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[FM17] Hans Kaiser- Baldness Über Alles!

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Club Brugge
2021/22 Pre-Season

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We're predicted for fourth, which probably makes sense considering the quality of the teams ahead of us, but I'm aiming to finish in the top three, which means outperforming at least one of them. Ricardo Pereira is considered one of our key players and makes the dream team at right back despite not even being my first choice at that position. If anything, I'll be using him as a backup for Rotariu further up the right wing. The Championship Group is predicted to be the exact same as last year, which would not be very exciting if that were to come true. Promoted Charleroi are predicted to do well, and Royal Mouscron are predicted to go down.

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A great pre-season, punctuated by the win against Valencia at the Nuevo Mestalla. We absolutely crushed Dutch 2nd tier side FC Eindhoven behind a new, ruthless high press tactic. Against Roma, we let in two goals early, but adjusted at half time and came out the much better side in the second half, scoring through Grønner and nearly finding an equalizer. We lost, but I'm still more than happy with the performance.

Transfers
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Told you I had work to do. We'll start with outgoings. I first had to get rid of a lot of deadwood in the youth teams, and the 35-year-old keeper Ochoa retired. Mera was one of our starting CBs, but at 31 years of age and less than impressive form, I decided that I needed a better option. Machís was probably one of our best players on paper, but his form was also mediocre and Newcastle put in a good offer that would give us a lot of extra cash in the transfer budget. Weghorst was our fourth-choice striker, so he was simply surplus to requirements. De Bock was our starting LB, but he also wasn't very good form-wise, and despite his homegrown status, I had enough reason to let him go. Vanaken was a decent rotation AM who was also homegrown, but with Tarsa and an exciting young prospect already at the position, I decided to accept Vitesse's offer.

Incomings. Onyekuru is one of the Pro League's best young players, and last year he won the Ebony Boot, the award for the league's best African player. He presumably ran his contract down at former club Eupen (where he scored 14 goals last season), and I was happy to snap him up. The guy has excellent attributes and still hasn't reached his potential, so I'm excited to see him slot in as our new starting left winger. I broke the club's transfer record for Lacroix, which apparently had stood since 2006 :lol:. A 21-year-old CB, he's good enough to start right now, but he could still use some work in the technical department. His 5-star potential should allow for that to happen, though. Excited to see how he adjusts to life in Belgium. Lazare is another former Eupen player who was out of contract this summer. He can play at both the AMC and CM positions, making him a valuable asset in both of our schemes. In the counter tactic, he'll be second choice behind Tarsa, and he'll be the first choice MC in our control tactic, which I have converted to a high pressing formation. Pretty much a direct replacement for Vanaken, as he played the exact same role last season. I'll probably be making more deals before the end of the window, most likely for a first team and youth LB, plus maybe a few depth and/or youth signings.

Henry Onyekuru|Maxence Lacroix|Jean-Thierry Lazare

I'm definitely excited for this new season to start, as this is the first real chance I'll have to prove myself and my baldness in Belgium. Just please be better than last season, for god's sake...
Los! Los! Los!

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Some big news from over the summer:
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Roger Schmidt beat Hans to the German national team job the first time around, and now he has taken Hans' former job.
What a pain in the *** this guy is. He's nowhere even close to bald... but I hope he does well.

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This isn't great news either. No matter which European place we finish in, we will now have to go through qualifiers to reach the group stage. Both the CL and EL group stage berths have been lost, as Belgium has started going the exact opposite way as they did on @ManUtd1's save.

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Ouch. Need to bring that coefficient back up! Granted, the explosion of tycoons in my early men save coincided with Brugge's rise (as I vaguely recall), so it's early doors still...

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Club Brugge
July/August 2021
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The definition of average. Two wins, two draws, and two losses from our first six games.

Our season opener against Lokeren was certainly an odd one. We got our first goal of the season just 20 seconds in, as new signing Henry Onyekuru's cross was mishandled by the keeper Plizzari and rolled over the line to make it 1-0. After we had missed some opportunities to double the lead, Lokeren got level on 38', with Bob Straetman taking a through ball and sticking it by an onrushing Ethan Horvath. We got our second shortly after half time through a second own goal, as another Onyekuru cross was deflected in- this time from defender Axel Royer. But Lokeren wouldn't be denied a point, as regen midfielder Felix Nyberg took advantage of some subpar defending and placed another equalizer into the top-left corner. I wish we could have got a goal of our own here, but I have to say getting a 2-2 draw through only own goals is pretty cool too.

We attacked very well against Standard Liège, but they never gave up and fought hard for a point. On 18', Onyekuru got a real goal on top of his two "assists" from the previous game, nodding in a header at the back post from Ricardo van Rhijn's excellent cross. We then got a second on 30', as a textbook counter-attacking move culminated with Wesley flicking on a cross to Dorin Rotariu at the back post, who applied the easy finish. Standard would come to life in the second half, though, as they scored their first of the day on 48' through regen Merouane Braham Chaouch, then equalized through Edmilson Junior in the 68th minute. We found ourselves in the lead again on 77', our third goal proving very similar to our second, as Rotariu scored again at the back post thanks to a cross from full back Ferland Mendy. Even though we had parked the bus, Standard pulled back again five minutes later as a counter the other way resulted in an unstoppable goal from Braham Chaouch, who cut inside the box and fired the ball low and fast into the bottom-left corner. I was disappointed to lose the lead, but in hindsight a point away from home against the defending champions isn't too bad at all.

What was bad was losing the Brugse Derby against Cercle, the team who share our stadium. This was an FMing of royal proportions, as we outshot them 16-3 yet still got nothing. Jelle Vossen nearly had us ahead early, but his shot was pushed against the crossbar just in time by Martin Craninx. Other than that, our finishing was lukewarm, which opened the door for Cercle to break us on 75'. Stanislav Vavra's effort from outside the area should have been saved by Horvath, as it stayed central, but the American keeper could only get one hand to it and let in their winner. A horrible way to lose a derby, and one that I don't feel was fair in the slightest.

We managed to pick up our first win of the season against Sint-Truidense away from home. We had our first big chance on 18', as Onyekuru placed his shot well, but was denied by a great reaction save from their keeper Mathieu Merlet. We would have to wait until the second half to find the back of the net, but it was well worth the wait, as Branco ven den Boomen teed up a beautiful shot from 25 yards out and launched it into the top-right corner. We consolidated our lead on 80', as Rotariu's cross found Wesley for an easy headed finish. Our counter tactic worked well again here, getting two goals and keeping a clean sheet.

The Gent match was a horrible game of football, but I would have expected a 0-0 from it rather than a loss. There were almost no highlights in the game, but Gent ended up being the one taking their chance. On 64', Borko Duronjic's clever cross was thudded home by Moses Simon on the volley to put them into the lead, and we had nothing in response as our high press tactic proved to be ineffective again. A late red card for Ruud Vormer was a further blow to cap a poor outing at the Breydelstadion.

After some misfortune earlier in the month, I was glad to see the fortune swing our way against Eupen. We started off on the back foot, as on 17', a poor decision from our new left back (more on him later) saw Abdoulaye Sanogo free to slot the opening goal into the bottom-left corner. However, we would force our way back into the match thanks to a counter tactic that has worked wonders for us so far, with Wesley drilling home a header to equalize on 44' from van Rhijn's brilliant one-timed cross. The second half was without any significant chances until the late goings, as after Eupen had hit the crossbar, we got the winner on 88' from a heroic Rotariu effort, the Romanian international stepping off his marker and looping one into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards out. A brilliant way to claim three points, and a relieving one after a tough opening month.

Table
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Our form sees us just outside the top half, and three points removed from that all-important top six. However, the two teams directly in front of us have a game in hand. Liège and Sint-Truidense sit atop the league, despite both of them dropping points to us. What will surely cause displeasure among the supporters is that Cercle are four points and places ahead of us, as the other Bruges side have made an impressive start. Oostende have started poorly and are still without a win in six games, whilst Kortrijk are really struggling and have lost all six.

Transfers
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I was able to make two more signings in the window, and both of them are left backs. Sousa is an 18-year-old wonderkid who's come in on loan from Barcelona, and I think that his parent club alone should speak to his reputation and ability. I fully expect him to be able to help us achieve our goals this season, and will be starting ahead of Ferland Mendy and our other new signing as long as he keeps his form in good standing. He did end up making a mistake in his debut against Eupen that cost us a goal, but he did well otherwise and got a 7.2 match rating.
Coming in on deadline day is the 20-year-old Al-Gheshayan, who I intend to be our starting LB starting next season once Sousa leaves. The Saudi international has some truly ridiculous physical attributes (19 strength for someone who weighs 165 pounds? :eek:), but still has some work to be done in the technical department and can only be effective on the defensive side of the ball at the moment. I hope to be able to develop him into a proper full back, and become someone who can contribute going forward as well as at the back. He should be getting some games off the bench behind Sousa this season, but next season is the time when I hope he'll be ready to make a real impact. A great prospect who I'm very excited about going forward.

