assists and an average rating of 6.68.

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Transfer News: If I want to make signings this Summer, players would have to leave the club to raise funds. The first to go is 19 year old Pierre Dwomoh who joins RB Salzburg for £4.5 million. I'm hoping he doesn't progress to become awesome.

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Transfer News: Another £1.2 million was raked in from Girona for Birger Verstraete who was on loan at Mechelen last year so won't be missed.

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Transfer News: Alexis De Sart was out on loan last year as well and he will leave the club for Huesca for £550k.

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Transfer News: And another one as Dorian Dessoleil leaves for Sint-Truiden for a fee of £675k.

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Transfer News: Jelle Bataille only played 7 times for me last season and didn't perform that well when he did. So I was more than happy to get £2.4 million for him from Venezia.

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Going into the new season, two of the players I signed last year are amongst the favourites to be the top goalscorers in this year's Jupiler Pro League.

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Transfer News: I finally make my first signing of the Summer, albeit a loan one. 18 year old wonderkid, Rico Lewis, joins us on loan for the season from Man City and will likely take on the right back position as number 1 choice despite his young age.

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Transfer News: Then came another sale. Michael Frey was on loan at Schalke last year and scored 13 times in the Bundesliga. There is no doubt he could have done a job for us, but he returned on £25k per week (which we can't really afford) and was demanding a new contract making him a star player and wanting us to double his wages. When I said no, he went into sulk mode, so it was time to leave and he joins Genk for £5.25 million.

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We only had time to play four pre season friendlies this year as we will contest the Pro League Supercup. It's fair to say that every fixture in pre season was a bit of a goalfest and any fans that would have come out to see us would have enjoyed any of these games!

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Pro League Supercup

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It's another trophy in the bag as we comfortably beat last season's Croky Cup winners here in the Supercup. There was only ever one side in this game that looked like they'd win it as we dominated proceedings for most of the 90 minutes. That young superstar, Mboyo, kicks off his season with a goal after coming off the bench to score a wonderful headed effort.

It's the first time in the club's history that we have lifted the trophy and although it might not mean that much in the grand scheme of things, it's great to kick off the season with a cup and it helps write my own legacy in the club's history books.

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Looking forward to the season ahead and although we are the reigning champs, it is again Club Brugge that are the bookies favourites to lift the title this year. It's probably not surprising considering 7 of their players make up the media dream 11.

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28th August 2023

Transfer News: I don't need to improve multiple areas of the squad now, but I did need a player that can play down the right wing. I've turned to Shakhtar's Marian Shved as the replacement for Calvin Stengs who was here on loan last season. Shved is a decent finisher, but it's his passing ability and vision I am more impressed with and he could be a really good signing for us contributing with both goals and assists. I signed him for £4.6 million, which looks like a great piece of business as he is immediately worth almost three times that amount on joining.

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Facilities: Althought I brought in a fair emount in transfer fees, only a small proportion of that money was made available for transfers, so instead I asked the board to invest some of it into the club.

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 1

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We were handed the same opening day fixture as last season (although we were at home last year). Last season we kicked things off with a 3-2 victory, but this season the scoreline was reversed and it's opening day defeat for us!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 2

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Despite having 17 shots at goal in this game, we failed to find the back of the net and fail to win again. Not the start to our title defence I had hoped for.

The draw for the champions path playoff to the Champions League has pitted us against either CFR Cluj or Maccabi Haifa. We were the unseeded side, so will not be expected to go through against either opponent.

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Jupiler Pro League

Matchday 3

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Yet again our inability to put the ball in the back of the net overshadows the fact we were easily the dominant side in this game. Leuven punished us late on for our own shortcomings! We must do better!

Transfer News: Although my main issue seems to be in attack at the moment, I have taken the opportunity to sure up the defence a bit with the loan signing of Malick Thiaw. He comes in for the season from AC Milan.

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 4

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For **** sake! I'm getting the ******* ump now! AGAIN we dominate....AGAIN we have a **** load of shots...AGAIN we struggle to ******* score! AGAIN we are beaten!

