A battlefield in Belgian football

De Standaard
Thomas Peeters

The Belgian football landscape is beginning to resemble a battlefield for football coaches. As many as 11 of the 16 professional clubs in the Jupiler Pro League changed head coach this year, with two clubs even changing coach twice. The frequent sacking of football coaches remains an interesting phenomenon. Thomas Peeters, Associate Professor at Erasmus School of Economics, clarifies.

An important question to ask first is whether it makes sense at all to sack trainers in such quick succession. Often, improved performance after sacking a coach is attributed to the new coach. However, research shows that this is not always justified, as the improved performance could also simply be normalisation of results, which could also have happened under the old coach. Yet most teams in Belgium do not wait for such normalisation. 'Especially teams at the bottom of the standings, go for the safe choice,' Peeters argues.

Moreover, Peeters brings to light that you do not see many young, talented football coaches at the top clubs: 'you would expect young coach talent to start at small clubs and thus find its way to the bigger clubs. But in practice, young talents hardly get any opportunities. Clubs that qualify for relegation always choose from the same garland of established names. Often these are former professional footballers who come from the environment,' he concludes.

Associate professor
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