Newcastle's Euro rivals Club Brugge facing a crisis

NEWCASTLE United’s next Europa League opponents Club Brugge have been plunged into turmoil with their manager Georges Leekens facing the sack.

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew with Club Brugge manager Georges Leekens
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew with Club Brugge manager Georges Leekens

NEWCASTLE United’s next Europa League opponents Club Brugge have been plunged into turmoil with their manager Georges Leekens facing the sack.

The Belgians lost 3-2 to Lierse on Wednesday night, their fourth consecutive defeat, a run that includes a 1-0 defeat at St James’ Park, amid allegations that key members of the squad are unimpressed with Leekens’ training methods.

Brugge face Waregem at home on Sunday, at the same time Newcastle travel to Anfield to face Liverpool, and many pundits in the Belgian media believe Leekens (pictured left), who only joined the club in the summer after quitting his post as national team coach, could be sacked if they lose at the weekend – four days before they play Newcastle.

One of their players, Dutch star Ryan Donk, a former West Brom player, said on Twitter after the latest defeat that these had been “dark months” for the club. Leekens admitted: “The defending has been a shambles. I am sorry for all our supporters. I feel it as well because I am emotional about this club.”

Newcastle take on Brugge next Thursday and a win for Alan Pardew’s side would see them qualify for the Europa League knockout stages and therefore guarantee European football in 2013.

The Premier League remains the manager’s priority.

However, St James’ Park has hosted two 30,000-plus crowds for their group home games so far, and with thousands expected to make the short trip next week it is obvious the supporters are incredibly enthusiastic about this competition.

Pardew will be buoyed by the Brugge predicament and also comments yesterday attributed to signing target Moussa Sissoko, if he does move for midfielder in the New Year.

The Toulouse midfielder expressed his delight to be linked with a potential move to Tyneside during the January transfer window.

He said: “To play in the Premier League would be a dream come true. It’s a fantastic league and I enjoy watching it.

“Newcastle is a fantastic team and would be attractive to any player. I am no different.”

Chelsea and Arsenal are also known to be monitoring the talented 23-year-old, who has played 200 games for Toulouse.

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Graeme Whitfield
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Mark Douglas
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Stuart Rayner
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