Champions League
Champions Path Playoff 1st Leg

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Well, from struggling to score in the league, to having an absolute rout in the Champions League and we have one foot in the group stage now! What a result, and hopefully one we can build on domestically too!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 5

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That Champions League win seemed to have galvanised my team into action and at last we get our first league win of the season with a demolition job over Anderlecht!

Jupiler Pro League
League Table

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A less than impressive start leaves us lingering all the way down in 13th position. But it's still early days yet and a decent run of 3 or 4 wins would easily see us shoot right up the table!
10th October 2023

Champions League

Champions Path Playoff 2nd Leg

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With a 4-0 lead from the first leg, I heavily rotated the side for this one and although we weren't anywhere near full strength, we still won in Romania as well and it will be Champions League group stage football for us this season!!

The group stage gives us a relatively tough draw, but then it's always going to be a tough one when you are 4th seeds in amongst Europe's elite. Group H was the one I really wanted as that would have given us a fighting chance, but then we will take Group E as it could have been an absolute nightmare to get groups A or G!!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 6

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We are finally finding our best form and this result makes it 4 wins in a row in all competitions.

Transfer News: On deadline day, there was only one position I was particularly keen to strengthen. We are a little light at left back, so the loan signing of Manu Sanchez from Atletico Madrid is a good one to provide proper competition to Sam Vines for his place in the team.

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At the end of the transfer window, this is the state of play with the squad I have until January at least.

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 7

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By the time Westerlo had their first shot of the game in the 49th minute which they scored from, we had already created and missed 14 chances of our own!! I thought it was going to be one of those days, but late on we eventually got the job done in a game where anything less than maximum points would have been unacceptable!

Champions League
Group Stage - Matchday 1

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Even though we fall to defeat in our opening group game (which was expected anyway), I am proud of the effort from my lads here and we can actually feel a little sorry for ourselves that we came away with nothing after matching Dortmund in both possession and chances created statistics!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 8

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After our poor start to the season, this was a must win game really against Brugge, so it was bitterly disappointing that we never showed up! We were terrible from start to finish and well beaten by a much better side!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 9

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I demanded a much improved performance before kick off and I got it. 15 year old Stanislas Mboyo got the important first goal for us, with a banger from 25 yards!

Champions League
Group Stage - Matchday 2

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Well I wasn't expecting that! What a ******* incredible performance in a game where I was expecting us to be on the wrong end of a hiding! Amazing stuff!

After two games in Group E, we actually sit inside the top 2! Don't get me wrong...I totally don't expect us to qualify from this group, but we've given ourselves half a chance at least, especially with our next two games being against Red Star!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 10

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We brought the momentum of our Champions League win back home with us and record a really good victory here against the league leaders who had only lost once prior to this game. Marian Shved was put through on goal twice from through balls in the middle of the park and he expertly despatched of his two chances to seal the points.

Jupiler Pro League
League Table

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We are gradually moving up the table and getting closer to where we want to be. Only Charleroi have scored more goals than us now, but our defensive record is something that needs addressing as it's the worst in the top half.
12th December 2023

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 11

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Absolute dog ****! We lose at home to the side at the bottom of the league who came into this game losing all 10 of their prior games! Failure to score again is what costs us after having 20 shots on goal without finding a single goal!

Champions League
Group Stage - Matchday 3

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I needed a reaction to the poor result against Oostende, especially knowing that a win here could put us in a good position at the half way stage of the group. But we didn't get the result which was disappointing as we did have another 24 shots!!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 12

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A solid result which we had to work hard for. Ricardo Gomes hasn't been banging them in for fun so far this season but hopefully this brace will do him the world of good.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 13

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Pretty routine this one. I never expected us to lose to Eupen and we made pretty light work of them, with Marian Shved starring with 2 goals and an assist.

