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The retirement of Alex Taylor

Started on 15 May 2016 by ninjaskill
Latest Reply on 14 October 2016 by ninjaskill
What should have been a short trip took a bit longer due to road works, but Alex’s Brugge side made it to Mouscron in plenty of time. It was cold and rainy in front of around 4,000 fans who braved the elements. Alex was hoping to send them off unhappy and beat RMP.

The first 15 minute was even and had a number of shots from both sides. All of them were poor most missed and only 1 from each side needed saving.

Nothing much else happened before half time there were a few shots, none however caused either keeper any problems. Alex put on Vossen and went 4-4-2 to try and create something.

Alex was watching the minutes tick by with nothing happening. 50, 55, 60, 65 minutes nothing. Vanaken then got some space from 30 yards out and tried a shot. It looked good, but smashed into a defender and went out for a corner.

Joao Paulo hit the corner in deep and at the back post Engels rose highest and powered a header and it split the keeper and the man on the line to put Brugge ahead with the first decent effort by either side. Alex reacted to the goal by putting Simons on to join Zokora as a DM.

Another ten minutes past with nothing happening the game again sparked into life. Vossen got the ball to Zokora and he played it wide to Felipe Gedoz. He passed to Meunier who beat his man twice and then whipped in a cross. At the near post Gedoz stuck his foot out and poked the ball high into the goal leaving the keeper no chance. A two goal lead with just 15 minutes left and Alex was confident.

The second goal provoked a reaction from RMP, a short free kick was passed around and to Alex’s disgust found an open player in the box. Marquet hit the ball past Butelle but, it smacked off of the bar and bounced twice before Engels and Butelle combined to smash the ball clear.

Another RMP move was headed clear but it fell to another RMP player and Manea received the ball outside the box and whipped in a cross. Marko rose high in space and planted a great header off of the bar and Meunier smacked the ball clear.

The clock then ran out and Alex’s side were the winner in a tight game thanks to some favourable woodwork and two good finishes.

“It was not a great performance, but we got the win and that is the big thing. However, we will have to be better against Braga or they will take advantage.” Alex’s team talk was short and he hoped sweet.

We are up to fourth place and it is very tight one poor result could see us fall back out of the top six
Alex was at the pre-match meeting before the Europa League game against Braga. “We may nave to alter how we usually play, especially as I don’t want us to let in an away goal. What do you think we should do to improve our chances?”

Rudy Helen spoke first. “Not about the match but, I feel we are shorthanded here and need another coach to help out.”

Alex thought it over. “I guess we could do with an extra coach. Anyone in mind?”

“Yeah, a guy I did my badges with Jeroen Heubach. He is at Excelsior only has a few months left on his deal.”

“Okay. I’ll get Roel on it.” Alex then changed the subject “Back to the game. Braga will be tough we have may have to adapt for the game.”

Phillipe as usual spoke first about game changes. “I think we should try to play on the counter and stay tight at the back. An away goal would be a killer, late on if you want a goal you could push forwards a bit.”

Alex agreed with his assistant’s verdict as usual “I agree we have to be pragmatic they are better than most sides we will face so we should look to use the counter and defend more.”

Stan de Buijs spoke next. “We should look to play with less width than usual. We have to restrict space centrally and force them wide with the ball. Also if they go with there usual 4-4-2 we could dominate the centre of the pitch with numbers.”

“Seems good to me” Alex agreed. “Defensive and narrow plan. To think I was a striker. Right, what else?”

Phillipe piped up again “We have to play a more structured style, players can’t roam around. A disclipined performance is what we need at home.”

“Who would have guessed that from a defender?” Alex asked rhetorically.

Stephan Van der Heyen than added to the discussion. “A lower tempo would give us more of the ball and allow us to get our shape back and keep the ball for longer.”

“Yes” Alex agreed “that as well. There scouts won’t recognise us. Anyway that is all we can work on in four days of training. We also have to make sure to remind the players to stay alert and how much a good performance would mean to the fans.”

A few days later Jeroen became Alex’s first staff addition as he joined the club from Excelsior.

