The Belgium coach Marc Wilmots almost has a thankless task at the moment. He has overseen the unprecedented rise of the nation into the top five of FIFA’s World Rankings - yet he now finds himself under pressure after the nation lost their second game in a row against Japan last night.
Belgium have now gone three games without a win for the first time since 2010 after drawing with Wales, losing to Colombia and suffering defeat to the Samurai Blues last night - it really has been a week to forget for the manager.
But then again, he does currently have a team where, by and large, many of his star players are not getting regular first-team football.
Daniel Van Buyten is not a regular at Bayern Munich, Toby Alderweireld is taking his time to settle at Atletico Madrid and Steven Defour is not a regular in the Porto starting XI any more.
Then come the Premier League stars.
Thomas Vermaelen, Kevin De Bruyne and Mousa Dembele would usually be regular names in the starting XI for the Red Devils - but none of them are playing enough regular football.
Dembele recently lost his place after a poor display against West Ham, Vermaelen cannot overthrow Laurent Koscielny or Per Mertesacker at The Emirates while De Bruyne is an attacking midfielder in a team containing about 400 players who can play that position at Chelsea.
And after defeat yesterday, Wilmots echoed the sentiments of Everton star Kevin Mirallas by stating he needed his key players to be playing football on a more regular basis - or risk choking at the World Cup next summer:
“We have a big problem in that we have players who do not play in their club and are lacking in pace. In September and October, you can make it through the preparation, but there is a time when you have a chain of two matches in four or five days, and it becomes difficult. We saw that today… Now we will be dependent on the choice of the players. I understand that this is a battle you want to win when you're in a big club. All solutions are good when there is quality, but ... must play matches to find a rhythm."
It follows on from his recent comments stating that De Bruyne should seek a move away from Chelsea and he seems to suggest here that anyone of the players in the Belgium squad right now, not currently playing regular football, should begin to look for a January move.
image: © Erik Daniel Drost