Who should Gent look to as a replacement for the departing Hein Vanhaezebrouck?

Het Nieuwsblad have reported that Gent and Hein Vanhaezebrouck will part ways in the summer. Both sides are apparently waiting until the end of the season to make the announcement, but the rumour of his departure has been growing over the past few months.

During his second spell with the club, the experienced Belgian head coach helped the side to win their fourth domestic cup trophy in the 2022 final, overcoming Vincent Kompany’s Anderlecht side. Despite having some promising moments and what many considered to be a squad capable of challenging for the title, Vanhaezebrouck was unable to help the side to their second Pro League title.

Replacing the outspoken Vanhaezebrouck will be crucial as Gent look to use money they gained from big player sales in January to revamp the squad and challenge for the league. None of these names have been linked, but we put together a list of a few names that might make the list, or ones that would certainly be interesting.

Besnik Hasi

The only name that has been linked to the club so far is KV Mechelen head coach Besnik Hasi. The Albanian was given the job of keeping Mechelen up with a contract until the end of the season, but instead led them on an incredible run of form that saw them almost finish in the top six. Their form has dipped since, and the club are in talks with Hasi to keep him. The expiring deal and his current body of work this season makes him a candidate that Gent are interested in, but he shouldn’t be the only one.

Freyr Alexandersson

Given an almost impossible task when he took over Kortrijk, Freyr Alexandersson has shown plenty of coaching skill in Belgian football so far. While it is unlikely that he will be able to help them avoid the drop, that they even had a chance is a credit to the job that the Icelandic head coach has done. He had also done a great job in Denmark previously with Lyngby BK, so could be an interesting young appointment for Gent. His contract at Kortrijk remains until 2026, but with a lack of investment in the squad likely he may be willing to move on.

Timmy Simmons

FCV Dender’s remarkable promotion campaign from the second tier will see Timmy Simmons linked with plenty of vacancies this summer. The former Club Brugge academy coach and Zulte Waregem manager has seen his stock rise this season and Gent will likely have him on their list after Hasi. Hopefully he decides to stay at Dender for their return to the top flight after a long absence. Keeping them up will certainly see his stock rise even more, but even if they do get relegated, what he managed to achieve during the 2023/2024 campaign should see plenty of clubs remain interested in the former Club Brugge and PSV man.

Eirik Horneland

Belgian clubs have had a long established relationship with the Eliteserien and Scandinavian football as a whole, so bringing in a coach from the region is by no means far fetched. Brann head coach Eirik Horneland could be an option. After helping Brann win the Norwegian second tier in 2022, he led them to an impressive second place on their top flight return last season. He also won the domestic cup from the second tier in the 2022 season, beating top flight Lillestrøm SK in the final. His contract at Brann runs until 2025, so would require the club to buy him out. The Bergen side would probably demand a reasonable fee to see their successful head coach leave.

Rulani Mokwena

Probably the least likely, but bringing in Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena would be the most interesting appointment. The young head coach is tactically astute and has continued success with Sundowns over the yeras, winning three titles in a row and the inaugural African Football League. The side are chasing a CAF Champions League title under Mokwena and are currently 1-0 down in their semi-final against ES Tunis. Giving Mokwena a chance of European football would be great exposure for one of the top coaches on the African continent, but would be an unlikely route for Gent to go in.

GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson

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