One point less, but better? Why Union is even stronger this season: “Enormous steps forward”
20 de January, 2023
After 21 matchdays, Union has 46 points, exactly one point less than last season after the same number of matches. Still, we can ask ourselves whether this Union is not stronger than last year, because it is still fighting on three fronts. The departure of several strongholds does not seem to cause problems.
The big exodus that was feared at the end of last season, ultimately failed to materialize at Union. Most of the team stayed together, although a few strongholds left. With Deniz Undav, Union lost its top scorer, but Casper Nielsen – perhaps the player of Union last season -, Kaoru Mitoma and Jonas Bager, Union also saw a few other basic players leave. “We lost four of our titulars, in principle you don’t just catch that”, says coach Karel Geraerts (41). “But the newcomers have adapted very well to the whole thing, all credit for that goes to the group that has received the new guys so well and to the people who brought these players in. They have once again succeeded in adding quality to our team.”
Perhaps the biggest fear was to be able to accommodate the departure of Nielsen and Undav, but with Lynen and Boniface, their departure causes few problems. “And if you mention Nielsen and Undav, you really should also mention Kaoru Mitoma,” says Geraerts. “If you see what he has shown at the World Cup and what he is doing now in England. He was important to us last year, and Bager was also one of our titulars. But it’s true that Lynen and Boniface are doing very well for now. Lynen suffered a cruciate ligament injury last year but is playing very strong now, I am very pleased with his performance. He exudes confidence and football ability and his physical readiness is also a plus. And Boniface? He shows very good things at times. He has to keep working to become even more consistent in his performance, but that is not illogical for a 22-year-old player. But apart from the two of them: I am very satisfied with my entire core, and that is something unique,” said the Limburger. Union has certainly not lost quality, thanks to a few targeted transfers, Union is also a lot stronger than last year in terms of width. Union has plenty of options in every line: it not only provides rotation options, it also keeps the entire group sharp.
Another advantage is that the Unionists immediately have a lot of experience thanks to the Europa League campaign. Most players had not yet played European matches, but that will be completely different after this season. Moreover, most of them have already (at least) a year and a half in first class, something that only benefits their maturity. “The players have certainly gained a lot of experience,” says Geraerts. “This group has made huge strides forward. Last season we were hardly ever favourites, but our performance means that is more and more the case now. That makes sense, expectations are rising. But my group handles it very well: my players show on the field that they are cool and relaxed and can handle the pressure well”, concludes the 41-year-old Limburger.