The Unexpected Champions – Part 5 | @Verbist_Philip

Hallo allemaal!

Let’s get your weekend started with the mid-season update of our second season with the Unexpected 96-97 Champions Lierse.

Last week we started great, but after that we suffered from a serious dip in our form. Trying to fit in a Russian winger seemed more difficult than I initially thought. Or is it because everybody still loves Raimond? That makes me the odd one out as I put him on the bench for the Bodart regen.

We resume the action in the CL. After 2 defeats against Juve and Milan, we are looking for our first points and money against the Grass Hoppers from Zurich. A win would have been ideal, but we have to settle for a point. We fail to score a 2nd goal and as it always goes they equalise at the end of the game.

For the 2nd year in a row we take the 3 points at the Vanden Stock stadium. Just one goal perhaps, but it is fully deserved.

Kanchelskis’s form is improving. His first MoM award only gives us a point though against Aalst.

Back to the CL already where De Gier makes us dream against Juve with a goal in the 3rd minute. At half time the dream is already a distant memory after a hat trick from Inzaghi. The lads try to fight back and Kanchelskis manages to score his first goal, but that’s as far as we get. If you compare our XI versus theirs, then you know this is still a decent result. And on aggregate level we scored 4 goals against Peruzzi!

Now that doesn’t really come as a surprise.

7 November 1998 is not really Lokeren’s lucky day. They lose Snoeckx after just 1 minute, they are reduced to 10 players after 9 minutes and Valencia converts the resulting penalty. After that they simply give up (who can blame them?) and it becomes a walk-over: 0-5.

Somehow I feel we are no longer the high-scoring machine of last season. That’s kind of funny to say after a 0-5 win, but we have more matches where we cannot convert our dominance into a win. Our match against Mechelen is a good example of that. On the other hand I believe that the addition of Dirkx and the Bodart regen makes us more secure defensively.

At the start of the CL Group Stage I was hoping for at least 1 win. I was definitely not thinking we would do that at San Siro!

It’s game over for Raimond. With his star performance at San Siro, the fans will not tolerate it if I now bench our new rookie goalkeeper Eddy De Coninck (Bodart)!

The win against Milan boosts the confidence of the lads and we get a big win over Club Brugge.

Last placed Harelbeke comes to visit and with our current form you would expect another win. If you however concede 3 random goals, you have to be happy with just 1 point. When you start a regen goalie, you know that this can happen. The question is: would it be different with Raimond? I am sure the answer to that would be no.

We are already at our final CL Group Stage match and we go out in style! We didn’t qualify, but this has been a successful campaign: in total we add 2,75 million in price money.

A few days later we suffer our first domestic defeat in this update. Very annoying, but we didn’t deserve anything more.

Cup time! Like last year we face a 2nd division team in the first round. And that’s a hurdle we take easily. We stay on the road in the second round, but this time we will visit current league leaders Germinal.

Our last match before the winter break is a trip to Staaien. Within the team a battle for position 7 is emerging. Valencia is taking his second MoM award in a row and is our best player so far. If he continues playing like that, I cannot just put him on the bench when Kanchelskis is fit again.

Instead of going on a ski trip, we go shopping! There is a little over 5M to spend. Of course I won’t spend all of that, my intention is to keep around 2.5M. That should see us through the rest of the season and create a bit of a cushion again silly board decisions. What’s on the list? A striker, a defensive midfielder (preferable a leftie) and an extra back-up on the DC.

What a disappointment! All players where I am even remotely interested in are non-EU. The problem is I already have 4 non-EU players in the squad. In the Belgian league you don’t face the permit issue, but there is no point in stocking up on non-EU players. Yes, I could use them domestically, but then I would have to reshuffle the team when playing in Europe. And that’s not really what I had in mind.

This is just dull winter break. Oh, wait, this is cheering me up. Yes Raimond, you have my blessing.

Back to action lads! Neca had a rusty start of the season, but lately he finally started showing again his minus potential. He leads the team to a superb win over Germinal in the second round of the Cup. Can we repeat that in quarter finals?

Since he is fit again Kanchelskis has been clenching his teeth on the bench. Our Russian star expects to play every match! Luck is on his side when Valencia gets injured in our win over Mouscron.

Luckily it is only for a couple of weeks. We wish him a good recovery with another Flemish classic!

Sometimes just one minute can be enough to turn a deficit into a win. In this case that is minute 51.

We’re already at our last match of this update. We’re on a roll and we steam past Charleroi.

Let’s have a look at the standings before we close. We had a great run this update and we are back in the lead! Antwerp is a close second and there is already a 5-point gap with 3rd placed Anderlecht.

Can we hold on to this lead and go for a three-peat? We’re also still in the Cup, so is it too bold to dream of the double?

Have a great weekend! See you next week when we play the final part of Season 2!

Tot dan!

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