The ‘Sheep Heads’ as FC Dordrecht are affectionately known as pulled off an unlikely promotion from the Eerste Divisie last season to take their place with the big guns of the Eredivisie. Dordrecht have only spent 5 out of the past 42 seasons in the top flight and they haven’t been at this level since a single season in 1994/5 where they only won 5 games all season. Adding to the odds being against them is the fact that they play in a stadium that fits only 4,100 supporters and their estimated annual budget is E2.1million which is less than a tenth of the bigger Eredivisie clubs. In fact their annual budget puts them in the bottom half of Eerste Divisie clubs.
Despite all of this they are in the Eredivisie this season by ways of finishing a close 2nd in the second tier last season and then defeating FC Den Bosch and Sparta in the Play-Offs. Promotion was achieved mainly through their home form where lost only 1 game at the Riwal Hoogwerkers Stadion all season (to Willem II) and also banged in league high 82 goals in their 38 games.
They have lost last season’s top scorer Paul Gladon (back to parent club Sparta) but they have managed to snare a handy replacement in Rick ten Voorde on loan from Paderborn. They’ve also picked up some handy younger players from Vitesse and ADO Den Haag as well as Polish keeper Filip Kurto from Roda JC, who is capped at Youth level for his country. Generally though the squad is light on with players that have previous Eredivisie experience and much will depend on their Captain Funso Ojo, who has played at this level before with PSV and VVV.
So Dordrecht go into the season with all the odds stacked up against them but they’ll certainly be coming in with confidence from last season and if they can maintain their home form then they might spring a few surprises ala Go Ahead Eagles last season.
TRANSFERS INS AND OUT
IN: Mohamed Hamdaoui (Vitesse), Filip Kurto (Roda JC), Giovanni Korte (ADO Den Haag), Mart Lieder (RKC Waalwijk), Rick ten Voorde (SC Paderborn), Robin Gosens (Vitesse), Sem de Wit (ADO Den Haag), William Troost-Ekong (FC Groningen).
OUT: Felitciano Zschusschen (FC Twente), Jeffrey Ket (FC Oss), Matthew Steenvoorden (Feyenoord), Paul Gladon (Sparta Rotterdam), Warner Hahn (Feyenoord), Youri Loen (Sparta Rotterdam).
MANAGER – ERNIE BRANDTS
A member of the 1978 Dutch World Cup squad Brandts and replaces the promotion winning manager Harry van den Ham. Brandts has been managing in Iran, Rwanda and Tanzania of recent seasons after a successful spell with NAC Breda. He cut his teeth at the youth setup of PSV and no doubt he’ll need to draw on the successes of this club to steer Dordrecht clear of murky waters this season.
KEY PLAYER – FUNSO OJO
A highly rated youngster whilst coming through the ranks at PSV, he only went on to make 11 appearances in the Eredivisie during his spell there. He then moved into the Belgian league with Royal Antwerp and Beerschot before returning to the Netherlands with Dordrecht last season. Ojo plays in the holding midfielder role and Dordrecht will need him to tap into what made PSV take notice of him to shield what is likely to be a very over-worked Dordrecht defence. This could be a career defining season for him.
PREDICTION – 16TH
BET VICTOR EREDIVISIE TITLE ODDS: 500/1
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