Finishing a respectable 12th place in the Eredivisie last season after gaining promotion from the Eerste Divisie the season before, Cambuur will look to build on that position this season, can they do it? Will Burns thinks not. 

Although, almost unbeatable at home and undefeated in pre-season (a string of six wins on the bounce scoring a total of 33 goals) I fear the wheels may come off this year for Henk de Jong. Simply enough, I do not think that the Leeuwarden side’s squad is of adequate strength to reach any higher this year.

Last year, on-loan stars Marcel Ritzmaier (PSV) and Jody Lukoki (Ajax) stole the show at Cambuur with their performances, so much so, that their clubs are refusing to loan them out this year. De Jong will have to heavily rely on the goals of Nigerian forward Bartholomew Ogbeche, Michiel Hemmen and Martijn Barto this coming campaign. Relegation specialist striker Daniël de Ridder arrived on a free from RKC Waalwijk to help notch the goals.

For creating chances, Serbian midfielder Dejan Meleg has been loaned off Ajax. Cambuur fans will be hoping he can make the same impact that Amsterdam team-mate Lukoki did last term. However, the main reason I worry for De Jong’s side is their defence. Centre-back pairing Martijn van der Laan and Ramon Leeuwin have been sold on after an impressive first season together and have not really been sufficiently replaced. Etiënne Reijnen has been recruited from AZ who is a worthy replacement, but no-one experienced to partner him.

I think they will have a tough season but eventually steer themselves out of relegation trouble and finishing well above the places.


IN: Albert Rusnak (Manchester City), Berent Schootstra (Heerenveen), Calvin Mac-Intosch (Telstar), Daniel de Ridder (RKC Waalwijk), Dejan Meleg (Ajax), Etienne Reijnen (AZ Alkmaar), Furdjel Narsingh (PEC Zwolle), Jurjan Wouda (RKC Waalwijk), Ron Janzen (FC Groningen), Sander van de Streek (Vitesse).

OUT: Elvis Manu (Feyenoord), Marcel Ritzmaier (PSV), Martijn van der Laan (FC Groningen), Oliver Feldballe (Sarpsborg 08 FF), Ramon Leeuwin (FC Utrecht), Tim Coremans (ADO Den Haag).


De Jong led Cambuur to their best ever finish in the Eredivisie after Dwight Lodeweges took off for Heerenveen last March, the Leeuwarden fans will be hoping of more of the same.


Bought by Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain as a youth, the Nigerian striker has vast experience all over the world, scoring goals at every club. Ogbeche even had a spell in the Championship with Middlesbrough in 2011/12, scoring ten goals in 24 appearances. Should he get the support he could win games for Cambuur.





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FC Twente are a club in recent times suffering from the development of young players. The clubs recent record of discovering uncut diamonds and selling them onwards for a large transfer fee has no doubt damaged Twente’s chances of capturing another Eredivisie title anytime soon. Despite recent success under title winning manager, Steve McClaren, the Enschede club have attempted to bring back the successful campaigns under the Englishman with new manager Alfred Schreuder writes Shane Burns.

Finishing third in the Eredivisie should be considered a success figuring the size of the club, but the ambitions owners and fans have refused to settle for finishing outside of the Champions League places and deem the season a success. The performances of Dušan Tadić last season really captured the fans hearts with his energy and committment to the cause and after losing the Serbian to Southampton this summer, fans can a major reason to be cautious prior to the season commencing.

Manager Alfred Schreuder has brought in PEC Zwolle’s defensive rock Darryl Lachman during the summer window to try fill the void left when Brazilian defender, Douglas, left for Dinamo Moscow in Russia in 2013. Lachman’s impressive ball control skills and leadership he shown for Zwolle on numerous occasions could prove to be the difference in the side finishing third and obtaining their Champions League status once again.

Twente’s balance in their squad will prove pivotal to any success they have in the coming season and with Schreuder they have a freshness that has seemed to be lacking in recent times. In club captain, Andreas Bjelland, the 2009 league champions, have the leader required to bring back success that once occurred only five years ago.

Cambuur will be the first hurdle the club will need to overcome should it want to become Champions or even qualify for the Champions League. Qualification won’t be an easy task this season with Feyenoord, PSV, Ajax and AZ Alkmaar will all by vying for the two places to dine at European football’s finest table.