A solid addition to staff at Club Brugge and hopefully he can help the players
A very solid addition to the backroom team mate, keep it up!
mgrifin2012 Cheers he looks good. Hopefully allow Alex to get a few lie ins.
Simon arrived early for the Braga game as it was a European one. He managed to keep his sons with him and found his brother and a couple of friends all made their way into the stadium to support Brugge.

At the same time Alex was swapping team sheets with Braga and feeling the pressure. The club was proud of generally doing well in Europe. Last year they knocked out Aalborg and Besiktas before losing to finalists Dnipro.

Simon was joining many of the fans in the stadium chanting a couple of Club Brugge songs. “All is Blue and Black” was sung loudly as the players walked out and then “FC-Bruges” as the game got underway.

To a cacophony of noise Alex made his way to the dugout. The fans had shown up in force and Alex hoped that the players didn’t let the fans down.

Buoyed by the fans Brugge dominated the opening exchanges which pleased Alex they had the ball for over 75% of the first 15 minutes. They weren’t creating many chances, but it would tire Braga out and the chances would come.

Simon was getting nervous in the stands Brugge had dominated the game but, they had failed to create a chance after 36 minutes. A Braga free kick was hit forward and cleared. Braga launched another attack but, Meunier intercepted the ball and pushed forwards on a counter. Vanaken played the ball up to Gedoz who was central and pulled a CB out of position and then played N’Djeng a thorugh ball into the space. Simon was up on his feet with the rest of the fans as N’Djeng raced in on goal. His first touch was poor though and fired his shot well over the bar. Simon sat down and swore at N’Djeng for missing a golden chance.

Alex was watching on with concern. Brugge had dominated the half with little to show and now Braga had a free kick in a dangerous position. Alan whipped the ball clear in and Vanaken somewhat headed clear. Braga tried to work the ball from right to left, but Vanaken pinched the ball and passed to Gedoz. He left two defenders for dead and sprinted down the wing. A speedy defence forced him to cut the ball back and he seemed to slip as he crossed from a good position and the ball flew out for a goal kick.

Simon was about to go to the bathroom when half time came when Alan suddenly found some space out wide and whipped it a cross. It smashed into Vanaken’s face and rolled slowly towards goal. Pedro reacted first and got to the ball. It was a tight angle and Butelle came out quickly to further close the angle. Pedro fired a low shot and it smashed off of the foot of the bar and went out for a goal kick that was never taken as the referee ended the half.

Alex had a look at the half time stats as he got into the locker room.

“You have been all over Braga they can’t handle you. Keep it up and the goal will come. You hear all of those fans? They are willing you to score do it for them. A goal and a cleansheet and we are in the drivers seat in Portugal. Now go and win this!” Alex exhorted his side at half time.

After 48 minutes Alex tossed the ball to Joao Paulo for a throw in. He threw the ball to N’Djeng who returned it after a couple of touches. Joao took a touch and then tried to launch a cross into the box and slipped. The Braga keeper stepped forward to catch a simple cross before he realised he had misjudged the flight of the ball and backpedalled. His dive was in vain as the ball floated over his hands and just under the bar to put Brugge ahead. As Joao Paulo celebrated on the pitch Simon punched the air and hugged his brother to celebrate before they both launched into a deafening rendition of Brugge til I die.

After 65 minute Braga launched an attack Joao Paulo won the bll back and Brugge launched counter attack. The ball got to Vanaken and he played it up to N’Djeng after 20 yards of running N’Djeng ran out of options andf fired a low shot that went a decent way wide. Alex groaned “Keep the ball” He yelled onto the pitch.

Simon watched as the clocked kept on ticking through the 80 minute mark 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87. Meunier took a throw in deep the Braga half. The ball was lost and Simon watched on nervously as Braga countered. Joao Paulo won the ball back and passed to Vormer. He hit a long ball over the top and played in N’Djeng, he took a couple of touches but, to the annoyance of the crowd lost the ball to a slide tackle. Another throw in for Brugge and Joao Paulo played a 1-2 before cutting the ball back to Vormer 20 yards out. He squared to Zokora who faked a shot and passed to Gedoz.

Twelve yards out and relatively open Gedoz had to turn and shoot first time which he did. The turn forced him to lean back and the shot fired off the bar. Alex’s hopes were raised when the ball hit off of the back of the keeper and started to roll in, but the keeper was able to snag the ball.

