Eupen’s final day collapse raises plenty of questions despite survival

Despite losing 7-0 at the hands of Club Brugge, Eupen survived the relegation battle and will be back in the Belgian Pro League next season. The Pandas ended the season with no wins since the middle of February, just one goal in their last five games and conceding 15 goals in their final two games. One of those was against Zulte Waregem, who handed them a 5-1 defeat in a game where they just needed a point to guarantee survival.

It remains unlikely that head coach Edward Still will remain in post for next season, with the side having shown in the past few seasons that they are not shy in making a change. For Still, he managed to keep them in the league, but the past two performances should concern the clubs management and fans. Whether Still is to blame is questionable, but losing 7-0 against Club Brugge in a game where they again just needed a point raises all sorts of questions.

For the players, fans will certainly question whether they care about the club enough. At one point, it looked like Zulte Waregem had turned things around against Cercle Brugge and that Eupen needed to suddenly find seven goals out of nowhere. Luckily for them, VAR intervened and then Cercle, who needed a win themselves, sank Zulte Waregem once and for all.

If the Pandas want to avoid another season of relegation battles, they will need to sort out recruitment in the summer, be it at the head coach level or on the pitch. The side have produced some quality players in the past, and with their links to the Aspire Academy and the Qatari ownership, they have had the links to bring in players from the likes of PSG. However, this season their recruitment has not been up to scratch. While on an individual basis, the players are certailny good enough, as a team it has not appeared to work.

Their biggest concern should be that Stef Peeters will be leaving. The former Cercle Brugge midfielder led the team in assists (seven) and joint top goals (seven). No one hit double figures for goals, but without Peeters it is unlikely that the side would’ve scored many goals at all. Plenty of Belgian club’s will be after the 31-year-old soon to be free agent.

Eupen fans should certainly celebrate their narrow escape, however they should also be putting pressure on the club to get things right in the summer to avoid another situation like they experienced on the final day.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

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