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Being for the benefit of Dutch and Worldwide Football

Mark Snellink

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This game has taken a bit of editing. To begin, I have taken five national legends of nations in the shadowy realm between the giants of football and the minnows thereof. Then, I turned them into potential super managers, each with their own personality, system and so forth. They have been assigned to five different sides in the Dutch Jupiler League, specifically the ones predicted to finish last. Those teams have been given a little spending cash, so the new managers will be able to do what they have to. I will not have any personal influence on this game, I will only let it run as is, and chronicle the adventures of the five protagonists. On a side note, I had already started work on this before I saw the other story which includes five managers on this forum.

Amsterdam, May 23rd, 2009.

In a comfortable VIP lounge of a famous Amsterdam hotel, six particular people congregated. Five of them chairmen of professional Dutch football teams. The sixth, we will leave nameless. It was that sixth man who took the floor.

"Gentlemen. I have brought the five of you together for one simple purpose: To revive and revolutionize Dutch football, and at the same time to allow a breeding ground of talent from nations that can't quite nurture their own. To this end, I have selected five up and coming managers, with the talent and potential to achieve greatness in their own right. They are freshly educated and licensed, with an abundance of experience in the game. I will invest in your clubs, so they have the resources they need to get the job done. All I ask is that you give them a two year contract, and allocate them the money I supply. From there on out, the rest is up to them and you."

As it would turn out, all five chairmen accepted the offer, and as such, welcomed new managers.

Almere, June 22nd, 2009

Almere, the 8th largest city in the Netherlands, located in the province of Flevoland was certainly a long, long way away from his native Gwangju, or even his adopted town of Ried, Austria. However, 86 time South Korean international Seo Jung-Won had agreed to a contract at it's local football team FC Omniworld. Newcomers to Dutch professional football, having joined the First Division (Jupiler League) in 2005. After slowly building up from second to last in it's inaugural season to a record 13th position in the 07/08 season, they slumped to dead last in 08/09, inspiring the need for a new approach. And Seo would be the man they looked to, a young and talented manager, with a highly disciplined personality and an evasive media handling style.

The 38 year old former midfielder had a long carreer in South Korea, mainly with the Suwon Bluewings, with one early European adventure at Strasbourg in 1997, but he had finished his career in Austria, first with Salzburg, but mainly with SV Ried. Upon his hiring, he found out that his side was slated to once again finish at the very bottom of the table, unless he found a way to improve it considerably. And so, he went to work.

Stat sheet: Seo Jung-Won

Preferred formation: 5-3-2, balanced.

Coaching record: 0-0-0

Team: FC Omniworld, predicted 20th in Jupiler League

Sittard, June 22nd, 2009

Sittard is a very old and historic city, located in the southeast of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg. Founded in the 12th century, it got city rights in the 13th, but it was largely destroyed in 1677. It was rebuilt, and in 1830 it joined Belgium in it's independence revolution, however, it returned to Dutch rule 9 years later. It is a city with many historic monuments and sights, including many old churches. It is also home to professional football side Fortuna Sittard. The side has collapsed since it's heyday in the 1990s, when the team, led by current national team coach Bert van Marwijk was a consistent Eredivisie mid-table team, finding quality youth and developing it, boasting names such as van Bommel, Hofland, Ricksen, Bouma and Paauwe. However, upon van Marwijk's departure in 1999, the team all but crashed and burnt, with financial and tactical mismanagement, the team went from finishing 7th in the Eredivisie in 1998 to relegating in 2002 and finishing dead last for a record three years running from 2003/04 to 2005/06. It has not improved much since, and that is why they employed 66 time Icelandic international Eyjolfur Sverrisson.

Sverrisson, who played as a defender or midfielder spent most of his career playing in Germany, becoming national champions with Stuttgart, before moving to Besiktas in Turkey, where he won the championship in his first year, and moved back to Germany with Hertha BSC, whom he helped secure promotion to the First Division, and won the Super Cup with them in '01 and '02. He was always a leader during his playing days, and the captain of the Icelandic national team during his playing days he was appointed their head coach upon his retirement as a player, but had a terrible time of things, getting the sack after losing 8 out of 14 games. He went back to Germany and went through several coaching and management programs, and now found himself at Fortuna Sittard, tasked with bringing the side back to glory, and finishing higher than the predicted 19th place.

Stat Sheet: Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1, attacking.

Coaching record: 2-4-8

Team: Fortuna Sittard, predicted 19th in Jupiler League

Oss, June 22nd, 2009

A relatively small town in the south of the Netherlands, Oss is thought to have been founded around 1069, and has been a recognized city since 1399. It has two monasteries in it's outlying regions, and a solitary tower from one of the two nearby castles still stands. It is also the birthplace of Dutch football superstar Ruud van Nistelrooy, although he played for local rivals FC Den Bosch, not local team FC (then TOP) Oss. That local team has a long but largely undistinguished history, staying mainly in the Eerste Divisie. For the past 20 years, the highest the side has finished was 7th place in the First Division, and more often than not the team has finished in what is known as "the right-hand row", referring to the bottom half of the table. The side finished second to last in the previous season, and were predicted to finish a dismal 18th in the upcoming season, which is why former SC Heerenveen and South Africa goalkeeper Hans Vonk was hired.

39 year old goalkeeper Hans Vonk is a name well known to football fans across Holland, having played in the league system for roughly twenty years, starting out with RKC Waalwijk, with singular seasons at Wageningen and Oss rivals FC Den Bosch before returning to RKC. In 1996 he made a move to rising side SC Heerenveen, which he helped reach a cup final and even Champions League football after a season in which they finished second in the league, and being selected to the 1998 and 2002 South Africa World Cup squads. In 2004, he joined Ajax to be a mentor for younger stars Bogdan Lobont and Maarten Stekelenburg, while still playing 26 league games in two years, before returning to his homeland of South Africa with Ajax affiliate Ajax CT, by which time he had retired from international football in 2005, after South Africa failed to qualify for Germany 06, he would total 43 caps. He returned to the Netherlands in 2008 when due to injuries Ajax were down to only one goalkeeper, but he never showed for the first team. Before the end of the season, he rejoined SC Heerenveen, and took over the first team spot and took the side to another Cup final, before being appointed as player and manager at FC Oss, making him the only one of the five to still include himself in the first team at his club of hire.

Stat sheet: Hans Vonk

Preferred formation: 3-4-3, attacking

Coaching record: 0-0-0

Team: FC Oss, predicted 18th in Jupiler League

Eindoven, June 22nd, 2009

Eindhoven, an industrial city in Noord-Brabant, in the south of the Netherlands, is home of one of the biggest football teams in the Netherlands, PSV. Also, home to minnows FC Eindhoven. Unfortunately perhaps for American "soccer" legend Alexi Lalas, he would be serving the latter side. The team had it's history, one-time national champions (1954), before the professional league was founded, however since 1977 they have remained in the second tier of Dutch football, and since 2001 they half been in the bottom half of the Eerste Divisie, finishing in the bottom three for the last four seasons. And that is why the chairman agreed to the experiment, with hopes of making the rivalry of the city of light more than just an emotional one, but a competitive one.

39 year old former defender Alexi Lalas, a Major League Soccer veteran, who featured on two US World Cup teams (94 and 98) and came up but four caps short of a hundred, is well respected in the United States footballing community, having been inducted in their hall of fame. He once went on trial with Arsenal after graduating college at Rutgers, and played one season at then Serie A side Padova. He was also loaned to them for part of the next season after they were relegated. Ahead of him stood the challenge of raising the team above the predicted 17th place.

Stat sheet: Alexi Lalas

Preferred formation: 3-6-1, agressive.

Coaching record: 0-0-0

Team: FC Eindhoven, predicted 17th in Jupiler League

IJmuiden, June 22nd, 2009

The relatively new town of IJmuiden in the northwest of the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland has been the location of a seaport since the Roman era, but had not really been settled until 1870 when entrepreneurs Bik and Arnold, who settled the area, and eventually a steelworks was established, causing a population boom. It is located at the mouth of the river IJ, and the North Sea Canal, which connects to Amsterdam's harbour. There isn't very much to see there, except for some of the world's largest sea locks, and local football team Telstar. A very undistinguished football team, the only honors they hold is first division runners up in 1964. For the past twenty years it was mainly in the bottom half of the First Division, finishing no higher than 5th in the 93/94 season. Finishing in 17th the previous season, manager Edward Metgod was let go, and replaced in a surprise move by Colombian legend Carlos Valderrama.

At 47 years of age, Valderrama is the oldest of the group, having retired from professional football in 2002, and international football in 1998. He started his playing carreer in Colombia at Union Magdalena in 1981, but got his first break when he joined French side Montpellier in 1988. He only spent three years in Europe, with Montpellier and Valladolid, before returning to Colombia in 1992. He then went to the United States in 1996, and played in the MLS until 2002, becoming the second all-time leader in assists in that competition, creating 114 goals in 176 games, and creating a franchise in Valderrama wigs. Also was nominated as the very first MLS Most Valuable Player. He was his nation's captain for many years, taking them to the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, and with 111 national appearances he is the most capped Colombian player. He spent the time since his retirement as an assistant manager for Atletico Junior, and a coaching academy instructor in Clearwater, Florida (USA) before accepting the challenge at Telstar.

Stat sheet: Carlos Valderrama

Preferred formation: 4-2-4, counter-attacking

Coaching record: 0-0-0

Team: Telstar, predicted 16th in Jupiler League

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Preseason 2009

The Netherlands have been a hotbed for talent from all corners of the world, many of the worlds better players have played in the Dutch Eredivisie in their early years, from South America (Romario, Ronaldo, Suarez, Gomes, Alex) to Africa (Babangida, Kanu, Benni McCarthy, Finidi George, Pienaar, Mokoena, Yakubu) to Asia (Park Ji-Sung, Lee Chun-Soo, Shinji Ono) to Australia (Brett Emerton) and Europe too from Scandinavia (Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Larsson, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Johan Elmander, Gronkjaer) to South and Eastern Europe (Chivu, Lobont, Kezman, Machlas). The objective of the five managers that have so recently found themselves employed in the Dutch Jupiler League will be to add to that legacy by finding young talent in their home nations and continents, and drawing it to their club to be developed and undoubtedly shipped all over Europe. But, that is a long ways ahead yet.

For now, they have just wrapped up their pre-seasons, and aside from a little bit of wheeling and dealing, most of them have their teams all set for the new season. Let's go have a look, shall we?

Almere - FC Omniworld

Manager Seo Jung-Won wasted no time dipping into his wage budget to expand his squad, only spending sixty thousand Euro's on transfers, all of which was spent on veteran Kim Han-Yoon (KOR, 35), a disciplined defensive midfielder with twelve years of top-flight experience in South Korea. A second veteran was brought in on a free, defensive midfielder Ko Byung-Woon (KOR, 35) a tireless player with great defensive capabilities. Experienced defender Marnix Smit (NED, 33) was brought in from amateur side SVZW, a highly determined player who can play both in the center and on the right, but lacks the attacking ability to be a wingback. Staying with the golden oldies, Gregory Playfair (NED, 35) was also added to the squad, a veteran left and center defender that once upon a time was in PSV's youth system, who was brought in mostly to guide and teach the younger players, as he really lacks the quality to play at the professional level.

With the veterans brought in, it was time to look at some more youthful players, and so were brought in striker Yeo Seung-Won (KOR, 25), a quick player that is a threat both on the run as well as through the air, and left winger and forward Lee Yong-Seung (KOR, 24), definitely a crowd-pleaser with an abundance of pace and flair.

One player was sold, Richard Haklander (NED, 25) went to Alexi Lalas' Eindhoven, more about that later. Also, first team regular Sander Duits (NED, 25) was on his way out at the beginning of the season at his on request, making a 30k move to Dresden. In the mean time, with the opening game of the new season upon them, negotiations were still going to get veteran wingback and defensive midfielder Lee Jong-Mook (KOR, 36) to come on trial with the club.

In the mean time, Seo used the preseason game to tweak his tactics and decide on who would win the starting spots. The tactic used would be a 5-3-2, consisting of a sweeper, two center backs, two wingbacks, three central midfielders and two strikers. Key players in the side would be loaned goalkeeper Erwin Friebel (NED, 26), a no-nonsense goalkeeper with good reflexes and safe hands, and new purchase Kim Han-Yoon in center midfield. Other players to watch this season will be Dion Malone (NED, 20) a sure-shot forward with heaps of potential, who will need some refinement on his secondary abilities, centerback Wilco Krimp (NED, 25), who combines aerial prowess with pace and wingbacks Robbie Haemhouts (BEL, 25) and Marien Willemsen (HOL, 24) who will be bringing the heat down the wings this season.

The preseason was a bit of a mixed bag, with defeats against German side Gladbach (0-3) and Belgian Capelle (1-2), disappointing draws with amateur sides UDI'19 and ADO'20, an encouraging draw with Eredivisie side Roda JC and the sole victory over amateurs Venray (1-0).