Champions League
Group Stage - Matchday 4

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What a result out in Serbia as we thrash Red Star on their own turf. Shved was again in top form as he shone with an impressive display.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 14

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Charleroi came into this game at the top of the league, so a draw isn't the worst result in the world from our point of view. It was a pretty evenly contested game and probably the fairest result on the day.

Our next game would see us invite Atletico Madrid to the Bosuil Stadium, knowing that if we beat them we would knock them out of the competition and qualify for the knockout rounds. This is a position I never expected us to be in!!

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Champions League
Group Stage - Matchday 5

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We didn't get the result we wanted, but the scoreline hugely flatters Atletico as they scored from two corners in stoppage time to nick the win after what had been a very even 90 minutes. We can hold our heads high once again!

We still have an outside chance of getting through, but we have the daunting task of beating Dortmund whilst also now needing a favour from Red Star. On the plus side, we will at least drop into the Europa League as a consolation if things don't go our way.

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 15

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Cercle Brugge have to be one of the best improvers so far this year as they sit 4th after finishing 14th last season! Despite that, we dominated them here and this win saw us leapfrog them in the table!

Champions League
Group Stage - Matchday 6

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This is genuinely the best single performance my team has given me since I took over the club. What a performance to beat one of Germany's giants in their own back yard and in such convincing fashion as well! I could not be prouder of my team right now!

It's such a shame for us that the result didn't see us through to the knockout stages as Atletico comfortably beat Red Star in the other game to go through as group winners in the end. We will drop down into the Europa League though and after beating the likes of Atletico and Dortmund in this very difficult group, we have no reason to fear anyone in that competition. It's also worth noting that no other 3rd placed team in the Champions League Group stage scored as many as 10 points and our tally would have been enough to finish 2nd and go through in three of the eight groups, so we can count ourselves a little unlucky to go out.

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 16

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After losing to Gent 3-2 on the opening day of the season, I was keen for us to get some redemption here. And in another mini goalfest, we did turn the tables and get the win I really wanted!

Jupiler Pro League
League Table

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We continue climbing up the division and have lifted ourselves into the top 4 for the first time this season. We're only 5 points off the leaders now and very much in contention now to put up a defence of our title.
21st January 2024

Our first taste of the Croky Cup this season will be against RWDM. It's the same team we drew last year in the 7th round and played out an incredible 5-4 win against them....the fans might be hoping for just as entertaining a game, but I would like to get over the line a little more comfortably if I'm honest!

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Croky Cup
Sixth Round

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That's a lot more comprehensive against our lower league opposition this year. Much better for my heart rate!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 17

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We haven't done that well against Standard in the past, drawing our last two meetings 0-0 with them, so this was a very pleasing result and confirms we have well and truly turned a corner this season now.

In the Europa League, we have been handed a very winnable draw in the Knock Out Play Off Round. Having recorded wins over Dortmund and Atletico this season, we have to fancy ourselves over two legs against Olympiakos!

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 18

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Back in domestic action for now though and we made light work of OH Leuven, who are having a shocker of a season down in 13th place, after finishing in the top 4 last year!

Croky Cup
Seventh Round

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Our last game of 2023 was in the cup and we're comfortably through to the quarter final stage which is where we went out last season. We'll be looking to go a bit better than that this year though as I have the trophy in my sights.

On a personal level, I finish off the calendar year with a new 4 year contract at the club.

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Facilities: With the bank balance looking at it's healthiest for a while after some Champions League football in the first half of this season, I asked the board to put some money into the club's facilities again.

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Awards: As we turn from 2023 to 2024, it was time for the end of year awards and there was a Manager of the Year for me, whilst Calvin Stengs was so good last season that he picks up the Golden Boot winner (which isn't a top goalscorer award) even though he only played half the year in the country!

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The January transfer window is now open, but without spending a penny we have a bolster to our attacking ranks. Viktor Fischer has been on loan at AIK for 2 seasons, but finally returns to the club and looks a decent enough player for us as well. He did alright out in Sweden scoring 21 times in 49 games and if he can bring that sort of form back here with him, I'll be happy.

