Turkish football many things but dull is not one of them and this season has been no different. We have already had a club president keep a referee hostage, the near-completion of a Crocodile themed stadium in Bursa and Gençlerbirliği president İlhan Cavcav trumped last seasons ‘beard ban’ by sacking five managers in under five months.
Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe have gone into 2016 locking horns at the top of the table but the most glaring omission from the leading pack is reigning champions Galatasaray who are a whopping 11 points behind the Black Eagles.
The Yellow Canaries were the talk of the town over the summer after bringing in the likes of Manchester United duo Luis Nani and Robin van Persie in addition to several other players. Van Persie caused a media storm when he arrived in Turkey but it has been last seasons top scorer Fernandao who has stole the limelight again with his 12 goals.
Fenerbahçe may be second just one point behind Beşiktaş but you would never think listening to the fans. Yellow Canaries supporters and football pundits alike have not been particularly impressed by head coach Vitor Pereira’s playing style which may sound a little impatient but in a league that has a managerial lifespan – on average – of seven months time is rarely on your side. The Istanbul giants were bound to take time to gel considering most the team was put together over the summer but Pereira does deserve credit for managing to grind out results keeping the best defensive record in the league – conceding just 13 goals. Fenerbahçe have started turning up the gears over recent weeks and Luis Nani has been exceptional scoring 8 goals and providing 6 assists establishing himself as a star player and fan favourite. The Canaries have without a doubt more depth in quality than any other side in the league and once they do find their rhythm they could be the side to stop.
It seems if anybody can stop the march of Pereira it will be Şenol Güneş and his Beşiktaş side. The Eagles have been aesthetically pleasing to watch playing the most attractive football in the league and scoring the highest number of goals to match (41). The Black-Whites board deserve a lot of credit for successfully transitioning the club out of financial oblivion into one of the most prudent and business savvy clubs in the league. The Eagles current star names Oğuzhan Özyakup, Atiba Hutchinson, Gökhan Töre, Jose Sosa and Mario Gomez cost a combined £5 million. Özyakup and Töre are rated as two of the brightest talents in the league while Gomez has set the league alight with 15 goals in all competitions earning himself a recall to the Germany national team and attracting interest from across Europe. The team does however, have an Achilles heel in the form of their goalkeeper Tolga Zengin. The former Turkish international keepers errors last season played a major role in Club Brugge knocking Beşiktaş out of the Europa League quarter-finals and crashing out of the title race. Zengin made an almost identical mistake against Sporting Lisbon which saw his side bow out of the Europa League at the group stages on match day 6 despite going into the final game in first place. The Eagles are playing fabulous football at the moment but unless they sign a safe pair of hands over the winter transfer window they may come unstuck at some stage
Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe have built up a decent lead at the top of the table but the battle for 3rd and 4th place is going to be very exciting considering just one point separates 3rd placed Galatasaray and Akhisar who are 6th. The leading pack is an all Istanbul affair with the exception of Akhisar who continue to perform exceptionally on a shoestring budget. 4th placed Kasımpaşa have been relying on stellar defending this season with Titi and on-loan Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo in great form but the Istanbul minnows have also packed a punch going forwards with Swiss international Eren Dediyok putting away 8 goals. Başakşehir are starting to reach a level where nobody is really all that surprised anymore to see them in the leading pack. The club may have hardly any fans and just a tiny budget but they have head coach Abdullah Avcı without whom they probably wouldn’t be playing top-flight football.
Reigning champions Galatasaray sacked double winning manager Hamza Hamzaoğlu for unknown reasons and replaced him with Mustafa Denizli but things did not really go to plan as the Lions fell further behind their Istanbul rivals. Galatasaray sold star man Felipe Melo on transfer deadline day to Inter and bizarrely loaned out Alex Telles and Bruma. The Lions failed to replace Melo and botched up the transfer of Kevin Grosskreutz after failing to fill in his paperwork in time for the transfer deadline. The World Cup winner wants to leave despite not even making his debut for the club and Galatasaray could do with strengthening in most midfield and attacking areas but will face financial constraints.
Trabzonspor have also performed way below expectations. The Black Sea Storm have already had one managerial change and a referee was taken hostage after a game on orders of former president Ibrahim Hacıosmanoğlu after making a mistake. The Black Sea Storm have a squad easily capable of breaking into the top four if not challenging the title contenders but will have to drastically improve over the second half of the season to turn around their fortunes.