I sold backup DM Bakic, as I don't see much of a place for him in either the DM or CM positions. He's also had atrocious form since he signed for the club two seasons ago, so there was not much reason to keep him in reserve. He's off to Braunschweig, who are back in the Bundesliga this season. I've also decided to loan out Verlinden, who I described in detail in the squad overview. He's still very much a part of my plans for the future at Brugge, but since we're operating with a one-striker formation and he's currently fourth in the pecking order behind Wesley, Vukmanovic, and Vossen, I felt it was best for him to go out on loan again, where he'll have guaranteed game time. I'm sure @Timetxu's Roda will be delighted to have him this season, where hopefully he can improve on his unimpressive previous loan spell at Metz.

João Sousa|Ibrahim Al-Gheshayan

Next month sees league games against two teams below us and a showdown with Anderlecht in De Klassieker. We also have our opening Belgian Cup tie against Westerlo, who knocked us out at the same stage last season. Time for redemption, the Kaiser way...

Los! Los! Los!

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Back to the world of baldness after a trip away and...

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****. That's where selling Bakic is probably going to bite me. Only Marco Fossati can play alongside Vormer now, and he's also average at best. 5 months is going to be a long time without one of our best players :(.

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Club Brugge
September 2021
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Could have done better, but not bad in the league. The cup was a disaster though, which you should expect from me on this save.

We started the month at home against bottom-of-the-league Kortrijk, and we made sure we didn't embarrass ourselves and got all three points. We did concede first, however, as a dreadful mistake from our keeper Jens Teunckens on a free kick allowed Juan Pablo Ramon to score on an empty net. A switch to our counter tactic gave us what we needed though, as Jose Izquierdo got us level on 35', then Marco Fossati gave us the lead on 50' through a 30-yard screamer that flew into the left corner of the net. We didn't take our foot off the gas in the late goings, as Izquierdo grabbed a third for us on 75' from a close-range volley, and Dorin Rotariu made it four on 86' to add onto his two assists on the night. A shaky start, but our counter tactic worked its magic again to help us recover and take a convincing victory.

I won't complain about a point away from home against Anderlecht, in what's already been my third Klassieker as Brugge manager. Anderlecht dominated the first half, forcing Ethan Horvath to make ten saves, but we kept them out. Horvath could not do the same in the 53rd minute, as Nicolae Stanciu rifled in an unstoppable shot from fourteen yards out. Conceding seemed to wake us up, though, as we equalized through Wesley on 62', the Brazilian striker quickly lashing home a volley from Rotariu's delivery. Both sides had a few more chances to score, but nothing could find the net and we took a point that I believe was fair.

The aforementioned disaster in the cup against second-tier Westerlo definitely put a damper on the month. Our heavily-rotated squad set out in a 4-2-4, an attack-heavy formation in the hope we could put our opposition out of the game quickly. But they were the ones scoring. Their striker Dauda Mohammed quickfired two goals in the 40th and 44th minutes, stunning us before the break. Even as I ratcheted up the attacking pressure heading into the second half, we could not do anything offensively until Westerlo (and Mohammed) got their third. Only after this did we start to get into the game, as headed goals from Jelle Vossen and Henry Onyekuru got us back to 3-2... but Westerlo would kill the game immediately after the latter's goal, going down the other end and slamming home a fourth. An appalling defensive performance that saw us eliminated at the first hurdle.

I was hoping to bounce back immediately against Lierse, but we ended up with just a point in a disappointing display at the Breydelstadion. We were the first to concede yet again, as Mathieu Maertens stuck one in from a low cross on 25'. Thankfully, we dominated the second half, and got level through Jean-Thierry Lazare's first Brugge goal- a header from Rotariu's cross- on the hour mark. Still, I would have wanted more with the amount of possession and attempts we had in the rest of the half, but we had to settle for a draw.

Table
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Still in 9th after two months. We're three points off rivals Cercle in the last Championship Group place, and seven off leaders Liège. Gent and Zulte have moved up, while Sint-Truidense have taken a step back. Genk and Anderlecht are still just a point ahead of us, and Eupen are a point behind. Oostende are still without a win, but have been picking up draws regularly. Kortrijk have moved off the bottom after getting their first win and draw of the season, leaving Charleroi at the bottom after a terrible two months for them.

Next month sees us play two teams in the top half and two in the bottom half. Genk is the standout fixture as we aim to move into the top six.
Los! Los! Los!

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29 minutes ago, kidthekid said:

Genk, Club Brugge and Anderlecht at 7,8 and 9. Mid-table is the place to be!!

I know, it looks far more like a top three than a 7-9! Maybe we can change the rules so that the team in the absolute middle wins the title.

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35 minutes ago, kidthekid said:

Genk, Club Brugge and Anderlecht at 7,8 and 9. Mid-table is the place to be!!

It's where all the cool teams go. 

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4 minutes ago, Fer Fuchs Ake said:

It's where all the cool teams go. 

Like United?

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On 03/09/2018 at 21:26, oriole01 said:

Like United?

Billedresultat for hysterical laugh

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Club Brugge
October 2021
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Balanced month, but that Oostende result is a complete injustice.

We crumbled in our most important fixture of the month against Genk. I thought I finally had the tactic to hold them off- a wide 4-1-2-3- but for the third straight meeting, Genk got the better of us. The scoring started on 6', as Salvatore Chiari caught our defense napping at the back post, sending his cross all the way across the goalmouth to find Steven Bergwijn for the simple finish. We equalized shortly after though, as Jonas Grønner's header down from a corner found Ruud Vormer, who swept it in on the half volley. We kept Genk quiet for the remainder of the first half, but not long into the second, they took the lead again, with Bergwijn speculatively lashing out at a half volley from twenty yards out and quite spectacularly burying it in the bottom-right corner. We pushed for another equalizer, but they got their third and final goal on 78', Chiari's cross picking out Ahmed Hajji to smack home a header from close in. There's not much to say, other than that we were outplayed by a superior outfit who know how to beat us.

We couldn't afford to slip up against last-placed Charleroi, so I'm glad we came away with a convincing three points. Leonardo de Souza hit the post with his free kick on 7', which served as a signal of our intent. We then made the intent real on 22', as Jelle Vossen stuck one in on a low volley from de Souza's cross. Things would swing the other way just six minutes later, as our young midfielder Sander Vanhee conceded a penalty for a trip, which David Brun converted for the home side. We would react very positively, however, as de Souza got our second from Joao Sousa's acrobatic cross on 32', then Dorin Rotariu made it three from another Sousa cross four minutes later. We had to wait until the 67th minute for our fourth, which was quite interesting. Ricardo Pereira got completely free on the right side, got in close, then had his first shot saved by the keeper, and his second attempt hit both the keeper and the woodwork before it fell to Vossen on the rebound to score. A great win, which should have been expected against struggling opposition.

In one of the most infuriating results I've had on the save, we "lost" to Oostende at home. We conceded a penalty for a second consecutive match, as Maxence Lacroix clattered Julien Picard and failed to win the ball in the process. Andile Jali, who scored a hat trick in our last meeting, smoked the spot kick into the bottom-right corner to make it 1-0 on 7'. We got back level five minutes later, as Vossen smashed one home from eighteen yards out. We had all the possession for the rest of the match, but we struggled to create chances, which made me quite impatient. I continued turning up the pressure, but it was to no avail... at least for us. In the final seconds of the game, Kyriakos Bakalos exploited some ****** marking from Vanhee to send Emmanuel Johnson free on goal, and the Nigerian wonderkid made no mistake on the ensuing one-on-one. Oostende had only had three shots (including the penalty) prior to that, and 45% of the possession. What's most embarrassing is that they hadn't won a single match this season prior to this- in eleven attempts- meaning that they had just sacked their manager and had a caretaker managing this game. Oh yeah, and in addition to scoring, Jali injured Vormer, our captain, who's out for a month. Just an absolutely brutal result.

Yet we followed that up with victory against a good Zulte Waregem side away from home. We got the only goal of the day early on, thanks to a perfect counter attack following a Zulte corner. Long story short, we got three men wide open in the box for Rotariu to pick out from the right wing, and he picked Vossen, who is definitely our player of the month. The match peaked there, as for the rest of the 90 minutes, both sides were kept quiet. Zulte got shots on target, but hardly any of them were quality chances, and we seemed content to keep it at one goal. Not the highest quality win, but one that was certainly welcome after the travesty of the previous match.

Table
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We can't seem to get out of 9th, but had any semblance of a fair result been presented to us against Oostende, that would have helped. We're still three points outside the top six. What's good is that we have opened up a substantial gap on the teams behind us at the moment, as Lierse and Eupen are now five points back. Standard remain atop the league, but lost it briefly during the month to Gent, who responded very poorly to becoming leaders. Genk rise into the top six, Cercle remain in it, and Sint-Truidense drop out of it. Oostende won again after the travesty, moving them well clear of relegation danger. It's still Kortrijk and Charleroi in that conversation, as both are still below ten points heading into the fourth month of play.

We're only playing two games in November due to a long international break, and they'll be against bottom-half Waasland-Beveren and Royal Mouscron, who are the only Pro League teams I've yet to play since arriving in Bruges. That's six points on paper, but probably less in reality :rolleyes:.
Los! Los! Los!

