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TRABZONSPOR WIN SÜPER LIG
Trabzonspor have secured their first Süper Lig title since 1984, as the club celebrate an impressive season that will live long in the memory of its fans. The club’s overall dominance in the league was a particular highlight, after the side initially went 32 games and 45 weeks without defeat, eventually losing their first game since 21st April 2021 to 7th placed Beşiktaş.
Manager Frank Athlete has cast a divisive shadow on the touchline this season, with many of the Trabzonspor faithful still angered at his decision to sell fan favourites Omur and Djaniny last Summer. It was Athlete’s dealings in the transfer market however, that proved to be the difference this term, with new recruits Igor Coranado and Metehan Altunbaş among the side’s top performers.
Trabzonspor’s impressive defensive record saw the club break the record for the number of clean sheets (22) and fewest goals conceded (24) in the league, while their attacking prowess was also noteworthy as they ranked second in the division for goals scored (83) behind eventual runners-up, Başakşehir (87).
Despite a strong showing in the league throughout most of the season, there were murmurs among the fan base that the team’s mentality might let them down in the latter stages of the campaign, with the Trabzonspor side seemingly doing all they could to throw away their title hopes as they entered the last few weeks of the campaign.
Having opened up an 8 point lead over second placed Başakşehir, that gap was closed to just 3 points when the two teams met in the penultimate game of the season, with the 1-1 score a fair reflection of these two sides’ abilities this season. The gulf between the top 2 and the other early-season title challengers was quite incredible, with many shocked at the likes of Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş all finishing outside of the top 4 this year.
Trabzonspor could have had the title sewn up much earlier in the season, but for their abysmal form in the final eight games, collecting just 10 points from a possible 24. This poor run was in stark contrast to their scintillating form in the first half of the season, with notable losses away to Alanyaspor and Kayserispor, not to mention points dropped at the likes of Kasımpaşa and İstanbulspor.
Major injuries sustained in a number of training sessions, saw key personnel side-lined for several weeks at the turn of the year. Starting central defender, Vukasin Jovanovic, young Advanced Playmaker, Suleyman Cebeci, veteran striker, Tony Nwakaeme, and Süper Lig Yılın Oyuncusu (Player of the Year) winner, Anders Trondsen, all being out injured at the same time.
In the wake of such absences, opportunities arose for the likes of Tuğbey Akgün and Hüseyin Türkmen to stake their claim for a regular starting place in the side, with solid performances helping the team to stay in title contention and giving manager Frank Athlete plenty to think about in terms of his best XI.
Athlete has signed a new contract in November 2021 which will keep him at the club until June 2024, and with so many talented footballers doing well this year, he’s sure to have his work cut out to find space for everyone when he begins his title defence next season.
Analysis: Black Sea Storm Rue Cup Final Slip
Trabzonspor’s impressive form that was witnessed in the league, was also evident in the Türkiye Kupası this year as the side attempted to make it a league and cup double come season’s end.
Successive wins over newly promoted Samsunspor, Kayserispor, Fenerbahçe and Alanyaspor, saw the Black Sea Storm team make it through to the Türkiye Kupası Final where they would play last season’s Runner Up, Galatasaray.
This was Trabzonpsor’s first cup final since 2020, when they ran out winners over this season’s Semi-Final opposition, Alanyaspor.
Sadly, the feat would not be repeated, with Galatasaray comfortably dispatching Frank Athlete’s men 3-0, taking their total cup final wins to 19 – the Turkish record.
Trabzonspor’s performance on the day was lacklustre at best, with the side seemingly forsaking their early season form and having little by way of response, even when their Istanbul-based opponents had a man sent off in the 70th minute.
Despite a disappointing end to a strong campaign, Trabzonspor can take heart from their run to the final, and no doubt fans across the region are already eagerly anticipating the prospect of more silverware next year after the club bagged their first league title in 38 years.
Club Captain, Uğurcan Çakır, seemed in optimistic mood on reflection of a decent season, remarking “we were disappointed to lose the cup final but we’re obviously thrilled to secure the league title. We knew we were capable of challenging for trophies, and we’ve confirmed that this year. We want to keep winning and will set our sights firmly on attaining more silverware next year.”
