Troubled Fenerbahçe faces tough Konya test
Fenerbahçe has been grabbed by troubles early in the season and will play a crucial game on Oct. 30 when it visits Konyaspor in the Turkish Süper Lig.
A solid start to the season, with six wins in its first eight league games, had carried the Istanbul club to the top of the standings, but troubles began when Fenerbahçe lost 3-1 at Trabzonspor on Oct. 17.
That loss was followed by a 2-2 home draw against Antwerp in the Europa League, and last week’s 2-1 loss to Alanyaspor sparked fierce protests by the supporters in the stands, who chanted for club president Ali Koç’s resignation.
Fenerbahçe’s last title in the Süper Lig, dominated by the big clubs in Istanbul, was in 2014, and the club’s fans have since jealously watched their archrivals, Beşiktaş and Galatasaray, winning three trophies each.
In the three seasons after Koç took over the club’s top post from Aziz Yıldırım in July 2018, Fenerbahçe finished the league sixth, seventh and third, respectively.
During this time, the club has had seven head coaches, including the current coach Vitor Pereira, hence the failure to win the league is largely blamed on the club administration.
Pereira himself is also in hot waters, especially after his remarks following the Antwerp draw, in which he said if anyone had really believed that “we can win the Europa League with this team.”
His remarks created a storm of reactions among fans and pundits alike.
“Ok, it’s difficult to win the Europa League,” said pundit İlker Yağcıoğlu, a former Fenerbahçe player.
“The team is not at that level right now. But is Fenerbahçe a worse team than Olympiakos and Antwerp? If you advance from the group and are eliminated later, no one will say anything to you. But with such statements, the footballers will find it very difficult to be motivated for European matches.”
The remarks were also criticized by former Fenerbahçe Vice President Mahmut Uslu, the second most-powerful name in the club during Yıldırım’s presidency, who said “we would have immediately sacked him” had they been in charge.
A failure to win at Konya, which has only one loss in the league that came against Galatasaray, will immensely increase the pressure both on coach Pereira and club chair Koç.
Elsewhere in Week 11 games in the Süper Lig, second-placed Hatayspor and defending champion Beşiktaş clash in Hatay, Altay hosts Sivasspor and Malatyaspor visits Kasımpaşa on Oct. 30.
In Oct. 31’s matches, Galatasaray takes on Gaziantep at home, Alanyaspor entertains Göztepe and Karagümrük travels to Kayserispor.
Başakşehir wants to extend its winning streak to three when it hosts Adana Demirspor on Nov. 1, the same day Antalyaspor visits Giresunspor.
Leader Trabzonspor was to play cellar-dweller Rizespor late on Oct. 29.