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Top marks for København as half-term nears

Monday 3 December 2012 10.00 CET
Ariël Jacobs has steered FCK into a strong position in the Superligaen

Their 1-0 extra-time defeat at Brøndby IF in the Danish Cup quarter-finals last week will, inevitably, have hurt FC København's pride.

However, the setback should not detract from what has been a successful autumn for last season's Superligaen runners-up. That a developing team are nine points clear at the summit and have their destiny in their hands before UEFA Europa League matchday six – FCK will progress from Group E if they win 1-0 or by a two-goal margin against FC Steaua Bucureşti – should help atone for the disappointment of losing to LOSC Lille in the UEFA Champions League play-offs.

The Lions' progress since then is attributable to one man: coach Ariël Jacobs, who arrived in June from RSC Anderlecht. "He comes to FC København with a lot of valuable experience and knowledge from Belgian and European football," said sporting director Carsten V Jensen of the 59-year-old. His appointment was a deviation from the capital side's policy of almost exclusively employing Scandinavian coaches since FCK were formed in 1992.

As FCK's campaign approaches its winter hiatus – they have one more match before a three-month break – the verdict must be that the change in approach has paid off. Initial results suggest so and soundbites from people in and around the club confirm it.

The Belgian – who succeeded Jensen, himself a replacement for Roland Nilsson – has moulded the team into one that is very organised. That has resulted in comparisons with the sides of Ståle Solbakken, the most successful coach in København's history and the man who steered the Parken outfit into the last 16 of the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League.

Jacobs is not afraid of giving young players a chance, as illustrated by the emergence of striker Andreas Conelius, who, before this term, had made only two substitute appearances for FCK. Fast forward a few months and the 19-year-old has 13 top-flight goals and two senior Denmark caps to his name. As Cornelius put it: "Jacobs makes you believe in yourself."

Jacobs is not a man known for losing his temper in public, often keeping his emotions under wraps on the touch line, yet behind the closed doors of the dressing room it can be a different story. He is also a person who dares to challenge his employers, saying on live television earlier this season: "I need another attacking player." A few weeks later, Belgian Under-21 international Igor Vetokele landed from Cercle Brugge KSV to bolster the front line.

Victory on Thursday at home to Steaua will provide, if needed, further evidence that the employment of Jacobs has been a resounding success.

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