League round 10 is all about ending and continuing streaks

League round 10 is all about ending and continuing streaks

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
League round 10 is all about ending and continuing streaks

Sivasspor players celebrate beating Fenerbahçe 2-0 in a Spor Toto Super League match at 4 Eylül Stadium in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas. Sivasspor became the first team to beat Fenerbahçe after 27 league games - a streak dating back to late 2010. DHA photo

Fenerbahçe fans took to social media on the night of Nov. 4 when they suffered a 2-0 Spor Toto Super League defeat against Sivasspor.

“What were we supposed to do when we get beaten?” was probably the most retweeted one. Their amnesia was not misplaced since the match was the first time Fenerbahçe had been beaten in any competitive match in 27 outings – a run dating back to late 2010. That run included winning 17 of its 18 league matches to end the 2010-11 season, allowing the club to rally past then-runaway leader Trabzonspor to clinch the national title.

Nothing’s lost now but the streak. Fenerbahçe is still in the driving seat of the league and one might even say that some defeats are liberating.

Streaks can put extra pressure on the teams’ backs: Every other team is gunning to end the streak and play with extra motivation, meaning that it can become increasingly difficult to keep the runs going. Fenerbahçe kept the streak alive with late goals or dramatic comebacks several times, but drama can wear a team down.

Their rivals will look the other way, however. They will be relieved by the fact that Fenerbahçe is not invincible at all.

And it could even be a relief for Fenerbahçe that the streak was not ended by a rival – as ending streaks can assume mythic status in rivalry folklore. Galatasaray fans still remember when their team ended Beşiktaş’s league-record run of 48 unbeaten matches in 1992. Likewise, Beşiktaş faithful still boast about ending Fenerbahçe’s 24-game winning streak at home in 2001 and accomplishing a similar feat in stopping Galatasaray’s record 25-match winning streak at home the following year. So Fenerbahçe might be happy that it was Sivasspor who did it.

It was not a derby match, but it had the significance of a matter of honor for Sivas, however, as NTV Spor columnist Barış Gerçeker pointed out. The match brought together the two teams for the first time since Fenerbahçe won 4-3 on May 22 to win the title. Only 40 days after that win, club members, including the chairmen of the two clubs, as well as Sivasspor goalkeeper Korcan Çelikay, were jailed pending trial on suspicions of match fixing.

But while Fener’s run finally ended, its closest league rivals had little reason to enjoy the beginning of bayram as Galatasaray, Beşiktaş, Istanbul BB, Bursaspor and Orduspor all failed to win.

There were no goals in Galatasaray vs. Mersin İdman Yurdu and Istanbul BB vs. Bursaspor games, but the fixtures were starkly different. The latter was a complete deadlock, while the former was an open encounter that could have finished 2-2 as well.

Probably the most intriguing meeting of the week was Gençlerbirliği’s dramatic comeback against Beşiktaş. The Red-Blacks looked likely to receive a pummeling after falling behind two early Beşiktaş goals, but things turned around after Beşiktaş missed a chance for a third goal. Mustafa Pektemek, a former Gençlerbirliği forward, missed a chance with only the goalkeeper to beat and Gençlerbirliği stormed back to win 4-2.

The only two clubs among the top seven to win were Trabzonspor and Manisaspor. The Kayserispor win was particularly valuable for Trabzonspor, as they jumped to second from seventh.

Unlike Fenerbahçe, Trabzonspor hitman Burak Yılmaz is continuing his streak of impressive form – he now has 13 goals in eight games, but it should have been 14; Burak launched a dazzling free kick that hit the bar and crossed the goal line, but was apparently too quick for referee Halis Özkahya to catch.

While it was all about streaks in Turkey, it was all about a winning run in England. Sir Alex Ferguson, arguably the most successful manager in the history of the game, celebrated his 25th year in the Manchester United hotseat. While Ferguson has won a total of 37 trophies at United, his consistency and success has absolutely no equal in Turkish football: During the quarter of a century that he has been in charge at Old Trafford, a total of 84 coaches have come and gone from Turkey’s elite four clubs, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor.

Right now, Abdullah Avcı is the closest thing Turkey has to Ferguson. In his sixth season at Istanbul BB, he is enjoying the team’s best performance, but still, most of the Turkish media and fans would like to see him leave the Istanbul minnows and take his patience, talent and vision to either the Turkish national football team or a “bigger,” marquee club such as Galatasaray and Beşiktaş.

Meanwhile, Yücel İldiz, the second longest-serving coach, will now look to start a new streak after following his decision to quit his Kardemir Karabük post after three years in the wake of the weekend’s defeat to Eskişehirspor. İldiz, just like Avcı, was at the helm when his team made it to the top flight, and that consistency was likely the biggest asset helping the team survive in the Super League as a newcomer.

The top teams have so far failed to maintain coaching consistency, but this year they can dare to dream, with influential names managing the team.

Aykut Kocaman is leading Fenerbahçe and Fatih Terim is in the Galatasaray hotseat for the third time; with Şenol Güneş at Trabzonspor and Bursaspor’s Ertuğrul Sağlam also staying put, longer streaks might be on the way, but they will be a far cry from Ferguson’s feat.