It was a rather short journey to Wagrem where Alex’s side would take on Zulte Wagrem, who were formed by a coming together in 2001. Alex felt that his side should be able to get the win but, then he had felt that before all of their games so far and it hadn’t worked out like that.
A win was vital for Alex as a loss would see his side fall to tenth place and he wanted to be in the top six after thirty games when the league split.
With all the bans a number of changes had been made to the team to face Zulte with Ebert making his debut the biggest change. There was also a mixed defence that included 39 year old DM Timmy Simons, Alex hoped his positioning and experience could mask his lack of pace from being exposed.
Alex wanted to see how his defence would react to an attack and didn’t have long to wait. After some playing around at the back Wagrem hoofed the ball forward Engel won it but, his header went to a Wagrem player and he used the gap Engels had made to play in De Ridder and Simons was never going to catch up. Butelle came out to try and take the ball from De Ridder’s feet but, he took the ball around Butelle and De Ridder then fired the ball into the back of the net. Alex slumped down in his chair as the fans celebrated instead of mismanaging a football team in seemingly incessant hail he could be home watching TV inside where it was warm. Or, as he was sure Graham would add, coaching for 4 times the money before tax in Saudi Arabia where a lack of sunscreen would be his biggest problem.
After 13 minutes N’Djeng lost the ball cheaply deep in the Zulte half which annoyed Alex. The ball was cleared to Thiam and after a touch he hit the ball so that it was a race between Kaya and Simons and Alex knew there would only be one winner. Kaya took a touch before shooting and Butelle spread himself wide and the ball hit his leg and went out for a corner. Alex had seen enough and made some small change Engels would drop back and cover Simons would be further up and Vormer moved over to in front of Simons to offer him more cover.
Alex’s day got even worse after 24 minutes Ebert went up for a header and fell awkwardly. The medical team instantly signalled for a substitution and Alex swore before telling Felipe Gedoz to go on for Ebert. Thierry gave him the run down when he got back off the pitch “Probably a dislocated shoulder but, I’ll check it further in the locker room to make sure.” He panted between deep breaths from the exertion off carrying Ebert off the pitch.
“Push out” Alex yelled from the sidelines his side had failed to clear a corner and lagging midfielders were keeping everyone onside. Thiam took advantage a neat backheel playing in De Ridder who hit it first time. Butelle dived well and held onto the shot to ensure Brugge went into half time only a goal down.
“Well that was f**king sh*t” Alex started his team talk “Butelle you have been great and the only player who has done well we all owe your for somehow keeping it to within a one goal deficit.” Alex had to make a quick decision one of the first things you are taught on the Continental Pro Course is you can only go ballistic at your players twice a season or else it doesn’t have an impact. It had been bad but, not awful so Alex decided to keep them for later. “But, that means that we still have a chance of coming away with something and I think we can so we are changing to 4-4-2. Vossen you are going up front and replacing Vormeer try and create something you have more than enough ability to. Right lets get the least deserved three points ever.
15 minutes after half time Alex took stock the change to 4-4-2 had done nothing. The only time any side looked close to scoring was a long range De Ridder shot that Butelle held on the dive. He told his team to go totally forward in the hope they could create a chance or two.
After 67 minutes Alex was finally out off his seat due to a Brugge attack, a Wagrem centre back took an awful touch and N’Djeng was on it in a flash to win the ball and pass to Vossen. Vossen hit the ball back ahead of N’Djeng and to Izquierdo. He took a touch before shooting with the outside of his foot low past the keeper and into the bottom corner. Alex had a fist pump as most of the stadium was shocked into silence.
The goal gave Brugge a wind and stole the momentum from Zulte. It took eight minutes of pressing to get another chance, Claudemir won the ball in Brugge’s half and passed to Vanaken. He hit a high pass up to Vossen who outran his man to get to the ball first, he took a touch to control the ball and crossed in just before the left back got a foot in. N’Djeng got past his man at the far post and just after the bounce fired low and hard in the bottom corner to give Alex’s side the lead. Alex reacted by taking off N’Djeng for Zokora who was told to protect the lead.
He did so with ease and Alex’s side ran out winners possibly not deserved but, he would take any win he could get. After a quick handshake with the opposition manager he gave Vossen a massive hug his two wonderful assists had put far less pressure on Alex’s position.
Thierry was quick to dampen Alex mood “Ebert has dislocated his shoulder so he will miss the next 2-3 months.” Alex was annoyed quite a bad injury and on his debut no less.
An annoying end to what had ended up being quite a good day for Alex