Hans Vandeweghe is a sports journalist at The morning.
This was stated on a news site the day before yesterday: “The players of Club Brugge did not train on Thursday, a day after the 1-4 cup defeat against Sint-Truiden. Wednesday’s cup elimination hit Club Brugge hard. Thursday’s planned training would not have taken place. In the meantime, there would be a lot of discussion at the administrative level. It is still unknown whether coach Carl Hoefkens has to fear for his job.”
Yesterday it turned out that he can stay. For now, because his credit has been used up. That shouldn’t be surprising. Nowhere are trainers fired faster than in Belgium and that will soon happen to Hoefkens. Apart from that, you have to ask yourself – and maybe they do it better in Westkapelle – on what basis Hoefkens ever became head coach.
Until his appointment in May, his most notable role in Belgian football was the awarding of the first Golden Pump to a football WAG together with Gunther Schepens in the blessed year 2003. I remember who then received that prize as the most beautiful football woman. It was the beautiful Eveline Hoste from Ghent, from whom you can now buy houses and who later also participated in the world record bicycle bell ringing.
The Gouden Pump, the name alone, the prize alone, the ceremony alone, no idea if it still exists, let’s hope not. That Hoefkens, with one title as a footballer to his credit and as a trainer active in the training for four years, succeeded last year the neat person and prize winner Philippe Clement as head coach of Club Brugge.
Quite a few intimates of Belgian football explained it as follows: “The manager and the chairman not only think they are the best manager and chairman in Belgium, but deep down they also think they are the best football trainers. And so, after the stubborn Clement, they have put someone who is both cheaper and who listens to them.”
So far an analysis that can be correct. Since Club Brugge, under the guise of football entertainment for its many fans, primarily wants to make a profit on the import and export of football talent, it is useful to be able to keep your trainer on a leash and to weigh up who is playing and who is not.
Football players feel that. You shouldn’t suspect them of having too much insight into the ins and outs of their club, but if they have a nose for something, then for the shaky power base of their boss. As a result, Hoefkens is shot wild after the cup injury against Sint-Truiden and the ‘support from the dressing room’ will not change that.
Of course it was a strange game in which nothing seemed to be wrong for Club, until the man who never flatters this season made a mistake. After that, everything that was fired at Simon Mignolet’s cage was priceless.
That can happen in football. There was no reaction on the field and so it was looked at the coach to get the fire in the team. By substitutions, by incentives, by name-calling, by arguing with the ref and/or with the opposition. Hoefkens couldn’t get it going either and that’s not the first time. Although this is obviously not due to him alone, hard logic wants his head to be on the chopping block now.
Despite everything that stands for this, Hoefkens has also achieved something this season. Just think of the wonderful European campaign. It would be a shame, more than that, it would be completely insane if the first Bruges coach to overwinter in the Champions League was fired, but it would not be surprising.
After all, this is Belgium, a trainer’s graveyard that has no equal in the world. Do you know who is the longest-serving trainer in the Jupiler Pro League? Marc Brys at OHL, he has been at the helm for two and a half years. The second longest? Hein Vanhaezebrouck, just over two years old. Subsequently, Jonas De Roeck and Bernd Hollerbach have been singing it out for a year at their clubs Westerlo and STVV.
Fourteen of the eighteen current Belgian first division trainers have less than six months’ service. In the Netherlands, half of the trainers have been employed for more than a year, five of which for more than two years and Dick Lukkien has been with FC Emmen for six years.
The turnover of players is almost nowhere greater than here and the turnover of trainers beats all records. The board and management rooms do not escape the madness either. The day before yesterday, a newspaper calculated that thirty managers have passed through Anderlecht in five years. Someone should explain to our football clubs that continuity is the first requirement for sporting success.