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2012/13 Turkish Super Lig Bids to Wrestle Back Attention

( – 18/08/2012)

Last season the Turkish Super Lig was played out under the shadow of a match-fixing scandal. Since the trouble emerged, few spoke about matters on the pitch. Fans started to become even greater enemies, most involved with the game took sides and many almost became lawyers for the defendants. To increase the interest in the Turkish game, the football federation introduced a playoff after 34 match days, but that will not continue this season. Now the Super Lig bids to shake off arguments about corruption and rekindle love for the game.

Galatasaray finished nine points ahead of their closest rivals Fenerbahce last season, but then scrapped through the playoffs to win the title. This summer Galatasaray have protected their key talents and added further Turkish stars in the shape of midfielder Hamit Altintop, and strikers Buark Yilmaz and Umut Bulut, while defender Dany Nounkeu and midfielder Nordin Amrabat are the foreign arrivals – Felipe Melo stays too after extending his loan from Juventus. After a super season last year under Fatih Terim, the Lions of Istanbul are firm favourites to retain the title and have already won the Turkish Super Cup, beating arch rivals Fenerbahce.

Once again Fenerbahce will provide the main opposition for Galatasaray and the Yellow Canaries have lavished cash on a number of stars this summer. Dirk Kuyt has arrived from Liverpool, while Turkey midfielder Mehmet Topal landed from Valencia after Emre Belozoglu left to join Atletico Madrid. Further arrivals are Serbian winger Milos Krasic and Nigerian defender Joseph Yobo, who has made permanent his loan move from Everton. Amidst all this, the concern for Fenerbahce is the midfield, with no box-to-box player to drive the team forward. Brazilian schemer Alex is now 35, meaning the Yellow Canaries really need to add another midfielder. If they do, they will be much more dangerous.

Another team expected to be in the mix are Trabzonspor. The Black Sea Storm have suffered a blow in losing last season’s top scorer Burak Yilmaz to Galatasaray, but despite that disappointing manager Senol Gunes, the side have not splashed cash on well-known replacements. Instead, four highly rated youngsters have arrived and there is little doubt Trabzonspor will be strong once again.

Back in Istanbul the city’s third major power, Besiktas, have felt the effect of financial problems. For the past three years the Black Eagles have almost been a feeder team for Portugal’s national team, with stars such as Simao Sabrosa (now sold to Espanyol) and Ricardo Quaresma just two of the Portuguese in the ranks. A number of players, including high-profile Portuguese stars, cost the club much money and now the board have opted to slash the wage bill. Despite finishing fourth last season, Besiktas are banned from European football due to the financial crisis at the club. New arrivals are midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup from Arsenal, Scottish goalkeeper Allan McGregor and French defender Julien Escdude, but the most important factor will be the performance of freshly appointed manager Samet Aybaba. A former Besiktas player, he has been waiting for his chance in the dugout.

Last season manager Ersun Yanal guided Eskisehirspor to fifth spot; the 50-year-old loves to play with young hopefuls and snapped up nine players under the age of 25. This season, the team will push to make the top four and, if former West Brom striker Diomansy Kamara fires, the omens look good.

Istanbul BB lost their successful manager Abdullah Avci to the Turkish national team last season and his assistant Arif Erdem steered the side to sixth spot. Now former Besiktas boss Carlos Carvalhal is in charge and the club have managed to hold onto most of their performers from the previous campaign, adding Turgay Bahadir from Bursaspor and Eduardo from Genoa. Istanbul BB will continue to frighten their opponents. Just below the Istanbul outfit, Sivasspor secured a seventh place finish last season despite predictions of doom. They too have kept hold of their stars, Polish midfielder Kamil Grosicki, and forwards Michael Eneramo and Ricardo Pedriel.

When Bursaspor won the Super Lig title in 2010, they seemed set to pose a big Anatolian danger for years to come, but the last two years have been spent trying to handle the weight on their shoulders. The side did reach the Turkish Cup final last season, but lost out to Fenerbahce. This time Bursaspor will continue along the same lines under coach Ertugurl Saglam. They have signed few players in the summer, leaving captain Omer Erdogan, Sebastian Pinto and Batalla as their key men.