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5 hours ago, oriole01 said:

We're only playing two games in November due to a long international break, and they'll be against bottom-half Waasland-Beveren and Royal Mouscron, who are the only Pro League teams I've yet to play since arriving in Bruges. That's six points on paper, but probably less in reality :rolleyes:.
Los! Los! Los!

Only 8 points from the top, and if I remember, the points gets halved or something like that. So, your goals are still on track. Hopefully you get those 6 points

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21 minutes ago, kidthekid said:

Only 8 points from the top, and if I remember, the points gets halved or something like that. So, your goals are still on track. Hopefully you get those 6 points

Yeah, that certainly is something to be hopeful for, but I have to make I sure I actually get into the top six, or it won't matter. Still a long way to go until the league splits, so we have to keep winning games. Cheers.

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Nice. Just keep pulling closer, once the league splits and pints are halved you're going to be in good shape.

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Club Brugge
November 2021
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There's the six points we needed! Good effort from us against opposition we were expected to beat.

We didn't put up the most convincing scoreline against Waasland-Beveren, but we were the only ones who were going to be winners here, as we dominated in possession and chances. Our young DM Sander Vanhee had two good chances in the first half, but both were well saved by their keeper Merveille Goblet. We had to wait until the second half for the breakthrough, as substitute Ricardo Pereira curled our winner into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards out just moments after he had come on. That was all we needed to win, but the bad news is that Jelle Vossen came off injured and will be out for three months. He was in really good form and scoring vital goals for us, but we'll have to rely on either Wesley or Vukmanovic up front now.

We took a while to get going against Royal Mouscron, but we were very good once we did. We were poor in the first half and allowed our opponents to control the ball, but there was only one highlight between the both of us. The second half was markedly different. Dorin Rotariu got us on the board on the hour mark by ripping home a half volley into the bottom-left corner. We then doubled our lead five minutes later thanks to our short corner routine, as our two center backs Maxence Lacroix and Thomas Rogne combined to score, the former flicking on Jean-Thierry Lazare's cross to the latter, who needed only to tap it in for his first ever Club Brugge goal. We got our third on 75', as the substitute striker Vukmanovic hammered home a header from João Sousa's delivery, scoring his first senior goal in the Kaiser era. Mouscron did pull one back through their prolific striker Deivydas Matulevicius, but victory had already been assured for us here.

Table
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We've reaped the rewards thanks to those wins, as we leap from ninth up to fourth in just two games. We're now stuck in the middle of an extremely tight pack behind leaders Standard, who have gone seven points clear of second place. Keep in mind though- as @ManUtd1 said- that the points will be halved at the end of the Preliminary Stage, so that lead will inevitably become less no matter how large it grows. We're ahead of rivals Cercle by a single GD point, and behind Genk by the same margin. Sint-Truidense have moved back into the top six, while Gent and Zulte have fallen out. Oostende won another two games after beating us, shooting up to tenth. Kortrijk and Charleroi continue to battle at the bottom, in what will surely be an interesting relegation scrap heading into the second half of Preliminary Stage fixtures.

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Rotariu's smashing half-volley won him the Goal of the Month award. Definitely one of my favorite strikes to watch at Club Brugge so far! If it wins our goal of the season at the year-end awards, you'll get to see it in living color.

The festive month of December will be a tough one. We have five games, and all of them are against teams currently in the top half. This is where we will need to truly prove ourselves and our baldness, and Hans can't wait for it.
Los! Los! Los!

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Club Brugge
December 2021
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Not a good month, simply put. We are having a lot of trouble against the sides we're going to be expected to contend with in the Championship Group, if we even make it there. Teams seem to be figuring out our counter tactic now, as we started it in all three of the losses you see here. Prior to this month, we were unbeaten in every game in which we started it. Not a good sign, if you ask me.

We had won three straight matches going into the game against Lokeren, but they brought us right back down to earth with a heavy defeat at the Daknam. Their young star striker Karel Moens had his penalty saved by Jens Teunckens on 11', but they took the lead anyway seven minutes later through Jules Iloki, who benefited from a complete cluster**** from our defenders. Moens was determined to put the penalty miss behind him, as he took charge of the match from that point on. He blasted in his first from the edge of the area on 25', slotted his second from close range on 35', and grabbed his hat trick from Felix Nyberg's probing through ball four minutes later. We were already in ruins by half time, but we did perform much better in the second half. We got more possession, more chances, and eventually scored through Vukmanovic on 72'. Nice to improve later on, but a really poor start is what cost us here.

I wasn't displeased with a 0-0 draw to leaders Standard Liège at home, as this was an even match in which a draw was the fair result. That doesn't mean there weren't chances though, as the woodwork denied both sides their best chance of the match. First Standard hit the post through Edmilson Junior's header on 6', then Dorin Rotariu had a header of his own slam against the crossbar and back into play on 77', the ball bouncing just in front of the line where it could be cleared. Would have loved to steal a win, but a draw makes sense here.

Our lowest point of the month was getting thrashed in the Brugse Derby by Cercle, the team who share our stadium. Things were pretty even early on, but Cercle broke the game wide open when Laurenz Simoens drilled home a beautiful header from eight yards out. On 41', some laissez-faire defending allowed them to score just seconds after a throw-in through Darko Bjedov. They then got the third to finish us on 63', as Simoens perfectly placed an effort into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the area. We actually had more shots and possession in this match, but we were horrible in front of goal ourselves, so we had no response to Cercle's clinical finishing. Ricardo van Rhijn also got sent off late to cap a miserable derby day. It was so miserable, in fact, that Hans suspected bungs on the referees, which wasn't too far from the truth...

We did get a convincing win- our only one this month- against Sint-Truidense, so all was not lost here. It was absolutely Dorin Rotariu's day, as the winger scored a hat trick and played a major part in the fourth goal to earn a fabulous 9.6 match rating. However, we actually went behind just 23 seconds into the match, as Yohan Boli's header from the penalty spot became the game's first goal from its first shot. We didn't let that shake us, though, as Rotariu equalized on 11' through a stupendous 20-yard curler into the top-left corner. We had to wait until the second half to get our lead, but it was well worth the wait, as Rotariu unleashed another venomous 20-yarder past four opposing defenders and the keeper on 53'. His hat trick would arrive on 71', as a brilliantly-worked counter culminated in him firing one in from a tight angle to make our lead secure at 3-1. Our fourth goal was pretty much his too, as his deflected effort off Jorge Pulido was credited as an own goal. A match we went behind in but would completely dominate afterward- the shots ended up 32-3 in our favor. We're going to need more wins like this in the coming months.

But following that great performance came another stinker against Gent. Similar to our other two losses this month, our counter tactic created the plurality of chances, but our opposition was clinical with theirs. They got off the mark on 15', with Angelo Fulgini quickly laying off to Borko Duronjic to bury one in the bottom-left corner from eleven yards out.  On 32', they had another, as Duronjic played Moses Simon free on goal with a through ball, and the Nigerian international made no mistake against Ethan Horvath. We tried to do something about our two-goal deficit in the second half, popping off tons of shots, but hardly any of them found the target and we slumped to another lackluster defeat to round off a disappointing December.

Table
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We've dropped three places in the table, but we're still doing okay as far as the Championship Group picture goes; we're only one point removed from the sixth and final spot, despite all the losses. However, the gap between the top and bottom half has closed, as Lierse, Eupen, and even Oostende aren't too far behind us now. We have to be careful that we don't lose form, or we'll be in a race that'll be too close for comfort. Standard are five clear atop the league, and I'm not sure that we can catch them, even when the league splits. Anderlecht, Gent, and Zulte have moved into the CG places, whilst Cercle and Sint-Truidense fall out of them. Both Charleroi and Kortrijk have started winning more games, making their relegation scrap a lot more entertaining, especially now that Waasland-Beveren have joined in thanks to a terrible run of form. Ten games to go until the league splits, and I'm praying that we can find our way into this top six. The fate of baldness itself will depend on it... more details to follow.

January will be mostly taken up by a four-week winter break, which will give us time to do some business in the transfer market. I'm looking to directly strengthen the first team with my signings, as we need players who can give us that final push into the top six. Play will resume swiftly, as we'll have three matches in seven days against Eupen, Kortrijk, and Anderlecht to end the month. Hoping for at least six points there, as we really need to be finding a consistent rhythm if we want to challenge this season. Let's do this.
Los! Los! Los!

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Important Update
So I've been doing some thinking, and I've decided that I'm going to start winding this thread down, for two reasons.
One, my interest in continuing the save is dwindling. I enjoy managing Club Brugge and playing in Belgium, but this was supposed to be a Dortmund save, and I can't help but feel that my true love for this save died when I was sacked. Since I've moved to Belgium, my drive to do narrative chapters (the main reason why I do threads on here) has dried up, and I realize that if I were to stay here indefinitely, I'd more than likely be in for a long haul, something I just don't feel up to doing right now. It takes me a long time to get through seasons, and with the absence of silverware I've had so far on the save, I'm not sure staying on for a big project will be worth it.
That brings me to the second reason, which is the fact that FM19 will be coming out in a little over a month. If you've never noticed, this is an FM17 save, which I've been playing since August of last year. I hardly touched FM18 because of my commitment to this save, and I don't want that to happen again with FM19, especially now that my heart's not set on this save anymore. I've got a new idea lined up for 19 that I don't think I can put off much longer, and I'm ready to move on to that. However, I will give Hans and myself one more chance. If we can qualify for Europe this season, I will continue the save into next season. If we fail, the save will end. Simple as. That rule will apply for any future seasons that may come. Basically, it's "Make Europe or Bust". Once in Europe, we'll have to continually improve each year, or I'll pull the plug. This way, I'm forcing myself to go big with Brugge or go home, and I'll more than likely have the save finished in one way or another before long, so I can transition into what comes next.

