Jumpers for Goal Posts

Jumpers for goal posts. Literally. That’s how it all started for Liege over 112 years ago back in the Summer of 1898. (Not as catchy as ‘69 I know, probably why Bryan Adams sang about love instead of Belgian football). Royal Standard de Liege were formed by pupils of College Saint-Servais and were named after Standard Athletic Club of Paris. After bobbing up and down for a few years, they finally regained promotion to the top division in 1921 and have never been relegated since.
JF: ‘Kind of ironic that we find ourselves in Division 5 for a third season. Granted it’s entirely the fault of the previous manager, Frank Luca. I’ve not lost a single league match here, and it’s no coincidence that this is also the team’s longest unbeaten streak. We’ve got a UEFA co-efficient position of 71st. That puts us ahead of Lyon (79), Twente (92) and FK Partizan (97). There’s no reason we should be languishing down here with the likes of Davy at Brugge, or PMW at Anderlecht.’
D de K: ‘If your basing your ‘divine right’ to be in the upper echelons of the divisions, do you think you may have made a mistake using Davy or PMW as examples of teams you’re too big to face? I mean Brugge are ranked 17th, and Anderlecht are 37th?’
JF: ‘Who invited you here? In fact don’t answer that, it may have been me. Look, it boils down to the players we have and the manager’s skill level. I’ve never lost a league game. They’ve both lost loads. In fact pretty much all the managers here have lost loads. I’m the only one who hasn’t. I’m the greatest. I might not have won anything yet, like Gursimran or Roy Keane, or even Beddows, actually scratch Beddows… Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once said ‘You can’t win until you learn how to lose’, and if that’s true, by god, Beddows is gonna win big one day!’
D de K: ‘Well you’re certainly right about Beddows at least. Anyway, shall we get back to talking about your team instead of your opponents? How do you feel your first match of the new season went?’
JF: ‘As you know this will be my first full season here, and as such it’s the first time we’ve had a proper pre-season. The new players have adapted extremely well to my methods and techniques, you only have to look at the performances of Lang, Djourou and Rochina against Rubin Kazan. All 3 played tremendously and I’m delighted that was acknowledged with their presence in the Division 5 TOTW.’
D de K: ‘You mention that the new players have adapted well, how about the few remaining existing playing staff? It’s well known that you carried out a North Korea style purge of the previous regimes players when you arrived. It’s rumoured that you even had Diogo Rochinha killed by anti-aircraft gun?’
JF: ‘Of course I did, Diogo Rochinha fell asleep during a team meeting, and if Our Dearest Leader has taught me anything it’s that you need to be cruel to be kind. Look how well his DPRK team did, they reached the final of the world Cup! In terms of transfers, I may have been a little hasty to be honest. It’s not often I make mistakes but I’m man enough to admit that I carried out the changes a little too quickly. It unsettled a couple of the existing players I wanted to keep, and that was reflected in their performance. Bruno was sent off in the 46thminute and Sels struggled to read the movements of his new defence resulting in a below par performance. We’ve reviewed the match videos however and had additional defensive drills, as you can see today.’
A role model… Apparently…
D de K: ‘Have you made any changes to the backroom team whilst you’ve been here?’
JF: ‘Well when Frank left, I wanted a clean slate. It was obvious that he was only part of the problem so his team had to go with him. I’ve brought in a couple of Liege legends so I can focus more on strategy and transfers, they focus mainly on the day to day running of the training complex and sessions. Previous captain Eric Gerets has come on board as my assistant. He knows the club inside out, and has a wealth of experience working for some of Europe’s top sides. I’ve also brought in Gilbert Bodart as Head of Finance and with 470 appearances for the side he’s an invaluable team member.’
D de K: ‘Whilst I agree wholeheartedly that Gerets will prove to be a fantastic addition, do you have any concerns around Bodart’s previous criminal activities?’
JF: ‘Well, I mean who hasn’t been involved in a little bet here or there, or maybe a little money counterfeiting. Next you’ll be telling me that complicity to robbery is a real offence. Anyway, he told me since his prison sentence he’s a reformed man and that’s enough for me.’
Gerets loves putting things in his mouth

New Head of Finance
D de K: ‘Who am I to argue with a man of your obvious superior intellect James…. How do you feel your new players have performed since joining the club, you’ve brought in a lot of players at once so surely one or two of them must be struggling?’
JF: ‘Dick, we may not always see eye to eye but I’ll level with you, a couple of the players were a bit of a punt and may be moved on after their transfer bans are up. Will Grigg was expected to come in and perform. I think he may be a little burnt out though, at least that’s what I think the fans keep chanting at me anyway? Lewis Dunk is a great prospect but I think we may try and use him in exchange for another player. The same with Wagner, Barrios, and Alexis. All 3 can slot straight into a division 4 or 5 first team but they don’t match my philosophy unfortunately. We may see Cacciatore and Barton leave aswell for the same reason.’
D de K: ‘You mention Lewis Dunk, there must already be some potential suitors for him?’
JF: ‘It’s funny you should say that, his agent keep telling me that Juventus, Bayern and AC Milan are all interested so we may reach out to them in the hope that we can tie up some sort of deal.’
D de K: ‘Will you be actively looking to sell the others?’
JF: ‘I’ll happily deal with anyone to move these guys on. Even if that means a 2 for 1, 3 for 1, 3 for 2, 4 for 1, 4 for 2, you get the idea!’
D de K: ‘Do you have any players who you think will be key moving forward through the season?;
JF: ‘I think most managers have a couple of standout players who will usually be in the starting eleven, and I’m no different, although that’s not to say they’ll play every match. Djourou in defence is our captain and my voice on the pitch.  He’s a rock in defence and together with Lang and Sels should help keep out the goals, something the team suffered from before I came. Then we’ve got Bruno, granted he’s suffered from a discipline issue in the first game, but when his bans up he’ll be back in the side, he’s going to be an important player for us in the seasons to come. Finally, up front we’ve got Ruben Rochina. He might not be the glamourous striker other teams have got but he’s tall, quick and has an eye for goal. Now, can you sod off distracting me, Leckie has set up a BBQ in the centre circle, bloody Aussie… always disrupting training…’
D de K: ‘Thanks for your time James. Can I have a burger?’
Dick de Cock of Het Laatste Nieuws was interviewing James ‘The Brain’ Foster at Liege’s open training session this morning.


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