The surprise package of 2011/12 were Genclerbirligi. Under young manager Fuat Capa, there are now high expectations despite a low budget. Capa has interesting approaches to training; the coach has had his players take part in a workshop as part of a rhythm group. The big new arrival is centre-back Dusko Tosic from Red Star Belgrade.

Gaziantepspor ended the first half of last season at the bottom of the league, but secured their status with their third manager of the campaign, Hikmet Karaman. He is still in charge and has brought fresh hope with the signings of hitman Senijad Ibricic from Lokomotiv Moscow and the snapping up of all-action midfielder Gilles Binya fresh from a spell with Neuchatel Xamax.

Elsewhere, Kayserispor are steady competitors in the Super Lig. They have suffered from selling many players in recent years, but have a good scouting department around Europe, especially within Germany. Kayserispor lost Amrabat to Galatasaray and Hasan Ali Kaldirim to Fenerbahce, but Paraguayan Cristian Riveros landed from Sunderland and Brazilian Cleyton from Panathinaikos. Georgian manager Shota Arveladze hopes to turn the clock back to the club’s glory days this season.

At Karabukspor it is a fresh start with German manager Michael Skibbe. The former Bayer Leverkusen boss was sacked by Galatasaray in 2009 and will find life at his new club a struggle, with survival the aim. Mersin Idman Yurdu suffered from a lack of stability last season. Despite a very strong start, the side were nearly relegated. Nurullah Saglam is a talented coach, but having bought more than ten players, starting well looks difficult. They have little hope of a top ten finish.

Orduspor boast a well-known coach in Hector Cuper. The Argentine took charge towards the end of last year and helped the club bag players from Spain, such as striker David Barral from Sporting Gijon and defender Agus. Orduspor are capable of springing more than the odd shock this season. Antalyaspor meanwhile endured a disappointing 2011/12 campaign and as a result have refreshed most of the side, but manager Mehmet Ozdilek remains. The team’s most important player will surely be striker Lamine Diarra, who was a prolific goalscorer at Partizan Belgrade.

The newcomers this season are Kasimpasaspor, Elazigspor and Akhisar Bld. Kasimpasa have a new board with money to spend and snapped up Uche Kalu from Espanyol, Andreas Isaksson (PSV Eindhoven) and Fabian Ernst (Besiktas) as proof. Whether the additions are enough to help the team survive remains to be seen. Elazigspor have signed more than ten players in their bid to stay up and will be bossed by Bulent Uygun, while Akhisar Bld are set to sample Super Lig football for the first time in their history and what they are capable of is open to debate.

Turkey will hope that the events of this season’s Super Lig are more notable for events on the pitch than off it. And with the quality at most clubs having been boosted even further, with teams having thus far even outspent those in Spain’s La Liga this summer, there is a good chance of this campaign being a thriller.

Kategorisi English articles0 Yorum

Super Lig Coach of the Season: Bülent Uygun

The manager of Sivasspor, who started his sporting career as a wrestler, now seems set to wrestle Anatolioan football to the top of the Turkish game. (insidefutbol)

Until the age of 14, Bulent Uygun was a wrestler. This was mainly because of his father who was a wrestling coach. One day Uygun went to watch his friends playing football as they usually did, but on this particular day one of the teams was missing a player. The coach of this team managed to persuade Uygun to take this boy’s place. After the game, the coach called his father and said: “If you push him to be a football player, he is going to be star.” Uygun’s father heeded the coach’s advice and the youngster’s wrestling career was over. What many don’t know is that Uygun still feels emotional about this change of career. He was a successful wrestler and felt he could have achieved great things in the ring.

Young Bulent Uygun’s football career began at Sakaryaspor in the junior team when he was 14. Whilst at Sakaryaspor Uygun was capped 32 times for various Turkish national youth teams. When the youngster realised that his playing time with Sakaryaspor was limited, he transferred to Ankara Şekerspor, when he was 17. After one year at Ankara, he moved on again to Kocaelispor in 1989. This is the club at which he truly begun to shine.

Uygun became the conductor of Kocaelispor’s successful orchestra between 1989 and 1993. In the 1992/1993 season, when Kocaelispor played very good football and finished the year at the top of the table he scored seven goals. When he learnt that Fenerbahce wanted to buy him at the end of the season, he didn’t give 100% and his performances tailed off, the reason for this is that Uygun was desperate not to be injured and put his transfer at risk,-he made this confession years later. Partly through this Kocaelispor lost the chance to be champions for that season and finished the table in 4th position.

