Netherlands – Eredivisie

Season 2012/2012 preview

ADO Den Haag

In:
Garry Mendes Rodriguez (midfielder, FC Boshuizen), Aaron Meijers (midfielder, RKC Waalwijk), Danny Holla (midfielder, FC Groningen), Dion Malone (defender, Almere City FC), Kevin Jansen (midfielder, Feyenoord), Kevin Tano (striker, FC Dordrecht), Rydell Poepon (striker, De Graafschap), Tom Beugelsdijk (defender, FC Dordrecht), Vito Wormgoor (defender, ADO Den Haag)

Out:
Ali Boussaboun (striker, unknown), Chiro N’Toko (defender, unknown), Christian Kum (defender, SC Heerenveen), Donny van der Dussen (midfielder, unknown), Ebi Smolarek (striker, unknown), Filip Luksik (defender, Slovan Bratislava), John Verhoek (striker, FSV Frankfurt), Lex Immers (midfielder, Feyenoord), Marc Höcher (winger, Willem II), Wouter de Vogel (midfielder, FC Den Bosch), Serhat Koksal (midfielder, unknown)

The 2010/2011 season was one of the best years in the history of ADO Den Haag. The side played attacking football and players like Wesley Verhoek and Dmitry Bulykin pushed this side to the 7th spot in the Eredivisie. A decent amount of key players left the club after that season, which was fatal for the aspirations. The side had to fight to prevent relegation football, which they just did. The 15th spot after 34 games was a decent achievement, but the fans expected more from their men. It will be the same story all over again in the upcoming season. Some regulars left the club, but the staff responded well on the transfer market. The biggest blow for this team is Lex Immers’ departure. The midfielder and local boy was a key player in the last couple of seasons, but he left the club to play for Feyenoord. Christian Kum’s switch to SC Heerenveen was another hit for the team. The ADO Den Haag staff did sell a lot of players, but all these other footballers weren’t regulars last year. The club did add some new promising players to this side though as they responded to the big departures. Vito Wormgoor played for FC Utrecht and De Graafschap in the past and he should be able to replace Kum at the back. Gabor Horvath, Christian Supusepa and youngster Kenneth Omeruo are expected to form the defence this season. The last one especially is a promising player. The 18-year old defender came over on a loan deal from Chelsea and ADO managed to keep him for another year. Jens Toornstra will have to lead the midfield. The youngster impressed the nation two years ago with his performances and his last season was more than decent. Aaron Meijers, who came over from RKC Waalwijk, could compete for a spot on the midfield and he could replace Immers. Aleksander Radosavljevic will provide the experience as ADO contains a lot of youngsters on the midfield. Another addition to this team is Danny Holla. The midfielder played for VVV-Venlo last season and he’s expected to become a regular in The Hague. Manager Maurice Steijn will have to change the attack for the new season. John Verhoek left the club, but ADO already signed his replacement. Rydell Poepon is expected to lead attack. Poepon has a lot of experience in the Eredivisie despite his age and he will look for a way to bag at least ten goals. A great amount of youngsters are hoping for a chance in the attack. Stanley Elbers, Charlton Vicento and Mike van Duinen all played matches last season, but they aren’t regulars at the moment. They have the quality to become one though, but they will have to convince the manager.

Target:
ADO Den Haag will face a tough task if the want to repeat the achievement from two seasons ago. A more realistic finishing position is a spot between places 11 and 14. The side will have to surprise to achieve that though. The staff will be more than happy if they can avoid the battle at the bottom of the table from the first match on.

Ajax

In:
Boccara (midfielder, PSG), Schone (midfielder, NEC), Cvitanich (striker, back from loan), Oliveira (midfielder, Uniao de Leiria).

Out:
Bulykin (striker, FC Twente), Lodeiro (midfielder, Botafogo), El Hamdaoui (striker, Fiorentina), Vertonghen (defender, Tottenham Hotspur),

Ajax successfully defended their championship title last season. Just like the year before they needed quite some time to find their rhythm but once they found it there was simply no stopping them. They ended their campaign on an amazing fourteen game winning streak. De Boer’s youthful squad are growing more and more mature and the manager will be very pleased with their performance over the last two seasons. He has a good core of players to build on and so far he hasn’t need to strengthen his team very much. The biggest player he has lost is captain Vertonghen. The Belgium central defender has had six good season with the Amsterdam outfit and was simply ready for a move to a bigger league. Tottenham Hotspur eventually picked him up. The defender will surely be missed in the upcoming season. Not only did he organize and lead the defense for Ajax he also got involved in quite a few attacks, actually scoring eight goals himself. For now it looks like De Boer will replace him with another player from the famous Ajax youth. Attacking midfielder Siem de Jong is the new captain and he will probably join Anita and Eriksen on the midfield. Things have been relatively quiet for Ajax during the summer. Only some fringe players left the club while they signed a few talented youngsters. A more experienced players was signed with Lasse Schone. The playmaker will surely have to fight for his spot in the team however as the competition is heavy.

Target:
Ajax will be aiming to make it three in a row. After having waited seven long years earlier, the fans wouldn’t mind celebrating the title for a third consecutive time. De Boer will be aiming to find the right flow a little earlier this season but then again with the busy schedule it might just not be possible. Mainly because they are keen to survive the Champions League group stage as well after having come so close last season.

AZ Alkmaar

In:
Berghuis (winger, FC Twente), Rosheuvel (winger, Almere City), Gorter (defender/midfielder, NAC Breda), De Winter (goalkeeper, De Graafschap), Elm (midfielder, SC Heerenveen).

Out:
Benschop (striker, Brest), Klavan (defender, Augsburg), Holman (midfielder, Aston Villa), Maenpaa (goalkeeper, VVV), Elm (defender, CSKA Moscow).

Despite their solid fourth place finish, the season ending must have left a bitter taste in the mouths of AZ players and staff. The team had played some of the best football of the Eredivisie and impressed during long periods of time. Their success broke them up however as fighting on three fronts deep into the season was simply too much for the AZ squad. Verbeek relied on a small core of players. The manager’s excellent ability to keep his team fit brought him very far but in the end they had to yield to bigger teams on all three occasions. One of the pillars in the AZ starting eleven was Brett Holman. The Australian midfielder possesses great stamina and excellent work ethic. After four seasons the tireless attacker will be moving up to Aston Villa. Replacements have been signed with Berghuis and Rosheuvel but these two still have everything to prove and it remains to be seen whether any one of them will be able to fill in the big gab left behind. The Alkmaar side is still in danger of losing three of their other big guns. Elm could still be on his way out despite the fact that his brother has joined from SC Heerenveen on a Bosman. Elm has now left. The other transfer target is youngster Maher. This Dutch prodigy was the revelation of last season and showed great promise. His performance didn’t go unnoticed and the midfielder has already been called up for the Dutch national team. His contract still runs for a couple of season however so any interested party will have to bring a big wallet. The last player to be linked with a move is captain Moisander. The defender was linked with PSV earlier and now it seems Ajax could be his next destination. Verbeek will not worry though as he has proven to be a very capable manager, especially when it comes to implementing new and young players.

Target:
Just like in the last few season the goal of the Alkmaar outfit will be to finish in a top five position. Verbeek will be forced to change things around a little but he will surely be confident that they can produce similar results as last season.

FC Groningen

In:
Maaskant (manager, unemployed), Cristovao (foward, Be Quick 1887), Magnasco (defender, Universidad Católica), Kostic (winger, Radnicki 1923), Bizot (goalkeeper, Ajax), De Leeuw (midfielder, De Graafschap), Schet (winger, RKC), Van Moorsel (midfielder, FC Den Bosch), Zeefuik (striker, PSV).

Out:
Pedersen (striker, KV Mechelen), Tadic (winger, FC Twente), Enevoldsen (midfielder, KV Mechelen), Andersson (midfielder, Midtjylland), Van de Laak (midfielder, Ajax Cape Town), Holla (midfielder, ADO Den Haag).

FC Groningen will looking for a fresh start under new manager Maaskant this season. Last year Huistra was still at the head of the Groningen campaign but after a very disappointing second season half he was let go by the staff. FC Groningen had experienced a great first season under Huistra and he started good once more in 2011 but things started to fall apart for them as the season progressed. The board probably decided that it was time for some serious changes. So Huistra was out and Maaskant has been appointed. This manager has had a couple of season of Eredivisie experience before moving abroad. He should be eager to prove himself in the upcoming campaign. Groningen has also cleaned up their squad. Several foreign fringe midfielder left the club and the Northeners have signed mostly young Dutch players in return. In the attack Zeefuik has joined them. The sturdy forward can function very well as target man. In the defense another talented player has joined them in the name of Magnasco. The only big blow the team suffered was the departure of winger and assist king Tadic. He will surely be missed. Kostic will have to replace him but this youngster is unproven still. On the right side Groningen signed winger Schet. This young talent has had a good season with RKC last year and thus earned this transfer. All in all it looks like Maaskant will have a healthy mix of talent and experience in his team and he should be able to top their disappointing fourteenth position.

Target:
FC Groningen will most likely be aiming for a top nine finish. They will want qualify for the play-offs and maybe compete on the European stage the following year. Maaskant’s job in the meantime is to build a good collective again.

