Union SG have won 11 Belgian titles but their last title was won in 1935. They have fallen to the second division in Belgium and have quickly become the second best team in Brussels behind Anderlecht and their 34 titles.
In addition to the 11 Belgian titles, the club have five Belgian Cup victories as well. They are Belgium's 3rd most decorated club.
To revive the club, a local lad, Paul Peeters has been brought in. Paul was named after former Belgian legend Paul van Himst. Paul is great developer of youth players something that will be vital to the revival of the club. Paul won't be afraid to bring in a player from outside the club to fill in gaps but youth players from the club will take priority.
The media have the club tapped to finish 3rd in the small eight-team division. Here is the roster at the time of the takeover by Mr. Peeters. A more detailed breakdown will be posted when I have chance to look over the roster more closely.
A new thread and a new team. I don't ever remember anyone playing as Union SG before. I had no idea about their history either. I'll be following this.
I came across their history while doing some research on non-Big 5 league to see if I could find any "fallen giants." Now, I wouldn't consider Union SG a fallen giant by 11 league titles and 5 national cups say otherwise. Plus, they have this working in their favor.
Hopefully, I get some decent loan talent from Brighton as they sign players who need work permits.
A good mix of young and experienced talent. A small roster but just about everybody can play multiple positions which give me a lot of flexibility for in-game changes and mid-season tactical shifts.
Our most talented player is Comoran right winger Faiz Selemani. Great player off the ball, for this level, can beat players off the dribble, and has enough pace to get behind the opposition fullback if necessary as well.
A great player who came over to us as part of our partnership with Brighton. He is head and shoulders above all the players at this level. Can sprint past the center backs. Likes to play off the shoulder of the last defender. Good enough to play out on the wing or in middle as an attacking midfielder or center forward.
Another loanee from Frankfurt. Beruschkow will be the heartbeat of our attacking thrust in the central midfield. Not very fast but has a lot of smart and technical guile to make for it.
Carlos David is an experienced center back who can bully opposing center forwards at this level. David is under contract for two more seasons and will be groomed for a job in the front office after his playing days are behind him.
Given all of the flexibility among the players on the roster. I've decided to go with a high-tempo and in your face 4-4-2. The goal is the use the pace of our forwards to run behind the defensive line. Hopefully, the passing skill of our center midfielders can pick out the right pass leading to breakaways. The ball winners are set to attack the ball carrier, force turnovers, and create transition opportunities. I expect the opposition will try to sit back and defend in numbers so I want to try to create as many odd-man situations as possible in order to jump on teams early and dictate the terms of the game.
The Proximus can't handle the high pressure and high tempo game that we are playing at Union SG. We are scoring goals for fun and teams spend so much time either defending or not able to break through the midfield that they don't have time to think about attacking. Tops on the goalscoring charts with 34 goals. Number 1 defense in the league allowing only seven goals. All of this had us win the 1st phase of the Proximus League. The league is broken into two phases each lasting 14 games. The winners of the two phases meet in the promotion final. Winner of the promotion final gets promoted into the Belgian Pro League. If one team wins both phases, there is no promotion final and the winner of both phases gets promoted. The goal, now, is to win the 2nd phase and avoid a promotion final. The promotion final is a two-legged tie. Team with the most points over the two phases gets to play the second leg of the tie at home.
The only slip ups in the league occurred early in the season when we lost to second place Mechelen, 2-1, and then tied Roeselare 0-0. After that, we cruised through the league and the Croky Cup which includes a win over Pro League Charleroi. Our Croky Cup run will likely end in the 7th round since we have drawn Club Brugge. I'm not going to change what has worked for us. They will see the high pressure and high tempo style that every other club has seen this season.
Only one starter with an average rating below 7 and that's the goalkeeper Andres Kristianstan and his rating is 6.96. We aren't the best passers when it comes to efficiency and completion percentage. As a team, we rank 6th in the league at 76%. But we lead the league in chances and goals. We have multiple players averaging more than two key passes per game and we get a lot of shots on net. Ferber leads the team with 12 goals. Percy Tau has spent most of the time injured so I have turned him into a super sub using his 17 pace off the bench to run behind the tired defensive back four. Faiz Selemani leads the squad with nine assists while adding five goals.
The only negative for the team is we are bleeding cash at a very high. We need to get into the Pro League quickly or a lot of this talent is going to have to be sold off to Pro League clubs to bring the books back into balance.
The second half of the season was very much like the first half. We dominated the league though it was more difficult than the first half due to injuries throughout the squad which caused a lot of chop and change to the starting 11. The second "problem" was a run to the Croky Cup quarterfinals where we were eliminated by Genk. We beat Club Brugge in the 7th round, 2-1, to earn that quarterfinal trip to Genk.
