Luzon in? Liege Journo QA “I don’t think you will find a Standard fan who can make you feel happy about Guy Luzon”

Douglas de Coninck is a news journalist with the Belgian daily De Morgen, and a lifelong Standard fan. He has met with and followed Roland Duchatelet since the early days of his political life, long before he bought Standard.

Here he answers a number of questions from the Trust about Guy Luzon and Standard...

Trust: Whom do you think might have helped RD with this decision to sack Peeters so soon?

DdC: Roland Duchâtelet is nicknamed Rainman by Standard fans. He has certain views and is very unwilling to review them. One of his strong beliefs is that football teams shouldn't pay money to their opponents, neither for their players nor managers. So, he will never "buy" a Standard player at another team, unless he can get him for (almost) free. He's looking for players outside "the market". Same for coaches. Until recently, there was only one manager who managed to gain his trust and that was Dudu Dahan. He brought Guy Luzon. Duchâtelet sacked Luzon because of bad results, which is the same reason why he sacked Bob Peeters. Duchâtelet always made clear that Luzon would get another mission in the network, he's already on the payroll, so it seems logical that he would be the new coach in Charlton.

Trust : Are you surprised Peeters has "failed" so quickly? His apparent reputation was "good with young players". However there is talk that his overall management style didnt go down well with many at Charlton, both players and non-players. Does that fit with what was said about him in his Belgian experiences?

DdC: In Belgium, Bob Peeters was seen as a "short term coach", the sort of coach you hire when the team is in the danger zone and is in need of a psychological boost. We all had the idea that Peeters deserves better and had found better in London. But 1 win in 12 games is simply not good enough. That's a basic law of football. It means that the coach has lost authority in the squad and that is irreversible.

Trust: Luzon. What is your overall assessment of him? Why, do the Familles des Rouches refer to him as a clown? What do you say to those over here who say, well he did, nearly, win you the championship?

DdC: You should try to see the bigger picture. The 2013-2014 season was a special one at Liège. Anderlecht wanted to bring on its youth and saw it as a "transition year". Same at Bruges and Genk. Standard had a golden opportunity to be first and had a great squad. Key players (Van Damme, Batshuayi, Opare, Ezekiel, Kanu, Mpoku, Bia) were "inherited" from the former owners and were at their top form. It was only William Vainqueur and Kawashima who were bought under the Duchâtelet-reign and were succesful. Former coach Mircea Rednic had installed defense and midfield but was sacked during the summer. There was a revolt at the stadium and by giving key players like Vainquaeur and Batshuayi new contracts and bringing back home boys Carcela and De Camargo, Duchâtelet offered Guy Luzon a dream team. Analysts argued on more than one occasion that "any coach could would have been succesfull with this squad". Guy Luzon is not really seen as the one who nearly made us champions, but the one who missed the unmissable.
Luzon is not really coaching, he's making everybody very nervous by his body language. He wants bigger pressure, which can work to avoid that a team like Standard misses crucial points against weaker opponents by lack of concentration. He knows the basics of coaching, but misses the feeling for improvisation and changing tactics if necessary.
During play-offs, we paid the price. See the second half of the crucial Anderlecht-Standard.
- A decent coach would have tried to control this game in second half
- He would have noticed that Anderlecht scored earlier that season very often by putting defender Mbemba at the second post.
- At 1-1, De Camargo should have been defending Mbemba, not Yoni Buyens.
- We've never seen such poor defending at Standard as in this horrible second half.
- Batshuayi was playing a game on his own. He only had Rio on his mind, the week before this game stats showed that he did not give 1 single pass to Ezekiel. He should have been replaced by second half. Batshuayi himself expressed recently in an interview that he didn't understand that he never lost his place in the Standard squad.
All this should have been the work of the coach.
I don't think you will find a Standard fan who can make you feel happy about Guy Luzon.

Trust: It seemed to us that good players were sold in the summer, but not properly replaced. Isn't that one reason for disappointing performances this season?

DdC: Sure. Batshuayi was sold to OM Marseille, Vainqueur to Dynamo Moscow, Opare to Porto, Ezekiel to a Quatar trust. Instead, we got Tony Watt, Adrien Trebel (who is a sensational player btw, but comes from French second division), Martin Milec from Maribor and Jeff Louis (another one from French second division). That’s a pure downgrade.

Trust: Why did RD keep him on the payroll after he sacked him?

DdC: See answer to 1. RD didn't want to sack Luzon, but understood that there was no other solution. Luzon is the most loyal coach RD ever had. He opted for this crazy rotation system during the first part of the 2013-2014 season, which was one of these other weird Duchâtelet ideas.

Trust: How does Luzon work with Yoni Buyens?

DdC: You can see Buyens in the Anderlecht video, you should know this was one his very rare appearances during that season in the squad. Week after week analysts repeated that Luzons solution for his midfield position was on his own bench. But Luzon refused to put him on the field. Again, that's not understandable

Trust: Have Standard improved since he left? In what way?

DdC: Yes, Standard have improved. Under Luzon, we let in 23 goals in 11 games. Under Vukomanovic we have let in 9 in 10 games. The word is organisation.
Last season we had Ezekiel and Batshuayi as strikers. It worked perfect in a classic 4-4-2 system. With both strikers sold and only De Camargo as real targetman or striker left, Luzon should have reviewed his system. It didn't work because Tony Watt isn't good enough and Jeff Louis isn't a striker. For weeks, analysts and fans shouted that Luzon should consider a 4-5-1, which is the system Vukomanovic immediately installed. We believe that Luzon was loyal to his 4-4-2-system because he wanted to be loyal to Roland Duchâtelet.
And look what happens to you when you're loyal: other coaches get sacked, you stay on the payroll.

Trust: What expectations do you have for the transfer window?

DdC: I'm afraid nothing is as unpredictable as Roland Duchâtelets transfer policy.

Trust: How much do you believe rumours that he wants to sell Standard?

DdC: I don't think so. Duchâtelet is a dreamer, a politician. Owning Standard brings him to meetings where he can expose his ideas on synthetic pitches, competition reform, transfer systems... But there's the whole problem: he own clubs not out of love for those clubs.