FC Twente

In:
Felipe Gutiérrez (midfielder, CDUC), Alexander Bannink (midfielder, PEC Zwolle), Andreas Bjelland (defender, FC Nordsjaelland), Dusan Tadic (winger, FC Groningen), Robbert Schilder (midfielder, NAC Breda), Tim Breukers (defender, Heracles Almelo), Dmitry Bulykin (striker, Ajax)

Out:
Bart Buysse (defender, Club Brugge), Emir Bajrami (winger, AS Monaco – loan), Luuk de Jong (striker, Borussia Mönchengladbach), Mitch Stockentree (defender, FC Oss), Nick Marsman (goalkeeper, Go Ahead Eagles – loan), Ola John (winger, Benfica), Steven Berghuis (winger, AZ Alkmaar), Thilo Leugers (defender, NAC Breda – loan)

FC Twente played very well in the last four seasons, which resulted in a championship and three second places. The fans were again expecting a top three finish last year, but it all went wrong for the Enschede outfit near the end of the season. Co Adriaanse, the new manager, was sacked during the season and the new coach Steve McClaren wasn’t able to push the performances to a higher level. The 8th spot after 34 games was a huge disappointment and the play-offs for the Europa League weren’t a success at all. Twente became the lucky loser though when the UEFA decided to give them an Europa League-ticket based on the fair play classification. McClaren is still there in Enschede and he will look for a way to turn the tide. It won’t be easy at all though. Luuk de Jong, the top scorer last season, left the club to play for Borussia Mönchengladbach and another key player: Ola John joined Benfica. The club had to react to maintain the quality in the side, which is what they did at the end of the day. The most promising new signing is Dusan Tadic. The winger produces tons of assists in his two seasons at FC Groningen and Twente will need his passes to push for the top positions in the Eredivisie. Twente managed to add Dmitry Bulykin to the squad as well. The experienced striker impressed the nation at ADO Den Haag two seasons ago, but he wasn’t able to perform as a regular starter at Ajax. FC Twente will hope that he can replace De Jong. Players like Andreas Bjelland, and Robbert Schilder are decent signings as well, but they won’t push the team to a higher level. Meanwhile Douglas is still at the club. The centre-back was expected to leave the club during the Summer, but he’s still a Twente defender. Key players like Wout Brama, Nikolay Mihaylov and Peter Wisgerhof didn’t leave the team and they’re set for another season in the Grolsch Veste Stadium. It will be difficult for this side to bounce back in the 2012-2013 season to be honest. The fans are expecting a top three finish, but that could be a bridge too far. The key line will be the attack. Twente sold two key attackers and the new signings will have to perform from the first game on. The creativity on the midfield could be a problem as well. Brama and Janssen are midfielders who can cover the whole pitch, but a playmaker could boost this team. Nacer Chadli could be that player though. The Belgian international had to deal with injuries in the last season and he will be motivated to show his qualities this year.

Target:
The 8th position last season was a dreadful achievement to be honest. FC Twente should be able to perform better, but the top three could be a tough task. A top five finish will satisfy the staff.

FC Utrecht

In:
André Krul (goalkeeper, AGOVV Apeldoorn), Bob Scheepers (striker, SC Cambuur), Gianluca Nijholt (midfielder, Almere City FC), Robbin Ruiter (goalkeeper, FC Volendam)

Out:
Alje Schut (defender, Mamelodi Sundowns), Frank Demouge (striker, AFC Bournemouth), Ismo Vorstermans (defender, VVV-Venlo – loan), Junior Fernandez (goalkeeper, Racing Club), Lars Veldwijk (striker, FC Dordrecht – loan), Rob van Dijk (goalkeeper, end career), Rodney Sneijder (midfielder, RKC Waalwijk)

FC Utrecht experienced a disappointing season and the reason for that was very simple to detect. The side lost all the key players just before the start of the season and the club didn’t have the funds to respond to that. Kevin Strootman, Dries Mertens, Michael Silberbauer and Ricky van Wolfswinkel all left the club, which was a huge blow for this team. The staff did add some new players to the team, but they weren’t able to maintain the quality in the side. The club expected a lot from Alexander Gerndt, Johan Martensson and Marcus Nilsson, but they all failed to perform to be honest. Chairman Frans van Seumeren did spend a lot of money in the last couple of years, but the results were far from satisfying. The fans expected a top 8 spot, but they were never really in the race for the Europa League play-offs. It will be very difficult to top last year’s 11th spot as the club refused to sign the big names again. The staff did add some new players to the team, but they won’t push this side to a higher level. The only promising transfer is Robbin Ruiter. The goalkeeper played an excellent season at FC Volendam in the Jupiler League and he will get a chance to show his qualities on the highest level in The Netherlands, as veteran goalkeeper Rob van Dijk played his last games in his career last season. Jacob Mulenga is another player who can boost the side and he’s expected to replace Frank Demouge, who left the club to play for Bournemouth. Mulenga was already a FC Utrecht player, but a heavy injury prevented him from playing the full season. He scored seven goals in eleven appearances though and the fans expect great things from him. The rest of the team won’t contain many new names. Jan Wuytens will lead the defence again and young players like Daan Bovenberg and Dave Bulthuis will get the chance to play a full season in the Eredivisie. The midfield is a strong line, but manager Jan Wouters won’t have the resources to make a lot of changes. Nana Asare, Edouard Duplan and Johan Martensson are more than suited for the midfield, but the back-up isn’t that great. Mulenga is expected to lead the attack as mentioned before and the experienced Van der Gun will start on the left. Gerndt didn’t perform as he should in his first season at the club and he will be motivated to score more goals during the season. The squad contains a big amount of youngsters, who could make it as a FC Utrecht regular, but they will have to convince Wouters. Yoshiaki Takagi, Anouar Kali, Michael Zullo, Leon de Kogel, Mike van der Hoorn and Mark van der Maarel all played a fair amount of matches last season, but they aren’t regular starters at the moment. These players will provide competition for the better players though and one or two of them could surprise this year.

Target:
FC Utrecht showed a lot of ambition in the last couple of years, but the 11th and the 9th spot after 34 games didn’t satisfy the fans and the staff at all. It will be difficult to improve though as they failed to add quality to the side. The staff will be hoping for a Europa League play-off spot, but a top ten place will be difficult enough to reach.

Feyenoord

In:
Adil Auassar (midfielder, Excelsior – back from loan), Bart Schenkeveld (defender, Excelsior – back from loan), Daryl Janmaat (defender, SC Heerenveen), Harmeet Singh (midfielder, Valerenga IF), John Goossens (midfielder, NEC Nijmegen), Ruud Vormer (midfielder, Roda JC), Lex Immers (midfielder, ADO Den Haag), Mitchell Te Vrede (striker, Excelsior), Omar Elabdellaoui (striker, Manchester City – loan),

Out:
Daan Smith (defender, Excelsior), Dani Fernandez (defender, unknown), Darley (goalkeeper, unknown), John Guidetti (striker, Manchester City), Jordy van Deelen (defender, Excelsior – loan), Karim El Ahmadi (midfielder, Aston Villa), Kevin Jansen (midfielder, ADO Den Haag), Mats van Huijgevoort (defender, Excelsior – on loan), Otman Bakkal (midfielder, Dinamo Moscow), Ricky van Haaren (midfielder, VVV-Venlo), Shabir Isoufi (striker, Telstar – loan), Ron Vlaar (defender, Aston Villa)

Feyenoord had to deal with major financial problems during the last couple of seasons, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Ronald Koeman managed to create a great squad last season and his side performed better by the week. The number two finishing spot was one of the biggest surprises in The Netherlands last year. It will be extremely hard for Koeman to repeat his achievement in the 2012-2013 season though. Some key players left the club already and it’s always difficult to maintain the quality in the squad in that case. The biggest blow for the side is John Guidetti’s departure. The young striker came over on loan from Manchester City and he immediately became the key striker in Rotterdam as he scored 20 goals in 23 appearances. The club tried to loan him for another season, but the English club didn’t approve. Two regulars from the midfield also left the club. El-Ahmadi joined Aston Villa and Otman Bakkal made the switch to Dinamo Moscow. Feyenoord had to react to the departures, which is what they did. The staff added another player from Manchester City to their squad on a loan deal. Omar Elabdellaoui joined the team, but it isn’t clear how good he is to be honest. Norwegian international Harmeet Singh signed a contract in Rotterdam and promising Eredivisie players like Daryl Janmaat, Lex Immers, Ruud Vormer and John Goossens joined the team as well. Koeman will face a tough task because of all these switches. The quality in the side is definitely there, but the new players haven’t performed on the highest level yet. The new signings will be motivate to become a regular in Koeman’s team though and they could make a big step in their career. The defence will be a bit different. Team captain Ron Vlaar played an impressive season and he earned a transfer to Aston Villa with his performances. He will be missed in Rotterdam as he was the leader at the back. Youngsters like Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij, who are expected to start at the back, could learn from him again. Repeating the achievements from last year is almost an impossible task, but they could impress again in Rotterdam. The players are there. Koeman will have to make them better and form a team, which could result in great things. The club is still in the race for a Champions League spot and entering that tournament would give the side another boost. The fans will look forward to a new European campaign.

Target:
Finishing second again will be extremely tough, but Koeman has the players to surprise again. The new signings will have to perform from the first game on though. A top five finish would be great for the Rotterdam team.

Heerenveen

In:
Mark Uth (striker, 1.FC Köln), Christian Kum (defender, ADO Den Haag), Gianni Zuiverloon (defender, Real Mallorca), Jukka Raitala (defender, Hoffenheim), Marten de Roon (midfielder, Sparta Rotterdam), Matthew Amoah (Mersin Idman Yurdu)

Out:
Bas Dost (striker, VfL Wolfsburg), Geert Arend Roorda (midfielder, NEC Nijmegen), Daryl Janmaat (defender, Feyenoord), Luciano Narsingh (winger, PSV Eindhoven), Michal Svec (midfielder, Slovan Bratislava), Michel Breuer (defender, NEC Nijmegen), Quenten Martinus (striker, Sparta Rotterdam – loan), René Oosterhof (goalkeeper, AGOVV Apeldoorn)

SC Heerenveen played well all season long and they even were in the race for the top spots for a very long time. They dropped a couple of points near the end of the league, which was fatal for their top three aspirations, but the 5th spot after 34 games was a great achievement to be honest. The biggest strength last year was the attack. Luciano Narsingh provided 20 assists and Bas Dost even became the Eredivisie top scorer as he bagged 32 goals in 34 games. These two players left the club after the season. Narsingh earned a transfer to PSV Eindhoven and Bas Dost signed a contract in Germany to play for VfL Wolfsburg. The rest of the outgoing transfers didn’t hit the team very hard, but the attack could be the main problem this season. Marco van Basten is the new manager in Heerenveen and he will have to form a new attack for the 2012/2013 season. Dost and Narsingh left the club as mentioned before, but Oussama Assaidi is still there. He was also one of the key attackers last season, but he isn’t able to lead the attack alone, as he will start on the left. The staff had to respond to the departures, which is what the did. Mark Uth joined the team from 1.FC Köln, but he’s a but of a question mark as he played for the reserves last year. The 20-year old could be the starting striker at the start of the season, but it will be extremely difficult for him to replace goal machine Dost. Another option is to start with Matthew Amoah. The experienced striker played in Turkey last year, but he also played for Dutch sides Vitesse and NAC Breda in the past. The 31-year old striker isn’t the fastest player on the pitch anymore. His experience could help the team though. Heerenveen also signed some new players for the other positions. Daryl Janmaat left the club to play for Feyenoord and Heerenveen signed Gianni Zuiverloon to replace him. The defender played for Heerenveen in the past and he should be able to become a regular on the right. The defence will be steady again. Ramon Zomer and Jeffrey Gouweleeuw especially are good defenders and new signing Christian Kum will bring some competition to the back line. Young players like Marten de Roon and Jukka Raitala will get the chance to show their qualities for a bigger club, but they will have to impress Van Basten to earn an regular starting spot in Heerenveen. The Europa League could be a goal as well. The fifth place earned them a ticket for the tournament, but they will have to survive two qualification rounds to earn a spot in the group stage.

