Struggling Anderlecht fires coach Felice Mazzù

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium’s most successful club Anderlecht has fired coach Felice Mazzù after just 22 matches in charge, a day after angry fans forced a league game against big rival Standard to be abandoned.

Mazzù was recruited in June as a replacement for Vincent Kompany from local Brussels rival Union Saint-Gilloise, with the mission to take the club back to the top.

He started well, securing seven wins in his eight opening matches, but a loss against his former club at the end of August marked the start of a downturn.

Anderlecht has since secured only three wins in all competitions. After 14 rounds of matches, Anderlecht lagged 21 points behind league leader Genk.

Mazzù’s dismissal came a day after the Belgian league’s “Classico” between Standard and Anderlecht was marred by fan disorder and had to be abandoned after 63 minutes, with Standard leading 3-1.

“Anderlecht is ending the collaboration with Felice Mazzù with immediate effect,” the club said on Monday. “Underlying this decision are the results that remain far below expectations.”

Sunday’s game at Standard was abandoned after Anderlecht fans threw fireworks onto the pitch and ripped up seats. The club condemned the incidents but added that it understood the supporters’ discontent.

“Sporting is currently not where it should be in the table,” Anderlecht said after being sanctioned with a fine of 50,000 euros ($49,000). The club will likely be forced to forfeit the game as a loss and be ordered to play matches without fans.

Anderlecht said that Robin Veldman, who was in charge of the Under-23 team, was appointed as caretaker until a permanent replacement is found.

Under Mazzù, Union Saint-Gilloise returned to the elite of Belgian soccer after 48 years and then secured a second-place finish behind Club Brugge, as Mazzù was named Pro League coach of the season.

Anderlecht won the most recent of its record 34 Belgian league titles in 2017.

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