Although only a few Beşiktaş fans could see it coming, their Europa League last 32 matchup against Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheva was not entirely a cakewalk. But, for a team that handed two back to back defeats to Inter and nearly eliminated Celtic from the race to the Champions League, this kind of resistance was rather expected.
From Beşiktaş’s point of view, coach Şenol Güneş was spot on to dispatch his scouting team three times to analyze Hapoel’s games. His side displayed a decent defensive performance, despite Hapoel sneaking through on a few occasions in the second half. Which brings us to the question “Can Beşiktaş maintain this away performance until the end of their Europa League campaign and top it off with some dominant home games?”
First of all, as I have mentioned before, Beşiktaş’s game has dramatically changed since the beginning of the season and they have focused on surviving the hard away games, which were aplenty in the Champions League.
For many idealistic Beşiktaş fans, however, this shift that saw their team’s brilliant offensive display last season turn into a dull defensive game, was disheartening; because, unlike many other fan groups in Turkey, Beşiktaş fans are known for their appreciation of the beautiful game.
As a result, while Beşiktaş’s new approach has fetched in some good results in almost all competitions, it has alienated fans.
Of course, if one goes and expresses his frustrations to coach Şenol Güneş now, he would explain how he had to work with a limited squad, meet the expectations of the board and faced difficulties with taking collective action. And this gives way to a crucial question, do Beşiktaş want short-term success with short-term plans, or they are going to aim bigger for long-term success with long term plans?
Despite the fact that the club’s chairman Fikret Orman had pledged the long-term progress of the club, it seems that he is only implementing it in the financial department, while he and coach Güneş have both lost the fight against populist arguments that Beşiktaş, without building a solid foundation, should just cut corners to achieve success.
One might say that I am being a t
oo pessimistic after such a good result for Beşiktaş, but someone has to play the bad cop.
Even if the club aims for the Turkish Super League and the Europa League this season, it is impossible to achieve both or maybe even one without building a self-sufficient, consistent and collective offensive unit. Almost no other team in the top European arenas play such a segregated game like Beşiktaş’s and no team is so one-sided in strategy and approach can become one of the best.
Beşiktaş have to build a squad and gameplay for the next five years and should not expect any immediate success. The success that would eventually come would be much greater than expected.