Stat sheet: Seo Jung-Won

Highest transfer fee paid: 60k for Kim Han-Yoon

Highest transfer fee received: 30k for Sander Duits

Transfer money spent: 60k

Transfer money received: 55k

Coaching record: 1-3-2

Oss - FC Oss

Manager Hans Vonk spent a good deal of time researching before striking, dropping big money on two players from South African side SuperSport Utd: Central defender Morgan Gould (SAF, 26), both strong in the air and quick, and a very skilled ball-winner, he was brought in for 425k, and central midfielder Letladi Madubanya (SAF, 25), quick and creative, he has the ability to direct play from midfield. Also picked up was journeyman defender Regillio Nooitmeer (NED, 26), who can play both in the center of defense and on the right, mostly depending on his hard work and pace. Towering centerback Thomas Litjens (NED, 24) was also snapped up on a free, having spent most of his career in the lower leagues of Germany. Also added to the squad was striker John van Krimpen, (NED, 25), a very tall striker who is a potent threat in the air, very strong and quick, but very lacking on the technical side.

All reports indicated that Myron Shongwe (SAF, 28) would soon be joining Oss, for a sum of 325k Euro's. He would certainly be an asset, a pacey striker, who despite his average height is a tremendous threat in the air because of his jumping ability, and has a nose for the goal.

On the way out was contender for the starting spot in goal Wilko de Vogt (NED, 33) to FC Groningen for 26k.

The formation of choice would be a standard 3-4-3, three central defenders, four midfielders, two in the middle and one on each wing, and then three forwards. Players to watch for the season include loan player Joel Tshibamba (NED, 20) a pacey left winger and striker, new purchases Gould and Madubanya, striker Erik Quekel (NED, 22), a player of aerial prowess and good ball control. Last but far from least, Dirk Schoofs (BEL, 29), a highly capable all-around defender and midfielder, who can play anywhere in the center and right flank, whose only weakness perhaps is his lack of height, hampering his aerial abilities.

The preseason was encouraging for FC Oss, despite losses against Roda JC and Vitesse, there was an encouraging 1-1 tie with Kaiserslautern, a 1-0 victory over Swiss semi-pro team Thun, a 4-0 dismanteling of French semi-pro's Racing CF Levallois, and a televised shock 2-1 win over Italian giants Juventus.

Stat sheet: Hans Vonk

Highest transfer fee paid: 425k for Morgan Gould

Highest transfer fee received: 26k for Wilko de Vogt

Transfer money spent: 825k

Transfer money received: 26k

Coaching record: 3-1-2

Sittard - Fortuna Sittard

Icelandic manager Eyjolfur Sverrisson was not able to flex his moneybags due to the fact that the chairman got sick of running the show, and the impending board takeover put a freeze on transfers. The only player brought in before the board takeover was winger Richmond Bossman (GHA, 23), able to play on both sides of the field, he posesses great technique and creativity.

The formation of choice would be 4-2-3-1, with two central midfielders, two wingers, a striker and an attacking midfielder.

Players to watch for the season at Fortuna would be goalkeeper Danny Wintjens (NED, 25), a very able goalkeeper, who could easily progress to be a top flight goalie. Also, Rick Geenen (NED, 20) a pacy right back, Taner Taktak (TUR, 19) a skillfull and crafty player who can play as left winger and attacking midfielder, and loan signing Marc Mboua (CAM, 22), a pacy right winger and striker.

Perhaps being a mostly unaltered squad worked in Sverrisson's favor during pre-season, as the team went undefeated, including draws against Cannes, Charleroi and Duisburg, while victories were recorded over Noisy-le-sec, Wirges and Serie B side Triestina.

Stat sheet: Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Highest transfer fee paid: 0 for Richard Bossman

Highest transfer fee received: -

Transfer money spent: 0

Transfer money received: 0

Coaching record: 5-7-8

IJmuiden - Telstar

Carlos Valderrama was quick off the bat to improve his new side with some players from his home country who he had seen develop. First in was 21 time youth international Harrison Morales (COL, 23) a sturdy centerback with excellent physical skills and insight, but lacking in technique. Up next would be attacking midfielder Alvaro Gallo (COL, 22), an attacking midfielder with high pace and technique, as well as creativity. Both were signed on free transfers after their contracts in Colombia expired. The next player in was a 450k signing out of Once Caldas, Wilson Mena (COL, 22) a talented striker who makes up for his lesser creativity and flair with pace and aerial ability. Another striker was picked up on a free, Hernan Velasquez (COL, 23), short in stature, not a threat in the air, but he is quick and posessed of dazzling flair. Right winger and attacking midfielder Jonathan Buitrago (COL, 23) joined the team next, also on a free transfer. Another short player, but technically gifted, and with the ability to drift in a pretty neat ball. A third striker was found in Gilber Perea (COL, 22), but this one with more of an eye for the future, as he would certainly need a lot of refining before being ready for first team football. Quick, agile and flairful, but rough around the edges. In order to bolster the defense, left back Bartek Pacuszka (POL, 19) was loaned from FC Twente, a pacy ballwinner, who can also play in midfield as needed. Then on the other side, free agent Wilmer Saldana (COL, 27) was brought in to play as a right back, an influential player who is both a solid defender, as well as a player capable of bringing an offensive spark.

The only transfer out was 5 time youth international Raymond Fafiani (NED, 25) to Sparta for 95k. Valderrama was rumored to be in talks still with left winger Ruben Gamboa (COL, 29), but nothing was confirmed yet by the start of the season.

The formation of choice would be a 4-2-4, four defenders, two holding midfielders, two wingers and two strikers. Players to watch would be new purchase at right back Wilmer Saldana, centre defender Joona Toivio who is on loan from parent club AZ. New striker Wilson Mena and loaned central midfielder Gregory Schaken from FC Utrecht.

The pre-season went on the whole pretty well, despite losses against FC Lorient and Sunderland, which were to be expected, a tie against Energie Cottbus was a positive sign, while FC Mulhouse, AS Cherbourg and RB Leipzig were all defeated by El Pibe's squad.

Stat sheet: Carlos Valderrama

Highest transfer fee paid: 450k for Wilson Mena

Highest transfer fee received: 95k for Raymond Fafiani

Transfer money spent: 450k

Transfer money received: 95k

Coaching record: 3-1-2

Eindhoven - FC Eindhoven

American legend Alexi Lalas so far has proven to be the (other) odd man out. not bringing in a single player from the United States. Instead, he found two loan players in the Netherlands, central defender Mike van der Kooy (NED, 20) from FC Utrecht, a player with tremendous potential but lacking in creativity and technical ability, and center midfielder Marko Vejinovic (NED, 19), a smart player and an excellent passer of the ball. He also picked up three players on free transfers, starting with attacking midfielder and forward Jeroen Ketting (NED, 28) from Belgian side KVSK, a talented attacker, whose only shortcoming is that he's a terrible defender, and has low natural fitness. Also, defensive midfielder Bart Fiegel (NED, 28) a player noted as being a decent player all-round, almost good enough but never quite, perhaps Eindhoven would be a good fit. The last free signing was former Den Bosch, Omniworld and RBC man Ramon Luijten (NED, 27) a defensive midfielder with a velvet passing touch and a rocket shot from outside the box.

Two players were bought in, including FC Omniworld's Richard Haklander (NED, 25) who was brought in at 26k. A tall midfielder, with great heading ability, but a lousy jumper. A technically gifted player who should make a big impact in the Eindhoven squad. The other purchase being 110k investment to bring in Elbekay Bouchiba (NED, 30) from Al-Wakra, Qatar. An experienced left midfielder who spent a lot of time in the Dutch Eredivisie before his Qatari adventure. A great midfielder, decent passer, good dribbler, good crosser, but a terrible finisher and a poor defender.

The formation of choice for Alexi would be 3-5-2, which is somehow billed as 3-6-1. Three central defenders, two wingbacks or wingers, a holding midfielder, two central midfielders and two strikers.

Players to watch would be new signing Elbekay Bouchiba, loanies van der Kooy and Vejinovic, centerback Ruud van der Rijt (NED, 20) and forward Tim Nelemans (NED, 27)

The preseason went well, after a difficult start with a 1-1 draw against amateurs IJsselmeervogels and a 4-0 loss to FC Augsburg, they put Wuppertal away by 2-0 and tied Sunderland one each. Two more wins would close out the pre-season, against BFC Dynamo and the Parma reserves.

Stat sheet: Alexi Lalas

Highest transfer fee paid: 110k for Elbekay Bouchiba

Highest transfer fee received: 0

Transfer money spent: 130k

Transfer money received: 0

Coaching record: 3-2-1

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2009 Transfer window round-up

Alexi Lalas @ FC Eindhoven

Right after the season started, Alexi Lalas brought in his first American player, centerback Kenney Bertz (USA, 25), from the Rochester Rhinos. A big man (1m86, 89kg) notable for his strenght more so than his speed, a little weak on the technical side of play, but an imposing defender nonetheless.

The final signing of the season would be left full- and wingback Rodrigo Ninja (BRA, 27) who, aside from having an excellent name is also very quick, and possibly the most skilled player on the FC Eindhoven team if they can get him back to fitness.

In league play, FC Eindhoven were doing well, switching between a 3-6-1 and a 3-3-2-2 system they won four out of their first six matches, only suffering one defeat (1-3 at Excelsior) and one draw (1-1 vs Volendam), and truly delighted the fans with an excellent 5-0 victory over FC Den Bosch at home in front of 2300 fans, with a hat-trick from new signing Jeroen Ketting and goals from Nelemans and van Son. Due to his fantastic start at FC Eindhoven, scoring 8 goals, 1 assist and 2 Man of the Match awards in 5 games, Jeroen Ketting has already made himself a fan favorite. ((actually listed on the team info page))

After 6 games FC Eindhoven found themselves in 2nd place.

Stat sheet: Alexi Lalas

Coaching record: 7-3-2

Top Goalscorer: Jeroen Ketting (5 matches, 8 goals)

Most Assists: Richard Haklander (6 matches, 5 assists)

Top Performer: Jeroen Ketting (8.28 avg. rating in 5 games)

Team: FC Eindhoven, 2nd in Jupiler League

Seo Jung-Won @ FC Omniworld

Veteran right wingback and defensive midfielder Lee Jong-Mook (KOR, 36) was brought in, presumably to guide the younger players with a view of becoming a coach and as a back-up for the first team.

Finally, defensive midfielder Kim Chul-Ho (KOR, 25) was brought in for 1.5k from K-League side Seongham. A tenacious and agile midfielder with creativity and vision, he is a good passer of the ball as well as a skilled ball-winner, ideal for a holding or distributing role in midfield.

In the Jupiler League, FC Omniworld found themselves doing above expectations, having reached 9th position after 5 games, with two losses so far, against MVV (0-1) and Lalas' FC Eindhoven (0-2). The other three games were all wins, over Emmen (1-0), De Graafschap and FC Zwolle (both 2-1). While they were far from dominating games, the team was producing the needed results for the time being, and morale was good. The tactics varied from 5-3-2 to 3-3-2-1-1, and the defensive mindset explained the low production of goals.

Stat Sheet: Seo Jung-Won

Coaching record: 4-3-4

Top Goalscorer: Five-way tie (1 goal each)

Most Assists: Marien Willemsen (4 matches, 2 assists)

Top Performer: Erwin Friebel (7.24 avg. rating in 5 matches)

Team: FC Omniworld, 9th in Jupiler League

Hans Vonk @ FC Oss

FC Oss did not add any further players after the start of the season, as the prospected signing of AmaZulu striker Myron Shongwe fell through.

Manager Hans Vonk's daring 3-4-3 tactic was doing well in the league, as they found themselves in 5th place with three wins, two draws and a loss so far, the only loss coming in the opening game against SC Cambuur (0-3). They followed that up with a close fought 1-0 victory over Helmond Sport, and then two impressive away wins against AGOVV and Haarlem, both 3-1. The last two games were both 1-1 draws against Sverrisson's Fortuna Sittard and FC Dordrecht.

So far, questions about manager and starting goalkeeper Hans Vonk's ability to keep up and hold down his self-appointed first-team spot seemed to be resoundingly answered, as he consistently performed well in goal, despite picking up three yellow cards in six games.

Stat Sheet: Hans Vonk

Coaching record: 6-3-3

Top Goalscorer: Erik Quekel (6 matches, 3 goals)

Most Assists: Dirk Schoofs (6 matches, 3 assists)

Top Performer: Dirk Schoofs (7.25 avg rating in 6 matches)

Team: FC Oss, 5th in Jupiler League[/i]

Eyjolfur Sverrisson @ Fortuna Sittard

Only one other player was added to Fortuna's lineup at the end of August when Rochdi Achenteh (MOR, 21) was picked up from FC Eindhoven for 20k, a product of the PSV youth academy, he can play both as a left winger or an attacking midfielder. Small of stature, with good pace, good ball control, high flair and accurate crossing, he is everything one would look for in a winger.

In the mean time, the board take-over was still going on, although the latest reports at the end of the transfer season indicated that it was close to being wrapped up, providing there were no further breakdowns in the near future.

The Icelandic manager, however preferred just to focus on the football, which proved difficult enough as it was, winning only two out of six games, close fought victories against RBC (1-0) and AGOVV (2-1). Three different games ended up as 1-1 ties, (FC Oss, FC Dordrecht and Haarlem) and one game was lost against league leaders SC Cambuur (0-1).

