Philippe Clement: “Fans helped us through today”

Even if his team's performance didn't fill Philippe Clement with bliss, the fans certainly left quite the mark, helping the team to another, albeit very late, league win.

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“Prior to the game, I had warned my players about a repeat of last season's scenario. We got stuck at a draw then too. I also referred to yesterday's game, with Gent only getting past Eupen in the last minute. I'm not happy with what my team has shown today. A couple of our guys haven't put in a fine performance, even if we merited the win. The goal they scored was a bit of a hold-up. After that, it looked more like a handball than a football game, but that can happen. There's nothing wrong with that. But to me, our twelfth man was our best player, they really helped us go over them. They kept backing the team, and helped us to the points at the end of the track. I have sung praise of my team often until now, but today all the praise should go to our fans.”

Philippe Clement
Philippe Clement

With so many games in only a short time frame, Club's coach rearranged his team in a couple of positions. "Our league is a peculiar one, with points being halved after the regular league and ten more finals following. It's important to be ready for those final games, but also for the Cup Final . So this calls for rotation, there's no other way. It doesn't take eleven players, but 20 to 25. We have done well throughout the season, but we have to maintain our form. We have to be in it for the full ride.”

 

With less playing time for Mats Rits, it must have been a relief for him to score twice and bring the points to the hosts. “We take it one game at a time to see who's most fit to play. There's no competition among our players. Rits and Balanta both have their own way of playing and position. It's not because one player scores twice that he'll be in the team for the following three months. We just keep on choosing the best players. We have to, or you just keep selecting players not entirely fit. Who could have known Charles De Ketelaere would get so much playing time?”

 

Clement expects his players to draw some lessons from their performance against Waasland-Beveren. “I was very clear in the dressing room. I told them they all have to look in the mirror. It's my job to tell them what wasn't okay. As planned, we will have the day off tomorrow, but starting Monday we'll be taking on the game against Manchester United. A totally different playing stage, against one of the richest outfits in the world. We'll be the team with nothing to lose, it's a completely different mindset.” (SF)

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