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Holland

Holland Eredivisie 2010/11 Season Preview




Last year saw FC Twente lift the Dutch Eredivisie title and continue to interupt the big three of Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV’s supposed dominance. In fact, the Eredivisie is now a much more open league than it’s ever been and there are a clutch of clubs that have a realistic chance to claim the trophy or grab a spot in Europe.

In truth, the cream of PSV Eindhoven will probably rise to the top, with Ajax not too far behind, boosted by holding on to coach Martin Jol in the face of interest from Fulham.

Inside Futbol’s Dutch expert Alec Cordolcini previews the 2010/11 Eredivisie campaign:


ADO den Haag

Hooliganism, dressing room bust-ups, supporters’ racist abuse, mutinous players and a sponsor withdrawing. If it’s a quiet normal life a footballer is looking for then they’d better refuse any offer from ADO Den Haag. "I could write a book about my experiences here", said defender Danny Buijs. ADO have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons and, despite being considered a sleeping giant of the Dutch game, have never got further than repeated relegation battles. This year should be no different again and talented youngsters like Jens Toornstra and Lex Immers won’t be enough to help what is a poor quality squad. Forwards Bogdan Milic, Fabio Caracciolo, Andres Oper and Berry Powel have all left and newcomers Frantisek Kubik and Dmitry Bulykin don’t appear a vast improvement. Another season of blood, sweat and tears awaits.

Key arrivals: Frantisek Kubik (Trencin); Dmitry Bulykin (Anderlecht)
Key departures: Bogdan Milic (Krylia Sovetov); Richard Knopper (released); Karim Soltani (Iraklis); Andres Oper (released); Berry Powel (released); Fabio Caracciolo (Fortuna Sittard)
Prediction: 18th




Ajax

Ajax have not won the Eredivisie since 2004 and in the meantime coach after coach exited the Amsterdam ArenA, many expensive foreign imports have flopped, a new chairman has been appointed and the Champions League group stages have regularly been missed. In the last two seasons however, the dawning of a new era of talented youngsters seems to have arrived, led by stars like Gregory van der Wiel, Siem de Jong, Toby Alderwiereld and Christian Eriksen. Last season these young stars were mixed in well by coach Martin Jol with established performers like Luis Suarez and Martin Steklenburg. Ajax finished last season just one point behind FC Twente, despite an excellent second half of the season. Jol knows that this time Ajax need to hit the ground running and with a squad undoubtedly stronger than last season, the coach simply cannot fail.

Key arrivals: Mounir El Hamadaoui (AZ Alkmaar); Daniel de Ridder (Wigan); Daly Blind (loan return); Darko Bodul (loan return)
Key departures: Marko Pantelic (released); Gabri (Umm-Salal); Dennis Rommedahl (Olympiacos); George Ogararu (FC Sion); Kerlon (Inter – loan return); Kennedy Bakircioglu (Racing Santander)
Prediction: 2nd




AZ Alkmaar

Back to earth after the Dick Scheringa era – one which brought the Eredivisie title to the club in 2009, but also sent it close to bankruptcy after the DSB Bank collapsed just four months later – AZ are patiently learning to stand alone again without a big money backer. Some key players have already left the team, such as striker Mounir El Hamadaoui and midfielder David Mendes da Silva, while others like Moussa Dembele and Sergio Romero could follow at any time. However, hope comes in the form of new coach Gertjan Verbeek who has enjoyed a top notch pre-season, beating Red Bull Salzburg, Fenerbahce, Anderlecht and, in the Europa League preliminary round, IFK Gothenburg. The arrival of gifted midfielder Erik Falkenburg from Sparta Rotterdam will add invention to an already solid midfield.