FC Twente as of yet are going into the new Eredivisie season unbeaten in pre-season which included the club becoming victorious in a 0-10 victory on their opening match. Fortunately for Alfred Schreuder, his side didn’t have anyone in the later stages of the World Cup tournament in Brazil throughout June, so no issue of fatigue can arise once their campaign begins.

There is no denying of FC Twente’s ability to make this campaign a success and achieve a high placed finish in the Eredivisie this season, and possibly achieve a cup victory to help cement a legacy of the golden era of the club arising back to the end of the previous decade. With an injury free campaign and fortune favouring them, a strong point could be made for Twente to have a successful Eredivisie season.


IN: Darryl Lachman (PEC Zwolle), Kasper Kusk (Aalborg BK).

OUT: Daniel Fernandez (Panthrakikos), Dušan Tadić (Southampton), Joey Pelupessy (Heracles), Luka Djordjevic (Zenit), Nils Roseler (Chemnitzer), Roberto Rosales (Malaga).


Alfred Schreuder has been appointed the new FC Twente manager for the coming season after his relatively short stint in charge of the club as interim manager when Steve McClaren left his role last February. Assistant manager of the club for four years previously it seems to make perfect sense that the former Twente player would be appointed on a full-time basis from July 1st.


Danish international Kusk has signed this summer from AaB after an impressive start to his career at his hometown club. Danish players playing in the Eredivisie is becoming a recent success story and with Kusk’s low centre of gravity and quick pace, there’s no denying he could follow Dane, Christian Eriksen, to the Premier League after already attracting interest from a host of European football’s finest clubs.





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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.


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).


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.


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.





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Go Ahead Eagles had a stellar season last campaign and defied the critics to end up in 13th spot, in what was their first Eredivisie campaign since 1996.  The Deventer based club managed to achieve this through a combination of astute loan signings, great team ethic and an excellent home record writes Rogier Waalder.

The challenge for them is to repeat last season’s success despite losing the element of surprise.  This challenge has been made harder with the selling of 3 of last year’s standout performers, Jarchino Antonia, Erik Falkenburg and Xander Houtkoop, who between them scored 22 goals.  As such much of the responsibility will fall upon 3 new signings to repeat these heroics with Alex Schalk, Nick de Bondt and Gili Wijnaldum all coming in.

They also survived last season with 2 on-loan goalkeepers who have now returned to their parent clubs; Eloy Room (Vitesse) & Stephan Anderson (Betis) and have gone down the same route this year by loaning Jong Oranje keeper Mickey van der Hart from Ajax.

Go Ahead Eagles will look to the likes of Deniz Turuc, Sjoerd Overgoor and Marnix Kolder to keep the spine of the side stable and maintain the spirit of last season.  Go Ahead Eagles played a fast counter-attacking style of game with a 433 formation, which saw them score some impressive victories but at the same time cop some bad losses too.  Manager Foeke Booy will no doubt need to try and restore some defensive discipline to the side that shipped 69 goals last season.

This is a young side, which is very much Booy’s preference, and will again look to out-enthuse opponents.  The key, with so many younger players, is to get off to a good start to build confidence.  They face the 3 promoted sides in the first 4 weeks so they’ll get a great opportunity to get some early points on the board and build the confidence which they’ll need as the 2nd half of their draw is much tougher as a consequence.

Much will depend on not only getting a good start but making de Adelaarhorst (which translates into the ‘Eagles nest’) into a fortress.  Last season Go Ahead Eagles lost 0-6 at Ajax, 0-5 at Feyenoord and 0-3 at PSV but in the home games the scores were  0-1 (Ajax), 2-2 (Feyenoord) and 2-3 (PSV) which shows how important their compact home ground with its veracious support is. If they can get off to a good start then expect another decent season from Go Ahead Eagles as they look to build upon last season’s exploits.


IN: Alex Schalk (NAC Breda), Giliano Wijnaldum (FC Groningen), Guyon Philips (FC Oss), Jules Reimerink (VVV Venlo), Lesley de Sa (Ajax), Mickey van der Hart (Ajax), Nick de Bondt (Ajax), Peter van Ooijen (PSV).

