When you write about this game as much as I do, it sometimes feel really hard to keep to it fresh and interesting for people. As I sat down to do this update I was suddenly racked with the fear of “hmmm, this is a bit boring today!” Therefore, I will keep it fairly short and sweet!
We are fourteen league games into our fifth season, our first season in the Eerste Divisie. On Facebook earlier today I called it a “development” season, and it is very much that. Will we win the league? No, certainly not and I don’t feel we will be consistent enough to finish second either. The play-offs are not out of the question though, and we currently sit in 5th place having won eight, lost five and drawn one. We’re actually only two points behind second place, so I might be coming across as negative. Oh, we are also the only side to have beaten the top side, RKC Waalwijk. We’ve also beaten our local rivals Telstar, 3-2, in the first derby for a very long time. It’s the five defeats that worry me, and I cannot see that we will be much more consistent as the season progresses. Two defeats have been to teams also in and around the play-offs and three against teams right down the bottom. There! There! Inconsistency, you see?
Things we need to remember. The club was only reformed four complete seasons ago, so this is great progress to be in a play-off spot in the 2nd tier. We are only signing players on free transfers aged under-23, so considering the youth of the squad we are certainly punching above our weight. We have the smallest average attendance in the division, at 3500, which is also 100% of our capacity – this to me shows that we are the smallest club in the division, depsite our incredible history. We also spend the least in wages per annum, at £450k. Willem II, below us in the table, spend an incredible £5.23m. The book “Soccernomics” which part-inspired this save along with the whole “Moneyball” concept states that he who spends more on wages performs better in the league, so to be where we are would suggest that we are massively over-performing.
We have the best performing player in the division in Remco Beumer, a player that continues to surprise me. He has been with me since the beginning and always been on the “probably get replaced” list yet last season and now this he is storming ahead. He has an average rating of 7.83, 5 MOM, 7 goals and 2 assists playing in the enganche role. Vanmaris is third in the goal scorer list, weighing in with 9 league goals and 14 overall, meaning his club stats are now an amazing 94 goals in 104 appearances. La Rocca is also having a great start to the season, netting 10 goals already.
In terms of new faces, there have been a few changes as I have tried to quietly upgrade some positions. The goalkeeper has remained the same, and I cannot see that changing. At the back Cimen is clinging on to his place, despite being written off by the coaches since season two! Janzen is still a rock in the middle, but I have just brought in a young English Chelsea reject (“which one?” I hear you cry!) to play on the left of the three. Clarke-Salter only wanted £150 in wages and he was as well rated by a couple of Greeks I had on trial, each wanting over £1k per week. In midfield I have brought in an Austrian called Putser, ex-Sturm Graz, and promoted a lad from the U18’s who goes by the name Kaarsbaan. He is only 16 but he is holding down his place in the squad. Puster has settled pretty well too. Up front my first choice three continues to be La Rocca, Vanmaris and Maletic. Pushing them hard for a shirt are two new signings, a young Afghan called Ahmadi and a lad with an amazing record in Austria. Drga scored something like 85 goals in 140 games for St Polten so I was surprised he was a free agent. They have both scored in the minimal game time they have had, so if they can remain patient then they will definitely figure.
55 points should be enough for the play-offs, and we have 25 so far. 10 more wins from 23 games really should be possible, shouldn’t it?
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)