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Brussels routs anger Anderlecht

A month that started badly and got worse has left RSC Anderlecht captain Pär Zetterberg under no illusions that something needs to change.

Miserable month
Dumped out of the Belgian Cup by second division KFC Verbroedering Geel, beaten in the Belgian league for the first time this season by KVC Westerlo, and eliminated from the UEFA Champions League, November has been a time of unmitigated lows for the Brussels club.

Time for reflection
"Every player needs to take a long look at himself in the mirror," said Swedish midfielder Zetterberg after the 2-0 home defeat by Chelsea FC on 23 November. "We have to cut out any negative thinking and remember it's not worth criticising fellow players. It is important for us to recover our morale."

Team spirit
Coach Frank Vercauteren insisted he was doing everything possible to foster a harmonious spirit in the Anderlecht camp with team-building exercises following the Westerlo debacle - including a private screening of the film Cinderella Man, starring Russell Crowe as a boxer.

Ugly clashes
Yet it will take some effort to erase the memories of the very public dispute that occurred immediately after that game on 20 November. Goalkeeper Silvio Proto and full-back Olivier Deschacht were involved in a much-publicised bust-up, a row which both players insist is now forgotten.

Grievances aired
Later that evening the team's experienced Belgian internationals Bart Goor and Yves Vanderhaeghe created a stir with an appearance on Belgian television in which Goor claimed some players had shown "a lack of motivation" and Vanderhaeghe called rising star Anthony Vanden Borre "nonchalant".

Match postponed
Vanderhaeghe stressed there was nothing malicious in what he had to say about the teenager, his partner in central midfield against Chelsea, but the club's general malaise filled the Belgian press before snow forced the postponement of their weekend top-of-the-table tie against R. Standard de Liège.

Positive signs
On closer inspection, though, Anderlecht's plight may not be as severe as a cursory examination might suggest. The Westerlo reverse was their first in 26 league matches and midfielder Fabrice Ehret points out: "We're only one win away from being top of the championship."

Traditional trouble
Centre-back Vincent Kompany's return from a troublesome back problem has bolstered the squad and the eloquent Belgian international - still only 19 - has the impression history is repeating itself. He said: "At Anderlecht there are always one or two stages during the season when the situation becomes serious, even alarming. But in the end we always manage to get ourselves out of trouble and come out of it well!"