- May 10, 2018
- Reaction score
Unfinished Business - Return To Belgium
So with my Nancy-Lorraine save coming to an end after getting the chop midway through my second season, I needed something new to get stuck into. I toyed with the idea of a few different clubs in the second and third tiers of Spain, Italy and Germany, but I feel like I have unfinished business in Belgium. My last save of FM23 was managing Antwerp in the top tier of Belgian football, ending up there by chance after spinning a wheel with about 30 teams on it from all over Europe. It actually turned out to be one of my favourite saves I had done all year, working in a country/division that I never would have just chosen myself (had it not been down to the fate of the wheel). During that save, I spent 3 seasons with Antwerp, winning three league titles, 2 Belgian cups and 2 Belgian super cups. I made it to 3rd place on the Belgian hall of fame list and even took Antwerp to a Europa League Final (losing to Aston Villa). Following that, I moved to Udinese and then on to Ajax as well, but the save was never quite the same for me after I left Belgium and I think that's because I always felt like my work in the country wasn't complete.
So I am back in Belgium and this time, there will be no leaving for other countries. This time I'm here for the long term and want to complete everything I didn't last time round. I want to top not only the Belgian Hall of Game, but also become the greatest English manager and also a World Hall of Famer as well! In addition to that, I want to lead my Belgian side to European glory, first of all aiming at any European trophy before setting our sites on the big win...the Champions League itself. And this time round, I have decided to make the whole thing a little more challenging...there is no denying that when I took over Antwerp, they were already one of the best sides in the country and expected to compete at the top end of the top tier...backed up by the fact they won the Jupiler Pro League in real life last season as well. So who better to take over now than their local rivals, Antwerp based Beerschot, and let's be honest - any team with Beer in their name is good enough for me.
Beerschot currently ply their trade in the second tier of Belgian football, so a promotion will be required before we can even think about setting up a local derby and then starting to challenge the biggest clubs in the country which include Antwerp themselves, Club Brugge, Anderlecht, Genk and Gent. Yep, that's one of the reasons I loved playing this league so much last year, because it is ultra competitive with about 5-6 teams that can realistically win the league each year. My plan is to stop that in the long term and make Beerschot the most dominant team in the country.
The club is classed as relatively new, formed as recently as 2013. However, their is a history that goes back a lot further than that. Another football team, Football Club Wilrijk (KFC Wilrijk) were founded in 1921 and joined the Belgian Football Association. Most of their early life was played in lower divisions of the Belgian football pyramid, without a huge amount of success. In 1993, the club merged with Olympia Wilrijk 72 and were renamed KFC Olympia Wilrijk. The merger seemed to spark some immediate success as they reached the 4th division in 1994 and found themselves playing national football for the first time in 45 years. They lasted in that division for 8 years before eventually being relegated again. The following years up until 2010 saw them yo-yo between divisions with multiple promotions and relegations, but never getting higher than the 4th tier.
Another football team entirely, Beerschot AC, went bankrupt in 2013 and KFCO Wilrijk made the decision to harbour their fans and then followed up by incorporating the club's name and colours into their own identity...They filed to become KFCO Beerschot Wilrijk and the club became an instant success with their opening game under their new identity bringing in 8,500 which was a record for the Belgian provincial division at the time. That record was then broke several more times up to attendances of 12,000 and in 2013/14 they were crowned division champions. Further success and back to back promotions followed and by 2017 they were playing their football in Belgian's second tier. Recently, they've even had a couple of seasons in the Jupiler Pro League, but finished bottom 2 years ago with just 4 wins all season and were releagted again to the Challenger Pro League. A 3rd place finish last year was decent, but promotion back to the promised land is the target and hopefully I'm the man to lead them there and on to their most successful years in the club's history.
In 2019, the club did officially change their name to Beerschot and with it came a logo change as well.
As with my Nancy Lorraine save, I will be looking to implement a philosophy during my time at the club...
1. Retain a strong core of Belgian players throughout the squad throughout my time at the club, keeping foreign signings of non Belgian players to a minimum.
2. Focus on bringing players through the club's youth setup by promoting one prospect from the U19s into the first team every season.
3. Keep the average age of the squad down by prioritising younger players (under 25) in the transfer market.
All of the above will be even more important in Belgium as they league registration rules require each team to have a minimum of 8 players developed in the nation for 3 years before their 23rd birthday.
As with most sides in Belgium, we have some decent youth facilities from the off to help us with this, although there is room for improvement.