The adventurous 4-2-3-1 formation was not as productive as one might have expected, bearing many similarities to the preferred formation of national team manager Bert van Marwijk. The low production of goals was mostly blamed on the inexperience of featured striker Gavrey Villareal (ANT, 18), and Fortuna fans were hoping he would grow into the role (and quick).

Stat Sheet: Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Coaching Record: 7-10-9

Top Goalscorer: 6-way tie (1 goal each)

Most Assists: 6-way tie (1 goal each)

Top Performer: Willem-Jan Thijssen (7.56 avg rating in 5 matches)

Team: Fortuna Sittard, 8th in Jupiler League

Carlos Valderrama @ Telstar

Already having the most signings of any professional Dutch club, Telstar added one more after the beginning of the season in left winger Ruben Gamboa (COL, 29) a skilled runner with the ball and a smart runner off the ball.

Perhaps it was all the changes in personnel, the team needing time to gel and unite, perhaps it was the difficulty of the schedule, but El Pibe's side had the worst start out of the five teams involved in the experiment, putting up only four points out of five games to start the season, only winning the game opener against FC Den Bosch (2-0), before going on a two-game scoreless streak, losing to RBC (0-3) and Excelsior (0-1) before grabbing their only other goal of the season so far against Veendam (1-1) and losing against Volendam (0-1).

Perhaps Valderrama's 4-2-4 was too defensively minded, being in actuality more of a 4-2-2-2 setup, with two holding midfielders. Perhaps it would just take the new strikers some time before they could get used to a new culture and a new team and the results would come. Only time would tell.

Stat sheet: Carlos Valderrama

Coaching Record: 4-2-5

Top Goalscorer: Three-way tie (1 goal each)

Most Assists: Three way tie (1 assist each)

Top Performer: Jordy Deckers (6.94 avg rating in 6 matches)

Team: Telstar, 18th in Jupiler League

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Nice! Funny, Vonk is on the Cape Town Ajax squad Terry Langford is struggling with--he was displaced kind of quickly in favor of Darren Keet there. And, Bertz is doing well for Rochester in the NA pyramid. Fun to see names in parallel.

Were the transfers all game generated? Interesting how many new Asian and SAmerican faces were brought in.

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Yes, all the transfers were done by the AI.

I've tried to set the managers up to find and develop talented kids in their native countries, and to be more likely to buy and play young players.

I will be curious to see how that will work, I am hoping to find an increase in able players from the 5 home countries once the managers get up higher and have the ability to attract better players.

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:eek: Whoops ... posted in wrong thread.

Relevant to this one: Vonk was just picked up by Ipswich for $5K. I wonder if, at night in Holland he has dreams of patrolling the box for Ipswich ... dreams may be where FMStories bleed into each other. :)

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Fall and winter 2009 and transfer season January 2010

FC Eindhoven - Beating the odds

After a great start to the season, Eindhoven went on a six game skid , getting only two points and scoring only four goals and conceding nine in the league, but despite that they advanced to the third round of the Dutch Cup by defeating amateurs Quick '20. The final game of the losing streak was a 2-1 defeat against Valderrama's Telstar, after which Eindhoven stopped the skid by defeating Helmond Sport 3-1. During the skid, instant fan favourite Jeroen Ketting got injured early in the streak, during a 1-0 defeat against MVV.

Ajax then went ahead and knocked them out of the cup in a 5-0 drubbing that few Eindhoven fans want to remember, not that it was much of a surprise, but it still smarted.

The absence of goalscorer Ketting was felt for three more games, as AGOVV and Haarlem held on to 1-1 draws at their own stadia, while league toppers SC Cambuur stole a 3-2 victory at Eindhoven's home turf.

Ketting's triumphant return came at home against RBC, a game won 2-0, only the third victory in 11 league games, despite his not scoring - Haklander scored both goals - it set in motion a streak winning 6 out of 10 games, wether it was truly Ketting that made the difference or not is not for sure, but the fact of the matter is that it propelled Eindhoven back up to 5th place, and the most recent result was a very exciting 4-0 victory over Go Ahead, off the back of a 1-0 loss to Emmen.

During the transfer season, Eindhoven sold one player and bought one player. 21 year old right back Jelle De Bock (BEL, 21) returned to his native Belgium at Second League Mons for 70k, having spent most of his pro career so far in Holland. In the mean time, they picked up right winger and forward Jason McLaughlin (USA, 27), a strong player, influential and brave. Contracted for the next season was right winger Jeremiah White (USA, 27), a one time international playing in Denmark. One of the fastest players in football, great at dribbling and crossing, but lacks intuition and defending skills.

Stat Sheet: Alexi Lalas

Preferred Formation: 3-3-2-2, Adventurous

Coaching Record: 12-8-8 42-33 (+9)

Top Goalscorer: FC Jeroen Ketting (11 in 18) and FC Tim Nelemans (11 in 22)

Best performer: WBL Rodrigo Ninja (22 apps, avg rating 7.22)

Team: FC Eindhoven, 5th in Jupiler League

FC Omniworld - Not on the bottom

FC Omniworld has already improved significantly on the previous season, being only one point behind their total from last year (29 points in 26 games this year, versus 30 points in 38 games last year) and Seo Jung-Won's defensively oriented 5-3-2 so far has kept the damage limited, but the scoring limited as well, scoring only 23 goals in 26 games, and conceding only 31. Needless to say, it was not Total Football, but improvements were being made. Another interesting side note is that on the entire season, all seven wins were by a single goal, and out of eleven losses, all but three were also by a single goal. (Exceptions being: Eindhoven 0-2, FC Groningen 0-3 (Dutch Cup) FC Emmen 0-3)

All in all, the conservative tactics saw Almere's pride sitting in 16th place out of 20, four spots above where they were predicted to finish, and it looked like Seo's reign would be one of slow progress, which could lead to problems with the highly ambitious young manager.

When the transfer season opened, three players were brought in, while one was shipped out. The player going out was forward and leading scorer Lee Yong-Seung, who was brought in for free and sold for 40k to de Graafschap, who were in third place in the Jupiler League, and strong promotion contenders, which was in keeping with Lee's desire to advance in his carreer.

Brought in was experienced right-flank player Park Jin-Sub (KOR, 32), who can play in defense, midfield and up front all down the right side, a quick and experienced player who brings a creative spark down the sideline. He was brought in at 400 000 Euro's.

The second new addition was free agent defender Lee Bum-Jik (KOR, 30), a player brought in as a back-up, as he is a physically strong and able player, but also a pure out-and-out defender with fairly little skill beyond what it takes to get to a ball and punt it away.

The third and final signing was Baek Kang-Ho (KOR, 27) on a free, a defender and defensive midfielder with tremendous jumping ability, tenacious and capable of flashy play, in the style of Edgar Davids.

And, with his eye on the future and increasing pressure on his starting job, midfielder Kim Han-Yoon (KOR, 35) has decided to move to FC Zwolle at the end of this season when his current contract runs out.

Stat Sheet: Seo Jung-Won

Preferred Formation: 5-1-2-1-1, Defensive

Coaching Record: 7-8-12 23-34 (-11)

Top Goalscorer: Serdar Ozturk (4 in 18), former leading goalscorer Lee Yong-Seung (6 in 22) was sold.

Best performer: DC Marnix Smit (25 apps, avg rating 6.87)

Team: FC Omniworld, 16th in Jupiler League

FC Oss - One step behind

Defying their media predicted place in the bottom three, FC Oss were steady in sixth place, staying with the adventurous 3-4-3 formation, which has both yielded great results and provided fans with exciting football to watch, with several highscoring games that could go any which way, including 3-2 victories over RBC, and FC Den Bosch, a 3-0 trashing of FC Emmen, as well as a painful 1-5 loss to Volendam, and 1-3 defeats against Cambuur, Fortuna Sittard, as well as amateurs IJsselmeervogels in the Dutch Cup, mainly due to manager Vonk experimenting with youth players during the Cup. The goal ratio was exactly 0, having scored 35 and conceded 35, and the fan base as well as the board were absolutely delighted.

Being that the side lines up with three forwards in every match, the goals are spread out between the four main contenders, with home-grown Erik Quekel taking the lead at 8 goals in 22 games, in front of loan player Joel Tshibamba and free signing John van Krimpen who are tied at 5 in 20 and 18 games respectively, with last year's prolific striker Karim Fachtali knocking in 3 in 17. In the mean time, aging goalkeeper and manager Hans Vonk was holding up beautifully between the posts, considered by many as the best-performing player on the team.

When the transfer season opened, after seven years with FC Oss, utility player Dirk Schoofs made a 70k move back to his native Belgium, to Pro League side Lokeren, having put in 20 games of high-quality football in this season, even picking up four man of the match awards over the season.

Brought in for 95k was Feyenoord youth Jerson Anes Ribeiro (NED, 21). A player capable of playing both on the left wing and the center of midfield, with great technical skill, speed and creativity.

Also in, for a fee of 90k was former Chelsea youth Jeffrey Ntuka (SAF, 24), who spent most of his career on loan at Belgian side Westerlo, before returning to South Africa at Kaizer Chiefs. He is a very fast player, one of the fastest players in the league without a doubt, and while credited as being capable to play as a full- and wing-back, he is most suited to play as a winger, on either side.

For the next season, Oss have secured the services of left back and midfielder Junior Livramento (NED/POR, 22), whom holds high promise, with good skill on the ball and a very high work rate.

Stat Sheet: Hans Vonk

Preferred Formation: 3-4-3, controlling

Coaching Record: 12-7-9 38-39 (-1)

Top Goalscorer: Erik Quekel (8 in 22)

Best performer: GK Hans Vonk (23 apps, 6.91 avg rating)

Team: FC Oss, 6th in Jupiler League

Fortuna Sittard - Stuck in the middle

Going back and forth, Fortuna Sittard have been picking up results that they needed, keeping safely in mid-table for the time being, winning here, losing there, but certainly improving on the last several years at the bottom of the table. Willem II knocked them out of the Cup in the 3rd round, a 1-2 defeat at their own stadium.

Using the same tactic that former team manager and current national manager Bert van Marwijk favors, Sverrisson has lifted a side that lost close to half of it's game the year before to winning all but one as many games as it's lost, and scoring near as many as they've conceded. Not only that, but it was a practically an unaltered squad as the board takeover cancelled out the summer transfer season for them.

The board take-over finally did go through, allowing Sverrisson to finally get started on rebuilding his team, with a view to improve.

The first signing would be a 220k transfer from FC Utrecht, Randy Wolters (NED, 19), a winger capable of playing on either side of the field, possessed of all the physical qualities required to be a winger, as well as technically gifted, he would have to progress mentally and tactically.

The other signing would be on loan, right winger and striker Genaro Snijders (NED, 20) of Vitesse, a gifted player with great potential, capable of running the ball into the box and applying a quality finish.

Future signings would include Telstar's Glynor Plet (NED, 23), a prolific striker with good height, speed and ball control, and an eye for the goal, and utility player Rob van der Sluijs (NED, 22), a creative player who can play both as a right back and a defensive midfielder.

Stat Sheet: Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1, balanced

Coaching Record: 11-5-12 33-33 (0)

Top Goalscorer: Rochdi Achenteh (4 in 20)

Best performer: GK Danny Wintjens (19 apps, avg rating 6.94)

Team: FC Eindhoven, 5th in Jupiler League

Telstar - A period of adjustment

Despite spending the most of any of the five clubs involved in this, Telstar is by far doing the worst, as it's squad seems to need time to gel, having lost more than half of their games, they find themselves in dead last position in the league table with a miserable 24 points from 26 games.

Telstar was the most active team in both transfer windows, and it seems that Carlos Valderrama's squad is going to have to pull themselves together soon if they want to achieve anything this season, and if the mop-haired manager wishes to keep his job.

The months of November and December of 2009 were easily the hardest time of the season as Telstar did not put up a single win in 9 games, including six straight losses, punctuated by an embarrassing 4-0 trashing by Excelsior and being eliminated from the Dutch Cup by RKC.

With four points out of four games in the new year, things are still looking gloomy, and to combat that, El Pibe brought in some more new faces:

On a free transfer, and immediately moved to the reserves was right midfielder Jhonner Julio (COL, 22) a strange buy with very limited immediate impact, with what seems like the potential to be a mediocre Jupiler League midfielder.

For 275k hard-working left back Juan David Batista (COL, 26) was bought from Penarol of Uruguay, a very skilled defender who might be an immediate re-inforcement to the back four.

For 130k, 10 time youth international Alfredo Gonzalez (COL, 27) was acquired, a right and center midfielder of considerable all-round skill, much in the style of Ronald de Boer.

The final purchase was for 300k, right winger and attacking midfielder Gilmar Giron (COL, 25), a lethal threat if allowed to face a goalkeeper one on one.

On the way out was starting left winger Ruben Gamboa, who was spotted by Eredivisie outfit RKC and snapped up for a fee of 8k, thus satisfying his ambition to move to a bigger club.

In the mean time, top goalscorer Glynor Plet has decided to join Sverrisson's Fortuna Sittard at the end of the season.

Stat Sheet: Carlos Valderrama

Preferred Formation: 4-2-2-2, counter attacking

Coaching Record: 7-7-15 31-41 (-10)

Top Goalscorer: Glynor Plet (9 in 16)

Best performer: GK Jordy Deckers (25 apps, avg rating 6.92)

Team: Telstar, 20th in Jupiler League

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:eek: Whoops ... posted in wrong thread.