Lastly, for those who have the patience (and appetite for fraudulence) to see what will happen to Hans Kaiser in all of this... don't worry. Hans and company will receive a proper ending no matter what happens. I will absolutely guarantee that. It may not end up being the epic ending I had prophesied at Dortmund, but it will be something that I believe will finish his story in the best way possible, and will fit whatever circumstances I finish the save in.
To the readers, thank you for sticking with this save and all its insanity for so long. Hopefully I've made myself clear as to why I'm going to end it, and that everyone, myself included, will be happy with this by the time it's all said and done. So sit back, relax, and let's see what happens. It's not quite over yet, and who knows, maybe Hans will end up living his dream after all. It's FM, anything's possible ;).
Los! Los! Los!
Also, please vote for me in the awards. That'd be really nice.

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Image result for new year's eve bruges
New Year's Eve, 2021. The Kaiser residence. Bruges, Belgium.

"I get knocked down, but I get up again! You're never gonna keep me down! I get knocked down, but I get up again! You're never gonna keep me down! I get knocked down, but I get up again! You're never gonna keep me downnnnn!"
As the final beats of Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping" dissolve into the air, a beaming, intoxicated Hans Kaiser turns back toward the sofa behind him. Three individuals are seated there, each of them outwardly feigning interest and support for Hans' fifth go at karaoke on the night, but inwardly quite fatigued of it. Their answer to Hans' next question reflects this duality.
"Heyyyy, guys. That was awesome, yeah? I love the part where I say 'I get knocked down, but I get up again'. So relevant, right?"
"It was great, Hansi!" exclaims Sophie Kaiser, smiling disingenuously- something she had mastered since Hans had become a manager.
Brendan and Colin look at each other briefly, smile, then say in unison, "T'was brilliant, mate!"
"Excellent! One last go!"
As soon as they have each given their false backing and Hans turns back towards the TV screen for yet another round, the smiles revert to blasé frowns. Midnight couldn't come soon enough... but it was only 10:30. Oh dear.

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By 11:30, Hans had finally come off of the karaoke, but he had not even come close to calming down, for the Guinness was still flowing. Thanks to his most generous Irish neighbors, he had downed six pints of the stout and was now headed for his seventh when Brendan calls him back over to the sofa.
"Get over here, Hans! We've got something we'd like to talk to you about."
"Sure thing, lads!"
Hans stumbles his way over to the sofa, taking a seat in between his two neighbors. Colin is the one who initiates the conversation.
"So Hans, we know we haven't talked about this before, and we're not the most knowledgeable on the whole football thing, but we've been watching your team play, and we want to try and understand your gameplan a little better. Can't hurt to hear it from the man himself, eh?"
"My team? What... oh yes, Brugge! That team. We play the counterattack most of the time, right? Yes, yes, yes. We do. Of course we do."
"Counterattack! I've been trying to think of that word for so long now, it was on the tip of me tongue!" Brendan announces loudly.
"Same here, mate." Colin confirms. "Was giving me so much trouble!"
Colin takes a few moments to reposition himself, so that he is facing Hans directly. His hands are wrapped together in a compact ball.
"So Hans, how are you planning to use this counterattack against Anderlecht? Word is that that's a big game around here. We'd love to hear what's going to happen before we... you know... see it in action."
Like with most people, alcohol clouded Hans' judgement. If he weren't currently sipping his seventh pint of Guinness, he would have been far more alert to what was happening right in front of his face. But he told them everything. Every last detail, down to where the pre-game 'baldification' would take place. When he's finished, he moves back over to the kitchen to get an eighth pint, but Sophie stops him. She'd been listening from around the corner of the kitchen the entire time, and she was none too pleased with their neighbors' actions. She had never felt quite right about them since she met them. So much about them was shady, such as their reluctance to describe the exact nature of their work (all they ever said was 'risk management'), their improper mannerisms and often coarse language, and most of all their much-too-frequent prying into Hans' work life. Colin was lying, after all. They had talked to him several times about his gameplan before; Hans just didn't remember it, as they would load him up on Guinness each time and he would forget it in the morning. It was formulaic, calculated, regimented. She knew they were up to something sinister, and she wouldn't be surprised if they knew that she knew, as well.

So why wouldn't she tell him? Quite simply, she wanted Hans to quit football management. She had tried to convince him to do so face-to-face numerous times, but he wouldn't budge, and that made Sophie quietly furious. She was certain that management was bad for both Hans and their family. Over the years, he had grown more and more stressed, remote, and erratic. He had gone missing many times. There were rumors in the press that he had been involved in shady, potentially illicit activity while at Dortmund. He had developed awful nightmares that caused him to wake up screaming in the middle of the night. Worst of all, he had missed many of their sons' most important moments, and their marriage felt nothing like it was supposed to be. She thought things might have changed when he lost his job at Dortmund. Maybe, she figured, the harsh nature of the sacking would turn him off of management altogether, or at least see him work in a much lesser role. She thought things would improve. But Hans had insisted in continuing on, in finding a new management job. She was at least a little bit hopeful when he decided on Bruges. It seemed much quieter, much less stressful. Maybe he would have more time to spend with the family. She had retained that optimism through the quite grueling process of moving herself and the boys from Germany to Belgium. But things hadn't changed, and in some ways, they had gotten worse. Hans was still distant as ever, absolutely hell-bent on rebuilding his reputation and putting just about all of his focus on his job. All she seemed to be now to Hans was a housewife, someone to take care of the kids and the house, and she had had enough of it. It was time that Hans take responsibility as a father and husband, like he used to... before he had become a manager, of course. So she let Brendan and Colin play their game, with limits. She still loved Hans and had to look out for his health and safety. Right now, those were at risk, as he had had far too much to drink.
"Hansi, honey. I think you've had enough. The ball will drop in ten minutes, let's enjoy it together."
Hans, very drunk but still lucid, looks her in the eyes- something that had become rare these days. She thought she could see anger boiling up in them, but suddenly it recedes.
"Yeah, I suppose you're right. I've got more Irish in me than the Winter Hill Gang right now."
Sophie chuckles at that, but quickly returns to her protective mode. She escorts Hans over to the sofa, where their guests had been arguing over Bono's new haircut.
"You're never gonna convince me that a mohawk's a good choice for him at 61, lad. Save your breath."
"Let the man do what he wants, is all I'm sayin', Brendan."
Before Brendan can say anything else, Sophie cuts them off.
"Come on gentlemen, turn the TV on, will you? Ball's about to drop."
"Oh, of course, Mrs. Kaiser! With all the discussion me and the geezer were having, *pauses and stares at Brendan for a second* we almost forgot!"
"**** off." comes the retort from the other side of the sofa.
Colin laughs raucously, then flicks on the television. There are indeed ten minutes left on the countdown in Berlin. The rowdy crowd at the Brandenburg Gate didn't look like they could wait even that long. They looked ready to explode.
Five minutes later, Hans is already slumped over the sofa's armrest, fast asleep. Sophie is left with Brendan and Colin, and she takes her opportunity to speak.
"Brendan, Colin."
"Yes, ma'am?" They both say.
"Whatever you two are doing, get it done soon. I think you know what I mean."
"We do." Brendan replies softly.
No more words are said.
Five more minutes later, and the ball drops on a new year. 2022. For those in the footballing business, it was going to be in important one. A World Cup year, one that should have inspired hope in many people, Hans Kaiser included. He was hoping to make it to the Championship Group in the Pro League, and qualify for European football with Club Brugge. Surely, things were only going up from here. He had seen the worst before and bounced back. He had had plenty of enemies at Dortmund, but they had nothing to do with him anymore. Yeah, it was going to be a good year.
At least, that was what he thought. It wasn't true. And now, even the one he trusted most wanted to bring him down.