After he transferred to Fenerbahce with his speed, dribbling ability and cool finishing in front of goal, he scored 22 goals for that season and became the top scorer in the Super Lig. He was the first top scorer to be anything other than a striker. During this season he also became well known for an unusual goal celebration, the salute of a soldier.

Uygun’s career at Fenerbahce ended in the middle of the 1996/1997 season when then president Ali Sen decided he wasn’t able to reproduce his form of old for the side. In later years Ali Sen would admit that this decision was the worst mistake of his period in office.

Bulent returned to perhaps his first love Kocaelispor; however fate was not kind to him and hopes of recapturing the form of his earlier spell at the club were quickly ended with a broken leg picked up in his very first game.

Afterwards he was never the same player for Kocaelispor and continued his career as a journeyman player, playing successively for Çanakkale Dardanelspor, Trabzonspor, Göztepe, Zonguldakspor, Kilimli Belediyespor and Anadolu Üsküdar 1908. In his last season he played at Sivasspor, where he finished his career as a professional football player in 2004.

After his playing career ended he started to work at Sivasspor as Executive Manager, a role he performed for 3½ years. In 2007 he took the control of the team as Technical Director-Manager in the 12th week of the season and immediately enjoyed success with victory against Besiktas. He finished his first season with Sivasspor in 7th place, quite an achievement considering he took control of the team when they were rooted to the bottom of the Super Lig.

The following season saw Sivasspor begin with a series of impressive home performances. After the first period of the league Sivasspor were amazingly at the top of the table. After this success everybody started to believe that Sivasspor could even win the title.

Despite this progress Uygun constantly changed his opinion as to whether the side could win the title from game to game. He himself seemed shocked by their performances and continual victories. The side though suffered a wake-up call when they lined up against Fenerbahce at home. A good performance from the visitors saw Sivasspor crushed 4-1. Until this game Sivasspor had been unbeatable at home and everybody believed that at least they could take one point from the game. But Bülent Uygun appeared to get his tactics wrong, failing to motivate the side and failing to deflect the focus from his side by making many many statements before the game to the press.

However in the coming weeks Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Besiktas all dropped points. Once again Sivasspor could win the title, this despite losses at home to Fenerbahce and Beskitas (the visit of Galatasaray is to come).

The achievement of in keeping Sivasspor in the title race despite injuries to key players like Pini Balili lies with Bülent Uygun’s tactical knowledge. In the Turkish 4-4-2 magazine he says that to improve his management skills he slept in front of the door of Fatih Terim to talk about his experiences with the national team, Galatasaray, Fiorentina and Milan. Uygun further said that he adopted many of the training programs that he saw Terim use. He also talked with the Basketball manager Aydın Örs to learn about zonal marking, and driving a man behind the defence, and he says that he is not addicted to any tactical arrangement like 4-4-2, and always changes his tactics in every game to outwit the opposing team. But I have to say that he really failed in this regard against Fenerbahce because they didn’t play like they had played before and as a result didn’t get success.

Bülent Uygun’s success has really been based on waiting for the opposing team to make a mistake, and then counter-attacking with pace. It is a tribute to this hot property in Turkish management that Sivasspor are in the title race with just two games to go! If they can somehow manage to take the Super Lig championship it will be a very big success for Anatolian football, and of course Bülent Uygun.

Kategorisi 0-Özel Dosyalar, 1-Futbol, English articles, Spor Toto Süper Lig, Türkiyeden Futbol0 Yorum

Proud Feldkamp Forced Out of Galatasaray

Since Özhan Canaydın became the chairman of Turkish giants Galatasaray, he developed a habit of quickly blaming his coaches for any failure and fired them immediately.  This habit has continued to this day and veteran 73 year-old German coach Karl Heinz Feldkamp is the latest victim. (insidefutbol)

Even before Feldkamp officially signed with Galatasaray the Turkish football media began to criticise him because of his age and made repeated insinuations about his health. When he was the manager of Beşiktaş, the German left the team in the middle of the season because of heart problems. How could Galatasaray trust the old man’s health enough to hire him as their manager? That was the first criticisim the coach had to deal with. He had, unbelievably, also worked for just for 1 ½  seasons in the last 17 years, it was understandable the media also asked questions about whether he had lost his ability to coach a team.