Target:
The fifth position last year was great. The side played attacking and they scored a lot of goals. Repeating that achievement won’t be easy for new manager Marco van Basten. The best strikers left the club and the manager will have to form a new team. A top 6 finishing is their goal this season.

Heracles Almelo

In:
Castillion (striker, Ajax – loan deal), Koenders (defender, AZ), Dorda (defender, Greuther Furth), Paljic (defender, Wisla Krakow), Fij (goalkeeper, FC Groningen), Veldmate (midfielder, Sparta Rotterdam), Van Loo (goalkeeper, FC Groningen), Vujićević (midfielder, FC Twente).

Out:
Ter Horst (defender, Helmond Sport), Telgenkamp (goalkeeper, Cambuur), Breukers (defender, FC Twente), Looms (defender, NAC Breda), Maertens (defender, Westerlo), Van der Linden (defender, FC Emmen).

Heracles played a rather anonymous part in last year’s Eredivisie season. Where they still reached a play-off spot in the previous two year, last time around they only managed to finish twelfth. They never really came close to the play-offs as they were in the mid table throughout the season. The team did book some good successes however. First off they managed to win this year’s battle against big neighbours FC Twente, holding them to a draw at home and beating in away in Enschede. Secondly Heracles became the Cup surprise of the season after reaching the final. The fans traveled with big numbers to Rotterdam but were confronted with a far superior PSV side unfortunately. Still the supporters can look back on a solid campaign. The club as a whole will probably be pretty satisfied and should aim for a similar performance in the upcoming season. They are operating on a small budget and so far manager Bosz had exceeded expectations. He has a big job ahead of him though as three of his four regular defenders have left the club during the summer. Looms, Breukers and Van der Linden played 86 Eredivisie matches between them for the Almelo side last season and overall the numbers should be well over 500. All that experience will not be available in the upcoming year. Only youngster Rienstra remains. The good news is that the club saw it coming in advance and already secured the service of a handful of new players early in their pre-season campaign. Among them a couple of young foreign defenders but also the experienced Dutch full back Koenders. Just like in previous seasons Heracles have also signed a few promising talents. Veldmate has made a transfer from Sparta while Vujićević will join the squad from Twente. Both are midfield players.

Target:
All in all it looks like Bosz will have a decent squad at his disposal. His main job will be to rebuild the defense and secure a position somewhere in the mid table once more.

NAC Breda

In:
Sepp de Roover (defender, Lokeren – loan), Mark Looms (defender, Heracles Almelo), Thilo Leugers (midfielder, FC Twente – loan), Anouar Hadouir (midfielder, Alemannia Aachen)

Out:
Donny Gorter (defender, AZ Alkmaar), Florian Jozefzoon (winger, RKC Waalwijk), Jeffrey Sarpong (midfielder, Real Sociedad), Jimmy van Fessem (goalkeeper, unknown), Milano Koenders (defender, Heracles Almelo), Nourdin Boukhari (striker, unknown), Ömer Bayram (winger, Kayserispor), Robbert Schilder (midfielder, FC Twente), Roly Bonevacia (midfielder, Ajax), Santi Kolk (striker, Union Berlin), Stefano Seedorf (midfielder, unknown), Youssef El-Akchaoui (defender, SC Heerenveen)

NAC Breda didn’t perform well last season. John Karelse’s outfit even got involved in the bottom half of the table and they had to fight to avoid relegation football at the end of the day. The 13th spot was more than enough to secure Eredivisie football for another season, but it wasn’t satisfying for the fans, who expected more from their club, at all. There still isn’t light at the end of the tunnel though.. The Breda outfit had to deal with financial problems again, which resulted in a summer without the big signings. A lot of regulars left the club as well, which isn’t ideal during the preparation for a new season. Regulars like Donny Gorter, Milano Koenders, Robbert Schilder and Santi Kolk left the club and it won’t be easy at all for NAC to fill the gaps. The first new signing is Mark Looms. The experienced left back played for Heracles Almelo and he will become a regular in Breda. His performances won’t push this side to a higher level though. Sepp de Roover played in the Eredivisie for Sparta Rotterdam and FC Groningen and he will replace Koenders on the right. Thilo Leugers came over on a loan deal from FC Twente, but he still has to show his qualities in The Netherlands. The Breda outfit also has some potential though. Players like Alex Schalk, Nemanja Gudelj and Eric Botteghin are more experienced now and these players are capable of improving this year. It won’t be easy at all though to play for a top ten position in the Eredivisie as it could be a bridge too far. The support in the Rat Verlegh Stadium is always great, but the club didn’t have the funds to respond to the departures. The side could surprise, but a top ten spot will be extremely difficult at the end of the day. Karelse will motivate his team though and experienced players like Kees Luijckx, Jelle ten Rouwelaar and Anthony Lurling will have to lead this young and sometimes inexperienced formation. The KNVB Cup could a goal this season. The side are well-known cup fighters, but they were a bit unlucky with the draw in recent years to be honest. The motivation is definitely there and Karelse will have to look for a way to bag the points with fighting football.

Target:
NAC Breda fans are hoping for a top ten finish, but achieving that would be a miracle to be honest. A finishing spot between places 11 and 13 is the goal this season and they will have to perform from the start on to prevent a battle at the bottom of the league.

NEC Nijmegen

In:
Marcel Stutter (midfielder, SV Holzwickede), Soren Rieks (midfielder, Esbjerg FB), Danny van den Meiracker (striker, Spakenburg), Evander Sno (midfielder, RKC Waalwijk), Geert Arend Roorda (midfielder, SC Heerenveen), Michel Breuer (defender, SC Heerenveen), Stijn de Looijer (midfielder, FC Den Bosch)

Out:
Cayfano Latupeirissa (winger, FC Oss – loan), John Goossens (midfielder, Feyenoord), Lasse Schone (midfielder, Ajax), Marco van Duin (goalkeeper, Sparta Rotterdam)

NEC Nijmegen didn’t have the best of starts last season, but a decent second half of the year resulted in the 8th position after 34 games. Definitely a great achievement from Alex Pastoor’s outfit. The Nijmegen outfit managed to earn a spot in the Europa League play-offs, but Vitesse prevented them from going to the final. The side is now preparing for the new season and Pastoor will have to form a new formation as the club bought some new players. One key player also left the club, which is by far the biggest blow for this team. Lasse Schone was the leader on the pitch last season and the Danish International definitely pushed this club to a higher level during the year. He will be missed, but the staff responded to his departure. Evander Sno was one of the revelations in the Eredivisie last season and he could be one of the key players in the new NEC Nijmegen outfit. He has the quality, but he will have to earn a spot on the midfield. The rest of the important players like Gabor Babos, Bram Nuytinck and Rens van Eijden are still in Nijmegen, which is a bonus. The club also signed Michel Breuer and Geert Arend Roorda. Breuer is an experienced defender, who will compete for a spot on the left and Roorda will be motivated to show his qualities on the midfield. He has been a promising player for years now, but he hasn’t convinced the staff at his former club SC Heerenveen. He showed his qualities on loan at Excelsior though and he should be able to become a regular in the Goffert Stadium. NEC also added some players, who are relatively unknown in The Netherlands. Danny van den Meiracker came over from Topklasse side Spakenburg and Marcel Stutter is a German, who hasn’t played on the highest level yet. Soren Rieks on the other hand could be the surprise of the season for NEC. The midfielder isn’t well-known in The Netherlands, but he already played some games for the Danish national team. The biggest problem however could be the attack this season. The side scored 42 goals last season, which was by far the lowest amount in the Eredivisie top ten. Genero Zeefuik left the club and the Nijmegen team didn’t contract a big name for the attack. Players like Melvin Platje, Van den Meiracker, Leroy George and Rick Ten Voorde still have to prove everything and they will have to improve to push the attacking strength this season.

Target:
Finishing 8th again will be a difficult task for this outfit. Pastoor has the potential to surprise again, but some players will have to improve to take this side to the next level. A top ten position would be great for NEC.

PEC Zwolle

In:
Mimoun Eloisghiri (midfielder, FC Presikhaaf), Fred Benson (striker, Legia Gdansk), Giovanni Gravenbeek (defender, Willem II), Joost Broerse (midfielder, Excelsior), Mike Koenders (defender, FC Emmen), Norichio Nieveld (defender, Feyenoord), Ronnie Reniers (winger, FC Den Bosch), Sherwin Grot (midfielder, FC Presikhaaf), Wiljan Pluijm (striker, Roda JC – loan)

Out:
Said Bakkati (defender, FC Emmen), Alexander Bannink (midfielder, FC Twente), Delano van Crooy (goalkeeper, unknown), Ruud ter Heide (striker, FC Emmen), Norair Mamedov (striker, FC Emmen), Gieljan Tissingh (defender, AGOVV Apeldoorn), Nassir Maachi (striker, AEK Larnaca)

PEC Zwolle relegated to the Jupiler League back in 2004 and they have been trying to climb back to the Eredivisie since that day. The side came close in the last couple of seasons, but they just lacked some luck and quality near the end to seal the promotion. It was finally their season last year as they dominated the table from the first day on. Art Langeler’s formation definitely deserved the promotion, as they played the best football all year long. The first season back in the Eredivisie will be a tough one as usual for the new teams. PEC Zwolle won’t have the funds to buy the big names and their goal is to secure the Eredivisie spot with young players. The biggest blow for this team is Nassir Maachi’s departure. The striker was the key attacker last season and his 18 goals resulted in the promotion to be honest. The attacker signed a contract in Cyprus to play for AEK Larnaca. The new team will consist of youngsters, but the staff also managed to start the season with experience. Diederik Boer has been the starting goalkeeper for years and he should be able to perform in the Eredivisie. Joost Broerse has the Eredivisie experience as he played for teams like FC Utrecht, FC Groningen and Excelsior in the past and he could be one of the new leaders. Arne Slot was the team captain last year and he also played in the Eredivisie in the past. The 33-year old is expected to captain this side for another year. The club also bought young players, who will get the chance to perform on the highest level. Fred Benson, Giovanni Gravenbeek and Norichio Nieveld all played in the Eredivisie in the past, but they weren’t able to make the switch to better teams. This will be a new, and maybe their last chance though, and they will be fully motivated to show their abilities. PEC Zwolle will play on artificial turf this season, which could become an advantage. Most players aren’t fan of their pitch and the hosts will be used to the stadium. The home games will have to provide the most points as well. RKC Waalwijk managed to impress the nation after their promotion last season, but PEC Zwolle isn’t expected to play for the top ten spots in the Eredivisie. Avoiding relegation will be difficult enough as it is.

