The Rise of Bruges: Dissecting the Contributions of Six Key Players in the Club’s Historic Title Win

Amazing. Historical. The rise in the standings of Bruges will revive the debates on the division of points in the Champions playoffs. Regardless of whether it is considered unfair or not, the Blauw en Zwart, untouchable in recent weeks, have not stolen their coronation either. Those who witnessed this crazy title race will not soon forget it. Neither do the protagonists. Alex Teklak dissects the contribution of six men who played a decisive role in winning the 19th title in the club’s history.

Nordin Jackers

Direct and indirect importance

”When your goalkeeper gets injured, when you have deadlines like the playoffs or the Conference League, you say to yourself: ‘Damn, we’re going to have to field a guy who has played very little until now’ . The replacement must carry a huge responsibility on his shoulders. Even for a 26-year-old like Jackers, it’s not easy to replace Mignolet. He still had to play more than ten matches. Not to mention that he plays in a crucial position. He was decisive, yet he didn’t have a lot of meetings in his legs. Jackers took on this role of second perfectly and was also rewarded with a new contract. His presence and his performances boosted Mignolet. The former Devil remains in a half-baked season. In the playoffs, for example, he prevented Antwerp from leading. But in the classic phase, it was irregular. Mignolet needed to feel Jackers’ presence behind his back. In this sense, the second goalkeeper had a direct and indirect importance.”

Jackers took on the role of second goalkeeper perfectly. ©Photo NewsDenis Odoi

Symbolism of Hayen’s revival

”After the success at Genk in the classic phase (0-3), Odoi had already said that each time he felt left out as the ‘old man’ of the group. As soon as the boat rocked at the Club, we called on him again. And once things got better, he found himself on the bench. This cycle characterizes the last years of his career. He doesn’t play the victim. The Ghanaian is a professional and always does his job. Sometimes he deserves the laurels and not the thorns. Wandering on the flank, in the center or even in the No. 6 position, Odoi has been of service to his team in many ways. He was the jack of all trades, who could be put anywhere. Against Anderlecht, on the penultimate day, he replaced Sabbe and put Amuzu in his pocket. He puts words into action without overdoing it. He symbolically embodies the renewal under Hayen. Moreover, his goal against the Mauves could be ‘the’ goal of the playoffs. We must value this type of person.”

Odoi sometimes deserves laurels instead of thorns… ©TSIHans Vanaken

The only irreplaceable

”I have always been a big defender of Vanaken. I really like players who are not particularly spectacular, but who understand the game and make their team play. Simplicity in football is difficult to achieve. By Belgian standards, there is no one who knows how to do what Vanaken does. Sometimes, when he is less well, we fall on him. However, he has the right to have more difficult passages, like everyone else. By being good, you get used to it always being good… The Limburger is an anomaly for us. He stands out for his playing intelligence. His fault, perhaps, is that he is sometimes penalized because he knows how to do everything in the middle. It is therefore difficult to confine it to one position. The Club captain is able to adapt to many players, to clarify many situations. He moves precisely, in the right spaces… Which has also worked against him from time to time: he gives off an image of a not very nice guy, not pleasant because he is in fact ‘normal’. Vanaken is always a polite and discreet guy. Despite the wealth of the Bruges core, he is the only irreplaceable player.”

Vanaken is an anomaly among us. ©PDVSkov Olsen

Sometimes there, sometimes not

”For him, the season felt like a roller coaster. Skov Olsen knows how to make the difference. The biggest worry was managing this injury. He always seems worried and doesn’t know what to do himself. Perhaps he gets lost in the perception of pain. The Dane remains an enigma, sometimes he is there and sometimes not. He’s not 100% in his head. When he’s good, on the other hand, he’s unpredictable. Skov Olsen excels technically, in the sequence of dribbles, in the deep shot, in his support on Thiago… He has scored many decisive goals and has been decisive. He’s an international with no problems when he’s ‘fit’. The problem remains the fact that you don’t know if you can really count on him or not. He needs consistency and confidence. And then there…”

Unpredictable, Skov Olsen often made the difference. ©TSIIgor ThiagoA big role in the “chameleon” victories

”His season was special. He rowed at first. Everyone wondered how Bruges could have paid so much for him. Then he started to find the net. But the Brazilian especially hit the mark against the teams in the right column. Which contributed to giving an irregular and uneven image to his performances. He continued for 6-7 matches then experienced a period of drought. I prefer a striker who scores less but does it consistently, no matter how difficult the opponent is. During the last third of the season, however, confidence returned. Technique and quality followed. He was the author of gestures that no one would have thought him capable of. Thiago will always have a technical deficit, due to his morphology, his psychomotor skills but he is really interesting in this role of ‘target man’. Particularly due to his athletic power, he is more than useful in offensive, but also defensive, set phases. He is capable of retaining the ball and has played a big role in the Club’s chameleon victories. No matter if Hayen’s plan may have changed, he still went into battle and caused a lot of trouble with his incessant activity. Even if he has progressed a little at this level, he must calm his passion and his impulsiveness all the same.”

During the last third of the season, Thiago was the author of gestures that no one would have thought him capable of. ©PDVNicky Hayen

Meticulous match preparation

”If he was able to benefit from good momentum, it is because he installed it. Hayen is a very analytical person. He studies each opponent in a relevant and detailed manner to best exploit their weaknesses and best contain their strengths. The former defender is a very picky person. He often perfectly adapted his game plan or innovated from match to match. Particularly on stopped phases with three or four ways of exploiting them each time. This attention to detail in preparation sets him apart from Deila. Hayen also established clarity in the role of each of his players. Like Onyedika, whose qualities he perfectly highlighted, or Odoi who rendered him enormous services. The coach also chose the matches well in which he gave precedence to Ordonez, like against Union SG where the defender took care of Amoura. Not to mention that Hayen was respectful of Deila and her work. His analysis is clear, precise and precise. In terms of his behavior on the edge of the field, he is almost impeccable. Regarding his slip-up at Anderlecht, everyone can understand this nervousness given the stakes.”

”Now, if we must qualify, we must not forget that he worked in a climate of emergency. The Club made the bet for the playoffs but what will they do now? I think the leaders can’t not give him a contract. Otherwise, they will play the wrong role. They have to give him a chance. Hayen was a luxury temporary worker, now we have to see how he could settle in over the long term. Everything will be different whether at the management level of the management, the group, the supporters, the media, the transfers… In any case, the Limburger is already more transparent with his leaders. He explains himself, communicates and justifies his decisions to Verhaeghe. How will he handle an entire season? Starting at the foot of the mountain, without having been pushed by your predecessor, is something else. Here, in ten matches, he succeeded across the board. How will he react to the obstacles that are bound to arise at one time or another? Faced with doubt? That’s the question mark. Will he still be sufficiently serene and lucid to make the right decision despite everything? These are undoubtedly the questions that occupied the management too.”

Hayen often perfectly adapted his game plan or innovated from match to match. ©TSI
2024-05-26 20:56:00
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