OUT: Doke Schmidt (Heerenveen), Erik Falkenburg (NAC Breda), Jarchinio Antonia (FC Groningen), Kevin Spaniard (HSC ’21), Tom Oostinjen (GVVV), Xander Houtkoop (ADO Den Haag).


Foeke Booy started out his managerial career at a young age and his enthusiasm was rewarded with a managerial role with FC Utrecht in 2002 at age 35.  He went on to become Utrecht’s most successful manager by winning back to back KNVB Cups in 2002 and 2003.  Since leaving Utrecht though, in 2007, his career went on a downhill run with unsuccessful spells at Al Nassr, Sparta and Cercle Brugge.  He took on the Go Ahead Eagles role after promotion winning Manager, Erik ten Hag left to join Bayern Munich’s youth setup.  Booy made Go Ahead Eagles and entertaining, open and free flowing team last year who surprised many.


Türüç started out his career at the youth setup of FC Twente but when he wasn’t offered a professional contract with them he signed on for Go Ahead Eagles.  He has quickly become an important player for the club due to his excellent technical abilities and athletic nature.  He is the midfield lynchpin that binds this side together and they will again need him to fire in order to repeat last season’s success.





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Oozing with confidence, PEC Zwolle head into the new Eredivisie campaign off some great success under the leadership of Ron Jans writes Will Burns.

A mid-table finish would have been deemed a success last season, after surviving relegation the season before and winning the Eerste Divisie the previous season to gain promotion back to the top flight. The two-year curse had been avoided finishing 11th. However, that was not all.

Zwolle had never won a major trophy in Dutch football and the highest they have ever finished in the Eredivisie is 8th, so the club were never described as a successful club, until last campaign. Ron Jans lead his side to the KNVB Beker final, the first time the side had been in the final of the competition since 1977. They were due to play Eredivisie champions Ajax in the final at De Kuip, Rotterdam. Not only did come away with their first ever trophy they sent the Amsterdam giants back home with the tail between their legs. The game finished 5-1 and PEC Zwolle was on the European football map.


Lightning never strikes twice, however, last Sunday, Zwolle did the unthinkable again. The Johan Cruijff Schaal was the prize and Ajax was once again the opponent, although this time the match was held in Ajax’s backyard, the Amsterdam Arena. Unbelievably, a solitary Stef Nijland goal gave Zwolle more silverware to polish as they prepare for a European adventure. The Blauwvingers had never ever won a major competition and then two come along at once.

The self-belief in Zwolle will be at an all-time high heading into the Eredivisie campaign. Although, losing defensive rock Darryl Lachman, creative midfielder Mateusz Klich and strikers Guyon Fernandez and Fred Benson will have damaged the squad, Sunday proved they still have a lot of quality in the team to hurt opponents. Jans has done well to replace the outgoings with defender Thomas Lam arriving from Alkmaar and defensive midfielder Ben Rienstra coming in from Heracles. Greek strikers Nikos Ioannidis and Dimitrios Ferfelis left clubs in Germany to join the Jans revolution, and although unproven, they both are well thought of in their homeland. The main factor to success this season will be keeping New Zealand international Ryan Thomas and South African midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo (see Key Player) when the window shuts in September.

I predict that following Europa League group stage failure, Zwolle will bounce back in the Eredivisie to achieve their best ever finish, giving Ron Jans yet another great achievement and all the fans inside the IJsseldelta Stadion, more reason to celebrate.


IN: Boy de Jong (Excelsior), Dimitrios Ferfelis (TuS Koblenz), Thomas Lam (AZ Alkmaar), Ben Rienstra (Heracles), Nikos Ioannidis (Olympiakos).

OUT: Darryl Lachman (FC Twente), Fred Benson (Sheriff), Furdjel Narsingh (SC Cambuur), Giovanni Lutz (Sparta Rotterdam), Leon ter Wielen (Achilles ’29), Mateusz Klich (Wolfsburg).


What more can be said about this guy?  Held in the highest regard in Zwolle for working miracles with the football team, with Jans at the helm and some financial backing from the European fixtures, PEC Zwolle can only go from strength to strength.


The South African midfielder is best described as the ‘heart of PEC Zwolle’ as every move beats through him. He dictates play, defends the back four as well as linking up play to the attack. Mokotjo provided an excellent 89.2% passing success rate last season, and Ron Jans will be looking for more of the same to help fire Zwolle up the league and in their first venture into Europe. This is providing he stays in Zwolle, as a move to Ajax has been rumoured all summer long.