At the final whistle Alex was pleased and told his team as much. He did feel a second goal would have helped.

Simon was pleased with the win and lack of a second goal however, concerned him for all of there dominance. Anyway he was confident they could get through with a similar performance.

Alex had sparred pre match with the Braga manager and decided to keep it going as he felt his team could land a knockout blow away.

Unluckily Alex would be without Izquierdo for the away match although his form had fallen a bit he would still be missed
Great result against Braga mate, as much as I love Braga myself ;)
Great result mate, onwards and upwards!
Jack Thanks, if I lose the second leg then it is because I wanted to make you happy :p

mgriffin2012 Yeah still moving in the right direction just have to keep the form up
Alex was getting ready to complete two signings on pre contracts to boost his side for the season ahead. Mustafa Saymak signed his deal and his move from PEC Zwolle would be completed at the end of the next season. He could play on either wing and while Brugge had four good options on the wing either side they were the same 4 players and Meunier was mainly a right back leaving them short. Saymak would be able to hold a starting spot down and was a very good player who hadn’t been given much time in the Erdedivise. He also had two appearences for the Dutch U-21s.

The other signing was, Alex felt, a very good one for the club. Andre Martins. He had a couple of caps for Portugal and a number of games for Sporting whose academy he came from. The games hadn’t come often this year though so he planned to leave at the end of the season and Alex was happy to welcome him to Brugge. They had some good players at CM but, many were DM’s so having a more attack minded CM could help them bring the lone striker into play. The diminutive playmaker was like Vanaken and could unpick a defence.

Roel had completed some protracted negotiations with both player’s agents and Alex was thrilled to be able to rubber stamp the deal. A few scrawled signatures and both players committed to joining Club Brugge next season and after getting given Club Brugge shirts to hold they went out to meet the media.

Alex started the conference off. “We are thrilled to announce that once there current contracts run out Andre Martins and Mustapha Saymak have agreed to join Club Brugge from Sporting and PEC Zwolle respectively. I assume you may have some questions?” Alex asked mockingly.

“Both players haven’t featured heavily this season do you feel you can judge them off of what they have done so far this year?”

“Well scouts had notes on both players long before I arrived and I think that it will be clear to every one who watches us that we got a great deal for both players and they will get game time to prove their ability here that they don’t seem to have got at there current clubs for some reason.”

“With his caps for Portugal would you say that Andre Martins is a real coup of a signing for a club at this level?”

“No” Alex responded assertively “We have players who have a number of caps for Belgium who are very highly ranked Jelle Vossen has 12 caps for Belgium and Timmy has the second most of all time for Belgium. The two caps for Portugal don’t make him a coup, but getting a player of his quality on a free transfer is what makes it a coup.”

“How pleased are you that these players will play for the club next season?”

“I’m delighted they are quality players who will add to the competition to start here and when they play I think they have the ability to be a step above most other players in the league which is exciting for us. Andre Martins also has a great deal of experience in Europe and the value of that can’t be underestimated. Anyway that’s all we have time for so shall we do the photos?” Alex asked rhetorically.

Mustafa Syamak the tricky winger from PEC Zwolle

Andre Martins the midfield playmaker who is swapping green and white stripes for black and blue
Andre Martins could be a huge signing for you! Very talented playmaker.
Lippo Hope he can produce the good should be a notch above most players in the league if he can find his form
Alex made a couple of changes for the game against 2013-14 champions Standard Liege as it came just 3 days after the match against Braga. With N’Djeng still struggling to find form at Club Brugge Vossen starts and could claim a place against Braga if he played well.

Yet again it was hailing with the temperature around zero as Alex made his way to the bench feeling that British weather had a bad reputation.

An awful clearance after 21 minutes gave Brugge a chance. The ball was hit to Izquierdo from 30 yards out. With no one near him he took a touch and let fly. Alex thought the shot was going way over, but the shot dipped late. It smashed off of the bar and hit the keeper in the back and hitting the post and being smashed clear. Some days you don’t have that bit of luck Alex mused.