Key arrivals: Dirk Marcellis (PSV); Erik Falkenburg (Sparta Rotterdam); Nick Viergever (Sparta Rotterdam); Charlison Benschop (RKC Waalwijk)
Key departures: David Mendes da Silva (Salzburg); Jeremain Lens (PSV); Mounir El Hamdaoui (Ajax); Kees Luyckx (NAC Breda)
Prediction: 5th





De Graafschap

Along with Volendam, De Graafschap are the yo-yo club of Dutch football; From the Eerste Divisie to the Eredivisie and back again, it’s the same old story almost every year. Last season the Superboeren (Superfarmers) were far and away the finest Eerste Divisie team, however the top flight is a world apart. The most important news for De Graafschap came from the board, as a new chairman was appointed, Miss Sietze Veen. She is the first woman president in the history of the Eredivisie. "We need more quality in our squad", said Veen, "because strength and pace are not enough to avoid relegation." The club have added to the squad relatively well this summer, with goalkeeper Boy Waterman and centre back Jan-Paul Saeijs bringing much needed experience. Up front, Rydell Poepon and Hugo Bargas (16 goals in the Eerste Divisie last season) could grab the goals De Graafschap need to survive.

Key arrivals: Boy Waterman (AZ); Rydell Poepon (Sparta Rotterdam); Jan-Paul Saeijs (Roda JC)
Key departures: Joep van den Ouweland (Go Ahead Eagles); Martijn Meerdink (retired); John van Beuking (loan return); Berry Powel (loan return)
Prediction: 15th


 




Excelsior

Feyenoord’s satellite club Excelsior could be considered an under-21 team that play senior football. Last season, in the club’s promotion/relegation playoff against Sparta Rotterdam, the side’s oldest player was just 26. Led by the 44-year-old Alex Pastoor, the Rotterdam club gained promotion with a squad that included five players born in 1988, four in 1989, four in 1990 and three in 1991. Most of these were on loan from the Feyenoord youth team, so they headed back at the end of the season. A new group of young promising players can help Excelsior to survive in the Eredivise, while some veterans have been added to bring much needed experience. One to watch out for could be 19-year-old forward Roland Bergkamp, former Arsenal star Dennis Bergkamp’s second cousin.

Key arrivals: Cees Paauwe (FC Twente); Wouter Gudde (RKC Waalwijk); Tim Vincken (Feyenoord)
Key departures: Arjan van Dijk (RKC Waalwijk); Ard van Peppen (RKC Waalwijk) Kamohelo Mokotjo (Feyenoord); Vojtech Machek (Helmond Sport); Michal Janota (Feyenoord); Kermit Erasmus (Feyenoord)
Predi
ction: 14th




Groningen

With the departure of coach Ron Jans after eight seasons in charge – fifth spot in 2006 being his best – the time has come for Groningen to turn the page. Many of the players who enjoyed a vital role in the last campaign, keeping the club up, have now gone. In 2009, Groningen were a solid team that simply lacked a prolific goalscorer – they had lost Marcus Berg to Hamburg – and this was the main reason the Green and Whites could not make more of an impact in the Eredivisie. Will this problem be solved by forwards Tim Matavz, Nicklas Pedersen and newcomer Dusan Tandic? The jury is out, but if new coach Pieter Huistra can find a way to hit the back of the net on a more regular basis, then Groningen have the strength to claim a spot in Europe.

Key arrivals: Dusan Tadic (FK Vojvodina); Jonas Ivens (KV Mechelen); Maikel Kieftenbeld (Go Ahead Eagles)
Key departures: Sepp De Roover (Sporting Lokeren); Gibril Sankoh (Augsburg); Goran Lovre (Barnsley)
Prediction: 8th




FC Twente

From being bankrupt to winning the league – the first title in their history – in just eight years. This is the miracle Twente’s chairman Joop Munsterman has brought about. In the last two seasons the Tukkers have shown they are able to continue performing at the top of the Dutch game despite constantly selling their best talent. The departure of star players has continued this summer, and added to that coach Steve McClaren has also left the club. Munsterman has banked on new Belgian coach Michel Preud’Homme repeating McClaren’s trick with a raft of newly arrived talents. Victory in the Johan Cruyff Schaal (the Dutch Super Cup) against Ajax represents the perfect start.