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Total Dutch Football previews all 18 teams ahead of the new Eredivisie season beginning this Friday night. Click on a club’s badge below to view their extensive preview and how our team think they will fare in the upcoming 2014/15 season.

The Eredivisie is back and for viewers based in the United Kingdom, it is an exciting time. As of this season, Sky Sports have signed a four-year deal to show the Dutch top flight, so we will the breeding ground for some many playing and coaching talent right in front of our eyes. Lots of changes as per usual in the Eredivisie, as is every year when the vast amount of talent the season before, have moved onto bigger clubs across Europe. It is very apt that the league does get named ‘The Stepping Stone’ division as many stars like Luis Suarez, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robin van Persie honed their skills in Holland before moving on to the big time. In recent times, we have saw Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen and Siem de Jong all leave the Amsterdam Arena for the dizzy heights of the Premier League.

Could Ajax win an unprecedented fifth title in a row or could we see a new winner of the Eredivisie?

Well what are you watching for?

Click on a club badge below and find out who we think will be holding aloft the Eredivisie shield in May.

SC Cambuur FC Dordrecht Excelsior
Feyenoord Go Ahead Eagles FC Groningen
Heerenveen Heracles Almelo NAC Breda
PEC Zwolle PSV Eindhoven FC Twente
FC Utrecht Vitesse Arnhem Willem II



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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.


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).


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.


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.





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After a narrow escape from relegation last term can NAC Breda fans expect a better term this year? Ryan O’Grady predicts it may be more of the same for the Yellow Army.

Last season NAC Breda escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth, they lost 2-0 to PSV on the final day and had RKC Waalwijk won their match by a significant margin then they would’ve overtaken NAC and pushed them into the relegation play-off spot alongside NEC. Breda had many problems last year they score fewer goals than any other team last year, 43, which adds up to an average of 1.23 goals per game. Their top scorer last season was Rydell Poepon with 9 but he was on loan from ADO Den Haag and has now moved to Valenciennes in France. One positive from last year was that although they didn’t score many goals, they did share them around the team, Perica and Buijs got six apiece and Verbeek got 5. The problem is that they were the top 4 goal scorers at the club and they’re all no longer there which means that 26 goals of their meagre total of 43 have left the club. Verbeek has signed for Utrecht, Bujis has signed for Heerenveen and Perica returned to Chelsea following the end of his loan deal although he still could return as the club are in negotiations with Chelsea, but the negotiations are said to be “laborious” according to the club.

These departures will hopefully be offset by the arrival of 20-year old Kingsley Boateng on a free from AC Milan; this is a real coup for the side as he has a bright future. NAC have also signed Swedish wonder kid Isak Ssewankambo on another free transfer, this time from Chelsea.  After helping Chelsea to win the FA Youth Cup his coach Adrian Viveash urged Jose Mourinho to give him a chance in the first team, this chance hasn’t materialised and after his contract ran out he got a trial at NAC Breda and impressed everyone enough to earn a contract. NAC chief Nebojsa Gudelj has been quoted as saying “He is a talented and dynamic player who is very strong and can play in many positions”.  He has already represented Sweden at various levels including U17, U18 and U21. NAC Breda have lost one of their defensive linchpins in Kwakman to Bidvest Wits, he made 28 appearances last year and contributed 3 goals. To replace him they have brought in Frenchman Rémy Amieux from RKC Waalwijk who he was vital for last year, appearing in every game, and Aleksandar Damcevski from Chernomoretz Burgas who is unproven at this level. NAC have had a very successful winning all 6 of their games including beating regional side DSE 16-0. Although their preseason form has been good, they haven’t come up against any teams of real note, which questions whether they can continue this form into the new season.

Overall NAC Breda have brought in a couple of decent signings but whether this will be enough to replace the goals that have left remains to be seen and in other areas they have merely just replaced players rather than strengthening. This seems to suggest that a similar season to last year is on the cards or possibly even worse if the new signings don’t gel with the rest of the team.


IN: Isak Ssewankambo (Chelsea), Aleksandar Damchevski (Chernomorets), Erik Falkenburg (Go Ahead Eagles), Joeri De Kamps (Heerenveen), Kingsley Boateng (AC Milan), Remy Amieux (RKC Waalwijk).

