As I outlined at the end of Season 2, I am somewhat content at our steady (if not spectacular) progress. We finished two places lower by league position but went one step further in the European Playoffs. I see that as a step in the right direction.
This season, as in every season, it’s about finding that next step. Again the board are happy to see us confirm a top half finish in the league, they also want us to reach the Quarter Final of the KNVB Beker. The media also remain consistent in their predictions as they anticipate an 8th place finish for us in the Eredivisie, as they did last season.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I pushed on slightly from the flat 41DM41, moving the wide midfielders into a more advanced position. This is what I have settled on following pre-season. Logic tells me I need a support duty in the midfield three but I like the cover that two defensive options gives, especially with the left-wing back expected to maraude down that wing. We’ll see how it plays out over a long stretch to assess what changes are required and where.
With the new tactical direction in mind, this set the tone for my summer transfer business. This is also where the title of this post comes into play: I’ve previously noted my concern at being so reliant on loaned players but, in an act of self defiance, a total of six of this season’s signings so far have been loanees. Don’t judge me because I’ve already judged myself.
Juan Foyth (DC/Tottenham Hotspur), Tim Handwerker (ML/1. FC Köln) and Brahim Diaz (almost anywhere/Manchester City) sign on for a third season on loan at FC Groningen. They are joined by Gabriele Bellodi (DC/AC Milan – affiliated club), Albert Guðmundsson (AMRLC/AZ Alkmaar) and Taiwo Awoniyi (STC/Liverpool) on loan, Guðmundsson until January and the others for the season. Of course we made some permanent signings, utilising the option to sign three players following release from their respective clubs: Freddie Woodman (GK/Newcastle), Demetri Mitchell (DL/Manchester United) and Gaetano Berardi (DR/Leeds United). A busy pre-season signing fest was completed with the financed transfers of exciting youngster Erik Majetschak (MC/RB Leipzig) for £650k and last year’s star loanee Isaac Mbenza (STC/Montpellier), taking advantage of uncertainty following the French club’s relegation from Ligue 1.
Ajdin Hrustic (AMC/Roda JC) left for £125k, the Aussie midfielder never really challenging the senior squad during my time here. While Christophe Hérelle (DC/Lille) left for an initial £2m, a guaranteed £500k profit after one season and 27 appearances – he wanted to go and while I didn’t push him, I wasn’t too reluctant to let him. 22-year-old Tim Riksman joined MVV for a second season on loan, the fullback not really looking like he’ll make the breakthrough here.
Okay, this is finally the season that I make my changes to the scouting set up. Maybe. Currently our scouting team is not so strong and a recruitment drive will be taking place very soon.
I see Scandinavia as a neat fit for us in our current financial setting, so I’ve added in the top Scandi leagues to be playable in order to allow proper scouting. Our current scouting knowledge shows why English players have been so prominent in our player searches over the summer – leading to a few out of the ordinary signings.
6 wins and 5 clean sheets in pre-season felt like ideal prep for the year ahead, albeit one or two of them were morale-booster fixtures – evidenced by not being able to see all scorers in our opening game. Simon Makienok’s goalscoring form gave us a bit of food for thought ahead of the season’s competitive kick off. Pre-season? Completed it, mate.
6 points gained from 4 games played before the summer transfer window closed. Fortuna was a total shambles, we fell apart. Despite having to come from behind against MVV, I was never worried as we dominated so much of the game in a great display. The PSV loss was unlucky as we were robbed of a perfectly legitimate goal (despite VAR interjection!) that would have given us a 2-1 lead just moments before PSV scored their second goal of the game.
This leaves us sitting around mid-table, 6 points behind shock leaders Heracles and 2 points behind my minimum aim of 5th.
First up in September we face Heracles, I’m really not sure what to make of their start to the league. They have 9 different goalscorers in their 4 games so far – 14 scored and 6 conceded, having played ADO Den Haag, AZ, Willem II and Heerenveen. September will also see us enter the first round of the KNVB Beker against amateur side Harkemase Boys. An interesting season awaits!