Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ONE of the most influential voices in Belgian football, Kristof Terreur, says Vincent Kompany is walking into a mess at Anderlecht, with a lot of house-cleaning needed at the club, which he says are in crisis.
Warriors skipper, Knowledge Musona, will be hoping to be among those still standing when the dust settles and the house cleaning ends.
Musona has even delayed his return home, to join the Warriors in camp, to first deal with issues related to where he will play his football next year.
Kompany, the former Manchester City captain, revealed this week he will be leaving the English champions to take up a role as the player-manager at Belgium’s most successful football team in European inter-club competitions.
Musona has returned to Anderlecht after a short spell on loan at relegated Lokeren, where he was moved after struggling to settle at Anderlecht following his transfer from KV Oostende.
The inspirational Warriors captain impressed at Oostende and when the then club owner, billionaire businessman Marc Cuker took over as the owner of Anderlecht, the tycoon lured Musona to the Belgian giants, but things didn’t go according to expectations.
Two coaches, including one who didn’t believe in Musona’s qualities, were axed during the course of the year with Anderlecht then turning to Kompany, who started his football career as a junior at the same club, being handed the responsibility to trigger the revival of the club.
Reports say the Belgium captain has been trying to entice Simon Davies, one of Manchester City’s academy coaches, and Sam Erith, the club’s head of sports science, to come with him to Anderlecht.
Anderlecht have a proud history of success and also providing Belgium with some of her best players and, at the World Cup in Russia last year, the club’s academy supplied 35 percent of the stars who made the country’s team and finished third at the tournament.
Kompany, Romelo Lukaku, Leander Dendoncker, Youri Tielemans, Dries Mertens, Adnan Januzaj, Michy Batshuayi and Marouanne Fellaini were the eight players, from the Anderlecht academy, who made the 23-man Belgian World Cup squad in Russia.
While Kompany’s move to Anderlecht has been welcomed by many, one of the biggest voices in Belgian football believes it will not be a stroll in the park for the new boss who will arrive at a club with a broken soul and desperate for a hand to sort out the mess that is choking the team.
‘’On Sunday, on as dark a day as imaginable in Anderlecht’s history, Belgium’s record champions stunned the world with the appointment of their biggest international icon of the last 25 years,’’ Terreur wrote in his article in The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, yesterday.
‘’Enter Vincent Kompany, stronger than any PR machine the club could possibly have built.
‘’The name Anderlecht suddenly hummed around the football world again. Missing out on European football, for the first time in 56 years and the last game of a disastrous season against Gent, another painful defeat, suddenly did not matter anymore to the long-suffering fans.
‘’The violent protests, crowd trouble, flares on the pitch, the insults and the banners protesting Marc Coucke’s ownership were suddenly forgotten.
‘’It was the perfect alibi to cover up the mismanagement of the club over the past 10 months. It was the impossible dream.
‘’Coucke, the sporting director Michael Verschueren and technical director Frank Arnesen — best known for his sporting director roles at Tottenham and Chelsea — pulled off the most incredible stunt Belgian football has seen for years.
‘’It announced the captain of one of Europe’s best teams, Belgium’s most successful player in the Premier League and one of their own, who had signed at 17 and spent his first six years at Anderlecht, in the now unfashionable post of player-manager.
‘’Anderlecht are not the Anderlecht of old any more, however. A former European giant, with five major trophies in the late 1970s and the early 80s, have fallen off the cliff, even in their home country.
‘’An institution that was once a synonym for classy players, a certain DNA of beautiful football, excellent youth players and a healthy touch or arrogance had turned into a snake pit.
‘’The Belgian record champions, with 34 domestic titles, lost their soul over the years, even their identity. Last year Coucke, a famous Belgian businessman who had previously owned Oostende, bought the club from the brewing family Van den Stock — the end of a dynasty.
‘’It was a takeover that did not go smoothly.’’
Terreur could also have used exactly those same words to describe Musona’s difficult transition into the Anderlecht family but, as he points out, the Belgian giants were engulfed by the kind of toxicity that made it virtually impossible for the new recruits to settle at the team.
‘’Coucke is like a thunderstorm. An enthusiastic, flamboyant, noisy, hyperactive and omnipresent man whom one would not associate with the stuffiness of Anderlecht,’’ wrote Terreur.
‘’The mismatch was an easy target when things were falling apart. Even more so when it was publicly revealed that he used to be a fan of Anderlecht’s biggest rival, Club Brugge.
‘’Coucke compounded the situation with a catalogue of mistakes. He signed trustees, players and staff members from his former club Oostende and took unbelievable risks in the transfer market. Arnesen thought, mistakenly, that the Dutch manager Fred Rutten, whom he knew from his time at PSV, would be the saviour to turn things round.
‘’He was gone after 13 matches. They signed Yannick Bolasie, a winger, on loan from Everton when they needed a striker. They signed the best player from the Austrian league, Peter Zulj, when they already had similar players.
‘’When they slipped further down the league, they decided to terminate Rutten’s deal. On top of that came police raids, investigating the links with agents in the pre-Coucke era.’’
But, Terreur believes there could be some light, at the end of the tunnel, and that could provide Musona with a little window of hope that he could remain at the club.
‘’Kompany also comes with a vision and enormous ambition. A student of the game, who always had his own vision and views about football, he rediscovered his love for the game under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City,’’ argued Terreur.
For Musona, who turns 29 next month, this could be a defining time for his career in Europe.