OUT: Anouar Hadouir (Moghreb Tetouan), Jordy Buijs (Heerenveen), Kees Kwakman (Bidvest Wits), Stuy Rick van den Herik (FC Oss), Rydell Poepon (ADO Den Haag), Stipe Perica (Chelsea).


Gudelj is a former Bosnian Serb footballer who started his playing career off at FK Leotar Terbinje in the Yugoslav Second League. He then moved to FK Partizan Belgrade where he won the title in the 1993-94 season. He then moved to Spain to join CD Logroñés where he only spent one season before moving NAC Breda eight years and made 246 appearances and scored 10 goals. He then spent one final year at Sparta Rotterdam before retiring in 2006. In 2012 he was appointed manager at NAC leading them to a 13th placed finish in first season before they finished 15th last year. He also has a son, Nemanja Gudelj, who currently plays for the AZ Alkmaar first team.


Kingsley Boateng arrived on loan from Serie A giants AC Milan and the 20-year-old, who was loaned out to Catania last term, has started well on pre-season for Breda scoring four times in three games. It seems AC Milan have also been impressed as they said that even though the games are just friendlies they have been really impressed with his form. The talented striker, who can also play on the wings, has stated his desire to play for Ghana, despite featuring for the Italian Under-21 team and is ready to make an impact in the Eredivisie to start an international tug-of-war.





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After a two-year absence Excelsior are back in the Eredivisie, although Will Burns predicts it could be a short stay.

Promoted via the playoffs after finishing third last year in the Eerste Divisie, the Rotterdam side would have needed some vast investment to build a squad to survive the Dutch top flight. In addition they have lost last year’s top scorer Lars Veldwijk to Nottingham Forest. The investment and the top experienced signings have not happened, and thus Excelsior should find themselves in the bottom two and back down to the First Division.

On-loan signing Ninos Gouriye (ADO Den Haag) and Tom van Weert from Den Bosch aim to fill Veldwijk’s boots, however, replacing a striker that hit a 30-goal season last campaign, is not an easy task. A third striker Marko Maletic featured on loan at FC Oss last term, signs on a permanent deal after his contract with parent club Stuttgart ended.

Although, once again, Excelsior are a squad built with Eerste Divisie experience and not many former Eredivisie players in the team. One thing that Excelsior can look forward to is the Rotterdam derby with Feyenoord. However, with this squad I cannot see many things to look forward this season for Excelsior.


IN: Bas Kuipers (Ajax), Daan Bovenberg (NEC Nijmegen), Daryl Miegham (Telstar), Marko Maletic (Stuttgart), Ninos Gouriye (ADO Den Haag), Tom van Weert (FC Den Bosch).

OUT: Boy de Jong (PEC Zwolle), Lars Veldwijk (Nottingham Forest).


Taking over from Jon Dahl Tomasson last season and winning promotion in his debut season, Dijkhuizen is a popular figure at the club. Although, like his squad the lack of experience may shine through and the relationship with the club and their fans may end before the season’s finished.


Fast-paced Botaka is a 21-year-old with great talent that should cause some problems to full-backs this season. The winger was great for Excelsior last season, helping the side end the season well for a third-placed finish and providing 10 goals of his own and helping Veldwijk score eight of his.





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The season did not start too great for Edwin van der Looi’s men, tasting defeat in the Europa League qualifiers against Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen. However, Will Burns thinks things can only get better for FC Groningen.

This summer’s transfer window has brought some great talent into the club with the money from the departure of the highly-rated Richairo Zivkovic to Ajax. Wide attacker Danny Hoesen came the opposite way, young goalkeeper Sergio Padt arrived from Belgian side AA Gent and Jarchinio Antonio, a skilful playmaker, was poached from Go Ahead Eagles. Defender Martijn van der Laan rounds off, four great first teamers that will add some great strength to an already relatively strong squad.

Filip Kostić is a serious threat to any team in the Eredivisie and lining up along with Tjaronn Chery, Hoesen and Antonia is a four-man attack that could beat any Dutch team on any given night. They are strong at the back too. Brazilian central defender Eric Botteghin has improved over time, with left-back Lorenzo Burnet a dangerous player on the left-wing. Twenty-year-old Hans Hateboer is an impressive youngster, the 76-game experience of Johan Kappelhof will help him and new signing Van der Laan rounds out a strong defence.