Relevant to this one: Vonk was just picked up by Ipswich for $5K. I wonder if, at night in Holland he has dreams of patrolling the box for Ipswich ... dreams may be where FMStories bleed into each other. :)

Hm, Ipswich eh? So FC Oss have a Championship class goalkeeper. Good for them :D

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Season summary, 2009-2010

Altogether, the Dutch league system proved once more to be a haven for players of all nationalities, a fact underlined by the fact that the Jupiler League featured players from 49 different countries, while the Eredivisie boasts 69 different nationalities.

This season was the deciding factor in which 18 teams were to remain in the Jupiler League, in it's new trimmed-down format. Ultimately, it would be FC Den Bosch and Haarlem to take that plunge, something that had been heavily on the minds of our five chairmen. It was a season of mixed results, ups and downs, but in the end the results came in positive so far. Let's have a look, shall we?

FC Oss, in the style of Hans Vonk

Predicted to finish in the bottom three, FC Oss was having the turnaround of a lifetime as they fought to keep their spot in the upper regions of the league. And in the season's style so far, Vonk stuck with his high-risk, high-reward game, coming up with some of the most beautiful games in all of Dutch football, with plenty of chances on both sides of the field, earning FC Oss fans from all over the country, simply to watch football at it's best. Of course, that style of football has it's drawbacks, such as a 0-3 trashing against Volendam or even worse, a 0-5 wipeout against Alexi's FC Eindhoven. However, that was more than made up for in the course of several games in which they scored two or more goals, with particular highlights towards the tail of the season in a 3-0 victory over Telstar on the final matchday and a 5-0 away shellacking of MVV. Alltogether, Hans Vonk and his FC Oss side can proudly claim an entire season without a single goalless draw. There were games in which one side or the other never scored, but there was never a single game without at least one goal scored, and that's got to count for something.

All this adventurous play earned them a berth in the promotion playoffs, and boy did they take that opportunity with both hands, destroying AGOVV by a combined score of 7 to 4, and then defeating FC Volendam to earn themselves promotion to the Eredivisie. That's right, first season in, FC Oss is up! Manager Hans Vonk decided on the back of that news that it was time to hang up the boots and gloves, and focus on work in the old suit and tie, officially retiring from professional football after twenty-one seasons, in which he played 561 league games. A proud carreer on the field, hopefully followed by a proud carreer on the sideline.

Centerback Morgan Gould was voted in as Fans Player of the Year, having played 30 games and picked up two man of the match performances. NEC loan player Joel Tshibamba would be the team's top goalscorer, netting 13 goals, whilst striker Karim Fachtali was the top performer on the year, averaging a 6.9 in 27 apps, scoring 9 and picking up 3 man of the match awards. (Rather suprised to see him miss out on fan's poty.)

The dubious award of "Worst signing of the season" was awarded to 400k investment Letladi Madubanya, who put in 37 apps in center midfield, scoring 3 and putting in 3 assists, while receiving an average match rating of 6.54. While I agree he wasn't exactly lighting up the league, that looks like a solid playing midfielder in an overachieving team to me. Not a terrible purchase. On the other hand, Hans Vonk came in runner up as Manager of the Year.

So with the sights set firmly on survival in the Eredivisie, FC Oss is moving forward.

Stat sheet: Hans Vonk

Coaching record: 21-8-13, 64-60 (+4)

Team: FC Oss, 4th in Jupiler League (Promoted)

FC Eindhoven, as played by Alexi Lalas

Occupying fifth place at the end of the winter transfer season, FC Eindhoven knew it had to keep up it's efforts to stay in the place it had reached, and knew that would not be easy. Manager Alexi Lalas had perfected his 3-3-2-2 tactic, with three centrebacks, a holding midfielder, two wingbacks, two central midfielders and two strikers, and it was working. Eindhoven only suffered four losses in the closing stages of it's league campaign, offset by it's six victories and three draws. The highpoints in that run were certainly 4-0 and 5-0 victories over Go Ahead and FC Oss, respectively. The low points would include 2-4 and 1-3 losses against AGOVV and RBC in turn.

However, when all was said and done, FC Eindhoven, too had achieved a playoff spot and would face RBC, who had just handed them the 1-3 loss in the final game of the season. Revenge would be swift, however, as they knocked RBC out of the playoffs with a combined 2-1 result. Up next would be Eredivisionists Sparta, and unfortunately they proved too tough, beating Eindhoven 2-1 in Eindhoven and 2-0 in Rotterdam.

The season altogether was still a huge success, all things considered, having been touted for 16th place, they finished in 6th, with the two highest rated transfers in the league: Free signing Jeroen Ketting and 26k purchase Richard Haklander were picked as the Signing of the Season and Runner Up.

Aforementioned Jeroen Ketting would also pick up Fans Player of the Year, Jupiler League Top Goalscorer Runner Up, Team Top Goalscorer (20 goals in 33 apps), also having the highest average rating at 7.18. The other outstanding player in stats would be left wingback Rodrigo Ninja (And I do really love that name[/b], picking up the most assists with eight, and most man of the match awards with six.

So, a solid season to build on for the American manager, perhaps promotion beckons next year?

Stat sheet: Alexi Lalas

Coaching record: 18-12-14, 64-52 (+12)

Team: FC Eindhoven, 6th in Jupiler League

FC Omniworld, a la Seo Jung-Won

When we last saw FC Omniworld, they were occupying 16th place, four spots above their predicted finish, and Korean manager Seo was still working hard to get his new signings to gel with the existing setup. Well, gel they did, and FC Omniworld ended up matching their best season in history at the Jupiler League level, getting 47 points. The goaldifference and final position were slightly lower than the 07/08 season (-5 vs +1 and 14th instead of 13th), but it was encouraging nonetheless.

The onslaught of draws and tight matches continued as it had before, but by the end of the season, Omni had picked up two victories by a margin greater than one goal: a spirited 2-0 victory over FC Oss, and a 3-1 end-of-season winner over Go Ahead, which nestled them into their final position.

Lee Yong-Seung would pick up the team top goalscorer nod, slotting home six times in a season which saw the goalscoring quite well-distributed (for what little goalscoring there would be), while Fans Player of the Year Kim Chul-Ho would pick up both most assists (7) as well as highest average match rating, with a 6.8 in 25 apps.

With the winds of change blowing through, Seo and his side were looking forward to the next season, and perhaps a top-10 finish?

Stat sheet: Seo Jung-Won

Coaching record: 12-11-16, 36-44 (-8)

Team: FC Omniworld, 14th in Jupiler League

Fortuna Sittard, as directed by Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Getting the mixed bag of results and hovering around mid-table was certainly something Sverrisson and his men stuck to over the closing stages of the season, picking up results anywhere they could, finishing many games as a tie, but only losing four of their games since the winter transfer season, including two 0-3 losses, against Volendam and Emmen.

The highlights were few and far inbetween, as Fortuna struggled off and on to find a goalscorer, but several games were picked up by a margin of a single goal, the result 2-1 was a very common one for the men of Sittard. When all was said and done, however, the team found themselves in 11th position, the best result they've had since getting relegated after the 01-02 season.

The top goalscorer, when not being booked or sent off (ending the season with 8 yellow and 2 red cards) was right back Rick Geenen, who ended the season with 6 goals and 4 assists, a tribute to the trouble they were having finding a good striker. Goalkeeper Danny Wintjens would pick up the player of the year award, because despite conceding 42 goals in 30 games, he was easily the best performer on the team, averaging a 7.0 at the end of the season.

So if Fortuna Sittard can pick up a quality striker over the next transfer season, instead of the inexperienced youths that had their try this year, things might look good for a top half finish in 2011.

Stat sheet: Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Coaching record: 15-9-16, 48-52 (-4)

Team: Fortuna Sittard, 11th in Jupiler League

Telstar con Carlos Valderrama

Of the five teams participating in this experiment, Telstar was surely having the hardest time. Tipped to finish 16th, they had found themselves at the very bottom of the table by the end of the winter transfer period. Despite heavy spending, and quite possibly the highest reputation manager, Telstar could just not find the winning way they were looking for. The tactic was sound, a counter-attacking 4-2-2-2 (or 4-4-2 or 4-2-4, depending on how you look at it.) and the talent was undeniably there. What, then, was missing? Team cohesion, many said. Too many players in too little time messed up the balance of things. So, if that was the case, being the most active team in the second transfer window in a row might not have been the best of ideas, but Valderrama saw talent, and had the money to go get it. So what if the results had to wait a little longer? The board knew his vision, and had no drive to speak of anyway, so it was time to get on with things.

But, el Pibe is a passionate man, as most South Americans are, and he did whatever he could to turn the club's poor fortunes around. And he did so quite well, winning 7, drawing 2 and losing only 4 games in the final stage of the season, outscoring their opposition 19-17, leading to a final 16th position on the season.

Glynor Plet, whom would be departing for Fortuna Sittard at the end of the season would pick up the team's top goalscoring honors with 10 goals in 22 apps. However, Player of the Year honors went to central defender and midfielder Arvid Smit, proving to be the anchor of the side in no less than 35 games.

With an almost entirely Colombian squad, hopefully, next year they can continue on the form of the final stretch of last year.

Stat sheet: Carlos Valderrama

Coaching record: 14-8-19, 49-57 (-8)

Team: Telstar, 16th in Jupiler League

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Preseason 2010

With the first club having reached the Eredivisie, I am curious to see a number of different things. For one, will everyone stay with their current club, or will their reputation grow faster than their club, causing them to seek greener pastures. For another, will any of the remaining Jupiler League sides be able to challenge for promotion? I figure at least FC Eindhoven will. How will Oss fare in the big league? It is a very large gap in quality between the Eredivisie and the Jupiler League, and few teams can make the jump and stick, most of them hang on for a few years and then drop back, if they dont crash back in the first year. Most players that play on a team that gets promoted also find themselves back in the Jupiler league regardless, because they can't hold down a spot in the big league. Good enough to get promoted, not good enough to stay in a starting job. Perhaps the good people of FC Oss will be different.

Atletico Telstar Union de Colombia

No, Carlos Valderrama has not changed clubs yet, however, by the end of preseason 2010 the first team had exactly four non-Colombian players in it. Having spent all of the club's money during the 09-10 season, Carlos had to make do with free transfers, but that did not slow him down any at all, bringing in eight new signings, while at this point still in talks with more.

Young left back Daniel Murillo (COL, 22) was snapped up first, a quick and agile player with solid defensive skills and the ability to assist in attack. Known to be injury prone, though.

Next, experienced striker Henry Valderrama (COL, 29) was added to the squad, no relation as far as I know, a quick striker who despite his height (1m76) is also a threat in the air, he is known to be tenacious and hard-working.

Then, a goalkeeper was added to the squad in the form of Rafael Vega (COL, 22). A dominant goalkeeper in the air, he will be competing for the first team spot, but his main weakness is his perceived laziness, and lack of teamwork.

On the left wing Edgar Jimenez (COL, 24) was added as a back-up, he posesses the physical ability and the drive to be a great player, but lacks the technical ability and insight.

Another player with good potential is right and central midfielder Carlos Zapata (COL, 23). Good physical ability and speed, with decent creative abilities and basic skills needed for his position, he will need some refining to reach his full capacity.

Projected to start between the posts would be Sebastian Narvaez (COL, 25). All-around probably one of the better goalkeepers in the Jupiler League, he also suffers from a lack of teamwork and work rate.

Versatile Ronald Morales (COL, 25) can play in the center of defense and midfield both, and makes for an imposing player in both roles, standing at 1m88, he is both reasonably strong and reasonably quick and he has the skills to play both positions well.

Last (for now) but not least young Enrique Romana (COL, 21) can also play in the center of defense and midfield, and is a quick and technically gifted player, with the potential to shine.

On the other side, several players were sold or let go as well:

Last year's starting right back Wilmer Saldana (COL, 28) was sold to Sparta for 8k.

Young attacking midfielder Alvaro Gallo (COL, 23) was allowed to leave for Heracles at the end of his contract.

Top scorer Glynor Plet (NED, 23) departed for Fortuna Sittard at the end of his contract.

Possibly most disappointing was when left and centre midfielder Alfredo Gonzales (COL, 27) could not come to terms on a new deal and departed on a free to NEC, after Telstar had invested 130k to bring him in over the winter break, hoping to have a starter for years to come.

Eight players found their contracts not renewed, including last year's free signing Jhonner Julio (COL, 23) and Nicandro Breeveld.

The preseason went well, which is to be expected when you mainly play amateur sides, but winning three out of five is good for morale, which Valderrama's side surely needed, the only loss coming against the only non-amateur side, Eredivisie side Sparta beat Telstar 2-0 in IJmuiden.

So, with all preparations made, Telstar were looking to improve on last year's 16th place finish.

Players to watch: Striker Henry Valderrama, left back Juan David Batista and goalkeeper Sebastian Narvaez

Stat sheet: Carlos Valderrama

Number of players bought: 20

Number of players sold: 9

Team: Telstar, predicted 17th in Jupiler League

Fortuna Sittard

Sverrisson was still the odd man out in the bunch, having not brought in a single player from his home country, or any foreign country for that matter. However, he did take advantage of being able to buy players during this year's transfer season.