In terms of the Türkiye Kupası, Uğurcan was probably Trabzonspor’s top performer, often being the difference when the team were struggling to score at the other end. His season statistics across all competitions suggest as much too:
Meanwhile, Trabzonspor will kick off their hunt for more silverware with a Süper Kupa appearance in August with their opponent once again being Galatasaray.
Trabzonspor were Süper Kupa winners in 2021, while Galatasaray have won the trophy on 17 occasions. They will be determined to spoil Trabzonspor’s party, particularly after they lost to the Black Sea coast team on the first day of last season.
Meanwhile, with no time to rest on his laurels, Athlete will already have started his planning, and will be looking to use this traditional curtain raiser to demonstrate his intent for the season ahead.
OPINION: TRABZONSPOR WIN INDIVIDUAL PLAUDITS
Frank Athlete’s men were deserved champions this term, after a long and arduous campaign saw them clinch the title on the penultimate game of the season.
In addition to the team winning their first trophy under Athlete’s leadership, Trabzonspor also topped the charts with individual awards won this year.
Athlete himself bagged the Manager of the Season Award after significant improvement on his first season in chrge.
Club captain, Uğurcan Çakır, collected the honour of Süper Lig Goalkeeper of the Season Award after some impressive performances between the sticks, and not to mention his clean sheet record that was broken this year.
Elsewhere, Norwegian international Anders Trondsen collected the awards for the Süper Lig Midfielder of the Season, and Süper Lig Yılın Oyuncusu (Player of the Year), after playing some inspiring football this year.
Trondsen will be departing Trabzonpsor in January 2023, having agreed terms to join Chinese Super League outfit, Shanghai Greenland Shenua, for a reported ₺200M (£19.8M).
Athlete has wasted no time at all in identifying his replacement, with İrfan Kehvici picked out as the man to do the job. İrfan signs from this season’s runners up, Baseksehir for a fee believed to be in the region of ₺110M (£10.9M). He has also already agreed personal terms with the club, and will link up with the team at the start of preseason on 1st July 2022.
Fans of the club will be hoping that İrfan can hit the ground running, and showcase some decent performances to rival Trondsen’s sensational play this year.
INSIDER : FANS EYE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RETURN
Trabzonspor make a hotly anticipated return to Champions League football next season, having qualified for the Group Stages after their title winning campaign. This is the first time the club will feature in the Champions League since the 2011/12 season.
Owing to recent changes in the coefficient model, Turkey’s top team now go straight through to the Group Stages, while the team in second place will begin in the Third Qualifying Round.
Black Sea Storm fans are understandably excited at the prospect of seeing their players line up against some of Europe’s biggest teams, and will be eagerly anticipating the Group Stage draw which will take place in August.
Among the other contenders are last seasons Champions League winners, Liverpool, along with Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, each of whom it is expected will reach the latter stages of the contest.
Despite their excitement, it would seem that most fans of the club are trying to be realistic with Trabzonspor’s prospects in the competition. It’s unlikely they will progress beyond the group, but none of that will matter to Frank Athlete, who will be seeing this as an opportunity to build a solid foundation for his team’s success in the future.
Asked about his side’s return to Champions League action, Athlete said, “it’s a fantastic achievement for the club, but it’s just the start of what I think this team can do. It won’t matter to me if we exit the competition at the group stage because I know we’ll be back. I want to build long lasting success here, and prove to the doubters that last season’s title win wasn’t just a flash in the pan.”
Fans will no doubt be delighted at Athlete’s comments, and what many believe could be the start of an exciting time at the club.
MEMORY LANE: THE RISE AND FALL OF AN EMPIRE
Previously, this column looked at the Roman and Byzantine occupations of Trabzon, taking us up to the turn of the 12th Century, and the establishment of the Empire of Trebizond (Trabzon).
