Eerste Divisie champions last season, Willem II return to the top flight but Will Burns thinks the Tilburg side face an uphill battle to retrieve their Eredivisie status.
The prime example of a ‘Yo-Yo club’, the boys from Tilburg broke a 24-year long Eredivisie stay in 2010/11 when they finished 18th to be sent down to Eerste Divisie. However, the bounced right back up the next season, only to be relegated again in 2012/13. Under Jurgen Streppel, they have regained their top flight status, however, I feel with his lack of familiarity at the top level and the failure to bring any experienced Eredivisie players they could be down again this campaign.
Unable to secure a permanent deal for last year’s 26-goal striker Ruud Boymans was a major disappointment. Although, Israeli international striker Ben Sahar, a former Chelsea youth arrives on a free from Hertha Berlin to fill the void. Talented Greek goalkeeper Kostas Lamprou has grew tired warming the bench at Feyenoord and joins a season-long loan as does AZ defender Jonas Heymans. Ajax loanee Fabian Sporkslede wraps up the new arrivals from Streppel without any great old heads to lead the team.
One thing Willem II will use to their advantage will be the counter attack. The speed of Moroccan playmaker Ali Messaouad and 20-year-old lightning quick winger Terrell Ondaan will terrify defences. Unfortunately, without any great shakes in defence and not enough talent throughout the squad, I fear for Willem II and a return to lower division awaits.
TRANSFERS INS AND OUTS
IN: Ben Sahar (Hertha Berlin), Fabian Sporkslede (Ajax), Jonas Heymans (AZ Alkmaar), Kostas Lamprou (Willem II).
OUT: Kees van Buuren (Sparta Rotterdam), Mats van Huijgevoort (FC Den Bosch), Mitch van der Ven (FC Eindhoven), Norair Mamedov (Almere City), Ruud Boymans (FC Utrecht).
MANAGER – JURGEN STREPPEL
Leading Willem II to the Eerste Divisie title in only his second job was a great feat by Streppel. A former manager and player at Helmond Sport, at only 45, his inexperience may cost him this job by May.
KEY PLAYER – TERELL ONDAAN
Formerly on the books at Ajax, Ondaan electricified the Eerste Divisie last season which caught the attention of Adrie Koster, the coach of Jong Oranje, who called up the 20-year-old winger for his international debut. Ondaan has great pace and is technically gifted which could work his way into the thoughts of one of the big boys of the Eredivisie by the season’s end.
PREDICTION – 18TH
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