Key arrivals: Rasmus Bengtsson (Hertha Berlin); Emir Bajrami (Elfsborg); Roberto Rosales (Gent); Marc Janko (Salzburg); Nacer Chadli (AGOVV) Bart Buysse (Zulte Waregem); Wilko de Vogt (FC Oss)
Key departures: Ronnie Stam (Wigan); Blaise Nkufo (Seattle Sounders); Kenneth Perez (released); Miroslav Stoch (Fenerbahce); Cees Paauwe (Excelsior); Nashat Akram (released); Jeroen Heubach (retired)
Prediction: 3rd




FC Utrecht

Last season was when Utrecht really rediscovered their ambition. After years of dull football and equally dull results, the Domestad club decided to gamble on a host of rising stars, like midfielder Nana Asare, number 10 Dries Mertens, defender Jan Wuytens and forwards Jacob Mulenga and Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Playing European football once again was Utrecht’s main aim and it was mission accomplished as they finished seventh and won the Europa League playoffs. All of the newcomers have become regulars and much will again be expected of them this season. For this reason the club have added just three new youngsters, all bought from Australian club Brisbane Roar. Utrecht’s board believe their team is once again good enough to go for a spot in Europe. They are probably right, especially if they can hold onto goalkeeper Michel Vorm.

Key arrivals: Tommy Oar (Brisbane Roar); Michael Zullo (Brisbane Roar); Adam Sarota (Brisbane Roar)
Key departures: Gregoor van Dijk (AEK Larnaca); Kevin Vandenbergh (released); Hans Somers (released); Gregory Schaken (released); Leroy George (NEC)
Prediction: 7th


 




Feyenoord

Forever young. Over the past few years Feyenoord have known they cannot compete financially with Ajax and PSV Eindhoven. However, the Rotterdam club have avoided falling down into mediocrity thanks to a superb youth system. Players like Georginio Wijnaldum and Leroy Fer represent the perfect symbol of the club’s new philosophy; despite being just 20 the duo have already played more than 80 first team games. Both will continue to play a key role in coach Mario Been’s 4-3-3 system. Feyenoord’s squad is simply packed with youngsters who are all looking to make their mark. Holland’s Under-18 forward Luc Castaignos, Russian striker Fyodor Smolov, South African midfielder Kamohelo Moktjo, Danish defender Michael Lumb and goalkeeper Erwin Mulder will hope for breakthrough campaigns.

Key arrivals: Ruben Schaken (VVV-Venlo); Michael Lumb (Zenit St. Peterburg – loan); Fyodor Smolov (Dynamo Moscow – loan); Adil Auassar (VVV-Venlo)
Key departures: Denny Landzaat (released); Giovanni van Bronckhorst (retired); Roy Makaay (retired); Kevin Hofland (AEK Larnaca – loan)
Prediction: 4th




Heracles Almelo

Impossible appears to be nothing for little Heracles Almelo. Since the Heraclieden were promoted to the top flight in 2005 they have been prime candidates for relegation every time. Year after year however, they retain their top flight status, despite a low budget and a team without stars. Last season under Gertjan Verbeek, Heracles finished sixth, going very close to grabbing a European spot. Miracle man Verbeek was rewarded with the reigns at AZ Alkmaar, leaving the bench for Peter Bosz. Heracles have seen top scorer Bas Dost leave the club and the black and white fans hope 18-year-old Swedish forward Samuel Armenteros will be good enough to replace him. The secret of the side’s success though is their never-say-die attitude and hard work. They will give themselves every chance of defying the odds once again.

Key arrivals: Glynor Plet (Telstar); Ben Rienstra (Jong AZ); Xander Houtkoop (Heerenveen)
Key departures: Martin Pieckenhagen (retired); Andrew Ornoch (released); Bas Dost (Heerenveen); Vojtech Schulmeister (released)
Prediction: 13th




NAC Breda

NAC will begin the new season on minus one point due to financial problems. However, a comfortable mid-table spot shouldn’t be too hard for the side to reach. During the summer NAC’s main mission was to reduce the number of players they had under contract and they have done just that; the squad size has been reduced from 31 to 22. Expectations are low in Breda and the third place the club achieved in 2008 seems like a miracle. It will be impossible to repeat such feats as the sell, sell, sell, philosophy appears to be the only way to survive. A good example of this must surely be Alexander Schalk. The 17-year-old was the youth team’s top scorer, but now he looks to be on his way to Scottish side Celtic, without having played even a single first team game.

