"There are no easy opponents"
With a goal and an assist Jan Van den Bergh had an important impact in Beerschot’s win in Mechelen last Sunday. “Being top of the league is like a dream scenario to us. We enjoy it as it is but the focus is now on our home game against Eupen”, he says.
“Jean” was voted Man of the Match by our supporters. Scoring and creating a goal in one and the same match was a first for our defender. “That and the fans’ appreciation are a boost and extremely good for my confidence. But I want to do even better and I feel I can. Being part of this extraordinary group of quality players and experiencing this string of good results feels great. Beerschot is where I belong. I love this club.”
Jan Van den Bergh signed a five year contract last summer after stepping up from amateur football to become a pro during the 2016-2018 period at Beerschot. “The special atmosphere and the cosiness from those amateur years are a thing from the past. My short spell at AA Gent made me realise what a warm club Beerschot is”, Van den Bergh admits. “When returning I noticed the set up is much more professional now but that ‘close knitted family atmosphere’ is still here. It is one of our strengths even.”
Van den Bergh had to fight hard to claim his place in Beerschot’s team, but the away game in Mechelen was the 7th time in a row he was in the starting line-up. “It has been a bit of a struggle which wasn’t surprising, taking into account I had spent quite a considerable time in AA Gent’s B-squad. So I started the season with a bit of a disadvantage, both mentally and physically. On top of that there was and is the fierce competition with my team mates to become first choice. In that respect I had a nice and long chat with coach Hernan Losada and together we worked out a plan and a strategy to build up my career again and gain confidence at the same time. I have made a lot of progress since then and keep working hard.”
And look now: after 14 matches Beerschot is top of the Jupiler Pro League. “What a great achievement that is. And rightly deserved too. A dream scenario really. In my opinion there is no other team in Belgium that shows the same winning mentality and pure joy. We are close as a group and have a lot of appreciation and respect for each other.”
What is Jan Van den Bergh’s reaction to the fact that Beerschot, despite being first in the table and scoring loads of goals, concede so many goals as well? “Of course I’d love to concede less goals and finish the game with a clean sheet now and again, but everything is a team effort really. You win as a team and lose as a team, it’s as simple as that. Our style of football is attacking and adventurous, which means there’s always a possibility to concede goals on a counter attack from our opponents. That is a calculated risk. On the other hand we have been unlucky as well in defense on numerous occasions. Like last Sunday in Mechelen with those two own goals. With the exception of that crazy 5-5 match in Kortrijk I think we don’t give away too many clear chances at the back. I dare say we are more balanced defensively now. But let’s enjoy and appreciate all the nice things that are happening at Beerschot. Let’s live this dream and carry on as we are.”
Only five games remain this calendar year: Eupen, Moeskroen, STVV, Cercle Brugge and Anderlecht. “There are no easy games in football. And even more when you’re on top of the table”, Jan states categorically. “We know by now we can beat any team in Division 1A… and on the other hand can lose from anybody as well. Mind you, there is no room for nonchalance and relaxation at Beerschot. Also not against Eupen, our opponent on Sunday, who haven’t lost their last four matches. That game is now our main focus.”