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Fifteen minutes after midnight, Sophie ushers Brendan and Colin out of their apartment. They would have stayed all night if they had their way, but they didn't mind. With the rather unexpected revelation that Kaiser's own wife was on their side, they felt even more confident in completing their mission. They had work to do anyway. As soon as they get back into their room across the hall, the men replay their entire conversation with Hans about his Anderlecht strategy, captured on one of the numerous bugs they had placed throughout the Kaiser apartment when they first arrived in Bruges. Colin produces a notebook from a desk drawer, writing down everything important he hears as a backup on the sixth page. When he's finished, Colin briefly glances through the previous five pages, a satisfied grin on his face. Each page had a color-coded heading, reading either 'Anderlecht', 'Gent', or 'Cercle'. They had only picked games against Brugge's biggest rivals to pry information out of Hans, to maximize the board's frustration at losing in as few matches as possible, so that they did not chance detection by trying too often. It had worked well so far, as Brugge had not won a single game in which they had taken notes on. The boss would be proud, and Brendan, having far more of his respect among the two, is the one to give him the call with the good news. He presses the 'call' button under a phone contact named 'Gaffer', and holds his phone up to his ear. After three long rings, Carlo Ancelotti picks up.
"Yes?"
"Boss. We've got the intel on Anderlecht."
"Good."
A few seconds pass.
"Is that all?" inquires Carlo, who made it apparent in his tone that he wanted to spend as little time talking to these two as possible.
"Well, there is actually something else. You're not gonna believe this, boss, but Kaiser's wife knows what we're doing, and is fine with it!"
There is a short pause, followed by a solid minute of cackling from the other end. It sounded like Emperor Palpatine mixed with a choking sea lion.
"Now that, that is something! We've really got him by the ****s, haven't we? Now listen, don't think you've won back my trust or anything, but this is top work. You know when to report next."
"Thank you, boss. May I ask a question, though?"
"Yes?"
"I don't want to sound ungrateful, but when is this going to be over? The lad is going a bit mental, him hating Bruges and all."
Another pause. When Carlo speaks again, his jovial tone is gone, the clipped, stern one having returned.
"Is that a serious question, leprechaun? When he is sacked. Goodbye."
The line goes dead.
Brendan had put the conversation on speakerphone, so that Colin could hear. Even with the less than optimal end to the conversation, they high-fived. They were doing well, and hopefully closer to getting out of Bruges and back into their boss' best graces. There was one last order of business before they could go to sleep for the first time in 2022. Brendan calls another contact, named 'Jacky'. Another three rings before the call is answered.
"Jacky here."
"We've got it. Expect a copy of our notes in Brussels tomorrow."
"Cheers."
The line goes dead again. Job done.

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To be fair, a mohawk at 61 is very definition of hardcore Bonocore.

P Diddy knows what's up.

giphy.gif?cid=3640f6095bc409d73535617232

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6 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

I'm beyond offended...

 

11 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

So racecar.

giphy.gif?cid=3640f6095bc40d77635365466f

 

11 hours ago, oriole01 said:

their improper mannerisms and often coarse language

tenor.gif?itemid=5016996

****ing true though.

Edited by Fer Fuchs Ake

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25 minutes ago, Fer Fuchs Ake said:

****ing true though.

Aye, true as f*** to be fair, we often have the habit of talkin' like dirty aul s******.  I guess no one here gives a s***, once you're used to people sounding like a bunch of a********, it rolls off the back.

Anyone that does though can have one of these *flips bird, grabs crotch* and go to f***.

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On 15/10/2018 at 04:42, BoxToBox said:

I'm beyond offended...

On 14/10/2018 at 23:46, ManUtd1 said:

So racecar.

giphy.gif?cid=3640f6095bc40d77635365466f

On 15/10/2018 at 11:07, Fer Fuchs Ake said:

tenor.gif?itemid=5016996

****ing true though.

Image result for ireland flag gif

 

On 15/10/2018 at 11:37, BoxToBox said:

Aye, true as f*** to be fair, we often have the habit of talkin' like dirty aul s******.  I guess no one here gives a s***, once you're used to people sounding like a bunch of a********, it rolls off the back.

Anyone that does though can have one of these *flips bird, grabs crotch* and go to f***.

Related image

Edited by oriole01

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Brugge.thumb.png.0337ce24d5312997299d81a63908b638.png
Club Brugge
January 2022
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So we didn't concede at all in the competitive fixtures... but only scored once. Our attack is struggling to complement our strong defense right now.

In the friendlies, we performed horribly against Roda, conceding five times (and once to our on-loan striker Verlinden :rolleyes:). We played much better against Trencin and Mlada Boleslav, but in both cases we were FMed by some clinical attacking from the away sides.

We returned to league play after a month off with a win over Eupen at the Breydelstadion. We were the dominant team here, and two red cards for the opposition only made things easier. Dorin Rotariu would come close twice in the first half, first blasting one off the bar from long range and then having a goal correctly called back for offside. Eupen had successfully held us off in the first period, but we broke the deadlock on 63', Rotariu teeing up Zdravko Vukmanovic to laser one into the bottom-right corner. Their first red card would come five minutes later, then their second in the final minute of normal time. I'm a bit disappointed that we couldn't find a second with a two-man advantage, but a win was very welcome to start the new year.

We would follow this up with a poor 0-0 draw to bottom-of-the-league Kortrijk. Though the home side hardly threatened us offensively, they thoroughly frustrated us defensively. We put five shots on target and had 17 in total, but none of them could find their way past Kortrijk keeper Thomas Kaminski. Our best chance of the match came at the death, as substitute striker Ikoma Lois Openda had a goal-bound shot from close range heroically pushed away by Kaminski. Very annoying result, as this should have been a certain win.

 So Brendan and Colin's intel didn't completely sink us against Anderlecht. We were, in fact, rather unlucky not to win this one. The first half was quiet, but the second saw more action and several chances for us to take the lead, but the key moment just wouldn't materialize. Jean-Thierry Lazare blew a one-on-one on 49', then Openda had another effort heartbreakingly denied- this time by the crossbar- on 85'. João Sousa was sent off for a second yellow two minutes later, effectively putting an end to our attacking efforts for the night. Frustrating not to score again, but it was a very solid defensive performance against our rivals, as we didn't allow them a shot on target all game. A result I'll take.

Table
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Still sitting right on the edge of the Championship Group. Zulte have the same record as us, but are ahead on goal difference.  Cercle are just a point behind. Sint-Truidense and Lierse have receded a bit, but could still challenge us if their form improves. Standard's lead has increased further at the top, and the relegation race is getting even tighter.

Transfers
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Since the only transfers out in the January window were unimportant loans, I'll jump right into the incomings this time. Gnaka is yet another big talent we've brought in from Eupen this season, joining Onyekuru and Lazare. He's not very physically imposing for a CB, but has great heading and marking attributes and all-green physicals. His mentals need some development, though at 23 he has plenty of room to grow there. $5.5 million is one of the higher fees we've paid this season, trailing only his new CB partner Lacroix. Funnily enough, he made his debut in the Eupen match, just two days after he had signed for us from them. I'm sure there were some awkward moments there. Our new right back Martensson is the most interesting player of the lot, and probably the one with the most upside. His technicals are still rather raw at 22 years old, but he has some amazing physicals and solid mentals. He has height on his side, too, measuring up at 6'2. I knew there were going to be doubts about his form- he had been really poor on two loan spells in Norway while at AIK and had only made two appearances for his parent club- but he performed really well in January, and looks to have taken Ricardo van Rhijn's starting job for now. Atletico's Romero is what you might call a "hired gun", as I saw our attack struggling and wanted to help supplement it. With Jelle Vossen hurt until March and under no guarantee to return to form, Wesley's form gone to pot, Vukmanovic inconsistent, and our younger prospects such as Openda not ready to step up, I decided to look at the loan market. Romero wasn't my first choice, as I bid for another Spaniard first, but he rejected our offer and went somewhere else instead. His attributes don't really point to a traditional striker, as he high passing but low finishing. Instead of an AF or a Poacher or a Target Man, he's a DF. He's mostly just a punt, but I'm hoping that if he doesn't turn out to be a goalscorer, then he can contribute by creating a higher quantity and quality of chances for players like Rotariu, Onyekuru, and Lazare. Overall, it's a window where I thought short-term, as because of the
reasons I stated above, the save is on a short-term clock as well.
Carl Mårtensson|Silas Gnaka|José Ramón Romero

February sees us play just one other top half team in Genk, who are the toughest fixture left on our schedule. Otherwise, we're up against teams that we are expected to beat, and I need to make sure that's what we're doing if we want to make the Championship Group.
Los! Los! Los!

Edited by oriole01
Forgot player screenshots

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Great to see your defence is doing well. Hopefully you can get the strikers firing soon. Good luck in the push for Europe!

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2 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Hans is so good he gives you his secrets but you still can't beat him.

Hans isn't that good really, always been a bit of an underachiever in my opinion, especially with all the bluster he puts out. Seems he was lucky this time.

1 hour ago, Fer Fuchs Ake said:

Great to see your defence is doing well. Hopefully you can get the strikers firing soon. Good luck in the push for Europe!

Yeah, I'm definitely glad to see us getting some clean sheets after we struggled to do so earlier on. As for the attack, I'm hoping Romero can help us until Vossen gets fit again. Cheers!

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Ugh...need some goals, no question.  Once those start to flow it'll come together.

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Brugge.thumb.png.0337ce24d5312997299d81a63908b638.png
Club Brugge
February 2022

8bcc5d0af09d0730ad6b61d61fd0fcfa.png
So the goals have returned, but the defense has gone back to conceding. I think FM17 is definitely one of the more manic versions of the game, but I'm not here to complain.

