Hein bites the bullet: “Anyone who talks to me about systems must be an expert”

It took more than half an hour before Hein Vanhaezebrouck finally crawled out of his dug-out. And then, above all, sit down. It seemed like a signal: Solve it yourself. wrong. The trainer of AA Gent turned out to be ill and was on limp legs. Just not so weak that he bit himself off after a 3-0 win against KV Mechelen. And how. The reason was the interview that chairman Ivan De Witte gave after the 4-2 at Djurgarden. In it he denounced the attitude of the players, the game system and said about his trainer: “Even the Pope is not flawless.” Two days later, an injured Vanhaezebrouck hit back. He didn’t sound anointing like a pope in the least.

“I cannot accept people who say there is no drive or conviction. That’s not right at all. Sorry, huh. Djurgarden had 8 attempts, we 21. To talk to me about systems and football style, publicly, you have to be a connoisseur. The chairman and I sat together on the plane on Friday. There I determined that he had not yet seen a single image of the match.”

No collision course yet

An unprecedentedly harsh response, which no chairman can be happy about. With the caveat that Ivan De Witte knows his trainer. Therefore, this does not necessarily mean a collision course. In his first period at AA Gent, Hein also openly went on the offensive with his board. Since his comeback, Vanhaezebrouck has kept away from ego clashes. Now, however, he lacked nuance. “We were also disappointed. Then you can shoot everyone, knowing we’re missing a lot of people. And that we have long asked to bring in the necessary creativity. And that that is not possible. I live in reality.”

He also did not like the fact that there was internal criticism of how he dares to point the finger at players after matches. He does not believe that players themselves have a problem with that. “They know that if I tackle them, it’s because I know they can do a lot better. My defenders are fantastic but if they don’t, I’ll push them. I’m like that. They know that, they know me. I’m not going to change myself.”

Vanhaezebrouck also does not like that the chairman demanded his share in the profit on Eupen because he had addressed the players in advance. As he does not want to have said that the interview had the desired effect after all. “I hope so for the president, huh.” However, players and coach did talk this weekend about how to play. “What do you want, where do we want to go: there have been discussions about that. We started a little more conservatively against Mechelen, so we created few chances. At halftime they were asking themselves to put pressure on as usual. We’ve been too vulnerable, but that had nothing to do with the system. Because we made mistakes.”

Amusement park AA Gent

And no, De Witte’s interview hadn’t brought them closer together. “There has always been a bond.” No, there was certainly no sign of relief that a crisis has been averted. “I came to Ghent twice to get them out of the misery. Twice. If they don’t think I’m the man to do that in the future, okay, no problem. Can we go further like this? I don’t have to decide that.” These are the words of a trainer who has personality, who thinks he is strong and who does not want to see his authority over his core undermined.

We could have talked about the defense that was there again. About a weak Mechelen, which imploded after Birger Verstraete’s red card – in which referee Boterberg had the balls not to go along with the VAR intervention. Or about Hong, who played his part in all the goals. Not, so.

And say Wednesday Union is waiting. Vanhaezebrouck: “I like going to amusement parks, but in football I prefer not to ride the rollercoaster, which shouts hooray one week and a drama the next. I try to keep the focus on what we need to do. But if we lose on Wednesday, it’s that again. The players know that too.” Amusement park AA Ghent, never a dull moment.

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