Forget the World Cup, Messi, Martinez, Mbappé and other gods. Time again for earthly things and people. The Croky Cup, for example. And Cercle Brugge and Charles Vanhoutte. After a month of hard labor in the Spanish sun and the Belgian freezing cold, they want to continue the boom of October and November and fire again. Starting on Tuesday evening for the cup against AA Gent.
Do you remember Sunday, October 2, 2022? It was one of those many late summer days and Cercle played the first match under Miron Muslic after the departure of Dominik Thalhammer against AA Gent. It was a crazy match with a final phase like the recent World Cup final, but without extra time and with a winning fourth goal for Cercle. Dino Hotic scored no less than three times, but it was Kévin Denkey’s match. Never before has the French Togolese played as strong as that Sunday afternoon. Is Cercle able to beat AA Gent for the second time this season? Miron Muslic certainly thinks so and left a passionate and enthusiastic impression at the press conference in the run-up to the penultimate assignment of 2022. It will be a busy week for Cercle Brugge, because on Friday there will be the league match at KV Mechelen, in which Cercle will continue the hunt wants to make on a ticket for the Europe Play-offs.
“We were able to train in very good conditions in Spain,” said captain Charles Vanhoutte. “Every day it was at least 18 degrees, the sun was shining, the fields were in perfect condition. We worked hard, but there was also time for relaxation and team building. Normally we do this at the beginning of January, because of the World Cup it was now a month earlier, but the effect was just as great. Such an internship always brings added value, changing the environment is good and makes everyone happier.”
Other system renders
Cercle started the remonte with Charles Vanhoutte in the team. The midfielder immediately gained the confidence of Miron Muslic and preferred Hannes Van der Bruggen. “I had a difficult start this season. In fact, last summer I was ready to leave. There was interest from a team and I was not insensitive to that, because I wanted to play more often. When Miron took over Muslic in September, he immediately promised me more minutes and chances. It is also running better now, the game is good and that this happens with me in the team is of course great. The new coach also changed the system and consistently played with three men in the back in a 3-4-1-2 or depending on the circumstances 3-4-2-1. This new concept immediately caught on and also provided more stability on a defensive level. We swallow fewer goals and offensively we come to more chances and goals. With Somers and Deman we also have the perfect guys to play this system. I myself am quite complementary in the middle with Leonardo Lopes da Silva. We complement each other perfectly, Leo needs something from me and I need a lot from him”, laughs Vanhoutte. Even if there are three of them facing us, we manage to solve that well.”
But he had almost never experienced this again and was now working elsewhere. “It was quite concrete, there was interest in Belgium and even from the Netherlands, but Carlos Avina, our sporting director, didn’t want to let me go. I stayed happy and it turned out well. When you play and you win it’s always fun, when you win and don’t play it’s less fun and not playing and not winning is a drama. Of course you are never out of place, but I was sad when I disappeared from a winning team last season. Now I have the feeling that this will be less likely to happen.”
Soon there will be talk about the future. Vanhoutte’s contract expires in June, but there is still an option. “We will see what is decided”, the captain remains calm. “We are in a good position now, but we are not saved yet and we are still looking down. You better not walk with your head in the clouds, you better keep your guard up. Many teams are evenly matched and it is a strange competition. But if we keep doing really well, we may indeed be able to really look upwards. We don’t have a secret, but we work hard and the coach is in the middle of the group and that works fine.”