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Carlos Aviña gives an update on the state of the club

17 matches played, another 17 to go. Beerschot is the only team that Cercle has not yet played against this season, but we still found the moment suitable to take stock of the seaosn with technical director Carlos Aviña, who spoke just before Christmas and the match against Essevee. “We want a winning mentality in all areas.”

A good start, but then came COVID

“It has actually already turned out to be a very interesting season, a season with a lot of ups and downs. For example, there is a clear difference in performance between our first nine matches and the last eight. After nine rounds (the 5-2 win against Gent) we were only one match away from being in the top five, but that run of good form was broken when the match against Mouscron was postponed by COVID-19. We then also had to deal with COVID ourselves. Listen, I don't want to make excuses here, because I am convinced that there is sufficient quality in the current core to do better, but the situation has had a clear impact on the performance of the team.”

To what extent has COVID-19 had an impact?
“The cases of COVID-19 were a turning point for the entire group. On the one hand, there were the infections themselves, but on the other hand, specific training protocols had to be followed. How do we get rid of the virus? That is also what has concerned us. Again, though, there are no excuses. It is and remains up to us to adapt to how the virus manifests in society. ”

A winner's mentality

“A lot of new faces came on board in the off-season, which led to a change in the club's strategy. At the moment, this created a short period of transition. Our main goal remains to be more consistent and stable, both in our performances and our place in the table. We want to be a solid mid-table side and the aim is still to finish in the top half this season. Talent development is our other objective: I think we have already seen some interesting things in that regard this season.”

Cercle Brugge KSV

“Of course it is frustrating to lose a match. But if we analyze the matches apart from a feeling of frustraion,  we also see a lot of positive points: the individual progress of the players, for example. Iké Ugbo: 10 goals in 15 games. Anthony Musaba, involved in 7 goals including scoring four times. Thomas Didillon, for me personally has been the best goalkeeper in the league. Vitinho too, for example, he has been completely revived this season. Yesterday I talked to Vitinho about his progress since I got here. When I first came here, he was disappointed that he didn't often play and now look, now he is one of the most important players in the team and he's played himself into the spotlight. I'm just giving you a few examples, of course they were all good players when they got here, and when you see how they've raised their profile over the course of the first 17 matches, it's great to see.

Cercle are also the only team in the Jupiler Pro League that has not played a draw so far. “If you don't win a match, you have to make sure you don't lose it either. We have already had several conversations with the team and the technical staff about how we should better manage our matches and better capitalize on our chances. That's not easy. With an average age of 23 years, we are one of the youngest teams in the first division. That is also part of the learning process that our young, talented players have to go through. We want to be more consistent and leverage our talent even more. Obviously, individually and collectively things can be improved, but together with the technical staff and coach Paul Clement in particular, we are doing the things that are needed. We have high expectations in all departments. We must strive for a real winning mentality. The strategy is clear: we will continue to invest and expand the team: recently we have a new assistant analyst who has joined, Dylan Vanhaeren. He has surprised in a positive way us with clear, to-the-point reports. Nick Van Ransbeeck joined the performance department as an assistant to conditioning coach Eddie Lattimore. Nick has experience in the Jupiler Pro League and his expertise comes in handy to work out the individual follow-up plans with the players in detail. And soon, at the beginning of January, a full-time scout will start working with the club: Luciano Murchio, someone I personally know very well from my time in Mexico. He is someone with a thorough knowledge of the European and Latin American markets, who can teach us a lot.”

Cercle Brugge KSV

The winter mercato is coming: what can we expect?
“We plan to strengthen ourselves in every area. With the arrival of Sébastien Bruzzese, we have already done that with the goalkeepers. Investing, however, is not only about attracting players, but also keeping the players you currently have. The contract extensions for our 3 youngsters, our own youth players Robbe Decostere, Thibo Somers and Charles Vanhoutte were a powerful signal and clearly the right decision. But Kevin Hoggas's contract extension was also important: Kevin is the player who has played the most minutes in our team, he is important to us on and off the field, so it was important to continue working with him.

We also realize that some players have not gotten the minutes they were looking for here. We are also looking for solutions for them as well during the transfer window.”

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