After surviving his first run in with the press Alex met with the chairman for what he was told would be a brief talk about the club and its history but, was more of a lecture. “Historically and recently we are one of the best teams in Belgium and are the only Belgian team to make the Champions League final, where we lost to Liverpool who also beat us in the UEFA Cup final the two years before. Brugge have the most Belgian Cups with 11 and also the most Super Cups with 13. We are big rivals with city opponents Cecle Brugge, one of few city rivalries in Belguim that is played, we are also rivals with Gent nearby and have a competitive rivalry with Anderlecht that dates back to the 1970’s. We have 13 top league titles but, our last one was in 2004-05 so if you could bring one here you would become a legend. We also recently celebrated our 125th birthday so we hope you can try and turn the season into something special anyway. Our fans are also voted the best in Belgium and we constantly sell out the stadium so don’t let them down they will create a great atmosphere for you.”
The passion of the President was hard to miss and Alex thought he might have a very demanding owner but, as it was based out of a love of the club and not a want to earn some money from the club. “Well I will try and push the club on and add to the impressive trophy collection that the club already has.”
“Great” responded the chairman “Well I’ll let you get on with your job Philippe Clement, your assistant, is waiting for you in your office a quick chat with him and the staff and then you can get some rest before a full days work tomorrow.”
“I look forward to it” Alex said as the chairman rose and left the meeting room. Alex then realised that he hadn’t asked where his office was so would have to find his way there. He decided to turn left guessing that his office would over look the training pitch. He walked past a couple of doors before seeing one with office on the door and a man inside who could be the assistant and if not point him in the direction of his office. “Excuse me are you Philippe?” Alex asked.
“Ah, Mr. Taylor welcome to Club Brugge. I’m not Philippe I’m Thierry along with my brother Lode we are the club doctors. I was just getting ready to meet you with the rest of the staff to update you on the health of the squad.” Thierry seemed nice and the sort of person who could break bad news well which was a key part of the job.
“Oh, well nice to meet you Thierry and you can call me Alex, do you know where my office is? I’m supposed to meet Philippe there then everyone else after.”
“Yes” Thierry gave him the directions to office and Alex found himself with is assistant a 6 foot 5 centre back who had 38 caps and had been the caretaker before Alex was hired so he wanted to ensure that Philippe was happy to work under him.
“Great to meet you Alex, I am Philippe your assistant you’ve just got yourself the second best job in Belgium after mine as I don’t get sacked if things go wrong.” Well that answers that thought Alex it wasn’t surprising he was happy to stay according to Wikipedia when Alex had checked him out he had played for Brugge for 9 years and joined the backroom staff right after he retired.
“Pleasure to meet you and hopefully I won’t have to worry about the sack any time soon.” Alex replied.
“Yes, hopefully you won’t as that would mean trophies. Anyway I’m just here to give you an overview of everything before we meet everyone else. They will go over the squad and all that. The big thing is that after thirty games when everyone has played the other teams twice the league separates into two groups. In one the top six teams all get their points halved and the winner of that group is the winner of the league. In the other there are two groups and the winners of them play each other and the winner of that plays another playoff with the chance of Europa League football. Got it?”
“Err..” Alex stalled he understood pretty much it just seemed a bit odd. “Yeah a bit odd but, simple we just need to get top six and with the halving we should have a chance.”
“Pretty much” Philippe confirmed. “Anyway I was hoping this could be longer but, we are running late to meet the rest of the staff and I can explain some other stuff there.”
“Yeah sorry about that. I couldn’t find the office.” He admitted sheepishly “So I’ll let you lead the way to the meeting”.
Philippe laughed “Good idea.”
Alex introduced himself to all the staff and sat back to listen to what they had to say.
Thierry spoke first “Well from an injury point of view you’ve come at a good time some players are going to be well recovered from some long term injuries and will be more than ready before your first match. Other than that Bernie Ibini has the flu so within a week you should have a fit squad if nothing happens.”
“Great, hopefully you can have a relaxing few months for us”
Stephan Van der Heyden, the assistant assistant manger, spoke next. “We like to have a happy squad and we have three players who are unhappy so you will have to deal with that. Felipe Gedoz the backup right winger, Brandon Mechele fourth choice centre back and Benoit Poulain fifth choice centre back all want first team football. Gedoz was promised first team football when he started while the other two are promised rotation football. You arriving should placate them though.”
Alex thought it over “Okay, good I’ll talk with them all as soon as I can to make sure that it isn’t a big issue for them anymore.”
Renaat Philippaerts, a fitness coach, spoke up. “You can change the captaincy if you want but, the best man for the job has it.
Alex knew the impact changing the captain could have and had no intention of changing captain. “No leave it as it. One final thing then you can all go home who is our star player the man to build the team around to you guys.”
Philippe laughed “They are two different things here our best player is not who you should build your squad around.”
“Oh, so he is over 30” Alex guessed if he was it was fine it was a character issue he wouldn’t be happy.
“Yes” Philippe confirmed “He is quite a way over thirty, Timmy Simons is our best player a 39 year old defensive midfielder.” Alex realised there was a player that was older than him which he hoped wasn’t awkward. Philippe continued “Model professional and still got the legs to play the role. He had a 5 year spell here in 2000-2005 and then re-joined in 2013 he is also Belgium’s second highest capped player got another year or two in him”
Alex wrapped up the meeting and headed for his hotel with a lot of reading work to do which made him glad his family was only joining him in February.