Turkey's unfriendliest friendly
With the Turkish Super Lig season back in action this weekend, Turkish Delight has taken time out from its very busy schedule (ahem) to bring you a round-up of the summer months and a preview of the season ahead.
Wheeling and Dealing
Firstly, TD sends out a big high five to Yildirim Demiroren & Co at Besiktas. The chairman was scarcely seen at homes games last season after falling out of favour with the fan group Carsi. While many expected to see a new hierarchy at the club, Demiroren went about his business, bringing in Bernd Schuster as manager and recruiting Ricardo Quaresma and Goldilocks himself, Guti.
While each of those players arrive with a considerable number of question marks over aspects of their private lives, it was clearly not something that bothered the thousands of Besiktas fans who flocked to IstanbulÃ¢ÂÂs Ataturk Airport to greet their new stars. Nicknamed Q7, Quaresma has already produced a number of fine displays which suggest he could be one to watch out for in the coming months... if he can avoid the lure of IstanbulÃ¢ÂÂs nightlife.
Neighbours Galatasaray have been fairly quiet given their efforts last season. Lorik Cana has joined from Sunderland to replace the departing Mehmet Topal who has joined Valencia. Arda Turan has remained at the club despite heavy interest from Bayern Munich and Tottenham.
Rivals Fenerbahce have opted for pace and width, snapping up Miroslav Stoch and Issiar Dia. Marseille striker Mamadou Niang is reportedly close to joining Fener, based on whether the French club can negotiate a deal for SevillaÃ¢ÂÂs Luis Fabiano. The deal would surely spell the end for Daniel Ã¢ÂÂBarn DoorÃ¢ÂÂ Guiza, with Fener set to make a big loss on the original Ã¢ÂÂ¬14million they paid in 2008.
For the first time since 1980, the Turkish Super Cup did not feature one of IstanbulÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂBig ThreeÃ¢ÂÂ. Instead it was very much an eastern affair between League Champions Bursaspor and the team which helped them win the league, Trabzonspor. Trabzon, and new signing Teofilo Gutierrez, showed no signs of offering any favours this time around as the Colombian striker helped himself to a hat-trick in a 3-0 win. An ideal start for Trabzon, but worrying for Bursa who will surely need to step up to avoid embarrassment in the Champions League.
After failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, the Turkish FA have appointed a tried and tested, guaranteed-success, trophy-winning manager... well, according to history anyway. Yes, Guus Hiddink has taken over as coach of the national side and promptly took the squad to the United States for a quick tour. With a very expectant nation, Hiddink will be hoping for a perfect start to their Euro 2012 campaign when the squad meet up in early September.
Picture the scene: members of the Turkish FA sat around their office, puffing on cigars, wondering what they could possibly do to win over the country who, for the past season, have been crying out for a change in leadership. Suddenly, one bright spark comes up with the idea of a pre-season friendly between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. Genius...
The reality was never going to produce a game anywhere near the hoped-for Ã¢ÂÂfriendlyÃ¢ÂÂ, even if it was played in Moenchengladbach. Fener gained the first bragging rights of the season with a 1-0 win, sweetened by the fact that they managed to hold out for 76 minutes with 10 men after Selcuk Sahin received his marching orders. Sahin was shown a second yellow card (eight were shown in total) for attempting to trip up the referee and the match was stopped for almost 20 minutes when, in the aftermath of Andre Santos's goal, flares outnumbered the amount of players on the pitch.
Battle of Legends at Fener
Fenerbahce look set to start their season in turmoil. After a poor pre-season and failure to qualify for the Champions League, reports in Turkey claim a poor relationship between captain Alex De Souza and manager Aykut Kocaman could lead to one of the two leaving the club.
KocamanÃ¢ÂÂs decision to remove Alex at half time in the 2nd leg of the 3-2 defeat to Swiss side Young Boys was labelled as the end for one of the club's greatest-ever playersÃ¢ÂÂ¦ depending on which paper you read. While Milliyet opted for Ã¢ÂÂThe Alex CrisisÃ¢ÂÂ, Hurriyet claims the pair have made up, while Sabah believe Galatasaray are planning a bid to take the Brazilian across town.
Looks like an interesting season in store. The rollercoaster begins on Saturday with Sivasspor vs Galatasaray. Besiktas travel to new boys Bucaspor while Fenerbahce host Antalya behind closed doors in the first of their two match stadium ban. Buckle up, the funfair's back in town...