The Lierse result was completely fraudulent, as their 4-3-3 formation should have been disallowed for its violation of the McGrath Accords. I can only assume they got to the referees...
Calm down, Hans. In all seriousness though, this was quite a shock. Their attack was rampant early, seeing them go 2-0 ahead within ten minutes. We found our way back into the match, pulling one back from a Rotariu beauty and equalizing through Onyekuru in a span of four minutes. But they went off again, dropping in two more before the half and continuing to punish us after it. It ended up 7-3 in their favor, with our only other response being a screamer from BvdB shortly before they got their seventh. Let's just say we were quite eager to put this one behind us.

We finally got our first decent result against Genk since Hans took charge, earning a draw at the Breydelstadion. I had to adapt, as our opponents have torn apart both our counter and control tactics in the past, so I switched to a 5-defender formation to try and slow down their overwhelming 4-5-1. It sort of worked. We got on the board within ten minutes, as Ricardo van Rhijn's free kick from 20 yards flew in thanks to a friendly deflection off Genk's Sander Berge. Berge would make up for it on 36', however, hammering home a header straight from a corner. It was also a corner that saw them go ahead on 66', as a long delivery to on-loan Roma wonderkid Salvatore Chiari was blasted home with tremendous power, giving Jens Teunckens no chance. Our gameplan having crumbled thanks to Genk's prowess from set pieces, we needed someone to step up in attack, and yet again that someone was Dorin Rotariu. Their defense was caught napping late on, as Zdravko Vukmanovic's through ball found Rotariu in open space, and the Romanian international beat the keeper with his first touch. Very happy to get the draw, as we played well against a side that really knows how to score.

The win against Charleroi was pretty shaky for a home match against a side in the lower reaches of the table, but we were helped over the line by a Rotariu blockbuster. He got his first just four minutes on, unleashing another beautiful curler from outside the area. Leonardo de Souza then came close to making it two, rattling the post with his free kick. Despite the early pressure, Charleroi got their equalizer on 15', as a great tackle from João Sousa unfortunately found its way into the path of Benjamin Allain, who evaded a van Rhijn challenge and slotted it home. And just twelve minutes later, they had their lead. Our defense allowed Allain to find David Brun far too easily, and the latter calmly steered his effort past Teunckens. With a sense of urgency coming to the forefront, Rotariu got us back on terms right away, firing in a volley directly from de Souza's corner. The second half was a lot quieter, but the one big moment went in our favor. On 75', Charleroi conceded a penalty in quite controversial fashion, as there didn't seem to be any obvious contact between our players, but Rotariu took full advantage of the decision and booted the spot kick into the bottom-right corner. Not a good day defensively, but our star man more than made up for it to grab an important three points.

But then came another loss against Oostende. These guys really **** me off, as they never really outplay us, but always take points from us. In this contest, it ended up being some boneheaded defending that gave them their winner. As a low cross from Adam Marusic came in from the right flank, not one, not, two, but three of our defenders all let the ball pass them, despite it being fully within their ability to stop it. As a result, their other winger Nicolas De Préville snuck behind them and applied a simple finish to beat Teunckens. We could hardly drum up anything in response to that, putting just two shots on target all game and sinking to a poor defeat on the North Sea coast.

Table
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Still in 7th, and still just a point off the Championship Group. The good news is that we have the opportunity to settle our score against Zulte, the team right in front of us. We'll be playing them in the first of our remaining three games before the league split, so that's really become a must-win if we want to get in. Cercle, Lierse, and now Eupen are right on our tail, as our form during the month allowed the latter two a path back into the race. Standard are now ten points clear at the top, but will see that lead shrink when the points are halved. At the bottom, Kortrijk have now moved to within a single point of Waasland-Beveren, as their form has certainly seen improvements since the winter break. Should be a cracking final month there.

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A Player of the Month award for Rotariu, and it's richly deserved for his immense contribution this month. I don't want to be labelled as a one-man team, but it's pretty clear that he's the only one keeping us afloat right now, with his 14 goals nearly triple the closest challenger within the Club Brugge ranks. If we're to make the Championship Group, it's more than likely that he'll be the one carrying us into it and through it. Definitely my favorite player as Brugge manager so far, and he's not far from some of my favorites at Dortmund in my mind.

An all-important March will see us play three games to determine whether we make the Championship Group or not. First comes the aforementioned Zulte game- undoubtedly the biggest of the three- then we go away to Waasland-Beveren and finally come home to play Royal Mouscron. I can only imagine that a full nine points will guarantee our place in the top six, so it's time to get our heads down and get to work.
Los! Los! Los!

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Club Brugge
Youth Intake 2022

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My first intake as Brugge manager, and it's pretty solid. Although it's doubtful I'll ever get to use any of the players here, (as the save could be coming to an end as soon as this season) Vercruysse and Vanderberghe definitely stand out. Vanderberghe has more current ability, and should become another good striker for our youth team to develop. The Italian Tommaso Griesco actually has better purely defensive attributes than Vercruysse, but Vercruysse is a much more well-rounded CB. I'll also keep an eye on Verstraete, as our U19s have only one other right winger and he looks to become one our best prospects at that position. I've signed everyone as far down as Vandecasteele. The U19s beat this lot 2-1, so it was a pretty close game. Always a good sign, that.

Welcome to Bruges!
Los! Los! Los!

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Club Brugge
March 2022

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Unbeaten in the month, but it wasn't enough. We knew what we had to do to advance, but we failed to execute. I'm disappointed.

The key fixture was always going to be at home against Zulte, the team directly ahead of us in the race for the final CG spot. We created more chances, but could not navigate our way to victory. They were the ones to take the lead on 16', as a well-worked corner routine found right back Raymond Thomas open for a header from close in. We immediately started pushing harder, though we had to wait until the second half for our equalizer. On 52', we displayed some excellent passing that resulted in Jelle Vossen smashing home a header from João Sousa's cross. The job wasn't done, but it would remain incomplete. Vossen seemed to react negatively to scoring the equalizer, as he missed two huge chances to send us into the lead. Zulte stayed quiet on the attack, but were able to keep us to just a point at our place. Not the worst result, but one that did nothing to help us in the grand scheme of things.

We got the job done against Waasland-Beveren, and thankfully the scoreline flatters them. We pulled ahead on 19', as a convenient deflection in a crowded box found its way to Sousa, who calmly placed his effort into the bottom-right corner. Frustratingly, they got level nine minutes later, as Nicolas Orye's shot did well to beat Jens Teunckens at his near post from a tough angle. Not wanting to drop points again, we took firm control of the match, which resulted in our second goal shortly after the second half kicked off. Some atrocious marking from Waasland saw Vossen completely free in front of goal, and he made no mistake from seven yards out. We didn't need another goal to win, but that certainly would have calmed my nerves, as we held on to our narrow lead until the final whistle. A win that kept us alive.

But we wouldn't stay alive, as we failed to score despite utter domination against Royal Mouscron at the Breydelstadion. There's no doubt we were the better team, but as the missed chances kept racking up, things started to get more and more nervy. There were a good ten instances where we had broken them down, but some sort of mishap doomed us each time. When José Izquierdo missed an open header from just feet away on 80', I lost all hope... it was as if we were cursed. It wouldn't be broken, as the final whistle confirmed we wouldn't be making the Championship Group when a win would have seen us over the line. Gutting.

Table
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We ended up finishing 7th on goal difference. Eupen had a great month and moved to just a point behind us. Kortrijk went unbeaten in March, but were still relegated on GD. Tough way to go down for them.

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Standard's lead has shrunk mightily after a combination of a poor March and the points getting halved. That leaves everyone as far down as Gent with a realistic chance at the title. We've dropped into the "European Places Playoff", which begins with a group stage, in which we've been drawn with rivals Cercle, the Mouscron side who shut us out of the CG, plus Charleroi and two non-promoted sides from the second tier. Eupen, Lierse, Oostende, and Sint-Truidense are the likely contenders in the other group. If we top our group (which is no certainty given our record against Cercle this season), we will enter a one-off playoff with the other group winner, and the winner of that will play a one-off with either the 4th or 5th-placed team in the CG for the final EL berth. Belgium is fun.

April will be a very busy month, as it contains seven of the ten group matches, including both Brugse Derby games. The ramifications are simple: finish top of the group and make Europe, or the save ends. We'd better do this.
Los! Los! Los!

Edited by oriole01

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How the **** does this ************ keep getting jobs? Sacked at City after failing to finish in the top four in either of his two seasons, but hired at Barcelona? Fraudulence at its highest... he must have the entire manager carousel rigged.

He also has the Pro League rigged against you, Hans...

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6 hours ago, oriole01 said:

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How the **** does this ************ keep getting jobs? Sacked at City after failing to finish in the top four in either of his two seasons, but hired at Barcelona? Fraudulence at its highest... he must have the entire manager carousel rigged.

He also has the Pro League rigged against you, Hans...

It's all in the eyebrows. 

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Club Brugge
April 2022
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We made a poor- albeit unlucky- start to the Euro Places Playoff group stage, but then we really hit our stride, winning five in a row to put ourselves in a good position to advance to the playoff.