We handled most of the injuries with little problem except for one, Youssoufou Niakate. Our offense struggled without him in the lineup. I was forced to use supersub Percy Tau as a starter which he had a difficult time handling. Combined with a lot of games in a tight window, it made for tough slog at times. For some reason, the Proximus League season ends on March 2. I had two months of training with no matches even no friendlies because everybody else still had relegation league games, Europa League games, you name it, other clubs had games.
As a team, we ranked 3rd in possession (51%), ranked last in pass completion (76%), first in chances created (59), led the league in shots on target (259), shots on target % (46%), and 3rd in conversion rate (11%).
We've got some red flags in our finances. Almost 70% of our income comes from investments and other. Less than 10% comes from gate receipts and another less than 10% chunk comes from TV revenue. Now gate receipts and TV revenue will increase moving into the Pro League as will season tickets. But we need to become more dependent more those categories and less dependent on the board injecting money into the club. Ground maintenance is a one-off expense since we needed to install under-soil heating as a condition of joining the Pro League. Eventually, that money will dry up and we could be in big trouble. The only reason we turned a profit was because of the board's investment in the club.
A giant red flag is the sorry state of our youth intake. I only kept four of the players from this intake. The rest were sent packing. Too many low determination and unambitious personalities. This falls squarely on the Head of Youth Development whose contract will not be renewed.
The victory over Club Brugge and the competitive loss to Genk gave me enough insight to continue with the high-tempo/high-pressure 4-4-2 formationm that won us the Proximus League, in the Pro League for the 2019-20 season. But given the lack of young depth in the club, I'm going to have to fill in with loans (hello, Brighton? Who do you want to send us) until I can build up the club's youth academy.
Last Edit: Jun 10, 2019 23:13:31 GMT by fmamerican
Given that I had no money to make cash transfers, I was forced to hit the loan and free transfer market. Brighton was willing to give us Percy Tau on loan for another season and Max Besuschkow had another year left on his two-year loan so he came back. Other than that, it was a pretty quiet summer transfer window.
Just four players in and four players out and the four players out really didn't generate us a lot of income. Carbia provides some depth on the front line. El Makrini shores up the center midfield while Georgen, right back, and Bakker, left and center back, gives us depth in the defense. Not the sexiest of transfer windows.
I kept the high-pressure/high-tempo 442 formation as our primary formation for the 2019-20 season. We returned just about everybody from the previous season and we had a lot of good partnerships from the previous season which carried over into the new season so my expectations were that we wouldn't be last and that mid-table would be our ceiling.
Boy was I was wrong. We are an absolute buzzsaw. Antwerp was the only team that kept us scoreless and took any points off of us. The fans are finally starting coming out to watch the attacking football that we are playing.
We've got a nine point lead on 2nd place Genk and sit 22 points ahead of 7th place Antwerp (the top 6 teams go into the Championship Group after the 30th game of the season). Relegation is a distant memory. We play with one objective: get the ball and put the ball into the net.
Team leaders: Goals - Youssoufou Niatake (11), Assists - Faiz Selemani (5), Key Passes - Max Besuschkow (3.34), Average Rating - Faiz Selemani (7.48)
Finances are the only trouble spot with the club. We just bleed money every month. If we make it to Europe, it may balance the books but it's not a long-term sustainable strategy with the current players. I really don't know how long this run will last. It has a smoke and mirrors feel to it. The stadium is too small to be in the black so that needs to be expanded. The youth facilities are poor so I don't have high hopes of building from within. I may have to take my one year in Europe, invest in the club infrastructure and then take a step back for a year or two to build up a squad which can sustain success. But man is this ride fun!
We finished the 30-game first phase of the season in first place and take half of points into the Championship group. We were nowhere near as dominant as we were in the first half. We are a small squad and have problems keeping the intensity high for an entire season. We will see where things fall after the 10-game Championship Group.
Just got to finish the job now, fmamerican. Belgium is usually fairly competitive, so this could be a nice little challenge. Genk have a tycoon in my save and are throwing money around. I keep meaning to have a youth only save with Standard, given their relative fall from grace, but it's one of those things that I never get round to.
Winning the league took a lot less time than I even expected. But, the team, in its present form, is nowhere built up enough for long term success. This was definitely a one-off thing until I can build some depth into the squad. But, I will take back to back league championships any chance that I can get. And I'll be more than happy to take that sweet sweet Champions League cash which will go a long way to balancing our books.