Target:
Avoiding direct relegation will be the target this season. The club will have to finish at least 17th to achieve that, which will be a difficult task. Finishing 16th or 17th and entering the promotion/relegation play-offs isn’t ideal though. Finishing 15th or better is a bonus and would be a massive achievement.

PSV Eindhoven

In:
Advocaat (manager, Russian national team), Narsignh (winger, SC Heerenveen), Swinkels (goakleeper, FC Eindhoven), Jorgensen (defender, FC Copenhagen), Waterman (goalkeeper, Allemania Aachen), Van Bommel (midfielder, AC Milan).

Out:
Rutten (manager, Vitesse), Labyad (midfielder, Sporting CP), Isaksson (goalkeeper, Kasimpasa), Tamata (defender, Roda JC – on loan).

PSV experienced yet another disappointing season and manager Rutten didn’t get to sit this one out as he was let go a few months from the end. It was more to please the fans than anything else as the interim managers didn’t do much better. Rutten was not the only one at fault for PSV’s poor results. It was the third time in a row that they finished on the third position, the year before this run they even ended fourth. They once again collapsed in the final and most important stage of the league. After losing a few important matches they could still finish second but even that was too muched to ask. The only highlight of the season was their KNVB Cup victory. They easily beat Heracles in the final. Most fans would have gladly traded that prize for a second place finish however. All in all the board is not panicking as they rejuvenated the squad for last season and didn’t expect immediate results. Still it must have been quite disappointing for both players and staff. All in all the team has matured and during the summer transfer manager Brands has made the final adjustments for success. A whole lot of experience has been added with the signing of manager Advocaat. The Dutch master has a long track record of successes and should lift the team to a higher level while midfielder Van Bommel will return to Eindhoven after 8 years. He will add a lot to the team for sure even at his age. Lastly talented winger Narsingh has been signed. He will have to provide the striker with decent crosses. The only loss PSV has suffered is the painful exit of Labyad. The talented young midfielder took profit from a poorly drawn up contract and had chosen to cash in abroad. The overall core of the team has been kept in tact however and has even grown stronger with the arrival of Narsingh, van Bommel and Jorgensen. The Danish defender will have to fight for a spot in the defense.

Target:
Advocaat stated at his appointment that he didn’t come to Eindhoven for anything less than the championship title. All the ingredients are there for a successful season and anything besides a number one finish will probably be a disappointment. No excuses for staff of players this time around.

RKC Waalwijk

In:
Koeman (manager, unemployed), Chevalier (forward, Zulte-Waregem), Barroilhet (forward, Fulham), Sneijder (midfielder, Ajax), Jozefzoon (midfielder, Ajax), Jungschlager (midfielder, Gold Coast United).

Out:
Brood (manager, Roda JC), Nemeth (striker, Roda JC), Sno (midfielder, NEC), Schet (winger, FC Groningen), Meijers (midfielder, ADO Den Haag), Van Hout (winger, Sparta), Fachtali (winger, Kaisar).

RKC left a big impact in their first season returning to the Eredivisie. The Waalwijk outfit managed to impress throughout the season and eventually grabbed a play-off spot by finishing in ninth position. They beat Twente in the first round but were eventually stopped by FC Twente in the finals. Still the club can look back on an excellent year. With success comes a lot of attention however and a whole bunch of regulars have left the club during the summer to move on to bigger teams. Among them success manager Brood and midfielder Meijers and Sno. This trio will surely be missed, as well as winger Schet and striker Nemeth, although the latter only played in Waalwijk since the winter break. The Waalwijk team did well to sign manager Erwin Koeman, stating their intention to become a regular force in the Eredivisie again. The manager will have to rebuild however. The club signed some young talents to strengthen the midfield. Sneijder and Jozefzoon both have Ajax backgrounds and should be additions to the squad. The staff also signed two young attackers. Experience comes in the name of Jungschlager. The midfielder has already played several season in the Eredivisie in the past and should normally feature in the starting eleven. Unfortunately he already picked up an injury in the pre-season and will miss out during the first couple of months. Koeman has stated that he still wants a couple of extra players for the team. If they can get two decent players they should be able to compete once more this year.

Target:
RKC will have to rebuild under new manager Koeman this year. It remains to be seen how strong their current squad is and therefore the board will probably be pleased if they survive this season and finish outside of the danger zone.

Roda JC

In:
Brood (manager, RKC), Nemeth (striker, Olympiakos Piraeus), Tamata (defender, PSV – on loan), Pereira (midfielder, Parma – on loan), Kurto (goalkeeper, Wisla Krakow).

Out:
Van Veldhoven (manager, Mechelen), Broekhof (defender, Cambuur), Pluim (midfielder, Zwolle – on loan), Vormer (midfielder, Feyenoord), Junker (striker, Mechelen).

Roda JC just missed out on the play-offs at the end of last season. They had every chance of qualifying but messed up a couple of home matches during the final few rounds. The club can look back on a successful season anyhow, only manager Van Veldhoven wias probably a bit disappointed not to have left the club on a higher note. Still in his four year stint at Kerkrade he has done a fantastic job. He kept them in the Eredivisie during some very trouble times and after that even managed to finish in a play-off spot a couple of times. Roda would have gladly kept him on but the Belgium decided his task was done. As often happens he moved on to a new club and took a player with him. Striker Junker will leave Roda after three successful seasons in which he scored fifty goals. Newly appointed manager Brood will also take someone from his old team with him. A striker to replace Junker. Nemeth played with Brood and RKC during the second half of the season and left a solid impression. He will probably form a nice couple with last season’s revelation and Roda top scorer Malki. Brood himself did a brilliant job with RKC after promoting to the Eredivisie last season and he should be able to further build on Van Veldhoven’s work. He will be lucky that most of the team will remain unchanged. Only Junker and key midfielder Vormer will be missed. The latter has made a move for Feyenoord. Junker can be replaced, it remains to be seen who will fill in the gab left behind by Vormer. He really made a big impact during this last season. Roda signed Pereira on a loan deal from Parma while Kurto has been brought in to fight for the position of goalkeeper with Prus.

Target:
It looks like Roda JC could be a force to be reckoned with again this season. They will not be playing for the top positions but a place in the mid table should be possible for them.

Vitesse

In:
Rutten (manager, PSV)

Out:
Van den Brom (manager, Anderlecht), Van Diermen (defender, Excelsior), Snijders (winger, Willem II).

Vitesse finished the season in a seventh position and through the play-offs they managed to qualify for the Europa League preliminaries. The Arnhem outfit has improved a lot since millionaire Jordania took over the club. The squad underwent many changes and finally seemed to have reached calmer waters last season when Van den Brom was appointed as new manager. He did a solid job in his first season but when he had the chance to leave to Anderlecht he took it with both hands. The board then signed on Rutten, who didn’t get to finish his season with PSV. Rutten is a veteran coach eager to set things straight after a handful of disappointing seasons with his old club. The good new for him is that his squad will remain virtually unchanged. They have yet to make any new signings while only some fringe players left the club. Van Diermen and Snijders did not play for Vitesse last season. The only player that could still be on his way out is left full back Buttner. He already came very close to joining Southampton before it somehow fell through. In any case his replacement is already in the squad in the name of Van Aanholt. The main strength of the Vitesse defense will lie in the heart again with captain Kashia joining up with the talented Kalas once more. In the attack Bony made quite an impact last season, even though he only scored twelve goals. If Vitesse can keep him on board he will surely exceed that number in the upcoming year.

Target:
Vitesse seem ready for the next step and should be eager to take on the sub top of the Eredivisie. Jordania’s goal of becoming champions is coming closer each season but they are not on the level of PSV and Ajax just yet. For now the board will probably be happy with a top five finish.

