Manchester United vs. Club Brugge view from the oppo preview

Manchester United take on Club Brugge for the first time in the club’s history

Manchester United fans last faced European opposition 496 days ago. In that time, signed a World cup winner, broke the British transfer record and sacked a manager and hired a new one. Yes, a lot can happen in just over a year, but United are two games away from finalising a place in the Champions League proper. After two decent wins, United fans are in joyful mood as the club welcome Club Brugge to Old Trafford – the first meeting between the two clubs in history. All eyes will be on whether David De Gea and whether he starts in goal for United this evening.

Even if this is just a qualifying round, reds are delighted to be back in the competition, with a young and developing side whilst welcoming new opposition to Old Trafford.

  • United have played LKS Lodz (98/99), Zalaegerszeg (02/03) and Dinamo Bucharest (04/05), Debreceni (05/06) in the qualifying rounds for the Champions League
  • United’s record win was against Belgian opposition in 1956/57 – beating Anderlecht 10-0 at Old Trafford.
  • United have had four Belgian footballers play for the club – De Laet, Vermijl, Januzaj and Fellaini.

United may have missed out on the old flirt that is Sergio Ramos, who signed a new contract at Real Madrid today, but we have a great view from the opposition from Geert, who blogs over at Blue Army!! We caught up over the lack of league titles in the past decade, who was the best player to wear the Brugges shirt and whether the fans are happy with the draw. You follow Geert on Twitter @BA_1998

1) What was your initial reaction to drawing Manchester United in the Champions League? Who did you want to get and who did you want to avoid?

Everyone hoped to draw Manchester United. So we really got the team everyone hoped for. A big name, a trip to England (a lot of Bruges fans really love English football and have a favourite team in the Premier ). So everyone was ecstatic. We really wanted to avoid Shaktar. Not an interesting trip and almost no chance to qualify. So no real positive points there 🙂 Under normal circumstances Manchester United will not have to qualify for the CL, so for us, this is just a very lucky situation. I think more than 10.000 fans would want to come to Old Trafford.

2) Can Club Brugge beat Manchester Untied over two legs?

We know our chances are really slim. Especially over two games it would be almost a miracle of we went through to the Champions League. But then again, football is football and fans always hope for a miracle 🙂 But for us, this game is just like a big treat. We’re sure of more games in Europe via the Europa League, and we have at least one game against a giant.

3) What has happened domestically for Club Brugge over the past ten years (last league win came in 2004/05)?

We’ve continued to play at the top of our league (places 2, 3, ), but we haven’t really played for the title till the end. Which is less than we would expect from FC Bruges. Normally we would at least win a prize every three years. Last year we won the Cup against our biggest rivals, which was one of our biggest successes in the last 10 years.

4) There are a number of Belgians doing well in the Premier League – can this group of players go all that way in Euro 2016 next summer?

We have a pretty good national team, but it would be stupid to underestimate other big teams. So, reaching the semi-final would be great. Anything more … What you probably don’t know is that a lot of Bruges fans really don’t care about the national team. There is a strong Flemish feeling and an anti-Brussels mentality – especially with the older fans. Most of our “Red Devils” play abroad. So this also gives you an idea of the problem of Belgian football teams: not enough money to keep the best talents.

5) What do Belgians think of Adnan Januzaj – just how good a player can he be for the national team?

Januzaj is not very well known here. He has never played in our first division. So we haven’t really seen him in action a lot.

6) Have you seen much of Manchester United this season? What players stand out for you that you will need to stop?

The season is still very young 🙂 A lot of people follow the PL (MOTD). Especially stars like Rooney are very well known off course. And Schweinsteiger. I think the team as a whole, the fact that you play at a faster pace, have more experience, is our real challenge. More than a specific player.

7) How will Club Brugge line up against United and who are your star men?

We are still searching for our standard team setup. A lot of different setups have been tried the last games. But typically we play 4-3-3. We sold our goalkeeper Matthew Ryan, which is a big loss. If he had one of his miracle games … 😉 We also miss about 3-4 of our best players due to injuries. Star men … hmm, I would mention Vazquez, Oulare, Rafaelov. But we play more from a collective mentality.

8) Who is the greatest ever Belgian player and also, the best player to wear the Club Brugge shirt?

Belgian player: depends on the generation one has become fan 🙂 For me it’s Jan Ceulemans. But if you compare with eg Hazard now, it’s a very subjective choice :-). The best player to wear the FC Bruges shirt: people will say Raoul Lambert or Jan Ceulemans. But if you look at what a player accomplished it has to be Jean-Pierre Papin (played 1 year in Bruges)

9) How do you think you will get on in the league and can you retain the Belgian Cup?

The Cup … very difficult to predict. Depends on the teams you run into, the form of the day and some luck. The title … well, the thing in Belgium is that the title also has become a bit of a lottery. We have a playoff system (every fan hates) so only 10 games at the end of the season really count. If you have no injured players, the team in top shape, no other competitions (eg Europe) to compete in … than you have a very good chance for the title. Difficult to predict now, since around December – January there is a new transfer period and teams still can change a lot

10) Tell us an unknown fact about Club Brugge?

In Bruges we have two professional football team: Club Brugge and Cercle Brugge.
Last year Cercle got relegated. But before that we had the last real Belgian derby here in Bruges.
And as in Manchester, that other team claims the title “team of the city”. We have our doubts 🙂 “20.000 empty seats, are you fucking sure” 😉

When there is a derby, we have a march from the city centre to the stadium.
Ours looks like this:
Theirs … check the pictures in the attachment and try to spot them 🙂 (they actually had a drone filming this …)
“One team in Bruges, there’s only one team in Bruges!” 🙂


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