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Attack, attack, attack, attack!

By December 2, 2015No Comments

THE MURRAY boys done well, as we say in fitba’ circles. But a visit to Ghent to witness Dunblane winning the world cup of tennis was not without its humbling moments.

It was great to watch Andy and Jamie win the three points that won the Davis Cup final but a natter with local journalists confirmed that we have much to learn from Belgian football. The focus on football in the country has naturally been on a fine national side includes such fine players as Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Moussa Dembele, Christian Benteke and so many others. Belgium, who finished in front of Gareth Bale and 10 other Welshmen in the qualifying group, could give Germany a run in France in next year.

But their national league has not attracted the same focus as it lost its best players to the bigger leagues and its clubs struggled to make the impact they once did. Standard Liege, Anderlecht and, of course, European Cup finalists Brugge once mingled with the best in Europe. But the country seemed condemned to see its clubs struggle on the periphery of the Champions League.

But that has changed with the fairy tale that is Ghent. The club won its first title last season and are taking to Group H of the Champions League with some relish.

They have beaten Valencia and Lyon in the last two matches and next week host Zenit St Petersburg who have already qualified from the group. Sitting second, Ghent have more than a chance of heading to the knockout rounds.

So how have they achieved this with a squad drawn form all over the world, some of whom have been taken on loan? Part of the answer is Hein Vanhaezebrouck. There is no one who is tempted to shout give us an H at the Ghelamco Arena, the 20,000 capacity stadium where the Belgian champions play their games. After all, the game would be over when they reached the K in Vanhaezebrouck.

But fans and journalist know what they have in the 51-year-old who gad a modest playing career but who is now drawing attention from all over Europe. His philosophy is simple: he wants to attack. Then attack some more.

He is also resilient. Vanhaezebrouck was appointed Gent coach in 2009 but only lasted 16 games. He came back in 2014 and now sees his side champions, top of the league and perhaps heading to the knockout stages of the Champions League. The Belgians have bowed to the Scots in the tennis but in the bigger ball game they are a Champions League apart.
BY HUGH MACDONALD

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