VVV Venlo

In:
Matheus (defender, Coritiba), Guus Joppen (defender, Helmond Sport), Jeffrey Altheer (defender, Helmond Sport), Jules Reimerink (winger, Energie Cottbus), Marcel Seip (defender, Bradford City), Niclas Heimann (goalkeeper, Red Bull Salzburg), Niki Mäenpää (goalkeeper, AZ Alkmaar), Oguzhan Turk (midfielder, SC Cambuur), Ricky van Haaren (midfielder, Feyenoord)

Out:
Dennis Gentenaar (goalkeeper, Almere City FC), Ferry de Regt (defender, Helmond Sport – loan), Ken Leemans (midfielder, Hansa Rostock), Michael Uchebo (striker, Cercle Brugge)

VVV-Venlo finished 17th in the 2010-2011 season and it was the same story all over again last year. The side didn’t have the quality to play for the top 12 in the Dutch Eredivisie and they were battling to avoid relegation football all season long. They were in the race for the 15th spot for a very long time, but the 16th place after 34 games was deserved to be honest. The promotion/relegation play-offs almost resulted in a huge disaster but the Venlo outfit secured the Eredivisie spot with dramatic wins over SC Cambuur and Helmond Sport. VVV-Venlo’s chairman already spoke about his ambitions for the upcoming seasons, but it will be extremely difficult for this side to turn the things around. The away games for example are a big problem for this team, as they only collected three points away from home last season. The staff managed to buy some young exciting players though, but these signings have everything to prove. The biggest departure however is Michael Uchebo. The Nigerian striker scored four goals last year and he will be missed. Uchena Nwofor is now expected to take over, just like he did in the second half of the season. The experienced goalkeeper Dennis Gentenaar left the club as well, but the staff managed to sign two new goalies. Maenpaa and Heimann will fight for the starting spot. Yannick Wildschut was the best striker in the last campaign and he could push this side to a higher level with his performances again. Jules Reimerink came over from Energie Cottbus and he will finally get a chance to show his qualities in the Dutch Eredivisie. Players like Guus Joppen, Ricky van Haaren and Jeffrey Altheer could become regulars in Venlo, but they haven’t played many matches in the Eredivisie yet. The staff will expect a lot from Van Haaren though. The youngster came close to a regular starting spot at Feyenoord and he will be fully motivated to show his skills on the midfield. Joppen and Altheer came over from Helmond Sport. Marcel Seip will bring some experience to this side. The centre-back played for SC Heerenveen in the past, but he played for many English clubs in the lower divisions in the last couple of seasons. He could lead the defence though. The biggest question mark at the moment is Maya Yoshida. The Japanese international was by far the best defender last season, but it isn’t clear whether he will stay at this club or not. The defender is playing with Japan at the Olympics at the moment and a switch to another club wouldn’t be a surprise at all in august. VVV-Venlo would get a real boost if he decides to stay. The chairman will hope for a better starting position next season, but that seems like a mission impossible to be honest. The club did sign some promising players, but they failed to buy a big name like Keisuke Honda in the past.

Target:
Avoiding the promotion/relegation play-offs is the main goal this season, but achieving that will be extremely difficult. The side will have to perform better in the away games to have a chance. Clubs like Willem II and PEC Zwolle are their opponents at the bottom of the table. Securing the Eredivisie spot is the mission again.

Willem II

In:
Snijders (winger, Vitesse), Jallo (defender, Heracles Almelo), Haastrup (defender, Helmond Sport), Hocher (midfielder, ADO Den Haag), Brands (midfielder, Telstar), Peters (defender, FC Den Bosch), Van Buuren (defender, FC Den Bosch).

Out:
Martens (midfielder, Veendam), Janga (winger, Excelsior), Gravenbeek (midfielder, FC Zwolle), Van Zaanen (winger, Almere City), Kolsi (midfielder, Celje), Swinkels (defender, Lierse).

After having played one year in the Jupiler League, Willem II will compete once more in the Eredivisie for the 2012/2013 season. For a long time it did not look like they would bounce back. Under new manager Streppel the team had to be rebuild last summer and as a result they didn’t get off to the best start. Despite having one of the best squads in the league they found themselves back in the mid table at times. In the end they did finish in the fifth position and as a result entered the play-offs for promotion. After beating Sparta in two close games they met up with Den Bosch in the finals. After an away draw they finished the job at home with a victory. The board immediately took action and strengthened the squad as they will have to step up in order to avoid immediate relegation again. Captain Swinkels left for Lierse but Willem II replaced him by signing no less than four new defenders. On the midfield Hocher already joined them during the winter break on a loan deal but he has now been officially signed. With Brands they signed another midfielder. All in all there won’t be too much changes in the Willem II side but Streppel will probably still be looking to add another attacker as they are a little light up front.

Target:
Willlem II will be happy if they stay up this season. They don’t have the financial means to immediately distance themselves from the relegation candidates but as other teams have pointed out in the recent years. Money is not everything in the Eredivisie and the club should be confident.

Jupiler league

Jupiler League – Season Guide 2012/2013

Also known as Eerste Divisie – look at league format

AGOVV Apeldoorn

In:
Bakx (att) (FC Den Bosch), John (att) (Osnabruck), Godee (mid) (Sparta Rotterdam), Fischer (def) (Emmen), Cruz Vicente (def) (Veendam), Brouwer (gk) (FC Twente, loan), Hengelman (gk) (Heracles Almelo), Oosterhof (gk) (Heerenveen), Langeveld (mid) (FC Twente), Brouwers (att) (FC Utrecht), Kaak (mid) (De Graafschap), Tissingh (def) (Zwolle), Schulmeister (att) (Almere City)

Out:
Van Erwijk (mid) (Graafschap), Krohne (att) (HHC Hardenberg), Kerr (mid) (Wiedenbruck), Krul (gk) (Valletta), Wille (mid) (SC Genemuiden), Siers (def) (Helmond Sport), Schwiebbe (mid) (Volendam), Cairo (att) (DETO Twenterand)

After a disastrous previous campaign, which AGOVV concluded at the 17th position in the table, the team of coach Andries Ulderink can only do better. Last year’s coach, Hans van Arum, left in anger after supporters and eventually the players turned their back at him. AGOVV conceded a terrifying 94 goals last season and has signed three new goalkeepers and a few defenders to strengthen their defense. Brouwer, Oosterhof and Hengelman are all three young goalkeepers, who joined from the reserves of various Eredivisie teams. It remains to be seen who is getting the privilege to start in AGOVV’s first match of the season, away at Fortuna Sittard. Perhaps the most significant reinformcents of last year’s unbalanced squad include Joey Godee and Sander Fischer, who came from Sparta Rotterdam and FC Emmen respectively. Godee is a striker, who scored 10 goals for Sparta in the 2010/2011 campaign. Fischer was Emmen’s best player last season, playing 32 games in which he scored three goals. Cruz Vicente and Tissingh are other important additions to the squad of AGOVV, where mediocre players such as Wille, Krohne, Van Erwijk and Cairo all had to leave. AGOVV’s friendly campaign in the lead-up to this season was not free from problems. Results in friendly matches were not so encouraging and the team management struggled to find competitive opponents. Nevertheless, AGOVV is expected to do better than last year and perhaps play for a spot in the top-half of the table

Target:
Winning a period title, conceding fewer goals, finishing in the top-12 of the table

Almere City FC

In:
Guerain (def) (PSV), Gentenaar (gk) (VVV Venlo), Dissels (att) (Cambuur Leeuwarden), Lilipaly (mid) (FC Utrecht), Van Zaanen (att) (Willem II), Beekmans (mid) (Goldcoast United, AUS), Toivomaki (def) (Ajax), Keller (def) (Neuchatal Xamax)

Out:
Misidjan (def) (Go Ahead Eagles), Ozturk (att) (Spakenburg), Rosheuvel (att) (AZ), Burgzorg (mid) (Ludogoreta, BUL), Malone (def) (ADO Den Haag), Schulmeister (att) (AGOVV)

At the annual press day, the Almere team management set the bar quite high for the upcoming campaign. Almere hope to finish in the top-8 of the table, even though last year’s three best players all left the team. Without Rosheuvel, Burgzorg – who left for a Bulgarian team – and Malone, Almere coach De Boer needed to build his team from scratch. Sander keller is the most important defensive addition to the team. The 32 year-old defender played in Switzerland for the past few seasons, but has a solid track record in the Dutch Eredivisie, where he played for FC Utrecht for nine seasons. Offensively, Almere appear to be a bit stronger than last year, with Charles Dissels and Rowin van Zaanen being new names. The 36 year-old goalkeeper Dennis Gentenaar will compete with Erwin Friebel for a starting place under the bar. Gentenaar played more than 200 matches in the Dutch Eredivisie. Last season, Almere finished at a disappointing 16th position in the table after finishing the first half of the season in 8th place. This year, more constancy is demanded from the team management, which expressed its confidence in coach Dick de Boer, now entering his third season at the club. A top-8 ranking may prove overly ambitious, but Almere won’t have to fear for relegation. Friendly matches during the summer gave a mixed impression. Almere defeated Eredivisie team FC Zwolle (0-1), but lost to fourth-tier team Harkemase Boys in their last friendly match, just a week before the start of the season.

Target:
Finishing in the first half of the table, qualification for promotion play-offs

Cambuur Leeuwarden

In:
Dennis Telgenkamp (gk), Heracles – loan), Tim Bakens (def), St Gallen), Leonard Nienhuis (gk), Groningen – loan), Oebele Schokker (mid), Harkemase Boys), Michiel Hemmen (att), Westerlo), Yuri Rose (mid), De Gaafschap), Johnny de Vries (mid), Heerenven Jong), Leon Broekhof (def), Roda), Mark Diemers (mid), FC Utrecht – loan)

Out:
Sandor van der Heide (mid), Sneek), Robert van Boxel (def), Sparta Rotterdam), Leon Hese (def, Spakenburg), Oguzhan Turk (VVV Venlo), Robbert te Loeke (gk), Veendam), Mark de Vries (att), Sneek), Kevin van der Meulen (gk), Charlie Dissels (att), Almere City), Jasar Takak (mid), Dennis van der Wal (def), Bob Scheppers (att), Utrecht – end of loan), Marco Bizot (gk), Ajax Jong – end of loan)

Cambuur prepare for the new campaign hoping that their continuing attempts to clinch promotion to Eredivisie bear fruit this time around. The Blue and Yellow Army have not had much luck in the play-offs over the last couple of seasons and will hope that this changes in the upcoming season. They were cruelly beaten 4:3 by VVV Venlo with a goal in added time at the end of last season and thus were denied a place in the play-off final clash against Helmond Sport. Alfons Arts’ men performed really well in the two games against VVV and there is little reason for them not to challenge for top places in the upcoming campaign. They have been one of the most consistent teams in the division over the last three or four years and will feel that the upcoming campaign represents a good chance to have a tilt at promotion given that the quality of the teams coming from the upper echelon is lower than the ones that clinched promotion last season. Arts lost plenty of experience in his squad during the summer as Sandor van der Heide and Mark de Vries stopped their professional careers and dropped to amateur football. Moreover, Bob Scheppers, Leon Hese and Marco Bizot are no longer with the team. However, the biggest lost may be Robert van Boxel who was excellent last season whether in midfield or defence but opted to join prospective title rivals Sparta Rotterdam. The man expected to bring the goals in the new season is Michel Hemmen who had an awful last 12 months but fired 20 goals for AGOVV in 2010/11. Leon Broekhof comes with a decent pedigree from Roda Kerkdrade and will be expected to shore the defence while Yuri Rose has good experience and will be expected to add composure in midfield where Erik Bakker stood out last season and is still with the club with a week of the season left. The rest of the signings are youngsters from top-flight clubs and some local talent with Arts hoping some of them make the step up. Overall, the quality is there for a serious push for promotion but Cambuur will need to sort their away form and be more consistent than last season.