Center midfielder Nicandro Breeveld (NED, 23) was picked up after having been released on a free by Telstar, having also previously played for FC Omniworld. Technically gifted and creative, he should compete for a starting role in midfield.

To remedy the problems they had last year finding a goalscorer, former Haarlem, Heracles and NAC man Gert-Jan Tamerus (NED, 29) was bought for 10k, having been quite prolific for Greek side Trikala (17 goals in 33 games). The tall forward (1m91) might be lacking a bit in technical ability, but more than makes up for it with hard work and physicality.

Right fullback and midfielder Dennis van der Wal (NED, 23) was brought in from FC Zwolle, at a 300k fee, making him the most expensive signing of the season for Fortuna. Having been a starter at Zwolle since he was 19, the young player has plenty of experience at this level, and should see his share of action this year.

Telstar's top goalscorer Glynor Plet (NED, 23) was also brought in to remedy the attacking issues. Tall (1m93) and strong both in the air and physically, Plet should be the starting striker and nudge up the goal tally quite a bit, probably with Tamerus in the number 10 role behind him.

Versatile Rob van der Sluis (NED, 23), capable of playing in several different positions (DR, WBR, DM, MC) has been pushing for first team opportunities with FC Zwolle and Helmond Sport, and now will be competing for playing time here at Fortuna. A clever and creative player, will need a little more refinement on the technical and physical side to truly compete, but should be a good addition to the squad and will most likely see a fair number of games.

Young center midfielder Jeff Stans (NED, 20) was the final addition to the squad at this time, snapped up for free after his contract at RKC ran out, also a technically gifted and creative midfielder, who certainly has the potential to grow into a good player all-around. Will be used as a back-up this season, however.

Four players were released, none of great consequence.

Undefeated in preseason against a host of foreign semi-pro teams, and a tie against Italian pro side Novara, the squad was looking good, and spirits were high in Sittard, where they hoped to push for a finish in the top half of the table, after last year's 11th place finish.

Players to watch: Right back Dennis van der Wal, Centerback Luc Wulterkens and goalkeeper Danny Wintjens.

Stat sheet: Eyjolffur Sverrisson

Number of players bought: 9

Number of players sold: 0

Team: Fortuna Sittard, predicted 15th in Jupiler League

FC Omniworld

Another manager that has done his best to surround himself with his own countrymen was Seo Jung-Won. Of the 22 players listed in his first team, six are Dutch and sixteen are Korean. Even busier in the transfer market than Valderrama, hard to imagine thought it may be, Seo brought in no less than eleven players, and here they are:

30k was spent on right winger and forward Lee Hoon (KOR, 24), who was immediately put in the amateur side. Don't ask me, I don't know either. Seems like a pretty crappy player.

Large Korean striker (1m90) Kim Woo-Chul (KOR, 27) was added next from N-League side BTC, a very physical player, who makes up for his limited ability with power and speed.

Right winger and striker Ko Bong-Hyun (KOR, 31) then was picked up on a free, after nothing came of his trial last year. A very average player, with good speed and creativity, should feature in this season's starting XI.

An impressive piece of business saw Kim Dae-Kun (KOR, 33) brought to the club for a mere 500 Euros (and a pack of Marlboro lights). A seasoned defender, capable of playing on either side and in the middle, and a dominating presence on the back line.

Ajax then decided to send prospect Geoffrey Castillon (NED, 19) on loan to Omniworld, a piece of good fortune, as the one-time youth international can already be counted among the best strikers in the Jupiler League.

A backup goalkeeper was snapped up for free in the form of Park Joon-Young (KOR, 29). A no-nonsense goalkeeper, who organises his defense well.

Up next, a player that can play all down the left wing, from defense to attack; Moon Min-Kwi (KOR, 28). A determined and hardworking player, with the stamina to run up and down the flank all day long, and a very good balanced skill-set, should be a real asset, snapped up for 28k from Suwon and already valued at ten times that.

Brought in to start in goal is veteran Lee Kwang-Suk (KOR, 35), another no-nonsense goalkeeper, who organises his line very well, and is a dominant presence in the air. Brought in for 2k from Gyeongam.

Another impressive signing would be one-time international Kim Jae-Hyung (KOR, 36), a defensive midfielder who has slowed down quite a bit with age, but still has the creative vision and passing ability to create havoc for opposing defenders and makes up for his lack of speed with intelligence and intuiton, and is a solid anchor for midfield and a great ballwinner.

A less impressive signing is ogre-like centerback Park Yong-Kyoo (KOR, 28). Another player that masks a lack of fundamental skill with hard work and physical ability.

The last signing at this time is Im Yong-Keun (KOR, 27). A creative, flashy and hard-working central midfielder, also snapped up on a free.

On the way out: Last year's starting defensive midfielder Kim Han-Yoon (KOR, 36) on a free to FC Zwolle, starting right back Marnix Smit (NED, 34) released on a free, and several other players who either could not agree on a contract, or were deemed surplus to requirement, 17 in total.

A promising pre-season, with a narrow defeat against ADO Den Haag (0-1), ties against relegated side De Graafschap (1-1) and German Second Divisionists Dresden (1-1), as well as two 5-0 killfests against prominent Dutch amateur sides.

Players to watch: Striker Geoffrey Castillon, left wingback Moon Min-Kwi and center midfielder Kevin van Essen.

Stat sheet: Seo Jung-Won

Number of players bought: 21

Number of players sold: 6

Team: FC Omniworld, predicted 18th in Jupiler League

FC Eindhoven

Alexi Lalas is slowly starting to bring in his influence and knowledge of the MLS and American "soccer", bringing in 8 new faces this season, though not all of them from the United States. Rewarded by having the two best-rated signings of last year, Alexi hopes to repeat.

First in would be graceful right winger Jeremiah White (USA, 28), a player with one cap for his country, and a journeyman reputation in Europe, having played in Serbia, Greece, France and lately at AGF in Denmark. One of the fastest players in the game, with decent technique, but a little weak on football intelligence. Will be a starting fixture, most likely.

Central midfielder Ali Benomar (NED, 22) would be up next, a very creative and skillfull center midfielder, and an impressive piece of business, snapped up after his NAC contract ran out, should also be a starter, with Haklander in center.

PSV striker Genaro Zeefuik (NED, 20) was loaned, and should provide a huge impact up front, being likely one of the premier strikers playing in the Jupiler League this season.

Husky goalkeeper Christian van Wijngen (NED, 20) was picked up with an eye on the future, a specialist at one-on-ones, with plenty left to learn. Snapped up after being released by ADO Den Haag.

USA youth team staple with 20 youth caps Amaechi Igwe (USA, 22), capable of playing anywhere in defense, and as a wing back on either side, was added to the squad after his contract with New England ran out, and decided after trials at Eindhoven and Chivas USA to take the adventure in Holland. He is a very quick player, with moderate overall ability, and the potential to be a very good and versatile player.

Gambian 16-time youth international Sainey Nyassi (GAM, 21) will be taking rotational duty as a right winger this season, after three seasons in the MLS with New England. Another very fast player, much like White, but lacking in technical ability at this time.

Defensive midfielder Brandon Tyler (USA, 21) was also added to the line-up on a free, with no playing experience outside of college, but the determined and aggressive player has the potential to succeed, even though he will be a back-up for the time being.

Last in so far is right and center defender and right sided midfielder Austin Washington (USA, 24), who is the type of player that will try to cover up his lacking technical skills and insight with a lot of fast running, and will be a back-up with a look to improve for the time being.

On the way out: Defensive midfielder Bart Fiegel to AGOVV on a free, and last year's star at left back Rodrigo Ninja, who could not agree on terms for a new contract, and was snapped up by de Graafschap instead.

A stacked schedule for pre-season yielded mixed results, with victories over Mons and Oostende, and a shock win over SC Heerenveen, a draw against Chemnitz and losses against Willem II and S.P.A.L.

With all that behind them, Eindhoven will surely be looking to make a bid for promotion, even perhaps with the mind on a possible title. Time will tell.

Players to watch: Centerback Ruud van der Rijt, right winger Jeremiah White and striker Jeroen Ketting.

Stat sheet: Alexi Lalas

Number of players bought: 15

Number of players sold: 2

Team: FC Eindhoven, predicted 9th in Jupiler League

FC Oss

The first team of the five to reach promotion under the brave leadership of Hans Vonk, who has now retired from playing, to focus on the Eredivisie campaign.

With the promotion of course came the need to strengthen the squad, so to that end:

AZ's youthful left back Mitchell Schildwacht (NED, 18) was brought in, a hot prospect for the future, quick and intelligent, will hopefully develop over the next several years. Came at a price of seven thousand Euros.

Free from Willem II, to start at left back and perhaps teach Schildwacht, Junior Livramento (NED, 22) was brought in. Capable of playing fullback, wingback and winger, he is quick, creative and technically gifted and should have a good part to play in the FC Oss line-up this year.

ADO Den Haag legend and solid defender Jan-Paul Saeijs (NED, 32) might go down as the best signing of the season, snapped up on a free from Roda JC, he brings experience and a wealth of ability.

To replace Vonk between the posts, Nickolas Skverer (NED, 22) was brought in from NEC, already a good goalkeeper, with the potential to be one of the better goalkeepers in the league. A no-nonsense player who dominates his area.

To add a little firepower up front, veteran striker Orlando Ballesteros (COL, 37) was picked up from Willem II on a free, where he scored 6 in 21 last season. A diminutive striker, having lost a bit of pace relies on his insight and ability off the ball to get his chances in.

Lastly, from South Africa, bought for 150k was defensive midfielder Sibusiso Mahlangu (SAF, 28), a former U21s captain, with very good ball control and technique, he should make an impact in the heart of midfield for Oss.

Five players were trimmed from the roster, and young defender Roy Govers was loaned out to DOVO.

A relatively light pre-season schedule, but with heavy opposition saw them host German First Divisionists Kaiserslautern for an entertaining 3-3 draw, and then host and defeat German Stuttgart 2-0, Belgian Dessel was dealt with 1-0 in Belgium, and then lastly Espanyol came to Oss, a game that was narrowly lost 1-2.

With that behind them, Vonk and his men will have to focus on surviving at the highest level of Dutch football.

Players to watch: Right- and center defender Jan-Paul Saeijs, striker Erik Quekel and center midfielder Sibusiso Mahlangu

Stat sheet: Hans Vonk

Number of players bought: 13

Number of players sold: 2

Team: FC Oss, predicted 18th in Eredivisie

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Transfer season summary, summer 2010

FC Omniworld

Manager Seo Jung-Won went all out during the 2010 summer window, strengthening the squad with a total of fourteen players, the most of any Dutch team. In addition to the ones mentioned before:

Veteran left wingback Hong Do-Pyo (KOR, 37) was added to the squad, and despite his aging body, he is still an intelligent player who enjoys taking a crack from outside the area and does it well. He was brought in to be a back-up to the first team.

Right sided wingback Kang Sung-Min (KOR, 30) was also snapped up to give the first team some depth. A very tenacious defender, with plenty of experience and knowledge.

Attacking midfielder Kim Kyung-Il (KOR, 30) was signed on a free, with a starting role in mind. Critics say he's all flash and no substance, but the manager believes he will be able to create moments of magic in and around the box with his mixture of creativity, flair, agressiveness and passing ability, and will more than make up for being slow and perceived as lazy and selfish.

For a small fee of 6000 Euro Kwon Woo-Kyung (KOR, 29) was added, a player capable of playing as a centerback or a defensively minded midfielder, and probably one of the best signings of the season, being a very solid player all-round, without any apparent weaknesses, and great anticipation and strength.

The only sale of the season would be last year's starting center midfielder and club favorite Kim Chul-Ho (KOR, 26) to German 2nd Divisionists Wehen. Kim had started a total of 27 games for FC Omniworld, providing one goal and seven assists before moving on.

With South Koreans now outnumbering Dutch players 17-7, Seo certainly wasn't wasting his chance to allow his countrymen an opportunity to play abroad and perhaps make a name and a career for themselves. (Which after all is my plan).

Newfound striker Ko Bong-Hyun, just acquired this year has wasted absolutely no time endearing himself to the fans, already listed as a club favorite, he has scored two times in two pre-season appearances, and then twice more in his first two showings during the league. So at a 1 goal per game average, he is off to a great start.

By the closing of the transfer season, FC Omniworld had won games against Zwolle (2-1) and VVV (2-0), and lost against RBC (1-2), Telstar (0-1) and Fortuna Sittard (1-2), putting them in 12th place.

Stat sheet: Seo Jung-Won

Season Ticket Holders: 623

09/10 Avg attendance: 2'185

Stadium Capacity: 3'000 all seated.

Team: FC Omniworld, 12th in Jupiler League

Fortuna Sittard

Manager Sverrisson did not add any further to his squad, or sell anyone from it. Which makes this a short and boring report.

So far, 22 year old attacking midfielder Rochdi Achenteh has stepped it up this season, with two assists and two goals in four games, earning himself a man of the match award as well. Achenteh was purchased last season from FC Eindhoven for 20k.

