Long Time, No See: Back To Basics in Turkish Football
It's been a long time since I last wrote something on the Bleacher Report, my bad. It's been busy at my "normal" job, so my sports article pace has slowed down a little bit. But, whatever, I'm back.
Last April I wrote about the unexpected lead of Bursaspor in the Turkish Super League and it surprisingly ended that way. The Turkish Super League had four champions in its 50-year history until last year, now it has five.
Bursaspor's unexpected success in the national league has really raised many eyebrows. With a renewed broadcasting contract, now all the Turkish clubs are on a rise. Except the usual favorites!
The common favorites of any football season in Turkey are Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray. With the first half of the season ended, only Fenerbahçe is in the top three.
Beşiktaş is trailing by 14 points while Galatasaray is nine points above the relegation line, but 19 points away from the top spot. Fenerbahçe is nine points short of the current leader, Trabzonspor, whose latest championship in the league was over 20 years ago.
What happened? What forced the usual suspects to become ordinary?
The Turkish Super League does not have much of a reputation when compared to the other leagues in Europe. Therefore, its appeal for high class players is not very strong.
Before last year, only the top three teams of Turkish football were able to lure the classy feet of Europe (or South America and Africa). But now that the other clubs have much greater finances than they used to, they are able to lift the calibre of the players that they can bring in their boundaries.
Turkish football also lacks in finding local talent which is particularly bad considering the player restrictions. A club can start a match with five local players complemented by six foreign players.
Clubs can have two more foreign players on the bench, which, during the game, can only be substituted for a foreign player on the pitch. They can have two more foreigners who will not be able to start a game at all. Hard to explain, isn't it?
Teams are finding it difficult to recruit five local players which will form the core of the team. The total quality of a team consists of the blend of its local and foreign players. Since the local players' calibre is really not very distinct, when the "other clubs" started to purchase better foreigners, the difference between the three musketeers and the rest merely disappeared.
This season, the top spot is held by Trabzonspor, which is one of the usual early season favorites. They usually tend to fall back by midseason in the past 20 years except on one or two occasions.
But this season seems a little different. They've collected 42 points of a possible 51, and have lost only nine points with three draws and one loss. Impressive.
However, the team is not as close-knit as you would expect them to be. Still, their experienced manager Senol Günes somehow manages to keep them together. But they have some loose cannons on board which may cause them to fall apart as the season progresses and tension builds up.
So far, they have managed to channel any kind of pressure into positive output, but there are still 17 weeks of football ahead. One should not be considered a prophet to say that they would not be able to collect 42 more points in the second half.
That's all from me for now, hope to keep you guys updated more often.
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