Target:
Play-off spots are well within grasp but automatic promotion is very unlikely

De Graafschap

In:
Lazic (att) (Turnhout), Van Erwijk (mid) (AGOVV), Vincken (att) (Excelsior), Tarfi (mid) (Anderlecht – loan), Van der Meulen (def) (Bayern München, reserves), Hulst (att) (Dordrecht), Van Kouwen (def) (Eindhoven),

Out:
Sreckovic (mid) (Frederikstad), Gyasi (mid) (FC Twente), Kaak (mid) (AGOVV), De Leeuw (att) (FC Groningen), Wormgoor (def) (ADO Den Haag), De Winter (gk) (AZ), Poepon (att) (ADO Den Haag), Rose (mid) (Cambuur), Saeijs (def) (HBS)

After a completely unexpected knock-down in the first round of the relegation play-offs last season, De Graafschap are now up for the tough task of rebuilding their squad, just two years after they finished first in the Jupiler League and thereby claimed promotion. During the summer break, the entire offensive line left the club, but productivity hadn’t been their greatest strength anyway last season, and with new players such as Lazic, Vincken and Hulst, it’s unlikely that De Graafschap have lost much in terms of quality. The team kept relatively quiet on the transfer market and will start the season with a young and largely unexperienced squad. Pieter Huistra is the new coach of De Graafschap, having left his previous club – FC Groningen – after a terrible season. For Huistra as well as for De Graafschap, the upcoming season is about taking revenge for the misfortune and mistakes of last season. Only three players in the small squad of De Graafschap are over 30 years old, and experience may well prove decisive in the race for the title. Still, De Graafschap are likely to finish in the top-5, even though their last friendly match – against the modest Bundesliga side of Fortuna Dusseldorf – resulted in a humbling 4-0 defeat.

Target:
Promotion

Excelsior

In:
Richard Stolte (mid), Heerenveen), Kevin van Diermen (def), Vitesse), Daan Smith (def), Feyenoord Jong), Rangelo Janga (att), Willem II), Daan Blij (att), Feyenoord Jong), Mats van Huijgevoort (def), Feyenoord Jong – loan), Rick Kruys (mid), Volendam)

Out:
Joost Broerse (mid), Zwolle), Jason Oost (mid), Norichio Nieveld (def), Zwolle), Tim Vincken (mid), De Graafschap), Luigi Bruins (mid), Nayib Lagouireh (att), FC Eindhoven), Samuel Scheimann (mid), Maccabi Haifa), Martijn de Vries (def), Sparta Rotterdam), Andrea Fileccia (att), Leen van Steensel (def), Capelle), Mitchell te Vrede (att), Feyenoord), Edwin de Graaf (def), Kevin Jansen (mid), Feyenoord – end of loan)

Excelsior Rotterdam are back in Jupiler League after two seasons fighting out against the big boys in Eredivisie and will be looking to launch an immediate return. The Kralingen outfit suffered agonising relegation last season when they suffered a few costly defeats courtesy of late goals towards the end of the season and were made to pay dearly for that. They are starting anew now though and have a new manager in Leon Vlemmings. He was a coach with AEK Larnaca last season and ha good pedigree in this division. He has had a difficult task assembling a squad capable of challenging for the top places on shoestring budget and currently it is a leap of imagination to see the team really getting a promotion. Summer signings have been a mix of Feyenoord youngsters and reserve players in other Eredivisie clubs. And with the likes of Edwin de Graaf, Jason Oost and Joest Broerse leaving in the summer, a lot of quality has gone from the squad. Excelsior will hope for a good start of the campaign and given the lack of clear favourite for the title, they will fancy their chances but in general it will be a difficult season for them and they should focus on consolidation and stability.

Target:
Challenging for promotion but a title charge will be difficult and likely out of their reach

FC Den Bosch

In:
Justin Tapahary (def, FC Eindhoven), Emre Bilgin (mid, Telstar), Wouter de Wogel (mid), ADO Den Haag, loan), Jelle de Bock (def, FC Eindhoven), Enzio Boldewijn (att, FC Utrecht – loan), Rinke Pennings (mid), FC Eindhoven), Anthony ter Hurk (att), Jong PSV), Moreno Rutten (def), Jong Feyenoord), Randy Wolters (mid), FC Emmen)

Out:
Paco van Moorsel (mid), Groningen), Jeffrey Fortes (def), Gevaro Nepomuceno (att), Fortuna Sittard), Danny Verbeek (att), Standard), Nick Netten (mid), Genemulden), Kees van Buuren (def), Willem II), Jordens Peters (def), Willem II), Stijn de Looijer (mid), Den Bosch), Ronnie Reniers (att), Zwolle), Osama Rashid (mid), Werder Bremen U21)

FC Den Bosch will be launching another attempt to reach promotion in the coming season having come ever so close to their ultimate goal a few months ago. A tense and nerves-filled two games against local rivals Willem II ended with a 2:1 aggregate win for the team from Tilburg and the Blue and White Dragons were left to contemplate their narrow loss. They did really well over the season to get so far and will believe that they stand a good chance of making the big step this season. They played some of the most enterprising and sophisticated football in the league over the season and now the task of new manager Jan Poortvliet will be to further the work of Alfons Groenendijk. The former must be relishing the chance to work with a superior squad than the one he has at Telstar in the last two seasons and will believe that a challenge for promotion is feasible. Important players like Paco van Moorsel and Danny Verbeek have left for bigger clubs but top scorer Tom van Weert is still around and the likes of Wouter de Wogel, Randy Wolters and Jelle de Bock are very good additions to a versatile and deep squad. Thus, Den Bosch have the personnel to at least put themselves in contention for the top places. It is just a matter of whether they will gel quickly enough and get a decent start that will help their confidence.

Target:
Top six and a play-off final

FC Dordrecht

In:
Warner Hahn (gk), Ajax Jong), Garry Mendes Rodrigues (mid), ADO Den Haag – loan), Adnan Alisic (mid), Debrecen), Lars Veldwijk (att), FC Utrecht – loan), Niels Konijnenburg (gk), Heerjansdam), Ricardo Samoender (def), ADO Den Haag Jong), Rogiel Molhoek (mid), VVV Venlo), Davi Lizardo (mid), Ajax Jong)

Out:
Nick Coster (def), FC Volendam), Cecilio Lopes (att), Renaldo Jongebloet (att), Jermaine van Pijkeren (att), Salif Diao (mid), Nick van der Ploeg (gk), Stef Doedee (gk), Santy Hulst (mid), De Graafschap), Giorgio Achterberg (att), end of loan – ADO den Haag), Wouter de Wogel (mid), end of loan – ADO den Haag), Shabir Isoufi (mid), end of loan – Telstar), Tom Beugelsdijk (def), end of loan – ADO den Haag), Donny van der Dussen (mid), end of loan – ADO den Haag), Kevin Tano (att), end of loan – ADO den Haag)

FC Dordrecht are preparing for the new season amid the backdrop of the news that their manager Theo Bos has permanently stepped down from his position due to continuing battle with pancreatic cancer. The tactician has been on a medical leave since January and his assistant Virgil Breetveld has taken charge since. Bos initially returned for the start of pre-season but soon the news came that he is no longer able to continue. The news came as a shock to both fans and players but with time running out ahead of the new season, the club from the historic town close to Rotterdam need to really step up their preparation for the upcoming season. They appointed former club icon Hans van der Ham as a caretaker manager just two weeks before the start of the season and he will look to hit the ground running ahead of the new season. Dordrecht were denied a place in the play-off on the last day of the regular season last year but it looks hard to see them challenging for a play-off place again this year. Talismanic striker Cecilio Lopes parted ways with the club in the summer having scored 38 goals in 88 appearances over three different spells and his place will be hard to fill. Roger Molhoek is the most impressive of the summer additions and will bring solidity and poise in midfield. Overall, the squad will be mostly filled with youngsters and the manager will be looking to nurture the sort of spirit and togetherness that got the team some good results the latter stages of last season.

Target:
Avoiding being dragged into the relegation scrap and possibly reaching the play-offs

FC Eindhoven

In:
Meeus (mid) (Turnhout), Van Leer (gk) (PSV), Ospitalieri (mid) (PSV), Lagouireh (att) (Excelsior), Verkoelen (def) (PSV), Durwael (def) (Genk)

Out:
Rossen (mid) (Sint Truiden), Pennings (mid) (Den Bosch), Swinkels (gk) (PSV), Vansimpsen (att) (Dessel Sport), Van Son (def) (Sparta Rotterdam), Tahapary (def) (Den Bosch), Van Kouwen (def) (De Graafschap), De Bock (mid) (Den Bosch)

In spite of excellent results in friendly matches – including draws against PSV and Heereveen and a narrow 2-1 loss against RKC Waalwijk -, FC Eindhoven are not yet ready for the start of the season. After last year’s campaign, the best in more than two decades, a true exodus of key players took place during the summer break. Eindhoven’s entire defense, so successful last year, left in its entirety and it is still uncertain who are going to replace Tahapary, Van Kouwen, Rossen, van Son and De Bock, five of Eindhoven’s regularly starting players. In addition to the defensive weakening, Eindhoven also lost their most talented player, the 19-year-old rising star Rinke Pennings, who left for Den Bosch. So far, only a small number of relatively unknown youngsters from reserve squads in Dutch and Belgian first-tier teams have arrived, of whom defender Durwael is perhaps the most promising name. Durwael played three seasons for Racing Genk, in which he was fielded a meagre 9 times in total. As Eindhoven enters a new season in the Jupiler League, several test players will be participating in training sessions until the end of the transfer window. Apart from a much needed defensive reinformcent – goalkeeper Swinkels also left – some experienced players would be more than welcome. Currently, the 26 year-old midfielder Van Geele is the oldest player in the entire squad. After the departure of success coach Ernest Faber, John Lammers arrived in Eindhoven. Lammers does however not have a particularly impressive track record. Last season, he relegated with Excelsior.

