#FM15 #HaarlemGlobetrotting : Haarlem Hotting Up

Nothing like starting the next update with a 21 day gap before the next game. How can I fill it? By now you should all know what #HaarlemGlobetrotting is about. If you don’t, you’ll probably find a post about it somewhere very near you right now. Am I likely to be moaning about players being poached? Probably, you’ll soon know if they are.

We were top of the table at the exact half way point and run in looks very exciting. We have been playing some “marvellous” football – at least that is what I would like to think Richie Benaud would have said if he had been a football commentator.

Anyway, let’s fast forward a little while and read a report in the Dutch press….

As HFC Haarlem spend the next two weeks preparing for a critical match against rkav Volendam it is time to speculate as to whether their young side possess the experience, desire and maybe even bottle to secure the league title that they led from the first whistle of the season, writes Mees Bakker of Trouw.

The top of Hoofdklasse A is tight, tighter than it has been for many seasons. Haarlem lead the way by one single point from Sportlust ’46. Below them are rkav Volendam and just four points off top spot in fourth are Odin, who recently destroyed Haarlem 5-2 at Sportpark de Vlotter. Since that defeat De Roodbroeken have bounced back with successive 4-1 victories, but defeat against rkav Volendam could well pass the baton to the teams snapping at their heels.

It has been a tough season for Englishman Darwen. At the start of the season he talked of minimal signings, wanting to keep faith in the young side that had been runners-up last season. But as the season has progressed he has lost 18 players to other clubs, ten of which were first team regulars. Having gone bust in 2010 Haarlem reformed as an amateur club and this has made it difficult to retain players when offers from a higher level have come in. With the constant change it has been remarkable that the side is still challenging for the title, even more amazing that they still play with the same style and swagger that saw them win their first eight league games.

He has been repaid for keeping the faith in his dynamic, aggressive, overloading strategy of 3313. This formation, which lines up with no traditional full backs or wide players, has not been seen often in Holland and is a beautiful variation of the traditional style of Dutch football. It has certainly brought the best out of the 21-year-old diminutive striker Vanamaris. The striker, who stands only 5ft 3, has 23 goals in 23 starts this season and is the leading goal scorer in the Netherlands. All but three of the squad have been released by clubs at a higher level and HFC Haarlem are operating a Dutch only, U23 signing policy meaning the average age of their squad is a mere 20-and-a-half years old.

Their run in looks challenging. They welcome Volendam to the Haarlem Stadion in two weeks, and their remaining six games also include Sportlust and Hollandia, the latter beating them earlier in the season. They way the season has gone to date it looks like at least fifteen points from eighteen are going to be needed to secure promotion, meaning that there are minimal opportunities to slip up.

Darwen will be hoping that no more players depart before the end of the season and that creative midfielder Moregno recovers from his hamstring injury promptly. With contracts thought to be on the table for Niuewenhuis and Beumer it is possible that he could be another two players down before the Volendam game comes around. Once again we may see Darwen surprising us all with another clever signing or two if needed.

Mees Bakker – Trouw

Kom op Haarlem!

(if you enjoyed all that ramble, why not spend £1.99 of your hard-earned cash on my first book, “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager” here: https://www.facebook.com/johnnycooperchampionshipmanager)

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