Fortuna Sittard in the mean time were cruising in the league, suffering only a single loss in five games, a 1-0 against Excelsior, and tied their season opener against Helmond Sport (1-1), winning their other three fixtures against AGOVV, Go Ahead and FC Omniworld, all by a 2-1 scoreline. (Consistency is key, you know.)

Stat sheet: Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Season Ticket Holders: 1'046

09/10 Avg attendance: 3'662

Stadium Capacity: 12'500 All-Seater

Team: Fortuna Sittard, 4th in Jupiler League


Carlos Valderrama added two more players to his squad after the start of the season, and agreed end-of-contract deals with two more:

First in was John Mosquera (COL, 30), a left winger and attacking midfielder, a pretty decent all-round player with a good first touch and an eye for the goal, will be competing for a starting place on the team for sure.

The last signing of this transfer window was Miller Caicedo (COL, 24), also a winger and an attacking midfielder, exept with a preference for the right side. A lithe player, good with the ball at his feet, and capable of delivering a good cross.

Lined up for the beginning of the winter transfer season would be left winger David Cordoba (COL, 29) and right back Pedro Pino (COL, 32), at the end of their contracts with their current clubs.

Goalkeeper Sebastian Narvaez has made a very impressive debut for Telstar so far, keeping three clean sheets in the first five games of the season, and only conceding once in each of the other games.

With four victories and only one defeat so far in the league, things could not be going better for Telstar, whose only loss came to Excelsior (0-1), while Go Ahead, Helmond Sport and FC Omniworld were all beaten 1-0, and MVV was defeated 3-1 at their own stadium.

Stat sheet: Carlos Valderrama

Season Ticket Holders: 442

09/10 Avg attendance: 1'245

Stadium Capacity: 2'000 all-seater

Team: Telstar, 1st in Jupiler League

FC Eindhoven

No transfer news out of Eindhoven, either, as Alexi Lalas seemed content enough with the signings he had made prior to the beginning of the season.

With three assists and two Man of the Match performances in the first five games, 20-time USA youth international Amaechi Igwe had quite the start to his season, confusing opposing defenders by being a left-footed right-wingback, and the Eindhoven faithful are surely praying he can keep up his form. In the mean time, Jeroen Ketting and Genaro Zeefuik are battling it out in the goalscoring ranks, with 4 for Ketting and 3 for Zeefuik.

Eindhoven opened the season with five unanswered goals, disposing of Excelsior (3-0) and Dordrecht (2-0), before drawing against AGOVV (1-1) and then two losses, Helmond and Go Ahead (both 1-2), leaving them in 8th place for the time being.

Stat sheet: Alexi Lalas

Season Ticket Holders: 702

09/10 Avg attendance: 2'723

Stadium Capacity: 4'373 all-seater

Team: FC Eindhoven, 8th in Jupiler League

FC Oss

After the initial six signings of the pre-season, Hans Vonk decided to add a further six players to the roster before the end of the transfer period.

Five-time South African international Lebohang Mokoena (SAF, 23), a very quick attacking midfielder, who is also accomplished as a right winger and striker, but very, very small (1m60) and as such not remotely a threat through the air, but his pace, anticipation, dribbling, flair and techniqure make him a very dangerous player around the opposing team's box.

Possibly the signing of the year was defensive midfielder Rogerio (BRA, 29), however, a very talented player who can also play as a centerback, central midfielder and sweeper. A player of great influence and determination, has good aerial presence and is a tactical genius, with great anticipation, positioning and concentration. His only weakness is that he takes a lousy corner, which is just fine, as he would much rather be the one knocking it in with the head.

Young and talented striker Themba Maringa (SAF, 22) was purchased for 40k from Jomos Cosmos, a quick striker with an ability to find open space, certainly one to watch for the future.

41-time Libyan international Younes Shibani (LIB, 29) was also added to improve the Oss defense. A very sturdy defender indeed, one of the best pure defenders in the league, a skilled ballwinner who almost never loses his man, whose only weakness is a slight lack of pace and technique. One to watch for this season.

Veteran right winger Hector Hurtado (COL, 34), a player with 9 caps and 2 international goals for Colombia under his belt was snapped up from Peruvian side Sporting Cristal for 20k. Capable of playing on the right wing, behind the strikers or in the middle of the pitch, Hurtado has a well-rounded skill-set, and is a deadly shooter from distance, and a model professional on and off the pitch.

Right- and central midfielder Granwald Scott (SAF, 22) was the final purchase of the season, a very able player with a well-rounded skillset, especially considering his age, very reminiscent of the kind of player Edgar Davids was, fighting for every ball and able to work magic with his skill on the ball.

New goalkeeper Nickolas Skverer has been off to a good start, which is sure to please Vonk, to have found a suitable replacement for himself, as well as left back Junior Livramento, also new to the side this year.

The season started with two home games, in front of a sell-out crowd both times, in which FC Emmen and RKC were beaten 2-1 and 2-0 respectively. The following game at Roda JC proved too difficult, as they were dispatched 3-1 by a much stronger side, while an early goal by Sparta would be the only difference in Rotterdam.

Stat sheet: Hans Vonk

Season Ticket Holders: 1'084

09/10 Avg attendance: 3'302

Stadium Capacity: 4700 all-seater

Team: FC Oss, 9th in Eredivisie

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Hans Vonk: Taking a step down so he can leap up

After 18 games in charge of FC Oss' Eredivisie campaign, Hans Vonk has found himself a new challenge: Underperforming FC Utrecht. At this point in the season, Vonk's FC Oss side find themselves in a solid 10th position in the league, having won seven, tied four and lost seven, including crowd-pleasing wins over Groningen, Twente and Willem II. His departure for FC Utrecht will be a major loss for FC Oss, who scrambled to find a new manager to continue the league campaign, and settled for former assistant Dirk Heesen.

In the mean time, Hans Vonk will have his work cut out for him at FC Utrecht, who despite being Cup winners just six years ago, and were having quite a good run in the early 2000's have slowly started skidding down the league, seeing only one top half finish in the past five seasons. This season, they find themselves in second to last place (17th), having lost ten out of eighteen games, scoring only sixteen goals, which is less than a goal a game.

The team has enough quality for a mid-table finish, according to the bookies, but clearly they have not shown that yet. After a quick inventory of the first team, Hans Vonk decided that his best players were:

Goalkeeper Michael Vorm (NED, 27), a very capable goalkeeper who has picked up one cap for the Netherlands, working on his fifth season as a starter in Utrecht. A man who dominates his area, has good reflexes and safe hands, probably one of the better goalkeepers in the league.

Defensive midfielder Gregoor van Dijk (NED, 29), despite not having featured in the side much this season, van Dijk is a highly influential, hardworking and determined midfielder, capable of running the team out of midfield.

Tall forward Jacob Mulenga (ZAM, 26), a fourteen-time international for Zambia, with four goals to his name. A threat on the run as well as in the air, even though he lacks a bit of technique.

Up and coming striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel (NED, 21), a young man with great potential, he has all the makings of a brilliant striker: Creativity, flair, a knack for finding space, speed and a nose for the goal. Also a good jumper and header of the ball. Look for his appearance in the Dutch national side in the next five years.

So, the material was there, now it was time to mold it into a winning side.

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Winter update, February 2011

Carlos Valderrama at Telstar

Predicted to finish second to last, Telstar were on course to have their best season in the last five years, lying in 11th place having won eight, tied ten and lost only seven so far this season, although a three game skid at the beginning of this year has seen them slide down the table a bit. They made it to the fourth round of the Cup, knocking out ACV and NAC on their way, until AZ finally knocked them out in a 3-0 crushing.

Unfortunately for Telstar, Valderrama's spending had gotten them into some financial turmoil, and the club was forced to go into administration. As such, starting centerback Harrison Morales was moved to Roda JC for free, and experienced winger John Mosquera was released on a free transfer, undoubtedly the first of several.

Some of the pre-arranged end of contract transfers came in out of Colombia. Right back Pedro Pino (COL, 32) was brought in on a free. A hardworking and smart defender, with good ballwinning skills, who is also of decent help coming up the field if needed.

Diminutive left winger David Cordoba (COL, 30) was picked up, a pacey and technically gifted winger, who never shies away from taking on his man on the flank.

Talented centerback Jimmy Estacio (COL, 25) a dominant player in the air, with good strength and pace, should be one of the staples of Telstar's defense.

Young left winger Edwar Alvarino (COL, 23) was the final signing. Quick and technically capable, needs a lot of work to be ready for first team football.

So far, goalkeeper Sebastian Narvaez has been the best man on Telstar's roster, more often than not keeping his side in the game with brilliant saves. Six clean sheets and a man of the match award are his as well. In the mean time Henry Valderrama and Wilson Mena shared the goalscoring duties, slotting home eleven goals each, in 22 and 25 games respecively.

Stat Sheet: Carlos Valderrama

Coaching record: 24-18-27 83-91 (-8)

Team: Telstar, 11th in Jupiler League

Alexi Lalas at FC Eindhoven

After a rotten beginning to the season put them in 13th place, Lalas and FC Eindhoven turned things around, winning ten out of their last thirteen games to secure a playoff spot and moving into third place in the league with nine games left, well above their predicted ninth. The Dutch Cup was not near as succesful as they went out 2-0 to FC Omniworld in the second round.

Goalkeeper Jurgen Hendriks has been instrumental in the turnaround, keeping an impressive ten clean sheets so far and only conceding 22 goals in 25 games. Midfielder Richard Haklander would be the architect in midfield, setting up seven goals for his team, together with Amaechi Igwe, who put in five assists from the left wingback spots, and picked up five man of the match awards. The goalscoring was divided between Jeroen Ketting (10 in 14) and Genero Zeefuik (8 in 19).

No changes were made during the transfer season, as Alexi did not want to upset the balance of the team.

Stat sheet: Alexi Lalas

Coaching record: 31-15-24, 98-78 (+20)

Team: FC Eindhoven, 3rd in Jupiler League

Seo Jung-Won at FC Omniworld

Directly after the transfer season closed in the summer, FC Omniworld went on an nine game league unbeaten streak, lasting all the way to the end of October, defeating Eindhoven twice, once in the league and once in the cup and handing losses to promotion candidates Excelsior (1-0) and Volendam (2-1), until finally ending their streak in a painful 4-0 loss to recently relegated Vitesse.

A few mixed results followed, ending with an unfortunate seven game winless streak, seeing them lose to Zwolle, RBC, Telstar, Fortuna Sittard and Eindhoven, all one goal losses except for Zwolle (0-2), until Dion Malone's single goal against De Graafschap saw them break that chain. All in all, they currently find themselves in 7th place. They were knocked out of the Dutch Cup by SC Heerenveen (0-3) in the 3rd round.

The only transfer activity of the winter window saw back-up goalkeeper Park Joon-Young agreeing to join MVV at the end of his contract this summer, having so far put in three appearances in the past two years at Omniworld.

Goalkeeper Lee Kwang-Suk so far has been the best player at FC Omniworld, conceding only 26 in 25 games, keeping 8 clean sheets, rating an average 7.14. Loan striker Geoffrey Castillon, despite a seven week absence due to a broken wrist is the team's leading scorer, with an excellent return of seven goals and two assists in only twelve games. Other top performers so far are left back Moon Min-Kwi and shared assist leaders Park Jin-Sub at right back and attacking midfielder Dion Malone, each with three assists.

Stat sheet: Seo Jung-Won

Coaching record: 24-16-26, 64-72 (-8)

Team: FC Omniworld, 7th in Jupiler League

Eyjolfur Sverrisson at Fortuna Sittard

Fortuna Sittard have held on to fourth position in the league, despite a rough patch right after the transfer window closed that saw them lose seven out of ten games, including the third round of the Dutch Cup to ADO Den Haag, but to their credit, they won the games they did not lose, and have since embarked on a six game unbeaten streak, and they have already won more games this season than they did in the season before Sverrisson took over, and there's still nine games left to play.

As seems to be the going trend, goalkeeper Danny Wintjens was the best player on the team this season, conceding only 28 in 23, keeping two clean sheets and picking up a Man of the Match award. The top scorer so far is not striker Glynor Plet (6 in 23) as envisioned, but instead it is attacking midfielder Rochdi Achenteh with 8 in 20. The other key player in the side was central defender Gino Facenna, who is actually shared assist leader with two other players at four, and has grabbed two man of the match award winners.

17-year old striker Geert Veeneman was loaned out to RKVVL during the winter break.

Agile right winger Luciano Narsingh (NED, 20) was loaned in from SC Heerenveen, a technically gifted, creative and athletic player that was sure to be a boon to the squad.

Intelligent left back Frank Karreman (NED, 27) was purchased from Haarlem for 220k, capable of playing both on the left as well as in the center of defense, he is a difficult person to get past, while also capable of offering support on the wing and delivering a good cross.

Also agreeing to join Fortuna in the summer after their contracts run up are FC Dordrecht's left back Nick Kuipers (NED, 22) who is also capable of playing in the center, and Feyenoord centerback Norichio Nieveld (NED, 21).