Target:
A top-9 ranking would be satisfactory, qualification for the promotion play-offs

FC Emmen

In:
Al Mubakari (att) (Heracles), Mamedov (att) (Zwolle), De Wit (mid) (Go Ahead Eagles), Van der Vlag (gk) (Go Ahead Eagles), Bakkati (def) (Zwolle), Van der Linden (def) (Heracles), Marvin Wijks (att), Bannink (mid) (FC Twente), Mazzetti (def), Rustenberg (def) (AGOVV), Weghorst (att)

Out:
Huntink (att) (Scheveningen), Fischer (def) (AGOVV), Koenders (mid) (FC Zwolle), Bemba (mid) (Ethnikos), De Vries (att) (Cambuur), Jongebloet (att) (Lisse), Wolters (att) (Den Bosch)

“Never again”, was the motto with which the Emmen team management went into the summer break after a traumatizing season in which the team finished last in the Jupiler League. Especially the second half of the season made even the staunchest supporter turn away in despair, with Emmen scoring only 1 goal in 10 matches and recording their worst ever season in the Jupiler League. This season, it can only get better and a look at the revamped Emmen squad warrants at least a bit of optimism. Fischer is perhaps the most important player who left this summer, but most of Emmen’s other players left such a dismal impression last season that there were few other teams interested to sign someone. At the same time, the Emmen team management went onto the transfer market with empty pockets but with the promise of a new start. Experienced defenders such as Antoine van der Linden and Said Bakkati were lured to Emmen, in addition to several young players such as striker Weghorst and defender Rustenberg. Defensively, Emmen seems to be quite well prepared for this season. Offensively, doubts remain. Emmen’s complete offensive paralysis of last season – the team scored only 24 goals – has not yet been forgotten and it remains unsure which player is going to be responsible for goals this season. Weghorst is a new striker in the squad, but perhaps more importantly, Ruud ter Heide returned after a 6-month period in Zwolle. Ter Heide scored 106 goals in 250 matches in Dutch professional football and was Emmen’s topscorer in the previous two seasons. The friendly campaign prior to the new season was not without problems for Emmen. The new coach, Joop Gall, admitted that the large number of new players still have to get used to eachother. Devestating defeats against Ajax and Twente (0-5) were not offset by much better results against FC Groningen (1-0 defeat), third tier team WKE (1-1) and Cambuur Leeuwarden (2-1 deafeat).

Target:
winning back spectators and sponsors by finishing in the top-12 of the table

FC Oss

In:
Joep van den Ouweland (mid), Go Ahead Eagles), Wesley Deenen (att), NEC Nijmegen – loan), Ruud van der Dungen (mid), De Valk), Cayfano Latupeirissa (att), NEC – loan), Mitch Stockentree (def), Jong Twente – loan), Ferhat Görgülü (def), Veendam), Luuk Koopmans (gk), NEC)

Out:
Christopher Bieber (att), Würzburger Kickers), Milad Intezar (mid), Zdenko Kaprálik (def), Banik Ostrava), Kevin Huijsman (def), IJsselmeervogel), Sebastian Sumelka (def), SC Wiedenbrück), Charlie van den Ouweland (mid), Cees Keizer (mid), Vincent van Trier (gk), Tim Nelemans (att), Mark Redshaw (att), Ryan van Dijk (def), Marc Roebbers (def), Joost Ebergen (def), Jean Black (mid), Antonio Stankov (mid), Roda – end of loan), Aleksandar Stankov (att), Dammyano Grootfaam (def), NEC – end of loan)

FC Oss start the campaign with little reason for optimism or high hopes. The small club from Brabant did better than expected in the previous campaign and the then newcomers at one point even challenged for a play-off spot. They tailed off quite badly in the last couple of months though and there was an air of despondency over the club. Moreover, one of the most loyal servants the club have had in manager Dirk Heesen left his position. Anton Janssen was handed the reins having been in charge of amateur club VV Gemert and being assistant at neighbouring club NEC Nijmegen last season. The new challenge is a serious one for Janssen, a European Cup winner with PSV in 1988, and most of the squad from last season has been let go. Reinforcements have been scarce and will fill the fans with little belief ahead of the season. Important players like Zdenko Kapralik and Christopher Bieber have left while the only two players among the new signings with any sort of experience in professional football are Joep van den Ouweland and Ferhat Gorgulu who have hardly set the world alight with Go Ahead Eagles and Veendam. There could a few new faces coming before the start of the campaign but as of now Oss may well be battling against the drop given that the two clubs that were worst last season, AGOVV and Emmen, have improved over the summer and are expected to do better.

Target:
Beating the drop but it will be a challenge with the current squad

FC Volendam

In:
Pistoor (gk) (Helmond Sport), Schouten (def) (AZ), Coster (mid) (Dordrecht), Fafiani (att) (Telstar), Schwiebbe (mid) (AGOVV),

Out:
De Loor (mid) (FC Lisse), Hoogvliets (def) (Telstar), Ruiter (gk) (Utrecht), Kees Tol (att) (Noordwijk)

After a very quiet summer break, Volendam kicks off for a new season with a home game against Cambuur Leeuwarden with a largely unaltered squad. The most significant loss of the summer period was the departure of goalkeeper Ruiter to FC Utrecht. Roy Pistoor, the reserve goalkeeper of Helmond Sport, will now battle with Sonny Stevens for a spot under the bar. Overall, one couldn’t say that Volendam have gained much quality during the summer break. The most significant signings include midfielders Coster and Schwiebbe, who both played for low-profile Jupiler League teams last year. Hans de Koning is the new coach of Volendam, who experienced a highly disappointing second half of last season, resulting in the sacking of coach Gert Kruys. De Koning performed excellently last season with Helmond Sport and hopes to bring Volendam back to the first half of the table. Volendam played a large number of friendly matches against reasonably strong opponents, but did not win any of those games. VVV Venlo (1-0), ADO Den Haag (2-1), Helmond Sport (3-1) and FC Groningen (4-0) were all too strong for a team that has modest financial means and probably has to adjust its expectations for this season accordingly.

Target:
Finishing in the first half of the table

Fortuna Sittard

In:
Nepomuceno (att) (Den Bosch), Briels (mid) (Genk), Cevik (att) (Luik), Hendrickx (att) (Luik), Khalouta (att) (VVV Venlo), Rajcomar (att) (MVV),

Out:
Stolte (mid) (Excelsior), Geenen (def) (Hansa Rostock), Danny Schreurs (att), Rowin van Zaanen (att)

Fortuna Sittard kept very quiet during the summer break and their new coach, Wil Boessen, is feeling the pressure of supporters who are getting nervous. Last season, Fortuna had an excellent second half of the campaign and only nearly missed the play-offs for promotion. However, the two driving forces behind the remarkable success of Fortuna after the winter break, Danny Schreurs and Rowin van Zaanen have ended their period on loan in Sittard and are no longer part of the club. As a result, Fortuna have lost much offensive power, as became painfully clear in a series of friendly matches that were played prior to the start of the season. Fortuna failed to score in all of four friendly games against professional football teams, including three Belgian sides. Fortuna are ever more orienting themselves on Belgium, with three new faces in the squad coming from Luik and Genk respectively. Fortuna now have six Belgian players in their squad, among whom Ferhat Kaya who hopes to become the team’s new first goalkeeper this season. In the first few weeks of the campaign, several test players will try to prove their value to coach Boesen, but a difficult first half of the season seems almost unavoidable.

Target:
Staying clear of the relegation zone

Go Ahead Eagles

In:
Jop van der Linden (def), Helmond), Rico Wolven (def), Veendam), Michel Mulkes (def), Excelsior ’31), Kevin Spanjaard (mid), Glanerbrug), Deniz Türüc (mid), De Graafschap Jong), Nick Marsman (gk), Twente – loan), Cas Peters (def), Twente Jong – loan), Teije ten Den (att), Rohda Raalte), Guyon Philips (att), Vitesse Jong), Joran Pot (att), Zwolle), Sjoerd Overgoor (mid), De Graafschap), Cendrino Misidjan (def), Almere City)

Out:
Karim Fachtali (att), RKC Waalwijk – end of loan), Michael Jansen (def), retired), Oscar Lopez (def), Glenn Kobussen (mid), Joep van den Ouweland (mid), FC Oss), Patrick Gerritsen (att), Frank van der Zwan (att), Scheveningen), Niklas Tarvajärvi (att), Dave Bus (def), Yannick de Wit (mid), FC Emmen), Peter van der Vlag (gk), Emmen), Michal Janota (mid), Korona Kielce)

Go Ahead Eagles start the new season with expectations and another new coach having failed in their bid for promotion last season. A late charge after the emergency appointment of Scott Jimmy Calderwood resulted in a play-off clash against Den Bosch which was lost 3:1 on aggregate. Calderwood probably had a right to feel aggrieved for being let go at the end of the season having revived the team after the rubble that was left after Joop Gall was fired. Yet, the board decided to go for young coach Erik ten Hag who was the assistant to Fred Rutten at both Twente and PSV. This is his first appointment as a first-team manager and the 42-year-old will be keen to make a good start. The squad underwent a pretty major surgery with a big number of players leaving. Ten Hag focused on young signings like youngsters Cas Peters and Nick Marsman who come from neighbours Twente on loan deals. Jop van der Linden seems like a coup in defence after a great season at Helmond Sport and indeed shoring up the defence will be one of the key objectives ahead of the campaign. It is difficult to predict how well the team will do with basically a new set of players and untried but ambitious coach but still the Eagles are one of the better clubs in the division overall and should be in the top six come the end of the campaign.

Target:
Pushing for a play-off spot but likely to miss out on promotion

Helmond Sport

In:
Ter Horst (def) (Heracles), Brouwers (att) (Lommel United), De Regt (def) (VVV Venlo), Siers (def) (AGOVV), Francke (def), Hattu (def)

Out:
Pistoor (gk) (Volendam), Van der Linden (def) (Go Ahead Eagles), Haastrup (def) (Willem II), Joppen (def) (VVV), Altheer (mid) (VVV)

Helmond Sport left a solid impression in friendly matches during the summer break, yet it remains uncertain how the team of the unexperienced coach Erik Meijers will cope with the departure of last year’s entire defense, including star player Jop van der Linden. Meijers joined Helmond Sport from Achilles 29, the third-tier Topklasse team, with which he won the title last year. The Helmond team management refused to spend a penny on reinforcing the squad, being afraid of running into financial troubles. The result is that Helmond will start the new season with a very young defense, comprised of largely unknown players. Francke and Hattu joined from regional youth teams, while Ter Horst came from the reserve team of Heracles Almelo. Charles Kazlauskas and Aart Verberne stayed and hope to get more playing time than last year, when they weren’t assured of a starting spot. Considering the departure of important players, a top-9 position would be satisfactory for Helmond, yet most fans will remember that the team started last season too without the best players of the previous season and still finished at an impressive fourth position.