In terms of geography, the Trebizond Empire was made up of nothing more than a thin strip of land along the southern coast of the Black Sea. With the Pontic mountains to the South of the province, it was largely protected from challengers from elsewhere, and as a result of this and it’s thriving trade route, it’s wealth and importance far surpassed its size and population.
In the mid-13th Century, the Mongol’s capture of Baghdad meant increased trade for Trebizond. Many travelled here, including Italian ships from Genoa and Venice, but no travellers were more famous than Marco Polo, who ended his overland journey along the Silk Road in city in the latter part of the 13th Century.
In 1347, the Black Death arrived at the city and, alongside the Empire’s engagement in the Trapezuntine Civil War, this would lead to the eventual demise of the Empire itself over the next 100 years, as the Ottoman’s would stake their eventual claim on the region in the centuries to come.
At that time, Constantinople remained the Byzantine capital and it was here that the Ottoman’s struck first, taking the city in 1453 before moving along the coast to conquer Trebizond 8 years later, after Emperor David surrendered.
By now, the city’s population of around 4,000 people was very diverse, with large communities of Greek, Laz and Armenian people calling Trabzon their home, and with multiple faiths practiced throughout the city as well.
This demographic would survive for several centuries under Ottoman rule, despite many Turkish settlers sent into the region shortly after taking control.
Academy Gets Overdue Upgrade
Trabzonspor’s youth facilities will receive a long overdue upgrade this Autumn, when works at the Academy are concluded in October. Athlete submitted his request back in December of last year, and with the Board of Directors keen to keep progressing the club forward, they were quick to accept his request.
A recent survey of the club’s youth facilities labelled them as “Average”, which is in stark contrast to divisional rivals Başakşehir and Fenerbahçe whose facilities have been described as “Great” and “Good” in the past.
The work began in May 2022 and is expected to take 6 months to complete. At a total outlay of ₺1.9M (£190K), it’s evident that the Trabzonspor Board of Directors are intent on investing some of the transfer revenue generated last season into the club’s future prospects, which will no doubt be a welcome sentiment among the fan base.
Around the Grounds
In this regular feature, we take a look at some of the other news stories from around the world that have captured our attention beyond the city of Trabzon in recent days.
Junior Boss Sticks to Youth Development
From the Italian immigrants who formed ‘Juventus’ to the Spanish form of ‘Juventud Infantil’ in the early days of it history, through to ‘Juventud Junior’, ‘Atlético Junior’, ‘Junior de Barranquilla’, ‘Junior Club’ and simply ‘Junior’ in more modern years. One theme remains largely consistent in its names: Youth. Read more.
Early Transfer Business Key for La Dea
After last season’s cautionary tale of not acting in the January transfer window, this time the Atalanta boss sought to have his incoming business completed early. Read more.
Royal Antwerp on Course for Success
Belgian side Royal Antwerp are undergoing a rebuild under their new manager, whose shrewd recruitment on and off the pitch seems to be reaping the desired results in his first season in charge. Read more.
Sporting Cristal Boss Eyes Next Chapter
After several years in the job, Sporting Cristal’s Head Coach is looking to his next challenge after enjoying relative success at the club, but can his final season in charge prove tp be his best yet? Read more.
Teixidó Shifts Club Philosophy
Football news and analysis website, theangrylinesmen, once referred to the Rayo Vallecano’s approach to transfers as the “sustainable revolving door”, referring to the delicate and perilous financial balancing act of the club’s continuous recruitment cycle. Recent success and LaLiga stability under Fernando Teixidó over the last four years may have changed this for good. Read more.
Toulouse Look to Build for Future on Tight Budget
With the side destined to play Champions League football this term, Toulouse are faced with the prospect of strengthening the squad on a shoestring budget. The club’s Director of Football has previously worked wonders in the transfer market, but will need to be at his best to ensure the club continue their on-field success. Read more.
SC Verl Boss Aims for Bundesliga 2 Survival
SC Verl have undergone a massive overhaul of their playing staff this term, bringing in no less than 13 players, but with the media predicting an immediate return to the 3. Liga, can they survive? Read more.
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