So, from the very first moment he took his place in the dugout Feldkamp’s reign was beset by criticism. In his first game as manager Galatasaray won 4-0 at their Ali Sami Yen stadium. With this outstanding result the team brimmed with confidence and proceeded to go unbeaten until they met rivals Fenerbahce.

In the first period of the season Galatasaray lost just one game, and sat proudly on top of the Super Lig table. Everything looked fine when you looked at the statistics from the league, but in the UEFA Cup the team was going badly. Galatasaray is a team,which is accustomed to being the most successful Turkish team in Europe and the results gained in the early stages against weak teams did not satisfy the president, his administiration, or the fans.

With the winter break the transfer window opened and Feldkamp felt there was a desperate need for a defensive midfielder to be bought after the injury of Swedish national team captain Tobias Linderoth, in addition to an experienced goalkeeper. Defender Emre Güngör and midfielder Ahmed Barusso were the only players that arrived and this was despite the coach insisting at least four more should join the squad.

Without enough players arriving Feldkamp tried all of the remaining options available to him in many different positions. Despite this he couldn’t manage to find a formula to make the side stronger. For instance, as everybody knows Servet Çetin is a player who is strong and ambitious, but not technical. Due to the lack of an incoming defensive midfielder Servet was tried in this position, despite not being suited to it as he is a defender. Feldkamp also changed the positions of other players many times. He tried stiker Hasan Şaş, midfielders Ahmed Barusso and Barış Özbek as a right backs, forward Shabani Nonda as a playmaker and even Emre Güngör as a defensive midfielder, as he searched for new options. One time he made Serkan Çalık, a young talented forward, play as a sweeper for the last few minutes of a Turkish Cup Game against Fenerbahçe. All of this experimentation would be acceptable only in friendly games and in pre-season, not in the middle of a campaign to win the title.

After moving players from their natural and preferred positions it was understandable that many were not just upset, but even angry. When Adnan Polat had won the presidential elections in March (he was previously the vice-president and played a key role in bringing Feldkamp to Galatasaray) he arranged a one to one meeting with the players. What he heard was predictable. The players were unhappy they had been forced to play in unfamiliar positions. They felt it was unfair they should be criticised when they played poorly in a totally new position. The squad even went as far as saying Feldkamp was not managing the team well, and only without him could they be champions.

After this meeting Adnan Polat and Feldkamp held talks. In the conversation between them, Adnan Polat gave Kalli some advice about how to manage the team, but “Kalli” (Feldkamp’s nickname in Turkey) is not a coach that takes kindly to being told how to do his job. For him it was a sign the players had lost all confidence in him and after this meeting Feldkamp announced he was resigning. Feldkamp’s assistant left, too.

It is clear to me that Feldkamp was forced out, because Adnan Polat knew that by speaking directly to the players and then advising such a proud manager as Feldkamp how to do his job, he would react in only one way: to resign.

The situation is even stranger when the man who has just become president of Galatasaray, a man who trusts Feldkamp and was key to his appointment in the first place, forces him to leave the club almost as soon as he sits in the president’s chair. Adnan Polat had also said he wanted Feldkamp to take the position of Football Advisor to the Board when he finally stopped coaching.

All this shows that the new president doesn’t really have a plan for the future. This was further confirmed by the fact that so many managers, each with differing ideas on how to play the game, were contacted about taking over. For now the Turkish press believe that Dutchman Louis van Gaal may be next in line for the job.

The players contributed directly to the removal of Karl Heinz Feldkamp, and that is not a healthy sign for any club. However, the one positive is that now the players have no excuses left and those who did not enjoy life under Feldkamp can take pleasure in their football without him. Perhaps the relief felt by some after Feldkamp’s departure could provide the motivation to win both the Turkish Cup and, importantly, Super Lig. But if they could do this, the position, the effect of a manager will surely have to be questioned. Because if any team can be successful like this, why do they need a manager?

Kategorisi 0-Özel Dosyalar, 1-Futbol, English articles, Galatasaray, Spor Toto Süper Lig, Türkiyeden Futbol0 Yorum

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