At the weekend, Franky Vercauteren’s share price rose dramatically, while his replacement at Anderlecht, Ariel Jacobs, saw his stock drop even further. Vercauteren was sacked by Anderlecht, and then by the Belgian FA, before arriving at Racing Genk in December 2009. Since then, Genk have taken 62 points from 24 first division matches and also qualified – miraculously – for the Europa League. On Sunday, Genk welcomed Standard Liege to the Cristal Arena and a full house saw Belgium’s latest international striker Marvin Ogunjimi score after 20 seconds. With Liege – and ex-Genk – keeper Sinan Bolat threatening to kill an opponent and, literally, seeing red, it was always likely that Genk would take the points and sp they did, by four goals to two. Although the result put Vercauteren’s boys seven points clear of second place Ghent, he said after the match that there was a long way to go and that he had seen “an excellent Standard Liege”. Vercauteren will no doubt be pleased to be eight points ahead of Ariel Jacobs’ Anderlecht – as he has never forgiven his old club for the manner of his dismissal.
On Friday, Anderlecht’s President Roger Vanden Stock had seen it necessary to say that the club was fully behind Jacobs – he did not specify what they were holding! This vote of confidence came after ‘Les Mauves’ heavy defeat by Standard Liege. It didn’t help though; Anderlecht lost again, this time to Cercle Brugge. The solitary goal was scored by ex-‘Mauve’ favourite Oleg Iachtchouk, with an assist from Reynaldo – on loan from Anderlecht. With the Brussels team due to play AEK Athens on Thursday, and after “expensive” defeats by Partizan Belgrade and Zenit St. Petersberg, the President may soon have to explain why Jacobs is being replaced.
Elsewhere, Ghent – with Franky Drury at the helm – had an impressive win over Kortrijk. The main talking point was the visitor’s treatment of Ghent’s Yassine El Ghanassy – after a dozen fouls on the tricky winger, the 19 year-old spent the night in hospital. A debate about the need for more protection for skilful players – so beloved by Arsène Wenger – is now ongoing in Belgium.
Club Brugge had a good win at Waregem, with two more goals from Venezuelan Ronald Vargas, to move up to equal fifth in the table. The Juplier league is warming up nicely and despite Genk’s lengthy lead, it looks like being a close-run thing. The play-offs in Belgium are like no other and merely finishing first in the league ‘proper’ will only be half the battle if the championship is to be won. That’s why it might be worth having a few euros on Standard Liege. Although they are nine points off the pace, they looked a class above Genk in the second half on Saturday – with Steven Defour particularly impressive – and the long play-offs may count against the young Genk Squad.
The most remarkable result though came at Eupen. Belgium’s German-speaking representatives opened their newly renovated stadium with a 6-0 thrashing of St Truiden. That increased the home side’s goal by 150%! Some of the defending by the visiting Canaries was distinctly amateurish – and would have pleased Eupen’s Italian management.
Results: Zulte Waregem 2 – FC Brugge 3; Charleroi 1 – Lokeren 2; Eupen 6 – St Truiden 0; Westerlo 1 – KV Mechelen 1; Ghent 2 – Kortrijk 0; Germinal Beerschot 1 – Lierse 1; Racing Genk 4 – Standard Liege 2; Cercle Brugge 1 – Anderlecht 0.