After a tough year last, that gave Groningen a respectable fifth place I can see the Pride of the North having a similar season under Edwin van der Looi with european football,  once again be the main objective.


IN: Danny Hoesen (Ajax), Dino Islamovic (Fulham), Jarchinio Antonia (Go Ahead Eagles), Martijn van der Laan (SC Cambuur), Peter van der Vlag (FC Emmen), Sergio Padt (AA Gent).

OUT: Giliano Wijnaldum (Go Ahead Eagles), Krisztián Adorjan (Liverpool), Marco Bizot (Racing Genk), Richairo Zivkovic (Ajax), Stefano Magnasco (Universidad Catolica), William Troost-Ekong (FC Dordrecht)


Cool customer Van der Looi enters his second season at Groningen, after a successful first where he led the Groningen to fifth. Unfortunately, he possibly does not have the squad to reach above that this time round either but European football qualification will keep his fond in the fans hearts.


Serbian winger Filip Kostić is an instrumental figure for Groningen, who was wanted by Sporting Lisbon and Stuttgart earlier this summer, which the board has resisted offers from. It’s not surprising that European big boys will chase the 21-year-old wide man who has a great eye for goal. Kostić made 38 appearances for Groningen in the Eredivisie last season and chipped in with 11 goals for Van de Looi’s men.





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Last season was certainly an eventful one for AZ. After beating PSV in September 2013 Gertjan Verbeek was sacked due to ‘a lack of chemistry’ between the management and the playing staff. He was replaced by Dick Advocaat until the end of the season when a replacement would hopefully be found. They finished the season in 8th qualifying themselves for the Europa League Play-offs writes Ryan O’Grady.

They beat Heerenveen 3-1 on aggregate in the semis before losing to Groningen 3-0 on aggregate in the two-legged final. Advocaat has now moved on to manage Serbia and he has been replaced by former Heerenveen manager and Ajax legend Marco van Basten. AZ will be hoping he can replicate Heerenveen 5th placed finish last season. They will also need more goals from elsewhere on the pitch as they only scored 54 goals last season, joint 8th best in the league, and when you consider Aron Jóhannsson scored 17 of these and Berghuis was second with 9, they certainly need more goals from a midfield which last season only managed to find the target 13 times. Aron Jóhannsson is currently recovering from an ankle injury he sustained while playing for the US national team in the World Cup, but he has been quoted as saying that he would like to be back for the start of the season or even the second game at home to Ajax.

They will miss Roy Beerens this season after he moved to Hertha Berlin in Germany, as well as scoring five times last year he also managed 5 assists. The club are hoping that his loss will be covered by the arrival of Guus Hupperts from Roda JC who managed 9 goals and 6 assists and if he can replicate that form at AZ then he should help propel them to their predicted position of 5th. AZ have had a mixed preseason, they beat 4th tier side AFC ‘34 by 4 goals 1, then playing in a goalless draw with NEC before beating VVV 2-0 away. However their latest preseason friendly was against German side 1899 Hoffenheim in a game where AZ played very poorly losing 3-0 and barely threatening to score themselves and this is made even worse by the fact that the German side played for over an hour with only 10 men. The young player to watch this season is probably 19 year old Thom Haye. He only made 3 senior appearances last year but he has already won the UEFA U17 European Championship with the Netherlands and has appeared for the U19 Netherlands side eight times.

Overall there is promise for AZ Alkmaar, some of the teams who finished above them last season probably won’t be as strong for the forthcoming season, such as Vitesse who have lost loan stars Lucas Piazon and Christian Atsu and Heerenveen have lost Alfred Finnbogason as well as manager Marco van Basten who of course is now manager at AZ. If new signing Hupperts repeats last season’s form and more goals arrive from midfield then 5th place is certainly attainable.


IN: Guus Hupperts (Roda JC), Muamer Tankovic (Fulham), Sergio Rochet (Danubio).

OUT: Thomas Lam (PEC Zwolle), Erik Heijblok (FC Volendam), Etienne Reijnen (SC Cambuur), Hobie Verhulst (MVV), Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Charlton Atheltic), Joris van Overeem (FC Dordrecht), Nick Viergever (Ajax), Roy Beerens (Hertha Berlin).