A poor clearance rom a cross after 32 minutes gifted Standard a corner. The ball was never fully cleared to Alex’s annoyance until Claudemir fired it away and his long punt played Vossen in. The angle was poor so Vossen improved it by leaving a defender sprawled on the ground after a missed tackle. He burst into the box and was met with a strong tackle. The ball fell to Joao Paulo and he hit in a first time cross. Gedoz was unmarked at the back post and poked the ball in to put Brugge ahead. Alex punched the air in delight and celebrated with his coaching staff.

At half time Alex’s side were still ahead and he told them to keep playing as they had recently and they would get the win. They had been dominating play and Alex hoped for another goal and a win to boost morale ahead of the away game vs Braga. Periera went on as Vossen had been more in the first half.

“Concentrate” Alex yelled as Pereira sloppily gave away the ball a long clearance was taken down by Santini. A couple of passes and Liege got the ball outwide. Badibanga whipped in a low cross and from 8 yards out Santini sidefooted low and hard in to level for Standard with there first shot on target.

Alex told his team to press forward and try and make something but very little was created. “Come on keep the ball” Alex shouted. As both sides traded the ball in midfield. Gedoz got on the ball and chipped a pass forward for substitute N’Djeng out wide. In a great position N’Djeng slammed his cross into the sidenetting and the chance was over and with it hopes of a win.

Given the results of teams around them Brugge actually gained a point although Alex still wanted the win.

It had been a two and a half hour flight from Brussels to Porto. All that most players and Alex had to do was flash their passports to the customs officer who checked they were holding something in their hands and then waved them through. After waiting for the non-EU players they boarded the coach and enjoyed a scenic half hour drive to Braga and everyone got settled into there hotel rooms.

Soon everyone got back on the bus as they made headed to the Estadio Municipal where they would play the second leg of the tie. To say it had a distinctive look was an understatement.

Oddly enough it was apparently nicknamed the quarry. It was a drier pitch that what Brugge had been on in Belgium so the ball bounced more and the player had to get used to it before the real training began. Alex looked on as Philippe put the team through some defensive work with the substitutes probing as Philippe criticised and encouraged the team to keep their shape as he pulled out some defenders to simulate counter attacks or poor passes and positioning. After putting the team through there paces for half an hour Philippe had them split up for smaller group practises.

The players worked on passing and the strikers finishing as Alex felt that strikers scored very rarely and he didn’t want any chances to be wasted. After there practice time was up the team got back to the hotel and had a boisterous team dinner before all of the players went off to do there own thing. Alex got back to his room and facetimed with his family and caught up on the day everyone had had and Alex felt a bit guilty as he left his wife to try and get all of the kids to bed soon. Alex went down to the bar to ensure no players were there and drink a bit himself while playing poker with some of the backroom staff. 10 euros poorer from the poker and 20 from the bar staff Alex made his way back up to his room to get some sleep before the big game.

Unlike his players Alex enjoyed the full range of the breakfast buffet and was stuffed as the team went over some film in a conference room. To occupy the team in the hours before the game a bowling contest had been organised and unsurprisingly with almost everyone being a current or ex-professional athlete it was very competitive. Alex secured a top half finish as goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle claimed the bragging rights with two very good performances to win.

The team then had lunch and went for a walk around Braga which was a nice looking city. A few hours to themselves then they ate dinner and got on the coach to head to the stadium. There was a warm reception waiting for them as they arrived and Alex revelled in it as he led his team off of the bus and into the ground. All of the players did their own routine as they changed out of there suits into warmup clothes and as some awful DJ music blared in the background Alex swapped team sheets with the Braga manager and the match official.

He then went out to watch the warm up which looked professional as he had hoped before the big game. He told his team a repeat performance would get them through then in the tunnel half shook the hand of Paulo Fonseca before they walked out to their technical areas. The players and refs walked out shook hands and the Brugge team huddled near the side line so that Timmy Simons who was on the bench could yell out some encouragement.

The teams lined up the referee checked his watch looked at both teams and blew his whistle to get the game underway.
That ground looks intimidating! Lets hope your guys can get the job done!
I remember that ground from Euro 2004 was so cool when I was ten! Now I want your brugge team to go and claim that place in the next round!

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