We started the month with another frustrating Brugse Derby loss to Cercle. In this case, we were our own worst enemy, as two own goals gave them the victory. The first one came on 36', as Silas Gnaka attempted to deal with a tame cross but instead poked it beyond Jens Teunckens and into our net. Jean-Thierry Lazare would level it up before the half ended, taking a deflected cross and clinking one in off the post with his second touch. The second OG was more to their credit, as Laurenz Simoens' long range effort was helped in by reserve defender Emmanuel Ntim. We pushed hard to get another equalizer and avoid embarrassment, but Jelle Vossen missed our best chance in a one-on-one, and nothing else significant materialized. A cruel defeat.

Then came another frustrating, unlucky loss to Charleroi, who we had beaten twice in the previous stage. The first half was mostly uneventful, though José Izquierdo missed a solid chance towards the end of it. Unfortunately, they found the lead in the second half, as Nathan Leyder powered home a header straight from Benjamin Allain's corner on 61'. We again failed to pose a comeback, our best chance to equalize coming through Henry Onyekuru's crossbar-rattling shot on 82'. Really disappointing to drop this one at home.

We got our win streak started at home against second-tier Mechelen. Leonardo de Souza nearly had a spectacular free kick fly in early on, but he hit the woodwork for the umpteenth time this season. We got our lead on 38', as Zdravko Vukmanovic took Dorin Rotariu's ball twelve yards out, then turned and fired it into the bottom-left corner. Four minutes later, we were awarded a penalty for a push during a corner kick scramble, and Rotariu slotted it into the left side of the net. Mechelen offered little in attack to challenge our lead, and although I wanted a third, I'm happy with this result.

Vukmanovic kept his good form rolling away against Leuven, as the young Serbian striker bagged a brace and would have had a hat trick had he not missed a penalty. He got his first on 29', tucking away Ricardo van Rhijn's low cross from close range. He then added his second four minutes later, driving one into the bottom-left corner from Rotariu's assist. The aforementioned penalty miss came on 64', as a poor handball in the box from Adolf Noël saw Vukmanovic with a chance to get his hat trick, but he hit it right down the middle to make it a comfortable save for Laurent Henkinet in goal. We started to think that that might have cost us when Noël scored at the other end as a result of some poor marking on 71', but thankfully we were able to hold Leuven off the rest of the way and ensure Vukmanovic was the hero of the match rather than the villain.

We made it three straight at home against Royal Mouscron, the side responsible for our participation in the Euro Places Playoff in the first place. Leonardo "The Carpenter" de Souza finally put one in between the sticks on 14', scorching home a half volley from Rotariu's cross. We doubled our advantage on 36', as this time de Souza fed Rotariu to score a beautiful looping header from twelve yards out. Mouscron would pop up with a goal five minutes later, as they exposed our back line through some direct passing and ended up finding Inters Gui to head home. The second half was a lot quieter, though they did give us a further advantage on 81', when Mërgim Vojvoda was sent off for a dangerous two-footed tackle on de Souza. Happy to claim revenge for that result last month.

We then got another measure of revenge, this time against Cercle for all three defeats we've suffered at their hands this season. This was a match lacking in quality chances, but we took one of the few there was on 17', as van Rhijn's high cross was swept home by Vukmanovic on the volley to send our end of the Breydelstadion into raptures. de Souza hit the woodwork again with a free kick on 80', then seven minutes later, Teunckens made a huge save off Wout Deceuninck from close range to seal a priceless derby victory.

Away against Charleroi provided our third and final measure of revenge in April, as we more than made up for the loss at home with a 4-0 drubbing of the (at that time) group leaders. This was once again Rotariu's day, as our leading scorer dropped his third hat trick of the season, as well as his second against Charleroi. He claimed his first on 17', pouncing on a rebound from a well-saved Glenn Caenepeel shot and easily putting it away. Center back Maxence Lacroix got our second and his first Brugge goal on 26', heading home from close range after some extended probing following a corner kick. Rotariu got his second on 35', coolly blasting one into the left side of the net from the edge of the area. He would save his best for last, as on 87', he teed off on an effort from from 30 yards out and watched it zoom into the top-left corner for 4-0. One of my most satisfying victories with Brugge so far, and one that was very important in the scope of the group.

Table
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That win over Charleroi saw us leapfrog them to top the group, but we need to make sure we're on the top of our game in May to hold them off. Cercle are five points back after leading earlier on. Lierse lead the other group, though just about all of the teams there still have a shot at winning it. The Championship Group has seen the title race split wide open, as four sides still have a chance of winning the title. The lead has changed hands several times already, and it may very well change again before it's over. Anderlecht lead by two points, but Liege, Genk, and Lokeren could all overtake them with three games remaining.

Some tidbits from this month:
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We've set the record for the worst ever discipline in Pro League history :lol:. I don't know exactly why we pick up so many cards, I never say to get stuck in or anything, but I suppose I'll take the distinction. Also, Rotariu has scored the most league goals of any Brugge player on this save with 19, and I'm hoping he'll add even more in the month to come.

Speaking of the month to come, we'll face Mechelen, Leuven, and Mouscron one more time in May to see if we can top the group and advance to the European Playoff. I think you all should know what happens by now if we don't.
Los! Los! Los!

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Club Brugge
May 2022
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We kept the good form going into May.

We should have done better in the Mechelen match, though. We missed a fair few chances early, including a Zdravko Vukmanovic strike that crashed against the post on 26'. Though they had been sitting back for most of the match, Mechelen took the lead with their first shot on target on 41', as Giovanni Bonaccio cleverly switched off Maxence Lacroix and slotted it past Jens Teunckens in goal. We knew we couldn't afford to lose, so we pushed forward in the second half, which got us our equalizer. 51 minutes on, Ricardo van Rhijn's first-time cross was met by Vukmanovic's first-time shot, which nestled in the back of the net from nine yards out. We weren't satisfied with just that, and pushed even higher up the pitch as the second half moved on, but we could not negotiate a winner. An acceptable result away from home, but we deserved to win.

We returned to the Breydelstadion to grab a convincing three points against Leuven. Dorin Rotariu got us ahead on 13', rolling his 20th goal of the season into the bottom-left corner from eighteen yards out. Vukmanovic doubled our lead on 38', taking Leonardo de Souza's ball beyond his marker with a smart first touch, then blasting it past Laurent Henkinet from close in. de Souza, who I dubbed "The Carpenter" in last month's update, shed the moniker entirely as he scored his first DFK of the season on 77', an absolute beauty that flew into the top-right corner from over 30 yards out. That made it 3-0, capping a dominant, important victory.

In a repeat of the previous stage, our final game of the group stage saw us up against Royal Mouscron, and we defeated them for the second time in as many matches. Our lead came through de Souza on 34', as he swung home another 30-yard free kick, this time placing it in the top-left corner. We waited until the 53rd minute to get our second, as Vukmanovic- who has earned a reputation as a volley expert- scored another from de Souza's cross, raising his leg above his waist and cranking it home. Though this was an even match on paper, (possession was 50-50 and we had an equal amount of shots) our finishing set us apart. Another hugely impressive win to finish the group stage.

Final Table
So, were the seven points we earned this month enough to see us top the group and advance to the playoff?
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Yes, yes it was. Charleroi lost again after we beat them at the end of April, and that was enough to forgive our draw against Mechelen and keep our group lead. Cercle lost all three of their final matches to finish in a disappointing fifth. Waasland-Beveren topped Group B after winning their final three, showing a large improvement over their form in the opening stage.
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That means we'll face them in the playoff semi final at home, which is good news, as we've defeated them twice this season. They were both close games, though, so we'll have to approach the match with the right mentality if we want to advance.

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The Championship Group finished with Standard Liège taking their third consecutive Pro League title on games won, as they drew Zulte on the final day and previous leaders Anderlecht fell to Genk away from home. They were definitely the best team over the entire course of the season, so I'm happy they've pulled it off. If we get through Waasland, we'll face fourth-placed Lokeren in the playoff final with an all-important European spot on the line. Though they finished bottom of the group, Gent are already in Europe, having won the Belgian Cup over relegated Kortrijk. Really exciting finishes all over the league this season.

Wish us luck in the playoffs, we'll need it to keep the save alive!
Los! Los! Los!

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Club Brugge
European Places Playoff- Semi Final
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Wow, where do I start with this match? An absolutely mental game in which we first came from behind, were equalized twice in normal and extra time, and then had to see them off on penalties. We did what we set out to do by controlling the first half, taking plenty of shots and allowing our opponents none, but we couldn't create any high-quality chances. But much to my disgust, Waasland-Beveren took the lead with their first attempt of the match on 55', as Nicolas Orye was this far offside when Chancel Nsingi's ball came in, but inexplicably, the goal stood. A sense of injustice having overcome us, we pushed forward and got back level just four minutes later, as a quick counter set free the run of Zdravko Vukmanovic, who banged it past backup goalkeeper Gergely Nagy into the left side of the net. Seven more minutes, and we had our first lead of the night, as Leonardo de Souza pounced on the rebound from Dorin Rotariu's crossbar-hitting header before Nagy could get back up. With eight minutes left on the clock, we looked safe, but Orye stung us again from close range, exploiting some laissez-faire marking from our defenders and heading home from Nsingi's probing cross. That was his and Waasland's second goal on just their fifth attempt of the game. We couldn't find a winner before the 90 minutes were up, so the game moved into extra time.