Target:
Qualification for the promotion play-offs

MVV

In:
Bram Castro (gk), St Truiden), Cor Gillis (def), Dender), Leroy Labylle (mid), Standard), Nathan Rutjes (mid), Sparta), Mark Veldmate (att), Sparta), Yannick Derix (gk), PSV ’35)

Out:
Fabio Caracciolo (att), Vise – end of loan), Prince Rajcomar (att), Zalaegerszeg – end of loan), Laurent Castellana (def), Jerome Beckers (def), Michael Tambak (att), Bjorn Eppinga (mid), Job Bulters (gk), Marc Eberle (def, Echt), Tom Daemen (mid), AEK Larnaca), Collin van Eijk (gk)

MVV Maastricht have had a pretty satisfactory season last year and will be hoping to gravitate in mid-table in the upcoming campaign and secure a play-off spot. They have failed to progress in their previous two attempts but promotion is not really an objective for a team with little resources to compete. Rene Trost’s side played some good football on a number of occasions last season but they have lost some key personnel over the summer. Tom Daeman is off to Cypru while strikers Fabio Caracciolo and Prince Rajcomar are back at their parent clubs after the end of their loan deals. The regular keeper Job Bulters and Laurent Castellana left as well which meant a number of gaps to fill. Few of them have been actually filled though. Bram Castro will be the new number one keeper but he has not played a first-team game for Saint Truiden since early October last year. Former Sparta Rotterdam’s squad players Mark Veldmate and Nathan Rutjes could be useful players but are unlikely to make much of a difference. Still, Trost creates useful teams and will hope that some of the academy players make the step up over the coming months. Realistically, MVV are likely to be water-carriers for another season and a place in the bottom half of the table beckons.

Target:
Finishing in mid-table and possibly challenging for a play-off spot

SC Veendam

In:
Mc Kinnon (def) (Alloa Athletic, SCO), Martens (mid) (Willem II), Deul (mid) (Bayern München reserves), Pedro (def) (FC Groningen), Timmermans (gkl) (SWZ), Hutten (att) (Willem II), Schmelz (att) (Sparta Rotterdam), Te Loeke (gk) (Cambuur Leeuwarden), Katschner (att), Overtoom (mid)

Out:
Gorgulu (def) (FC Oss), Cruz Vicente (def) (AGOVV), Wolven (att) (Go Ahead Eagles), Kluin (att) (Rijnsburgse Boys),

With a reinforced squad, Veendam are ready for the kick-off of a new season in the Jupiler League. Last season was an outright disaster, even though few fans had dared to hope at the outset that the miraculous fourth position of the 2010/2011 season could be repeated. Nevertheless, the 16th position at which Veendam concluded the 2011/2012 campaign was much worse than even the greatest cynic had predicted. Scoring was Veendam’s main problem last season and it remains to be seen whether a remedy has been found. Sidney Schmelz is Veendam’s new offensive leader, but the former Sparta Rotterdam player scored only six goals in his entire professional career so far, comprising 60 games in 4 seasons. Opoku, last year’s topscorer in Veendam, stayed, but may lose his starting place to new men such as Deul and Overtoom, whose arrival is expected to be confirmed before the start of the season. In spite of last year’s abysmal results and fierce criticism from the fans, coach Heerkens stayed in Veendam. This season, he will no longer be allowed to hide behind excuses of a poor and small squad. Veendam is definitely not the best team in the Jupiler League – as a series of defeats in friendly matches proved -, but supporters and sponsors demand a place back in the limelights of the Jupiler League, for example by claiming a period title and staying clear of the relegation zone.

Target:
Staying clear of the relegation zone, aiming at a period title

Sparta Rotterdam

In:
Jens van Son (mid), FC Eindhoven), Pieter Nys (def), Leuven), Quenten Martinus (att), Heerenveen – loan), Donovan Deekman (att), Lokeren), Martijn de Vries (att), Excelsior), Roald van Hout (att), RKC Waalwijk), Danny Buijs (mid), Kilmarnock), Marco van Duin (gk), NEC Nijmegen), Robert van Boxel (def), Cambuur)

Out:
Ruud Kras (def), (Rijnsburgse Bоys), Anthony Bentem (def), Joey Godee (att), AGOVV), Marten de Roon (mid), Heerenveen), Sidney Schmeltz (att), Veendam), Tom Overtoom (mid), Nathan Rutjes (mid), MVV), Jeroen Veldmate (def), Heracles), Mark Veldmate (att), MVV), Rubin Dantschotter (gk), Cercle – end of loan), Jeremy Bokila (att), Zulte Waregem – end of loan)

Sparta Rotterdam finished last season at second place and will feel that they missed a good chance to earn promotion back into the top-flight. A dramatic 2:1 aggregate defeat against Willem II meant that they will have to spend a third consecutive season in a division where they feel they do not belong. However, the positive definite outweighed the negative for the Red and White Gladiators during the last season as they played some enthralling football and were the best team in the second half of the season. They just ran out of steam in the last month in the chase of eventual champions Zwolle but Michel Vonk has built a solid base and will look to push on over the coming season. However, the three key players from last season, Jeroen Veldmate, Maarten de Roon and Jeremy Bokila are not around any more and the biggest task will be replacing them. Vonk has not attracted major names but Jens van Son and Robert van Boxel are useful players at this level while Donovan Deekman and Roald van Hout could well make a very good impression if given the chance to impress. Sandro Calabro will be the man expected to replace Bokila having joined in March last season while the likes of Mario Bilate and Jaime Bruinier will look to continue their good development. It is debatable whether Sparta can reach the heights of last season but if they gel well, the Rotterdam club will take some stopping and should be considered one of the big contenders for promotion.

Target:
Challenging for promotion and the title is definitely feasible

Telstar

In:
Rhys Murphy (att), Arsenal), Leandro Resida (att), Chabab), Kevin van Essen (mid), Argon), Shabir Isoufi (mid), Feyenoord – loan), Gal Sapir (def), Ironi Rashon), Geraldo Hoogvliets (def), Volendam), Gaston Salasiwa (def), Bintang), Oliver Rifai (def), AZ Jong), Daniël Zuiverloon (def), AZ Jong)

Out:
Nick Kuipers (def), IJsselmeervogel), Andrew Ornoch (att), Yacob Sason (att), Ryan Marveggio (def), Emre Bilgin (def), Den Bosch), Kevin Brands (att), Willem II), Armand Neeskens (def), De Meern), Danny Schenkel (def), Johan Plat (att), Hansa), Raymond Fafiani (mid), Voldendam), Melvin Holwijn (mid), Lisse), Sead Mazreku (mid), AZ Jong – end of loan), Gerson Sheotahul (att), Willem II – end of loan)

Telstar start the season hoping for better things to come after an underwhelming campaign last season. The modest club has always relied on top clubs sending their promising youngsters to get some first-team experience in Velsen. And experienced manager Jan Poortvliet has managed to get the best of them and get the team playing some decent football. Last season that happened too rarely for comfort and the team ended in the lower half of table, on a poor run of form. The announcement that Poortvliet was leaving well before the end of the season may have contributed to that. Nevertheless, the task facing new manager Marcel Keizer, is an unenvious one. He has done well in amateur football over the last couple of seasons but will be facing much sterner and better resourced opponents over the coming months. The eye-catching signing of the summer of them has been former Arsenal youngster Rhys Murphy who is looking to revive his career having fallen considerably over the last couple of season. Shabir Isoufi is a decent signing as well, on loan from Feyenoord, while Israeli Gal Sapir was a regular in the top division of Israel last season but otherwise the signings comes from lower division clubs and with no experience in professional football. Top strikers Kevin Brands and Johan Plat have left the club but keeping midfield duo Sjaak Lettinga and Frank Korpeshoek will be important and Kaizer is likely to build the team around them. Overall, the White Lions will do well to finish above 15th again and a push for the play-offs is hard to envisage.

Target:
Avoiding relegation and finishing in mid-table

DUTCH SUPER CUP

PSV EINDHOVEN VS AJAX PREVIEW

The Johan Cruyff Shield, which is the official name of the Dutch Super Cup, will be played at Amsterdam ArenA between Eredivisie champions Ajax and KNVB Beker winners PSV Eindhoven.

PSV Eindhoven not only missed out on the league title last term, but also failed to clinch the final Champions League berth, having finished the league campaign just one point behind Feyenoord.

The KNVB Beker triumph somewhat saved the season, but it is more than clear the fans expect much bigger things this season.

After staying without Andreas Isaksson, Zakaria Labyad and Otman Bakkal, the Dutch giants did well to sign Mark van Bommel, Mathias Zanka Jorgensen and Luciano Narsingh, making sure the squad are not weaker than last season.

Orlando Engelaar and Tim Matavz are unlikely to feature through injury, but Ola Toivonen is expected to start after recovering from an ankle problem.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Tyton – Hutchinson, Jorgensen, Marcelo, Willems – Strootman, van Bommel, Toivonen – Narsingh, Lens, Mertens.

Ajax produced quite a coup by winning the Eredivise title last term, given they were more than 10 points behind PSV Eindhoven in February, but the amazing 14-match winning run saw Frank de Boer’s side lift the coveted trophy.

Even if Dmitri Bulykin, Nicolas Lodeiro and Mounir El Hamdaoui all left this summer, the departure of Jan Vertonghen was the biggest blow, especially as the club management are still searching for his replacement.

In came Lasse Schone, Ilan Boccara and Tobias Sana, who have yet to show they have what it takes to play at this level.

As far as the pre-season is concerned, the Amsterdammers did well to beat Southampton and Celtic, while sharing spoils with Norwich, so they certainly look ready for the new season.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Vermeer – Van Rhijn, Alderweireld, Blind, Dijks – De Jong, Anita, Janssen – Ozbiliz, Sigthorsson, Boerrigter.