Stat sheet: Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Coaching record: 28-15-24, 84-84 (0)

Team: Fortuna Sittard, 4th in Jupiler League

Hans Vonk at FC Utrecht

Hans Vonk had a difficult start at FC Utrecht, as was to be expected, starting his tenure with a loss against PSV (0-2), before turning in a crowd-pleasing win at home, defeating Willem II 4-1, and routing amateurs De Treffers 3-1 in the fourth round of the Dutch Cup. However, consecutive losses would follow, first Feyenoord in the league (1-2) and then AZ in the cup (1-2), followed by a proud draw against PSV (1-1), which should conclude the single toughest part of the schedule this season, and Vonk is hoping to build their results up from here.

During the winter break, right winger Rafael Uiterloo was sold to Standard Liege in Belgium.

Snapped up on a free was attacking midfielder Rodrigo Diaz (ARG, 29), a regular fixture in the Argentine Premier Division who never quite made it at Mexican side Toluca. A very athletic player with great creativity and sublimely skilled on the technical side of things, he should be a very exciting player to watch for the remainder of this season.

Left back Mihai Nesu was almost sold to FC Twente, but he rejected their contract, so will remain in Utrecht.

For the summer, 13-time Danish international right midfielder Michael Silberbauer (DEN, 29) will be joining Birmingham, while goalgetting striker Edwards Jimenez (COL, 29) will be joining Utrecht from RBC. Also lined up to join are hardworking forward Goran Maznov (MKD, 29) from FC Den Bosch and industrious defensive midfielder Michael Modubi (SAF, 25) from Westerlo.

On an amusing side note, his assistant manager is Henk Vonk (no relation).

Stat sheet: Hans Vonk

Coaching record: 32-13-24, 104-101 (+3)

Team: FC Utrecht, 16th in Eredivisie

FC Oss, post-Vonk

Since Vonk's departure, the team has continued as he left it, winning four in a row, including two cup fixtures (MVV 2-0, Go Ahead 4-0) and two league fixtures (Emmen 1-0, Sparta 2-1), and losing away against Heracles (0-3), still finding themselves in tenth place, and also in the Dutch Cup semi final in which they will face Ajax.

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FC Omniworld, Seo Jung-Won

Seo Jung-Won and his men finished the season well, winning three, drawing three and losing three. And with their last day 3-0 win over SC Cambuur they secured themselves a playoff run, which was cut short by Fortuna Sittard. All in all they ended up in 8th place, ten places above their predicted last place finish, their best in their professional existance, also the first time they finished with a positive win-loss ratio, winning 14, drawing 8 and losing 12. Also, they came out of their second round of administration.

Striker Geoffrey Castillon certainly proved his worth on loan from Ajax, scoring a team-high eleven goals and providing three assists in his 21 appearances. Veteran goalkeeper Lee Kwang-Suk had an excellent inaugural season with Omniworld, only missing a single game and performing at a very high standard. The creative spark was delivered by right back Park-Jin Sub, leading the team with five assists in 28 games.

During the team's period in administration, right winger and forward Lee Hoon, who featured mostly for the reserves was cut off the payroll, as well as starting centerback Park Yong-Kyoo and center midfielder Kwon Woo-Kyung

Stat sheet: Seo Jung-Won

Team final position before hire: 20th, 8-6-24, 40-65

2009/10 final position: 14th, 12-11-15, 36-41

2010/11 final position: 8th, 14-8-12, 40-38 (knocked out in first playoff round)

Telstar, Carlos Valderrama

Telstar finished their season with four more draws, three wins and only two losses, guiding them to a final position in 10th place, a respectable finish for a team that was predicted to finish 17th. Unfortunately, Valderrama's financial management has left some things to desire, and the club finds itsself in debt, having already gone into administration once during the season. Competitively, however they had their best season in quite a while, finishing with a positive win to loss ratio, winning eleven and only losing nine.

The greatest contribution to that was made by pre-season purchased goalkeeper Sebastian Narvaez, who in his 36 first-team appearances this season held eight clean sheets and picked up five man of the match awards. On the goalscoring front, the due of Wilson Mena (13 in 32) and Henry Valderrama (17 in 31) were also a great factor in that, and fans will surely be sad to see both of them leaving at the end of this season, as they are both joining underperforming AGOVV on free transfers in order to control the budget. Starting left back Juan David Batista will also be leaving on a free, joining RBC.

Stat sheet: Carlos Valderrama

Team final position before hire: 17th, 9-12-17, 42-56

2009/10 final position: 16th, 13-7-18, 43-52

2010/11 final position: 10th, 11-14-9, 41-39

FC Eindhoven, Alexi Lalas

With the way things looked during the final nine games of the season, FC Eindhoven were lucky to have already qualified for the postseason due to a period championship, as they only won two of those games, while they four and lost three. Part of that could result from club favorite Jeroen Ketting's injury, as he broke his leg at the end of November and would not make another competitive league appearance. During the fifteen appearances that he did make, he scored ten goals, tying him in first place for club goalscorer on the season, together with Tim Nelemans.

Their qualification meanth they were not required to play in the first round, so in the second round they drew Excelsior, and the home leg ended in a 2-2 tie. With it all to do, they traveled to Rotterdam three days later, lining up in a defensive 3-6-1 formation, with three centerbacks, two defensive midfielders, two wingbacks, two center midfielders and Tim Nelemans as the lone striker. Eindhoven spent most of the first half on the defensive, and the game went into half-time a scoreless draw. 22-year old defensive midfielder Brandon Tyler was swapped out for centerback Koen Bots at halftime, prompting some rotation in the line-up. In the 66th minute, Richard Haklander placed a brilliant through ball to Tim Nelemans, who drew the entire defense around him before putting a clever little sidepass into Ali Benomar who found himself with enough room to place a shot into the net for the only goal of the game, putting Eindhoven through to the final playoff round.

With a few changes in personnel but the same formation, Eindhoven then hosted Eredivisie relegation candidates Willem II, with Genaro Zeefuik playing the role of lone striker, however, he was pulled in the 19th minute in favor of Tim Nelemans. After a scoreless first half, again with the opposing team having more of the play. In the 63rd minute, Eindhoven picked up a free kick about 35 meters out, which Nelemans tapped sideways for Jens van Son, who put a tremendous strike on it which bounced off the goalkeepers fingertips into the net, and would be enough to secure the victory for Eindhoven, setting them up for a defensive struggle on the away game. Zeefuik was again selected for the starting spot up front, only to be replaced after 18 minutes of complete futility by team hero Jeroen Ketting. Despite Willem II having most of the possession in the first half, and all of the chances they could not get in, and both teams went into the half without a goal. In the second half, after turning away Willem II time and time again, in the 70th minute Ketting, Haklander and creative midfielder Ali Benomar played a clever 1-2-3 passing game putting Benomar through on goal, and he made no mistake, putting Eindhoven up by two goals on aggegrate. Willem II piled it all forward, but could not get through, and it was almost Jeroen Ketting that scored the second goal of the game at the last second, on Eindhoven's second chance of the day, but the final score would remain 0-1, and Eindhoven had won promotion against all odds, having finished 5th in the league and defeated two teams rated above them on the way, defying critics who had only predicted a mid-table finish.

Stat sheet: Alexi Lalas

Team final position before hire: 18th, 9-14-15, 59-80

2009/10 final position: 6th, 16-11-11, 60-42 (knocked out in second playoff round)

2010/11 final position: 5th, 15-7-12, 42-35 (promoted through playoffs)

Fortuna Sittard, Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Fortunna Sittard also had a poor ending to the regular season, winning only two, drawing three and losing four games, however their final position in seventh place was enough to qualify them for the playoffs, where they were drawn against FC Omniworld, whom they defeated at home and away to progress to the second round, where they encountered last year's Jupiler League winners FC Emmen, whom they defeated 2-0 at home thanks to two goals by Glynor Plet, and then held them to a one-goal margin as they lost the away leg 2-1, with Rochdi Achenteh grabbing the all-important consolation goal in the 87th minute, in a game in which four players were carted off the field injured on Fortuna's side: Goalkeeper Wintjens, left back Karreman, back-up goalkeeper Willem-Jan Thijssen and right winger Luciano Narsingh.

Goalkeeper Wintjens was back in time for the third round fixture against Vitesse. Right back Dennis van der Wal opened the score for Fortuna Sittard in the tenth minute knocking in a header off of a corner kick, and this away lead would hold up until half-time. Center midfielder Charlie van den Ouweland then doubled the score right after play restarted with a brilliant long-range effort. Vitesse's Julian Jenner then clawed one back for them in the 60th minute, but despite the exceeding pressure, they could not equalise.

On the return trip, at home in Sittard, Fortuna lined up once again in the slightly more defensive 4-3-2-1 line-up, not it's customary 4-2-3-1. Attacking midfielder Taner Taktak opened the score early in the game, curling a tremendous shot from over thirty meters. He was then also instrumental in setting up the second goal just before halftime, putting a pinpoint pass through the defense leaving Glynor Plet with a simple tap-in to double the score. Vitesse could not gather themselves enough to challenge and that would be the final score, seeing Fortuna also earning promotion to the Eredivisie, against all odds that predicted them to finish only in 15th place.

The main reasons for Fortuna's success were goalkeeper Danny Wintjens, who has been an anchor for his team in goal, as well as top goalscorer Rochdi Achenteh, who scored twelve goals in 32 games, and was also the shared assists leader with six assists on the year. Gino Facenna and Zarko Grabovac also performed their duties very well at the heart of Fortuna's defense.

Stat sheet: Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Team final position before hire: 15th, 11-9-18, 42-59

2009/10 final position: 11th, 14-9-15, 44-50

2010/11 final position: 7th, 14-9-11, 42-41 (Promoted through playoffs)

FC Utrecht, Hans Vonk

Hans Vonk wasted no time making his impact felt at FC Utrecht, as he won nine of the remaining twelve games of the seasons, only conceding one loss to Ajax (1-3) and dropping points at FC Twente (1-1) and at ADO Den Haag (1-1), propelling the side from second to last (17th) to a higher-than-expected 9th place finish, when the media had expected them to finish 12th.

Instrumental in this turnaround would be centerback Nana Asare (GHA, 24) who has firmly established him as a fan favorite over his two seasons with Utrecht, talented central midfielder Dries Mertens (BEL, 23), creating chances and scoring goals out of midfield, often-injured striker Kevin Vandenbergh (BEL, 28), who in between a twisted ankle (4 weeks), strained knee ligaments (6 weeks) and another twisted ankle (4 weeks again) managed to be highly prolific, scoring a club-high 11 goals in 15 appearances. With Vonk's 3-4-3 formation, when the goalgetting Belgian was not available, he preferred the trio of Mulenga (10 in 26), Van Wolfswinkel (7 in 23) and Tejada (6 in 18).

Goalkeeper Michel Vorm (NED, 27) has indicated he wants to move on to further his carreer, but as of right now Vonk still has him listed as indispensable, meanwhile Scottish side Hearts and Swiss Neuchatel Xamax are sniffing around young Barry Maguire (NED, 21), a talented right and central midfielder who has so far picked up two caps and an international goal for Holland if Utrecht don't renew his contract.

In the mean time, FC Oss struggled to keep up it's winning ways after Vonk left, winning only two more games, drawing one and losing eleven.

FC Oss final position before hire: 14th, 11-9-18, 50-63 (Knocked out in first playoff round)

FC Oss 2009/10 final position: 4th, 18-8-12, 55-53 (Promoted through playoffs)

FC Oss 2010/11 position at Vonk departure: 10th, 7-4-7, 25-28

FC Oss 2010/11 final position after departure: 13th, 11-5-18, 35-62

FC Utrecht 2010/11 position before Vonk hire: 17th, 4-4-10, 16-25

FC Utrecht 2010/11 final position after hire: 9th, 14-7-13, 55-46

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you :) A long installment:

Preseason and transfer window roundup, summer of 2011

With three of the five managers in the top flight of Dutch football, the pressure is now on Valderrama and Seo to provide results for their teams and lift them up to the Eredivisie, while Alexi Lalas and Sverrisson will be tested to see if they can keep their teams afloat at the highest level.

Alexi Lalas: FC Eindhoven

Two players were sold to MVV as soon as the transfer window opened up at the beginning of summer: Gambian right winger Sainey Nyassi and American right winger Jeremiah White as neither of them had fit into Lalas' playing system, which does not use wingers.

Right back Austin Washington was allowed to return to the United States with developmental league team Long Istland, after failing to win a first team spot in Eindhoven.

Long time starting striker Tim Nelemans and his newfound strike partner and fan favorite Jeroen Ketting, whom between them scored 53 goals in the past two seasons found themselves without a club, as they could not agree on terms for a new contract.

Starting goalkeeper Jurgen Hendriks decided on a free transfer move to German third division team Carl-Zeiss Jena after rejecting Eindhoven's offer for a new contract.

Several other players would leave the club without a new contract over the first couple of days of July 2011, as Eindhoven prepared for the new season at top-flight and wanted as much of the budget for new signings as possible.

Heracles forward Everton (BRA, 28) would be in first, an experienced Eredivisie striker, with two double-digit goalscoring seasons in a row to his name, he would definitely feature up front for Eindhoven in the upcoming season.

Either-sided and either footed winger Lorenzo Ebecilio (NED, 19) was picked up on a free from the Ajax youth system, with an eye to the future. He would be in the reserves for the time being.