There isn’t much you can say about the ‘Swan of Utrecht’ that isn’t already known. One of the greatest strikers ever during his time with Ajax and AC Milan, he turned his gaze to management in 2003 after famously being quoted as saying that he would never try management as an assistant at Ajax B. In 2004 he became the manager of the Oranje, quickly establishing himself as a strong no-nonsense figure. After Euro 2008 van Basten signed a four-year contract with Ajax but resigned after one year following failure to qualify for the Champions League. In 2012 van Basten was announced as manager of Heerenveen. In his first season he led them to an eighth placed finish before they finished 5th last season.


One player who will be reunited with his former manager this season is 23 year old centre back Gouweleeuw. He quickly rose up through the youth team ranks at Heerenveen before making his debut in 2011 against Excelsior. In the 2011/12 he was an important member of the team which went on to finish 5th that season and qualify for the Europa League. The following season wasn’t so successful, Gouweleeuw found himself on the bench at the start of the season and he nearly left in January to join AZ. This fell through but both Gouweleeuw and Heerenveen had a much better second half to the season reinforcing his reputation as one for the future. In the summer of 2013 he finally got his move to AZ for 1.5 million.  Last season he was an ever-present for AZ making 37 appearances scoring one goal.





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Last season saw the ADO Den Haag match the previous season’s 9th placed finish but it was manner of the season what made their final position more remarkable writes Mark Neale.

Up until February and the sacking of manager Maurice Steijn only relegation looked likely. But the installation of Steijn’s assistant Henk Fraser turned things around completely with only one defeat that to eventual champions Ajax, in the last twelve games ensured another season of Eredivisie football for the club from Haag.

A close season of changes has greeted the ADO Den Haag fans both on and off the pitch.

New owners have taken control of the club in the form of Chinese company United Vansen Sports. This prompted the resignation of club CEO Piet Jansen claiming he was unable to work with foreign owners.

The renovation work at the Kyocera Stadion now completed with the fully synthetic pitch now installed the interest now lays how the team can perform on it.

A new technical manager who is also the head of the youth academy, Rob Meppelink has been appointed and ADO has since offered four youth players a contract making a change from the usual stance of selling their brighter talents with finances on a more even keel with the new owners.

Some eye catching transfers this summer have moved the club a step forward none more so than ex Danish International Thomas Kristensen from FC Kobenhavn. The midfielder arrives with both Champions league and Europa league experience and ADO did well to secure his services with several clubs across Europe after his signature.

Another Danish arrival is that of goalkeeper Martin Hansen coupled with Tim Coremans from SC Cambuur Robert Zwinkels now faces some serious competition for the number one jersey.

Rydell Poepon returns to the club after a season on loan to NAC Breda and despite the player being linked with a move away he remains and will be looking to make an impression as he enters the final year of his contract.

Again the club will be relying on the goals from captain Mike van Duinen. Again numerous rumours linking him with a move away but he remains a key part of the team.

So everything is in place for this up coming season to be more successful and with money in the transfer budget of in the region of €5-10 million there is still time to add some quality to the squad.

Healthy season ticket sales, new owners that are prepared to invest in the team and the club in general, a renovated stadium with its state of the art playing surface, a new technical manager who is not under pressure to sell the club’s up and coming talents the future for the club looks the healthiest it has for a long time.

Balance is the key and the new owners are here for the long term and that can only be good news to the fans as they prepare to embark on another season of top flight football.


IN: Martin Hansen (FC Nordsjælland), Thomas Kristensen (FC Kobenhavn), Tim Coremans (SC Cambuur), Xander Houtkoop (Go Ahead Eagles).

OUT: Christian Supusepa (CSKA Sofia), Ninos Gouriye (Excelsior), Tom Beugelsdijk (FSV Frankfurt), Danny Holla (released).


Henk Fraser did a fantastic job after stepping up from assistant coach to head coach in February and guided the team from a relegation battle to a mid table finish with the team suffering one defeat in the last twelve games.

Rewarded for this by the club with a two year contract he will be key to keeping the stability and good football that the club enjoyed in the latter part of last season.


