Pride, passion and fascinating stories from Asia Minor
Strange things happened on Sunday night, not least the sight of the Galatasaray fans signing jubilantly, lighting flares and jumping up and down following their sides 0-0 draw at Fenerbahce.
While others have highlighted these celebrations as a signal of how far the club has fallen, many simply saw it as a display of relief and a belief that the winds of fortune have finally changed.
Cimbom had, of course, failed to get even a single point at the Sukru Saracoglu stadium over the previous decade, but their performance on Sunday was one that arguably deserved even more.
The return of a legend could be just what the club needs in order to climb back up the table.
Hagi wasted no time in shaking things up despite taking just two training sessions prior to the game. His first job involved reinstating players who had fallen out with Mr.Fickle - Frank Rijkaard.
Hagi and assistant Tugay have already made a positive impact
Servet Cetin and Serkan Kurtulus were both back in the side, but it was the return of a certain Brazilian that will have pleased the travelling fans most.
Elano, a regular choice for Brazil during last summer’s World Cup, had become the forgotten man at Cimbom. Not only did Hagi put him straight back in first XI, he also played him in the position that saw him notch two goals in as many games in South Africa.
On the right of midfield Elano looked very accomplished twice the player who had often shied out of games when surrounded by opposition players in the centre of midfield.
He opened up the Fenerbahce defence on a number of occasions and, with the outside of his right boot, provided the game’s best opportunity for Juan Pablo Pino.
If Hagi and Cimbom are to succeed, it is players like Elano that the Romanian will hope to hold on to.
For Fenerbahce, this weekend will provide an opportunity to exact some sort of revenge.
The yellow canaries travel to Bursa to face the league leaders on Friday night and will be hoping to close to gap on the side who pipped them to the title last season.
If they are to do it then they will have to do it the hard way. Ozer Hurmaci, Mamadou Niang and Issiar Dia will all miss the trip through injury while Diego Lugano will be serving a one-match ban.
The absentees could see a return to the starting line up for Colin Kazim Richards/Kazim Kazim/CKR8 or whatever he prefers to be called these days…
Colin 'Kazim Kazim' Kazim-Richards is back in the frame
The former Sheffield United winger has worked himself back in to contention after a controversial pre-season, and even made an appearance in last week’s Derby, albeit a brief one.
Semih Senturk could also start for Fener and will be another player desperate to prove a point.
When it comes to predicting league champions in Turkey, it has traditionally been a three horse race.
Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray have dominated domestically for years. That was until Bursaspor turned up.
This season could see a six horse race. The usual suspects from Istanbul will be in the mix come May, while Bursaspor are again setting the early pace.
After winning the Turkish Cup last season Trabzonspor have excelled under Senol Gunes and currently boast an impressive goal scoring record having scored 14 in just four home games.
However, if there is a dark horse in this race then that accolade should rightly go to Kayserispor. Not short of money and with an impressive new stadium, the boys in red and yellow have already beaten Fenerbahce and Besiktas at home this season.
While it may be a season too early to challenge for the top, don’t be surprised to see them proving a tough cookie to crack over the coming months.
Fixtures Bursaspor v Fenerbahce, Eskisehirspor v Ankaragucu, Gaziantepspor v Karabukspor, Galatasaray v Antalyaspor, Genclerbirligi v Manisaspor, Kasimpasa v Kayserispor, Bucaspor v Istanbul BB, Besiktas v Sivasspor, Konyaspor v Trabzonspor.
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