KLJESTAN SEES CHALLENGES AHEAD
Winning the league championship doesn't always mean that things will continue the following season. In certain aspects, even regular starters may struggle to earn playing time.
American international Sacha Kljestan might be affected this season since AriŽl Jacobs, who coached Anderlecht to last year's title, has left Brussels to take over as the boss of FC Copenhagen. Replacing him is former Vitesse Arhnem boss John van den Brom. The twice capped former Dutch midfielder has come to town with a new philosophy and a new formation.
Under Jacobs the traditional 4-2-3-1 formation worked well enough to earn silverware, but the Dutchman feels that a 4-3-3 will work better for the team. In this case there will be only one holding midfielder and the word around town is that the spot already belongs to Argentinean international and team captain, Lucas Biglia.
"We'll see," Kljestan told YA. "I haven't really had any conversations with the coach. I'm waiting to hear his feedback on how things have been going (for me)."
In the opening game of the season, the former Chivas USA man was an unused sub in a 1-1 draw against Kortrijk. In the final preseason game, he was left out of action during the trip to Southampton when Anderlecht played both the hosts and Arsenal in 45 minute games. During those games, van den Brom used the same team for both games.
Kljestan does however remain optimistic and feels that he can play wherever he will be an asset.
"I've been playing a bit more of not such a holding midfielder so, we'll see how things go. If anything, I can play anywhere in the midfield or attack."
In the recent friendly against Belgian second division side White Star Woluwe, the Seton Hall alumni lined up alongside Congolese striker Dieumerci Mbokani as the game kicked off. The American was a part of most attacks and even found the back of the net off an Anderlecht corner kick. Les Mauves came away with a 2-1 win in that one.
Kljestan may have a great opportunity here. If Jurgen Klinsmann feels that the national team has better holding midfielder options, then the Californian has the chance to show his versatility across the midfield.
But the 35 times capped American is focusing on his club as the season is in its early stages.
"The first (goal) obviously is to qualify for the Champions League," he stated. "Personal goals - I just want to be a consistent starter like last season and be more of a leader, take a bigger role on the field, score some more goals, help the team win the championship and do well in Europe."
Anderlecht's Champions League qualifying campaign begins on Wednesday when they host Lithuania's FK Ekranas in the third qualification round. Their second Pro League game is on Saturday when they host Beerschot.