Welcome back to #HaarlemGlobetrotting which is fast becoming my greatest #FM15 save. We have progressed once more, we have topped the Topklasse and next season we will be pitting our collective wits against the likes of (insert) in the Eerste Division.
As this is an end-of-season review, I will try and follow my previous format and talk about the following things:
- Scouting & Recruitment
- Tactical approach
- Current performance
Why Haarlem? Just a quick refresh for those that have not been following so far.
I am a sucker for a romantic story, and Haarlem ticks the box for me. One of older clubs in the Netherlands they won the top flight back in 1946, the Second Division in 1972, 1976 and 1981 and even the FA Cup in way, way back in 1902 and 1912. Their one trip into Europe was the UEFA Cup in 1982, which ended in the 2nd Round. Some very famous Dutch names played for the original club, Ruud Gullit being the standout name but others like former Forest midfielder Johnny Metgod and his brother Edward, Cornelious Pot, Johnny Rep, Luc Nijholt and current PSG player Gregory van der Wiel also pulled on the blue and red jersey. Current Sunderland caretaker Dick Advocaat managed the club 1987-89.
Still, I learned of their demise through the book “Soccernomics” by Simon Kuper, which explained the “Moneyball” concept devised by Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team in the USA. Therefore I decided to try and employ some of the “Moneyball” rules to this save and see where it took me:
- Only sign Dutch players on free transfers (this has since changed since getting promoted from the 4th tier – I am now signing any nationality, as most I am picking up have been released by top Dutch clubs)
- These players must be U23 on the day of signing
- If anyone makes an offer that exceeds the value of a player, sell them
- Always have a replacement lined up for players that are wanted by other clubs – this replacement, ideally, will come from the U18’s
- Always replace a player with a better player if he becomes available and fits the criteria
Anyway, this is meant to be a review of season four, so that is what it shall be!
Starting at the bottom – Current Performance!
We made an incredible start to the season winning 15 of the first 17 league games. In that spell we also won our way through to the 5th round of the KNVB-beker, the Dutch cup – we beat Ajax 2-0 at home! In that incredible start we went on a run of winning 5-1, 5-3, 5-0, 3-0, 6-2, 7-0, 7-0, 9-2 and 8-0 which is categorically my greatest run of victories in any version of Champ Man or FM. At this point I could not see us dropping another point, though we ended up dropping a further 15 in total. We did make a bit of a meal of the run in. Katwijk, looking to bounce back to the Eerste at the first attempt, ran us close and when they beat us with three games each to go they closed the points back down to four – this was as close to a wobble as we had. We closed the season out with two further wins and the celebrations were heartfelt.
There were some awesome performances throughout the season. Our stand out player wasn’t Vanmaris, who with 36 goals in 34 games, 18 assists and an average rating of 7.98 can be disappointed to be outdone. Our best player was Wietse van Lankfeld who I picked up as a free agent at the start of the season following his release from VVV Venlo. At 6ft 2 he added a presence to our midfield and he plays on the right of the midfield three, in a CM/A role. Left footed he kind of inverts everything even more than happens naturally, and he also possesses a cracking free-kick. His contribution, once breaking into the team, was 6 goals and 10 assists at an average rating of 8.16 in 30 games. Incredible.
Defensively we were much tighter, Jochems played 33 games and only conceded 36 – considering the attacking nature of the way we play this is a massive improvement. In the league we conceded a round 30 in 30, pleasing. Ron Janzen was also a total rock, weighing in with an average rating of 7.40.
What led to this incredible form? I changed the starting tactic from the “overload” version of my 3313 to the “control” version of my 3313. As you saw, the results were stunning. I also created a stronger “see the game out” tactic – making the 3313 a “contain” tactic, making the front three DF’s and the two CM/A’s into CM/S. We used this tactic for an hour against Ajax and held on to our 2-0 lead. I think we only conceded one goal in total when this tactic was employed.
Scouting & Recruitment
The scouts haven’t been that busy having to fill gaps this season, which is mainly down to the fact we were semi-professional and players were not just leaving for no reason. Rule three – if an offer comes in that exceeds the value of that player – was activated twice. At the start of the season I had to sell Niuewenhuis for a profit of £32.5k (replaced by van Leijenhorst who I will mention later) and much later in the season the young lad Musah, a product of my youth academy, had to move on for £20k. He was replaced by a another youth product, a lad called Bito, who at the age of 15 was our youngest ever player.
At the start of the season we brought in four players:
Maletic, striker – 4th highest average rating at 7.52, 16 goals and 10 assists. Definitely a success, now worth £77k.
Van Leijenhorst, left sided central defender – average rating of 7.13 and started 31 games. Despite the contract issue I am now having with him, I consider him a success.
Nijhove, defender – he was only ever brought in as a back up and starting 11 games showed that, average rating of 6.94. A good squad player
Van Lankfeld – already mentioned.
I have a solid shortlist of people that I can bring in if players move on over the summer. We have already seen Brinkman decide to move as he wanted more game time, and Burleson has done the same. I am unlikely to replace Burleson as I have U18’s that can come in if needed, and I am currently trialling a replacement for Brinkman.
Finally on the scouting side of things, our Chief Scout Adi Brouwer has retired and Martin’s brother, Cornelious Jol, has accepted the offer to be his replacement.
So we head into the Eerste where we plan to come first – I like that. We are now a professional club which has meant a lot of work contract wise, but all the main men are secured which is vital.
I’ll be back mid-way through the season with some more random updates, and then review what will hopefully be a successful season at the end!
Kom op Haarlem!
(if you enjoy my writing, why not spend £1.99 of your hard-earned cash on my first book, “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager” here: http://buff.ly/1G0WNV9 or my second one, “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager – The Second Season Syndrome” here: http://buff.ly/1NXwJ4r)