Molenbeek, story of a return to the forefront which turned into a nightmare

Molenbeek, story of a return to the forefront which turned into a nightmare
Molenbeek, story of a return to the forefront which turned into a nightmare

On May 13, 2023, RWD Molenbeek returned to the elite of Belgian football 21 years after leaving it. A year later, the club from the suburbs of Brussels will turn around and go back down to the lower level. Reverted to play-downs at the end of a difficult season, the RWDM still had a chance of remaining in the Jupiler Pro League by going through the play-offs. To achieve this, just one small point was enough for the Brussels team led by Yannick Ferrera against a KAS Eupen team beaten five times in its last 6 matches (5 defeats, 1 draw) and already condemned. Ultimately, the worst scenario happened for the club owned by John Textor. Defeated 2-0 by the bottom side, Molenbeek was officially relegated to the Belgian second division on Saturday.

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“Despite the continuous efforts put in place by the club, the players and the sports staff, RWD Molenbeek will not have succeeded in achieving the objective of remaining in its first season in the Jupiler Pro League. Management will take the time to reflect to analyze the causes of this failure in order to best prepare the club for next season and the pursuit of its new sporting objectives., we could read in the press release from the Belgian club. A big disillusionment for RWD Molenbeek which certainly did not benefit from the defeat at Charleroi de Kortrijk, its direct opponent in the fight for the play-offs, but which above all pays the costs of a struggling season during which it is gradually mired in crisis without ever managing to get out of it.

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John Textor’s RWD Molenbeek relegated to Belgian D2

A promotion to the elite marked by strong internal tensions

If RWDM supporters could have high hopes at the start of the season, things quickly became complicated for the promoted side. A few weeks after validating his return to the elite, the first tensions emerged within management. At the time of revealing the ambitions of his training for the 2023-2024 edition, John Textor “declared that he wanted to kick the butts of the Belgian big names” such as Anderlecht or Union Saint-Gilloise. A public statement from the boss of Eagle Football Group totally disapproved by Thierry Dailly. “It shocked me too. I also think that in the USA, it’s not the same thing as here. It was clumsy on his part and as president, I want to come back to that. It’s sensitive between the supporters. And when we see how they behaved very well during this last match, whether on the RWDM or Anderlecht side, they respected all the rules.conceded the Belgian leader at the microphone of the RTBF.

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Disagreeing with the new strong man in his team, Thierry Dailly was quick to pay the costs of the major cleaning carried out by the American. On May 31, 2023, John Textor decided to put an end to the mandate of the historic president of the RWDM, who had bought the Brussels club in June 2015 before bringing it up to the first division eight years later. “Mr Dailly’s management revealed in late 2022 misappropriation of club funds, abuse of corporate power, disruption of corporate governance and violent and intimidating behavior which led to his dismissal in quality of DG in February 2023”, he explained in a long press release. Continuing his purge, the American businessman announced the departure of Vincent Euvrard and his staff and placed Claudio Caçapa, interim at Botafogo at the time and formerly of OL, at the head of the first team.

However, this strong choice of John Textor quickly revealed itself to be a casting error. If the former OL defender managed to make his predecessor somewhat forgotten by taking six points out of a possible nine thanks to victories against Louvain and Mechelen, Molenbeek’s results gradually deteriorated. Ranked ninth at the start of the fall, the club from the Brussels suburbs suffered a series of poor performances to the point of ending 2023 in a relegation position. In a delicate situation, Molenbeek thought they would take advantage of the winter transfer window to find some color on the national scene. Despite the arrival of several reinforcements including Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, losing momentum on the side of Olympique Lyonnais, the contribution of the recruits proved insufficient to reverse the trend in the championship.

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Three coaches in one season

Still relegated after 21 days, Claudio Caçapa’s men attracted the wrath of their supporters on the eve of a crucial match against KAS Eupen, also involved in the battle for maintenance at the end of the season, on January 22, 2024. Having first promised to settle “that in a ring” following a remark from one of the players, the RWDM fans took action by interrupting the match with firecrackers and smoke bombs at a time when their team was trailing by a goal by Eupen. Despite a return to the field of 22 players, the match never came to an end because of new pyrotechnic objects sent onto the pitch. Hit hard by the crisis, the club decided to stop the bleeding by appointing Bruno Irles in place of Claudio Caçapa.

Despite a solid experience in France, the technician who worked at Troyes and Pau only lasted 39 days at the helm of the Coalisés, the fault of a record of four defeats and a draw in five championship matches. Last in the Jupiler Pro League, the RWDM was slowly but surely heading towards the play-offs for maintenance. Called to the rescue to try to save the club from drowning, Yannick Ferrera righted the situation by gleaning an encouraging draw at Charleroi then by stringing together two victories against Eupen and Kortrijk. Halfway through, the Molenbeekois were only missing two small points to ensure their reprieve. An affordable commando mission but which turned into a dismal failure. Beaten in quick succession by Kortrijk and Charleroi, Molenbeek saw its season in the Belgian elite end with a final disappointment in Eupen, a week after seeing Jeff Reine-Adelaïde taken to hospital.

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Paying the cost of a huge gap between the end of December and the beginning of April, the residents of the Edmond Machtens stadium did not have the shoulders strong enough to compete with their main competitors. Having failed in his rescue mission, Yannick Ferrera was not doing much when it came time to take stock of his team’s season. “Clearly. That was the problem from the start. When we arrived, we made it clear that we were not football magicians. On the other hand, if we managed to restore courage and motivation it could help. This was the case for the first three matches then the negativity returned, noted a coach who may no longer be there next season. My contract was extended by one year if continued. So we will see in the coming days, this is not the time. Above all, I am very sad for all these supporters who supported us. As a Brussels resident it hurts”, regretted the Belgian coach. So back to square one for the RWD Molenbeek.

Pub. THE 05/12/2024 5:20 p.m.
Update 05/12/2024 5:43 p.m.

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