Defensive tightness and a lack of scoring ability at AA Gent, but Hein Vanhaezebrouck remains calm: “It is a challenge for everyone”


The day after the cup elimination by Union, the Buffalos also had to say goodbye to Andreas Hanche-Olsen. The Norwegian central defender moves to the German Mainz and Hein Vanhaezebrouck sees his defensive options dwindling somewhat. “If you can monetize someone, then that seems logical to me”, the Ghent coach sounds understanding.

Stefan Smet

“Andreas was out for a long time with that shoulder injury, but was finally fit again and would soon have been able to play again”, Vanhaezebrouck confirmed the physical readiness of the departing Norwegian international. Nevertheless, the Ghent trainer puts Hanche-Olsen’s departure into perspective. “That happens in transfer periods. Players then move from one team to the other.”

On the other hand, Vanhaezebrouck realizes that he has even fewer options in the back due to the sale of the Norwegian. “It is indeed getting tight. Especially now that Torunarigha is out”, Vanhaezebrouck realizes. “Maybe Kortrijk is still too early for Jordan. Oh well, maybe we’ll do something. It is true that in our situation it makes sense if you monetize someone, because financially it is not that easy. Not dramatic either, but if you can sell someone who is five months from the end of his contract, that seems like good policy to me. Club option? Then we would also have had to adjust his wages and that is not so obvious.”

Enter Tom Vandenbulcke. The press secretary of the Buffalos intervened and confirmed that Hanche-Olsen had indeed already re-signed until mid-2024. “Ah, he still had a year and a half contract, okay. Well, that doesn’t change my point of view”, Vanhaezebrouck remained stoic. “Every club experiences that sometimes, such a fait accompli. Sometimes you can retrain midfielders into a central defender, we only have Marreh who qualifies for that.”

Defensive reinforcements wanted, so. Urgent, it seems. “Perhaps we can get someone who also has sufficient qualities. It’s not because we now choose to let someone who can still make some money leave, that no one can take their place. Let’s wait until January 31 before making that final evaluation. We are always looking. There are also different processes.”

Offensively difficult

“I’m not talking about The Process”, winks Vanhaezebrouck. “We have to search, investigate the feasibility, actually get someone on board and then they have to adapt and, if possible, also confirm. That is a lot of steps that all have to be correct in order to speak of a successful transfer. We try to make those steps succeed as much as possible, but we must avoid failing too often. Then that is painful for a club that is less well off. When you can only do a few transfers and there are some that don’t work, you feel it. It is especially difficult if a few important players drop out.”

AA Gent is also struggling with the necessary concerns offensively. “Scoring ability? I don’t like to talk about the qualities of players. I can only note that at Union the flank forwards and midfielders scored and delivered assists. We score less well than Union on every aspect. Then you have an offensive problem, that seems clear to me. Defensively we were normally at their height and even did a little better, but with those goals from yesterday… I don’t just look at the strikers, this is a responsibility of the whole group. Burgess and Kandouss have already scored, they are also doing better there. It is a challenge for everyone.”

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