Fenerbahçe Poised to Make Move Towards TitleCommentary • Author: Nathan Redd • Monday, November 10, 2008
What a difference a week can make. Eight days ago, Fener and Eskişehirspor drew 2-2 in yet another disappointing performance by the Canaries. Since that day, Fenerbahçe held Arsenal scoreless in London and blasted arch-rivals Galatasaray in a 4-1 beatdown. The week's results have Fener fans feeling optimistic, but the Canaries' best performances still likely lie ahead of them.
October 5, 2008. That's the date that Kayserispor's Julius Aghahowa dropped a hat trick on Fenerbahçe en route to a 4-1 beating at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium. The loss was the lowest point in Fener's nightmare of a season then, conceding four goals at home. It was the game that turned whispers about the future of coach Luis Aragones into a roar. It was also a performance that had many Fener fans already writing off the season.
Not so fast. Since that day, just over a month ago, the team hasn't lost aTurkcell Süper Lig match. They've quietly slipped back into the championship discussion, something that seemed unthinkable just a month ago. The Canaries now sit in seventh place in the league, only seven points out of first place. The team can make another big leap next weekend when they host second place Ankaraspor at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium. The Canaries still have two meetings each with Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor as well.
The best part of what Fenerbahçe is doing is that the team is improving. It's a slow process, and no one is ready to crown them champs anytime soon. But the last two matches have been drastically different than the Kayserispor debacle, or the effortless performance to open the season against Gaziantepspor. Coach Luis Aragones is just now getting a full squad together after injuries decimated the team for much of the season. Emre Belözoğlu and Gökçek Vederson are finally back from injury, but the biggest addition seems to be that of Deivid de Souza. The Brazilian star returned just a week ago and has already scored two goals to make his presence felt. His return also provided a big morale boost for his teammates, obviously moved when Deivid shed a tear during his first game back.
Deivid could be just what star Dani Güiza needs. The Spanish striker has struggled to adapt to Turkish football, something that Deivid can certainly relate to. Güiza has been feeling the pressure of the goal-scoring responsibility, but a healthy Deivid de Souza and Semih Şentürk could ease the tension for Güiza. Add Alex de Souza to the mix, and Fener suddenly find themselves with a number of scoring options. The relaxed responsibility and motivation by Deivid's return could be just what helps Güiza get acclimated to the pace of Turkish football.
Aragones has been through the fire with Fener. He has heard the rumors and knows that critics have been against him. He also knows how to coach football, as evidenced by his wealth of experience and 2008 European championship. Even more, he knows that his team took some knocks while key players were injured and without a reliable midfield. Aragones has those key players back, and the new players signed over the summer are slowly but surely getting used to the Turkish game. Rumors spread recently that Aragones was offered a buyout to take a large sum of money and resign from the club. True or not, Aragones didn't bolt. He instead stayed on board to try to right the ship, knowing his team was still capable of making noise in the league. Aragones realized that Deivid would provide a big boost and his team will steadily improve each week. Only time will tell, but Aragones may have known what fans are just now beginning to see: you can't count Fenerbahçe out just yet.
(photo courtesy of Hurriyet)