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Transfer News: An unexpected bid came in from Porto for central midfielder, Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, for an initial £23.5 million rising to over £30 mil! That's massive money for us, but he's one of my best players and I don't want to lose him, so reject the offer, although it will be a real test of my resolve if they come back with a much bigger one!

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Unfortunately, it has now unsettled the player and after a meeting to try to convince him to stay, I might be fighting a losing battle! I have at least agreed with him that I'll only accept a bid if it is in excess of £52 million and I don't expect Porto to go that high!

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Croky Cup
Quarter Final

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After a couple of weeks off for the Winter break, we returned to action in the cup. It took less than 60 seconds for Vincent Janssen to put us in front here, but the 2nd goal didn't come until 4 minutes from time. Not entirely comfortable, but we are through to the semi final and have gone at least one step further than last season.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 19

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Back in the league, it was another impressibe victory as well as we come out on top in a tightly contested game against Genk.

Jupiler Pro League
League Table

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We've moved up to 3rd now and quickly closing in on top placed USG, who are having a storming season to be fair! Anderlecht are doing much better this season and look like genuine contenders again, whilst Oostende look destined for the drop.
18th February 2024

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 20

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A very tight game that could have swung either way. Both sides took a point in the end and that was probably fair.

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 21

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It's easy to see why Sint-Truiden are bottom of the league. They were absolutely dreadful here and offered no resistance to our dominant display of attacking football. A nice hat trick for the in demand Jurgen Ekkelenkamp!

Transfer News: And that hat trick would be Ekkelenkamp's parting gift to the club as I have received an offer from Manchester City that I simply couldn't refuse. As he moves to England, the deal is worth a whopping £48.5 million which could rise to £52 million with add ons!!

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I'm sorry to see my star central midfielder leave the club, but it was just a ridiculous fee for a club like us and couldn't be rejected!

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That fee also sets a new Belgian national record for an outgoing transfer!

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Despite the ridiculous fee though, only £13 million of it has been added to the transfer fund for me to go find a replacement!

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Transfer News: It didn't take me long to bring someone in though. I've had my eye on Fabian Rieder for a while, but thought he might be out of our price range for some time. However, the Ekkelenkamp sale has allowed me to facilitate the move and he joins from Young Boys for £15.75 million, with £13 million paid up front! He's only 21 and already looks like a great player...there is no doubt he could be another player who might command a £50 million+ fee in the future!

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And that's another Belgian national record broken too!

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Transfer News: On transfer deadline day, I did also need to bring in a new backup goalkeeper as Jean Butez has picked up an injury that will keep him out for up to 3 months. Justin Heekeren joins us on loan from Schalke until the end of the season to fill that void.

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Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 22

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Never really in doubt this one, against the side in 15th place in the division.

Croky Cup
Semi Final 1st Leg

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So we had drawn the cup holders in the semi final and they had home advantage in the first leg. Even with a league game against Club Brugge on the horizon, I fielded my strongest available team here (as it's no secret I want to win this cup this season) and it paid off as we took the advantage of a 2 goal lead back to our home ground!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 23

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A massive game in the title race as 3rd played 4th and we just about edged it and take the 3 points on the day. Neither side looked full of confidence and both looked like they were trying not to lose rather than trying to win...that tactic favoured us in the end...just!

Jupiler Pro League
Matchday 24

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Deinze have been gradually slipping down the table all season after a promising start and this result will assure their fans that they are in complete freefall and bang in trouble, unless they improve quickly. On the flip side, our fans went home with big smiles on their faces!

Jupiler Pro League
League Table

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We keep on winning, but fair play to both USG and Charleroi who keep picking up results themselves and keeping us at bay in 3rd place for now! There is just 6 games of the regular season left now before the league'll notice that the league went from 18 to 16 teams this season and the Championship Group this year will be top 6 rather than top 4.

Meanwhile, the board will continue to focus on improving the facilities at the club at my request!

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