It took a win over Anderlecht on the last day of the season combined with a Standard loss to Club Brugge to push us to the league title. As you can see, we sold out every game in the Championship Phase as well just about all matches in the regular season. Even with that, the books still didn't look good (more on that later).
As you can see, our roster is not very deep and we are getting old at center back. Our best player was the Belgian Black Boot award winner Feiz Selemani who scored a team high 15 goals and added a team high 15 assists. Teams started to adjust to our tactics in the second half of the season. We struggled to find consistent form and teams sat deep ready for our long balls over the top. Wins turned into draws and draws turned into losses.
This provides a window into how our finances look. They are really big at teasing me by telling me that the stadium is expandable to 44,000. I just need the money to expand the damn thing!
We moved to the Pro League and our revenues DECREASED by 7%. The major reason for this is the almost 3 million euro decrease in investments and a 400,000 euro decrease in other. Everything else increased as expected. The disappointing item is there is no prize money attached to the Pro League standings which makes player sales all the more important.
Every category except loan repayments increased on the expenses side. Our expenses went up only 6% which is good. The expenses should remain flat from year to year for the next few years while the revenue will have a good spike from the Champions League revenue. The only thing that will increase expenses is investment into the training and youth facilities which are in dire need of upgrading. I can't take a string of shitty youth intakes. My second youth intake wasn't helped by Genk coming in and poaching my HoYD just two weeks before intake day.
Not much of an improvement over last year's intake. The personalities were an improvement over last year but the talent was not much better. The first order of business with the Champions League revenue is to improve the youth facilities.
We shipped out some surplus talent that were either at the club when I joined or I signed on frees but were now surplus to requirements. This season, it netted us a tidy profit of 2.6 million euros. I brought in a lot new players for the club including two youngsters who will join the club in the future who aren't listed in the transfer history. Most of these players will, likely, be at the club for a year or two and then sold off for a profit. It's one of the few revenue generating schemes that I've got at the club.
The other revenue stream, at least this year, is the 15.75 million euros that we earned for entering the Champions League in the group stage. Some of this money was immediately invested into the club infrastructure.
I couldn't get the trifecta and have board agree to upgrading the senior team training facilities as well but the youth facilities will help the club grow in the long term. The stadium expansion is much needed as well.
When you are the only club in the Champions League draw without a UEFA Coefficient, every club you get drawn against is a heavyweight. Not the kindest of draws for us.
In August, I experimented with playing a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-2-2-1 formation depending on whether we were home or away. It did not go the way that I planned. Only two wins from the five matches and just as many draws. In September, I switched back to the 4-4-2 formation which had given us so much success over the past two seasons. The results started to flow again with a win at PSV in the Champions League. We have gone undefeated and untied in league. Our only losses have been in the Champions League.
We sit in 2nd place in the league just one point behind Club Brugge who we lost to back in August. We've got a match against 3rd place Antwerp in early November which could go a long way in determining if it will be a two-horse or three-horse race for the regular phase championship. KRC Genk is really struggling down in 15th place. Thankfully, for them, Mouscron is struggling even more which only two points from the 12 matches thus far in the season.
Our shock win over PSV has us in 3rd place halfway through the Champions League group stage. A home win over PSV and we could sneak into the Europa League as the 3rd place team from the group.
Sorry for the delay in between posts. Summer field hockey camp season as started for my daughter and since I work from home, I draw the assignment of being her driver. Last week, that meant a 11-hour drive from home to Ann Arbor, MI and then back only four days later.
It was a bit harder than last season but Union SG repeated as Belgian Pro League champions. Our run in the Belgian Cup ended the 7th round for the third year in row. We won the title of the basis of having more wins than Standard (23 to 21).
Ratings wise, we were a pretty average team. Some of this may come from the fact that we get a lot of cards and our ratings suffer a couple of tenths than what they should be. But teams are slowly starting to figure out how we play and are adapting as well. The wins aren't as easy. I need to bring in some Belgian talent in the free transfer market to serve as backups to our starters. Right now, I'm dependent on using some of the players from my poor youth intakes as bench players. There is a big gap between my starting XI and our bench.
Did we have another crappy intake? We sure did. Only a few players from this group were signed and I don't expect much out of them.
The Champions League saw our revenues and our expenses go through the roof. Thankfully for us, the revenues were way ahead of the expenses. We turned a 21 million euro profit for the 2020-21 season. This jump in cash, finally, allowed us to build some very necessary infrastructure upgrades.
We have to ground share with Anderlecht for the 2021-22 season but it's just for year and our stadium will be close to 12,000 for the 2022-23 season but keep in mind that the stadium is expandable to over 40,000.
Senior and youth team training facilities are getting an upgrade too.