Key arrivals: Kees Luyckx (AZ Alkmaar); Marvin van der Pluijm (Den Bosch); Jens Janse (Willem II)
Key departures: Kurt Elshot (released); Patrick Zwaanswijk (Central Coast Mariners); Edwin de Graaf (Hibernian); Enic Valles Prat (Birmingham City); Martjin Reuser (released)
Prediction: 10th




NEC Nijmegen

In 2008, coach Mario Been helped NEC from the drop zone to the UEFA Cup, even reaching the Round of 16, their best ever European result. Since Been left the club to take over at Feyenoord, NEC have again plummeted down the table. Their difficult financial situation has made strengthening the team hard and a comfortable mid-table finish must be the height of their ambitions. The most important boost the club can receive is the return of striker Bjorn Vleminckx to form after an impressive season was ended by injury in the last campaign. NEC could well benefit from the blossoming of 19-year-old forward Rick ten Voorde; the youngster has already been labelled "the little Van Basten".

Key arrivals: Remy Amieux (FC Eindhoven); Leroy George (FC Utrecht); Niki Zimling (Udinese – loan); Pavel Cmovc (Slavia Prague); Thomas Chatelle (Anderlecht – loan)
Key departures: Dominique Kiuvu (CFR Cluj); Rutger Worm (Melbourne Heart); Youssef El Akchaoui (Heerenveen)
Prediction: 9th




PSV Eindhoven

Last season PSV were firmly in the title race until March and then their performance quickly dropped. Coach Fred Rutten did a good job, giving the team a breath of fresh air and energy. Under Rutten players like Balazs Dzsudzsak, Carlos Salcido and Ibrahim Afellay all began to show their true quality and quickly became targets for Europe’s bigger clubs. While they remain at the Philips Stadion for now, the chances are that soon they will be taken away from PSV’s clutches. The Dutch giants are set though, on winning the title, with or without their stars. New faces have been brought in and they, along with established performers like Ola Toivonen, Danny Koevermans, Otman Bakkal and Orlando Engelaar should make for a formidable team. Perhaps Rutten’s biggest challenge will be finding the right combination for his starting eleven. If he succeeds, PSV will be big favourites to win the Eredivisie.

Key arrivals: Marcelo (Wisla Krakow); Jeremain Lens (AZ Alkmaar); Atiba Hutchinson (FC Copenhagen); Marcus Berg (Hamburg – loan)
Key departures:
Timmy Simons (Nurnberg); Andy van der Meyde (released); Andre Ooijer (AEK Larnaca); Dirk Marcellis (AZ Alkmaar)
Prediction: 1st



 




Roda JC

Should a region have three of four small clubs with their own identity but few chances to win anything, or a big one to hoover up all the local talent and really make an impact? That’s the question currently facing Limburg. Since the middle of the 1990s, Roda, the area’s main club, have been in discussions with neighbours Fortuna Sittard, MVV Maastricht and VVV-Venlo, about joining forces to create a new super club. Both MVV and VVV are fierce opponents, along with a majority of supporters. One year ago however, both Roda and Fortuna published a statement of their intent to create Sporting Limburg. Nothing has happened yet and Roda are ready for another anonymous mid-table Eredivisie outing, looking after their finances more than their squad. The real hope is that Danish forward Mads Junker can find the net 21 times, as he did last season.

Key arrivals: Jimmy Hempte (KV Kortrijk); Eelco Horsten (Jong PSV); Mateusz Prus (Zaglebie Sosnowiec)
Key departures: Bram Castro (released); Kris de Wree (Lierse); Marcel de Jong (Augsburg); Jan-Paul Saeijs (De Graafschap)
Prediction: 12th




SC Heerenveen

In 2009, Heerenveen beat Twente to win the Dutch Cup, the first trophy in their history. Heerenveen win on the pitch and have a strong financial situation off it, the envy of many other Eredivisie sides. The club also produce some first class talents and sell them on for bags of cash. There can be problems though and last season proved it. A stormy campaign resulted in a disappointing finish and two coaches sacked during the season. New coach Ron Jans is expected to put those troubles behind Heerenveen however and the squad has been strengthened, even if many familiar names have been shown the door. Jans should certainly be able to usher in a new era for Heerenveen and a better season is expected.

