INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: YVES VANDERHAEGHE
One and a half months ago, Yves Vanderhaeghe was appointed head coach. He is of course no stranger, as he led Ostend twice to Play-off 1 and European soccer. The fact that the wind is not blowing in his sails at the moment does not stop him from wanting to write another success story with the Kustboys. We sat down with Yves for a chat about a number of sporting matters.
Yves, you've been back here for a while now. Are you satisfied since your return?
"I'm still pretty happy since I've returned to work here yes. We have already shown that we can play nice soccer and I think the supporters see that too. On the other hand, we are still not mathematically saved. And that has to happen now on Saturday. I want to go to Eupen competitively, but not to ensure we stay there. I want to finish the season well and show that we are ready for next season and that we are all looking forward to it. We have to succeed in winning the league against Seraing on Saturday. One point is enough for us, but we have to go for the win as well. A home game against Seraing, you don't go into it with the mentality that you are happy with a draw, do you?"
Are there any players absent?
"We have some players that we need to evaluate tomorrow and Friday. For example, Robbie D'Haese is struggling with a runner's knee and Makhtar Gueye was sick today. He did not train, wait and see what it will be in the next two days. Kjell Scherpen joins tomorrow after his international games with the U21 of the Netherlands. He already gained confidence as he kept the zero twice. Thierry Ambrose and Kenny Rocha also gained confidence with their country as they both stood at the gun. Unfortunately, Rocha will not be able to play in Seraing because of his suspension.
On the other hand, are there any players we can recover?
"Definitely! Theo Ndicka has been training again since this week, but is still experiencing a little pain in his ankle at times. We'll have to wait and see if he's ready to play on Saturday. We can also count on Brecht Capon. With his experience he can be of importance in an important game like Saturday. Jakel and Atanga were sick last week and lost some pounds. However, they are now training fully and it seems that they will also be fit enough to play. So I still have to make some decisions in the coming days."
If we secure retention, the league will be over in a week and a half. Remarkable, isn't it?
"Due to the modified league format, our season indeed stops already at the beginning of April. Absurd really, what's wrong with a regular league with 18 clubs lasting until the middle of May? Soit, to send the players on vacation already in April is a bridge too far. In what state do some players then report to mid-June when training resumes? That is why we continue training until the first week of May. We also play some practice matches against West Flemish teams in April."
You're already talking about next season, so you're clearly looking forward to staying here longer?
"I can definitely see that happening but whether it will, I sincerely don't know yet. My contract states that I will be informed of the plans within twenty days after the last day of play. That is fine with me. My focus now is mainly on the next two games. Let's bring those to a good end and then we'll see."
As you said, we were already playing good soccer. But since your arrival we did only win one more game, the one against Standard. Why is that?
"Of course, we don't have the easiest program on it. But sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot. Take the match against Anderlecht. We played a good first half and went into the dressing room 0-0. If we were a bit more efficient, we might have scored one or two goals. That second and third goal at Anderlecht came after we adapted our tactical plan to try something anyway. The next week at home against Club Brugge, we got caught out by personal mistakes. If we didn't let them score so easily, we might win that match because our game was pretty decent. We started that game well, and we played a strong last quarter after some substitutions. But everything was just undone by those individual mistakes in the back."
So we need to become more efficient but are there any working points?
"In terms of discipline, there is still room for progression, both on and off the field. Off the field there are players who are too often late. That has to come out, as a professional you have to live for your job. They know what the penalties are, but still some manage to have that occasionally. Of course, there are also players who are always on time at the club. On the field, we have to learn to be focused for a whole match. Now we lose focus too much at certain moments."
Last week we played a practice match against the vows, it ended up a 1-1 draw. Did you learn a lot there?
"Definitely! Not only about my own team, but also about which guys could possibly make the switch to the first team next year. It was the perfect opportunity for those guys to prove themselves, and they certainly did. If they are looking for reinforcements for certain positions, clubs often immediately go on the transfer market, but I always want to see what's available in our own youth first. From that point of view I'm pleased with what I saw in the U23s. They are working well and there are promising profiles. There is definitely talent in our youth!"