We didn't take long to get off the mark once there, as de Souza got completely free on the right side of the box and put his shot past Nagy... then it hit the inside of the post and rested on the goal line. Thankfully, Vukmanovic won the race to the ball, and even though he appeared to put it in, it was credited as de Souza's goal. Another weird glitch from the game, but I wasn't going to complain with a lead. Unfortunately, Waasland found a way back in again on 113', as Ronnie Schwartz blasted a 30-yard free kick into the bottom-right corner with what would be their only shot of the extra period. Unbelievable.

A winner failed to present itself in the final seven minutes, and Hans and company went into the shootout with a feeling that luck simply wasn't on their side. That feeling was reinforced when Jean-Thierry Lazare failed to convert our first kick, placing it too close to Nagy. Schwartz converted their first to give them the advantage, but Vukmanovic scored his to make sure we didn't fall too far behind. That would pay off on the next kick, as Julian Michel hit one straight at Jens Teunckens to restore parity at 1-1 through two rounds. de Souza, undoubtedly the hero of the night, slotted home our third attempt with ease into the left side of the net, then Laurent Jans also hit one right at Teunckens to see us take a 2-1 lead through three rounds. Momentum was building around the Breydelstadion, and it grew much larger when Maxence Lacroix roofed our fourth attempt into the top-right corner to put all the pressure on our opponents. With Waasland's season in the balance, François Marquet stepped up and buried it in the bottom-left corner to keep them alive at 3-2. As we were entering the fifth round, however, we only needed to score once more to win. Up to the spot stepped Thomas Rogne, our 31-year-old center back who has been one of our most consistent performers this season... and the calm and professional yet boyish-looking Norwegian was the one to drive the stadium to euphoria, as he slotted it in the bottom-right corner to see us through, vanquishing an extremely resilient (and extremely fortunate) Waasland side who pushed us to our limit, as well as keeping our season- and the save- alive. One hell of a grueling match, but one we deserved to survive.

Fun fact: In six seasons, this is my first win in extra time or penalties on the save, as I had gone 0-5 in such games at Dortmund, and this was our first extra time endeavor at Brugge. It felt like a curse that wasn't going to be broken, so I'm beyond relieved that the luck finally fell our way here in such an important fixture.
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For one crazy night, Hans felt like he was at Dortmund again. It had been a long time since he had gone through so many emotions in a match, and he certainly hadn't had anything close to this night at Brugge so far. From his hope when his team dominated the first half, to his rage when Waasland "scored" their first, to his confidence when his side took the lead for the first time, to his disappointment when they were equalized, to his ecstasy when they took the lead in extra time, to his shock and despair when they were equalized again, to his extreme nervousness and stress all throughout the shootout, to his tears of joy and relief when Rogne slotted their winner, Hans had been through it all, and he had nothing but love for his bald disciples when all was said and done. Wild celebrations in the locker room eventually mellowed into embraces and emotional words of congratulations, as each member of  the squad released the stress they had endured on the night with cathartic declarations of brotherhood. But even as they celebrated and enjoyed each other's company, they knew their job was not done. They had won on the night, and it was a victory to be remembered for eternity, but the reminiscing would end soon. They still had to play and win a final to advance to Europe, and Hans would make sure that come morning, the collective minds of everyone at the club would be completely focused on that fixture. Failure to qualify would not suffice, as neither Hans nor his players would be content with another season in which there was nothing other than the league to play for. The first step on the long path to redemption was now in Hans' sight, and he would do anything to make sure he didn't let it slip. Anything.
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As I mentioned in the previous update, we'll be playing the final against fourth-placed Lokeren, away at the Daknamstadion. We drew them at home 2-2 in the opening match of the season, but were thrashed 1-4 in the away fixture back in December. However, this is a different side now, as we've gone nine games without losing and we have several dangerous players on top form. It won't be easy at a hostile stadium, but I think we have just a good a chance as they do. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to save the save again.
Los! Los! Los!

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Club Brugge
European Places Playoff- Final

Hans Kaiser's Monologue:
Here we are. It's our biggest match of the season, and one of the most crucial in my career. I had my fair share of big games at Dortmund- most memorably the title race draw with Bayern in 2020- but that era of my life is long gone now. I'm with Brugge now, and with them, there hasn't been a match on this level since I arrived. The last match was huge, but it was one we really had no excuse to lose. Although I was proud of my boys for working hard and coming out winners, we shouldn't have had to go to such lengths to secure safe passage. This being a final, the stakes are only bigger. I'm hungry to get back into Europe. It's been a year and a half since I managed in a European competition, and it's been even longer than that since I've had a good season in one. This is my chance to get back on the big stage, where my name will once again be mentioned in the same breath of the best managers of today's game. I can't **** this up. Even though it'd be the Europa League and not the Champions League, I cannot miss this opportunity. If we fail, I couldn't take it. The players, the fans, and the board will be very disappointed, and that's something I vowed to never experience again after my last season at Dortmund. I have to make them happy, or else I will have to leave, because I swore to never let a club I love down again. I swore it on Leo's grave. So yes, this could be the end of the line for me. But it could also be a new beginning. One where baldness takes the world by surprise, emerging from obscurity and into the light. I want nothing more than for that to happen, to bring joy to the city and club I now call home and adore. When Carlo said I'd be going to Belgium, I took as an insult. Oh, how I relish him saying that now. The beer, the fancy chocolate bars, the canals and gondolas, the medieval buildings mixed in with the hip and modern ones, the reserved nature the locals will give off until you get to know them, I love it all. All that's missing is a damn good football team, and if we win tonight, I believe that's where we'll be headed. We just need to get this done, to see it over the line, and to end our season on a massive high. Voor de stad. Voor de glorie. Voor de kaalheid. Kaalheid boven alles!

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I've set out in a defensive formation to start, as Lokeren run the same counter formation as I do, and the last time we clashed with the same tactic, we lost 4-1. I want to stay secure at the back, but I've set the mentality to counter and the FBs to support in the hope we can get the ball to the front three on quick, fluid counterattacks.

Club Brugge- Carl Martensson starts in place of a suspended Ricardo van Rhijn. Young midfielder Sander Vanhee starts ahead of Branco van den Boomen, as he's better in the role of BWM. The biggest news on our side is that our top scorer Dorin Rotariu will start on the bench, as he unfortunately took a knock in the second half of the Waasland match and was not fit enough to start this one. I will look to bring him off the bench at some point in the second half. His absence from the starting XI brings José Izquierdo into it. The long-serving Colombian will be playing his final Brugge match, as I plan to release him at season's end if we win. He's really struggled to put away his chances this season, but I hope he can turn that around in his last bow. A red-hot Leonardo de Souza swaps wings to fill in for Rotariu. Lastly, Jelle Vossen will serve as our strike option off the bench, in what could also be his final match in a Club Brugge shirt.

KSC Lokeren- Lokeren will start four players who have made less than ten starts for them this season, most notably the striker Dennis Van Vaerenbergh. For unknown reasons, their 22-goal striker Karel Moens (who bagged a hat trick against us in that 4-1 loss) is not in the matchday squad, leaving an inexperienced Van Vaerenbergh to be the lone striker tonight. Another big threat, Felix Nyberg- who has 5 goals and 10 assists this season- is on the bench. Among those actually in the Lokeren starting XI, Bob Straetman is the one to watch out for, as the brilliantly-named left winger has 6 goals and 11 assists that he can point to to justify us double-marking him with Lacroix and Martensson. The bottom line is that they're a weakened side tonight, and we have to take advantage of that if we want to win and achieve our goal.

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The game has started, and the time has come. Let's save the save, lads.
Los! Los! Los!

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28'- It's a goal for Lokeren. The opening stages of the match have seen both sides get into the attacking third, but Lokeren have done it more often, and they got their break here, as a scramble from a corner saw the ball deflect off the back of a heavily-covered Bob Straetman and fall to Georgian international Levan Mchedlishvili, who powered the ball past Teunckens on the half-volley. I'm switching to our counter tactic, with attack our mission straight from the restart.
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Image result for ksc lokerenBrugge.thumb.png.0337ce24d5312997299d81a63908b638.png  0

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HT-

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Still down a goal. Our counter tactic started to make the wheels turn a bit more after their goal, as we were able to get in behind their defense a couple of times, but our finishing hasn't been here tonight so far. I've tried to motivate the players at half time, as well as switch to a standard 4-2-3-1, the one Hans used frequently at Dortmund. There's zero point in playing conservatively now, so I'm pushing them on. The third CB Silas Gnaka will come off for van den Boomen, who is a key performer in the midfield.

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56'- Another goal for Lokeren. They've had the better of the second half so far, and they score again, as this time our on-loan RB Haris Gahrouri picks out Van Vaerenbergh with his cross, and the 23-year-old former Brugge youth player rips it home on the volley for his first goal of the season in Lokeren's biggest game of the season. That's insult to injury, two times over. Rotariu will come on for us.
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Image result for ksc lokerenBrugge.thumb.png.0337ce24d5312997299d81a63908b638.png0

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70'- Rotariu's first meaningful involvement of the game sees him with a big chance to put Brugge back in the match, but the wounded talisman stings it wide. Glenn Caenepeel will come on at AMC for Jean-Thierry Lazare.

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