Key arrivals: Youssef El-Akchaoui (NEC); Bas Dost (Heracles); Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard (Randers)
Key departures: Kristian Bak Nielsen (FC Midtjylland); Michael Dingsdag (Sion); Paulo Henrique (Palmeiras); Goran Popov (Dynamo Kyiv); Gerald Sibon (Melbourne Heart)
Prediction: 6th




Vitesse

The second oldest club in all Holland, after Sparta Rotterdam, Vitesse begin the new season with much uncertainty hanging over them. Their poor financial situation forced the club to sell five first team players and only youngsters have arrived. Coach Theo Bos spoke honestly when he said "with the current squad, we can’t survive in the Eredivisie". FC Hollywood on the Rhine – as Vitesse were labelled ten years ago when they regularly finished in the top five and featured in the UEFA Cup – don’t look to have a season of anything but struggle ahead.

Key arrivals: None
Key departures: Paul Verhaegh (Augsburg); Claudemir (FC Copenhagen); Santi Kolk (Union Berlin); Onur Kaya (Charleroi); Nicky Hofs (AEL Limassol); Mads Junker (Roda JC)
Prediction: 16th




VVV Venlo

Attacking and beautiful football made VVV one of the most entertaining teams to watch in last season’s Eredivisie. Having won the Eerste Divisie the season before, coach Jan van Dijk continued his attacking mentality in the top flight, not afraid to take on even the big boys. Van Dijk regularly played an attacking midfielder – first Japan star Keisuke Honda and then Gonzalo Garcia – behind three strikers. Despite several important departures, chairman Hai Berden has declared that VVV are ready to surprise the Eredivisie once again. VVV’s new bets for stardom, following in Honda’s footsteps, are Nigerian striker Michael Uchebo, Japanese defender Maya Yoshida and forward Ruud Boymans. Their performances will be key to VVV’s fate.

Key arrivals: Ahmed Musa (Kano Pillars); Brian Linssen (MVV); Josue (FC Porto – loan); Jorge Chula (FC Porto – loan); Balasz Toth (Genk – loan)
Key departures: Ruben Schaken (Feyenoord); Sandro Calabro (St. Gallen); Adil Auassar (Feyenoord); Kevin van Dessel (APOP Kinyras)
Prediction: 17th




Willem II

New players and new staff for a new Willem II; That’s the motto of the Tilburg club’s board after the disappointments of last season – a 17th place finish, the worst in the history of this club that carries the name of a Dutch king. De Tricolores avoided relegation only after beating Go Ahead Eagles in a relegation playoff and they will be keen to avoid a repeat. In the last ten years Willem II have gradually slid down the table from being a solid mid-table outfit to relegation battlers. Despite a poor financial situation meaning the club cannot splash out, some handy free transfers have brought some hope. Over eight players have arrived and veteran striker Frank Demouge said: "It’s like playing at a new club." This small revolution may well be enough to keep one of the oldest clubs in Dutch football safe and well in the Eredivisie.

Key arrivals: Juha Hakola (Heracles); Veli Lamp (FC Zurich); Evgeniy Levchenko (Saturn); Rowin van Saanen (Volendam); Pawel Wojciechowski (Heerenvee); Niek Vossebelt (Zwolle); Andreas Lasnik (Alemannia Aachen); Giovanni Gravenbeek (Vitesse); Harmen Kuperus (free)
Key departures: Jens Janse (NAC Breda); Mehmet Akgun (Genclerbirligi); Boy Deul (Bayern Munich II); Maikel Aerts (Hertha Berling); Christophe Gregoire (released); Said Boutahar (released); Ronnie Reniers (Den Bosch); Sergio Zijler (released)
Prediction: 11th

 

 

 


AlecCWriters

Alec Cordolcini

Published: Friday, 6th Aug 2010