Utility defender Robert Schutz (NED, 22) was then picked up from Telstar. A useful player who can play several different defensive positions, including right back, right wingback, centerback and defensive midfielder, some question wether he is good enough for the big leagues, after two sub-par seasons in the Jupiler.

Young goalkeeper Jeroen van Binsbergen (NED, 22) was brought in, a product of the Ajax youth academy, was recently a back-up at AGOVV but has potential for the future.

Hardworking winger Dimitri Djollo (NED, 23) was picked up from FC Oss, where he failed to break into the starting line-up in his last four seasons. Capable of playing on either side of the field and up front, but will most likely be a back-up.

Attacking-minded center midfielder Julius Wille (NED, 24) was picked up next, a regular fixture at AGOVV over the past four years, the tenacious midfielder will now get his shot at the big league.

Another signing made for the long run would be centerback Tomas Hendriks (NED, 22) who impressed Lalas with his effort at Helmond Sport last season and found himself at Eindhoven in the Eredivisie this season.

Right back/wingback Rick Geenen (NED, 23) also signed on, having fallen out of favor at Fortuna Sittard last year. A fundamentally sound choice at right back, will have to fight for a starting spot.

Defensively minded midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld (NED, 21) was picked up after impressing on trial, having been a regular fixture at Go Ahead over the past 3 years, and would be given the opportunity to win a starting spot in midfield.

The last signing of the year would be the new starter in goal, Jordy Deckers (NED, 22), also very young but with great potential. He had a great season on loan at Telstar last year and Lalas pounced on him after his AZ contract expired.

With the team put together, Lalas and FC Eindhoven will be focusing on surviving the Eredivisie this season. Key players in this struggle will be: Striker Everton, wingback Amaechi Igwe and captain Richard Haklander.

A short preseason saw them lose to German regional side SV Ulm (0-2), but make up for that with wins over amateur side Be Quick'28 (3-0) and Belgian semi-pro's UR Namur (2-0).

Stat sheet: Alexi Lalas

Team: FC Eindhoven, predicted 18th in Eredivisie

Number of players bought: 28

Number of players sold: 4

Number of players released: 25

Hans Vonk: FC Utrecht

With the new season approaching, young left winger Evert Brouwers was loaned out to FC Utrecht. Birmingham took advantage of the opportunity to snap up Michael Silberbauer at the end of his contract. Utility defender Richard Ofeng Menza was snapped up by newly promoted VVV, while 24-year old Belgian centerback Ken van Mierlo returned to Belgium to continue his carreer at a lower level in the second league.

After seven years with the club, veteran right back Tim Cornelisse (NED, 33) left the club for fellow Eredivisie side NAC after not signing a new contract, despite being a regular fixture in the first team. After 190 league appearances and eleven goals for the team, fans said goodbye to him in a ceremony before the first friendly of the season.

Recently relegated RKC Waalwijk snapped up centerback Mike van der Kooy, who failed to secure a place in the first team, and opted to move on. Some might remember him from his loan in Eindhoven.

Another player that could not get into the first team was goalkeeper Wesley de Ruiter, who decided to try his luck in Belgium at Anderlecht instead.

Highly prolific and injury prone striker Kevin Vandenbergh moved on to Belgian second division team Mons, while winger Leroy George moved to Spain with LIGA adelante side Numancia.

The big sale of the season would be emerging right midfielder Barry Maguire (NED, 21) who was sold to English Premiership relegation candidates Wigan for 2.7 million Euros.

Of course, there was some inbound traffic as well: Talented striker Edwards Jimenez (COL. 30) was picked up from RBC, where he scored 23 goals in 43 games in the Jupiler League and manager Hans Vonk thought he might be ready for the big leagues. He has a great aerial presence despite his relatively short stature, has good composure and is a crisp finisher.

Industrious midfielder Michael Modubi (SAF, 26), a five time international for South Africa, and part of their 2010 World Cup delegation, was signed from long-time club Westerlo, whom he signed for after failing to impress at Chelsea, who loaned him out to the Belgian club for six consecutive seasons. He never made an appearance for Chelsea, but has been a consistent starter at Westerlo for the past three seasons. He is a defensively gifted and creative midfielder.

Forward Goran Maznov (MKD, 30), strike partner of Goran Pandev for the national side with seven goals in 28 international appearances, he has spent most of his carreer in the Russian leagues before joining FC Den Bosch in the winter window of the 09/10 season, where he has made 44 appearances and scored 20 goals in one and a half seasons, before joining Utrecht in this transfer window. He is a pacy and strong striker, with good first touch and a lot of skill on the ball.

Towering defender Marco Aurelio (BRA, 33) was picked up from fellow Eredivisie side ADO Den Haag, who had purchased him from Portuguesa for 130k. He is a huge presence in the center of defense, standing at 1m93. A very strong player, dominant in the air - he is tenacious and influential, a true leader on the back line.

Emerging winger Sameegh Doutie (SAF, 22) was bought for 325k from South African side Ajax CT. He is quick and technically gifted, and has a bright future ahead of him, and hopefully Vonk can help him reach his full potential.

The last signing of the season would be colossal centerback Alex Nkume (NIG, 22), bought for 190k from FC Volendam, where he played last season, after first being discovered by Eredivisie side VVV at Nigerian side Enugu Rangers. A player with a lot of potential, featured 8 times for the Nigerian youth team, but is yet to win his first cap. Good in the air and quick, if he keeps up with his development, he could go far.

Mid-table is the prediction for FC Utrecht, with the slightest hope of getting in the mix for European qualification, which would be a tremendous boost for this team. Key players will include: Ambitious goalkeeper Michael Vorm (NED, 27), stylish striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel (NED, 22) and deviceful left winger Dries Mertens (BEL, 23).

All three pre-season games were won, French sides Nimes (1-0) and Senart-Moissy (2-0) as well as Seo Jung-Won's FC Omniworld (1-0) were beaten while Hans Vonk formed his squad.

Stat sheet: Hans Vonk

Team: FC Utrecht, predicted 10th in Eredivisie

Number of players bought: 19

Number of players sold: 5

Number of players released: 12

Eyjolfur Sverrisson: Fortuna Sittard

Having not made the impact expected of him, Gert-Jan Tamerus was released at the end of the season. Rick Geenen, having lost his starting spot to van der Wal departed for Alexi Lalas' FC Eindhoven. Several other players that did not make the grade were released as well, and two young players were sent out on loan: 17 year old striker Geert Veeneman to amateurs RKVVL, and 20-year old defender Philip Derichs to recently relegated BV Veendam.

Several players were brought in to strengthen the squad for it's first season in the Eredivisie in several years: Young right winger Sydney Schmeltz (NED, 22) was bought from Willem II for 100k, a talented young man who is hoping to secure his first starting job. A creative and speedy player, he should provide a spark on the wing.

Experienced attacking midfielder Emerson Acuna (COL, 32) was brought in from Willem II as well, for only 45k, a pittance compared to the 850k they payed for him only a year and a half prior. A small player in stature, he balances technical ability with hard work and creativity, and will be hoping to get his share of goals from the trequartista position.

Picked up on a free, then was Norichio Nieveld (NED, 22), a centerback with good potential, who did not quite make the grade at Feyenoord, a physical defender with little interest in offering attacking support. Has the potential to become a quality player at the Eredivisie level.

Talented left-back Nick Kuipers (NED, 22) was then signed on a free after his FC Dordrecht contract ran out. Undoubtedly a player on the rise, with the right guidance he could very well make it at a high level, being a multi-faceted player in the left back position, able to play in the center as well, he is a skilled defender, and a threat running down the wing.

Experienced left- and center midfielder Mark-Jan Fledderus (NED, 28) then joined after a three year spell with Heracles. Fledderus has been a staple in the Dutch Eredivisie, having made almost 140 appearances in it over the past seven years at Groningen and Heracles. He is unlikely to ever make it into the national side, but he is about as solidly decent as they come. A dependable man in midfield.

Armenia's leading striker Edgar Manucharyan (ARM, 24) joined on a free as well, after failing to secure a starting spot at Ajax, where he spent five years on the fringe, and was loaned out to Haarlem two years ago where he did admirably. He will certainly be looking to find a first team opportunity with Fortuna. He is a swift, dazzling and technically brilliant player and should provide some excitement in the box.

The final purchase of the season was somewhat curious, as Sverrisson spent 8k on right winger Boy-Boy Mosia (SAF, 26). Tiny in stature at only 1m57, he is very capable on the ball and very fast, but his small physique renders him one of the weaker players in professional football, and he is unlikely to win a header under the most favorable of circumstances. He is also utterly dire at defensive play.

Slated to fight bravely against relegation, Sverrisson and his men are up against it, and key in that struggle will be newly aqcuired striker Edgar Manucharyan, defensive anchor Zarko Grabovac and goalkeeper Danny Wintjens.

Preseason was a mixed bag, with only a single defeat at the hands of PSV (0-1), while recently relegated RKC held them to a 1-1 draw, while wins were recorded over amateurs Rijnsburgse Boys (3-1), Belgian semi-pro's Aalst (6-0) and Eredivisie competitors NAC (3-0).

Stat sheet: Eyjolfur Sverrisson

Team: Fortuna Sittard, predicted 17th in Eredivisie

Players bought: 17

Players sold: 0

Players released: 12

Seo Jung-Won: FC Omniworld

Omniworld saw a number of departures at the end of the season, including back-up goalkeeper Park Joon-Young whom in two years only made four appearances for the first team, and has elected to try his luck with MVV.

Out-of-favor striker Yeo Seung-Won has departed for AGOVV, after only showing five times during the past season, after being a regular feature in his first season with the club.

Right back Mark Bevaart has departed for recently relegated RKC, after finding himself not to fit with the system preferred by Seo.

Forward Dion Malone found himself out of manager Seo's plans as well, and headed off to FC Dordrecht on a free, while five other players were left without a club after their contracts expired.

Brought in from fellow Jupiler league side Go Ahead was Congo striker Jean-Pierre Lutula (COD, 26), an elegant player with good skill on the ball. He has appeared 8 times for his country, and scored 4.

From Ajax was loaned in Wesley Sneijder's younger brother, Rodney Sneijder (NED, 20), a very talented midfielder capable of playing on either side as well as in the middle, with a preference for the left side. A dead ball expert like his brother, technically brilliant and highly creative, FC Omniworld should consider themselves very lucky to have his abilities at their service for this season.

On loan from NEC came young defender Ato Cardna (NED, 20), a fast centerback of great height (1m94), whom with proper guidance could develop into a very good player.

Despite the good showings of the past two years, FC Omniworld were slated to fall into the bottom half of the league. Among the key players in challenging this prediction will be of course loan player Rodney Sneijder, newly signed striker Jean-Pierre Lutula and attacking left wing-back Moon Min-Kwi.

Stat sheet: Seo Jung-Won

Team: FC Omniworld, predicted 15th in Jupiler League

Players bought: 26

Players sold: 9

Players released: 30

Carlos Valderrama: Telstar

Of all five managers, Valderrama had the highest turnover once more, bringing in twelve players and letting seventeen go. On the way out: Strike duo Wilson Mena and Henry Valderrama, together responsible for 28 goals last season departed for AGOVV, while starting left back Juan Batista departed for RBC. Talented young goalkeeper Ramon Vega stepped up to a starting role for his new club Go Ahead after being a back-up at Telstar. Gilmar Giron joined Willem II.

Robert Schutz moved up to FC Eindhoven, in the Eredivisie after his contract ended, while Anthony Correia left the club after ten years of service to join Dordrecht.

Defenders Daniel Murillo and Jimmy Estacio both joined FC Oss, while Enrique Romana and Pedro Pino joined De Graafschap. Several other players were left without a club.

A quick summary of the players brought in:

Right back Johan Munoz (COL, 23) a pacy right back from Colombia's second division.

Striker Wilmar Orlando Palacio (COL, 24), a crafty player with the ball at his feet.

Striker Diego Bermudez (COL, 23), a clever player with an eye for the goal, good off the ball.

Defensive midfielder Edwin Avilla (COL, 24), a stylish player with excellent technique.

Forward Javier Cuero (COL, 28), another technically gifted player with great flair.

Utility midfielder Alvaro Puyo (COL, 27), an industrious midfielder with moderate skill

Centerback Daniel Hoyos (COL, 25), a daring and capable defender.

Left back Gregorio Matta (COL, 26), a solid defender, with good decisionmaking and anticipation.

Centerback Alberto Carabali (COL, 26), a big and strong player that relies mostly on his physical ability.

Defensive midfielder Yeison Romana (COL, 23), a player with good potential, great on the ball, but needs to learn the tactical aspects of the game to be great all-around.

And loan signings Pepijn Kluin (NED, 21), an agile striker with great ball control from FC Groningen and Bram Langedijk (NED, 21), a hardworking centerback from NEC. They are also the only two non-Colombians in the first team.

Predicted to finish on the low side of the middle of the table, Telstar will be relying on the following key players to make an impact in the Jupiler League this year: Goalkeeper Sebastian Narvaez, loaned striker Pepijn Kluin and loaned centerback Bram Langedijk.

Stat sheet: Carlos Valderrama

Team: Telstar, predicted 13th in Jupiler League

Number of players bought: 36

Number of players sold: 16

Number of players released: 19

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