Now club captain at the players request, he will be key to how the club performs this season. Top scorer for the last two seasons and also high on the assist list the 23 year old has gained many admirers.

Subject to a bid form AZ this summer which was declined the club are doing everything to try and keep their prize assist. With the added guile in midfield Van Duinen should improve on his 8 league goals from last season and relish the role of leader in the team.





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A mixture of high and low points will greet Vitesse fans when they think back to last season. Highs, such as a six-game winning streak that included wins away at Ajax and an astonishing 6-2 win away at PSV, were balanced out by low points like losing 4 out of the last 10 games of the season before being beaten 5-1 on aggregate by Groningen in the semi-final of the Europa League play-off writes Ryan O’Grady.

Last season’s goal tally of 65 was the 3rd best in the league, behind only Feyenoord and FC Twente, but with this summer’s departures 32 of those 65 goals have departed which is a huge loss and it will be extremely hard if not impossible to replace. This summer like last summer saw the departure of star players such as Lucas Piazon, who was Vitesse’s top scorer with 11 goals, and Christian Atsu who both returned to Chelsea after there loan deals expired. Star striker Mike Havenaar also departed this after scoring 10 goals last season. While he was a free agent his decision to sign for newly-promoted Spanish side Cordoba is somewhat surprising considering he was attracting interest from Napoli of Italy. The situation upfront is certainly worrying. After Havenaar the second top scorer in the strikers department was Kazaishvili with 4 goals and it remains to be seen whether new signing Abiola Dauda, who has a decent record at both Kalmar of Sweden and Red Star Belgrade of Serbia, can deliver the goods when needed. Another miss for Vitesse will be left back Patrick van Aanholt who returned to Chelsea before signing for Sunderland permanently. Van Aanholt made 29 appearances in the Eredivisie last year and also chipped in with four goals.

To try and compensate for the loss of van Aanholt the club have turned to Chelsea again, this time signing Brazilian right-back Wallace on a one-year loan deal. Another loan signing from Chelsea saw the return of Bertrand Traore, who made a great impression last season and was welcomed back with open arms. An important player for Vitesse this year will be right back come defensive midfielder Kelvin Leerdam. He made 28 appearances last year and contributed a brilliant 8 goals making him 3rd top scorer at the club. This summer Vitesse have played six preseason games, they started off with 4 draws against Cercle Brugge (1-1), Sparta Rotterdam (0-0), Osnabrück (2-2) and Hertha Berlin (0-0). The game away at Hertha was followed by a visit to Stamford Bridge to play against Chelsea, who took a 3-0 lead in the game before Vitesse pulled one back at the end. Their last pre-season friendly was against Bolton Wanderers and that resulted in a 1-0 win with a free kick from Vejinovic.


IN: Abiola Dauda (Red Star Belgrade), Arnold Kruiswijk (Heerenveen), Denys Oliynyk (Dnipro), Wallace (Chelsea).

OUT: Christian Atsu (Chelsea), Lucas Piazon (Chelsea), Marko Meerits (FC Emmen), Mike Havanaar (Cordoba), Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland).


The former Vitesse and Feyenoord midfielder was appointed last summer after previous manager Fred Rutten stepped down after leading the club to an impressive 4th placed finish. The former Netherlands midfielder has also played at a number of other clubs including RKC Waalwijk and even as far away as JEF United Ichihara in Japan. After retiring from professional football he became head coach of amateur side AGOVV Apeldoorn before moving to De Graafschap and then Heracles Almelo where he won the Eerste Divisie in 2005. In 2006 he became Technical Director at his old club Feyenoord, but he left his position in January 2009 due to his opposition of the sacking of then manager Gertjan Verbeek. In 2010 he replaced Verbeek as manager of Heracles, returning for a second spell as manager before joining Vitesse in the summer of 2013.


Great things are almost certainly to come from this youngster. It seems that Jose Mourinho believes he is good enough for the Chelsea first team but he is unable to play in the Premier League due to work permit problems. This led to the Vitesse management to take advantage of the two clubs controversial partnership and sign him on loan for another season. The club are quite clearly delighted to have him back; Vitesse Technical Director Mohammed Allach has been quoted as saying “he made a strong personal impression on us” and that “we are thrilled that Bertrand is joining us again”. He will probably get more than the 15 appearances he attained last season and will gain more valuable first team experience.





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