Eredivisie Preview: Heracles, Go Ahead and SC Cambuur
Heracles Almelo – The ice is getting thinner
Only 20 months ago, there was only one place to go if you were in love with entertaining football. And that unlikely place was Almelo, or as Sky Sports presenters seem to pronounce it, ‘Almelmo’. Only four teams scored more than the team from the East, while only one conceded more. Goals galore at the Polman Stadion, a ground that can only contain 8500 people. With players such as Samuel Armenteros, Everton, Ninos Gouriye, Marko Vejinovic, Willie Overtoom and Lerin Duarte they probably could’ve attracted a crowd twice as big. To add to that, the sophistication shining from head coach Peter Bosz made Heracles Almelo the ultimate hipster club in the Eredivisie.
Things are different these days, to say the least. All of the names mentioned are long gone with Lerin Duarte being the last in August 2013. The exotic and swinging formation that once was has been turned into a rugged machine with only Eredivisie veteran Simon Cziommer as a frivolous player in midfield while Bryan Linssen tries his best to make an impact in attack. ‘Less goals, more solidity’ seems to be the mantra under Jan de Jonge, who kept his side up quite comfortably last season. Of that side, Heracles’ topscorer Mark Uth has returned to sc Heerenveen while versatile defender/midfielder Ben Rienstra has made a move to local rivals PEC Zwolle. Australian left back Jason Davidson left the club for West Bromwich Albion as a result of a decent World Cup. So far Heracles are looking to rely on experience, bringing in centre back Ramon Zomer on a free from sc Heerenveen together with the return of Mark-Jan Fedderus (Roda JC) and the acquisition of Bas Sibum (Waasland-Beveren). ‘Does this team has enough going forward?’ Is the question that remains lingering.
Player to watch: Bryan Linssen
Bryan Linssen joined Heracles Almelo in 2012, when most of the players to add a little flavour to the club were there. Two years later, he is ‘the last of the Mohicans’. Last season he scored 11 league goals and was instrumental in keeping Heracles up. This season, with Mark Uth (their joint-topscorer) back to his former club sc Heerenveen, the burden will only weigh heavier. But the 23 year old is still improving with every game it seems. A pacey player, a good dribbler and a devastating left foot, a step up will come around sooner than later. Heracles will hope that Linssen sees this as a season to prove himself even more so that they can ensure a 10th consecutive Eredivisie survival.
BeNeFoot prediction: 13th place
Go Ahead Eagles – Another scare in the top flight?
Last season, Go Ahead Eagles capped their return to the top flight after a 17 year absence with a respectable and surprising 13th place finish in the Eredivisie. But second season syndrome is lingering. While Deniz Türüç, the young central midfielder that impressed so much that he sparked interest from FC Twente and Galatasaray, is set to stay Foeke Booy has a lot on his hands replacing his team’s topscorers Erik Falkenburg (NAC Breda) and Jarchinio Antonia (FC Groningen).
With Ajax winger Lesley de Sa on loan, who remarkably enough has never lost an Eredivisie game, the loss of Antonia should be covered. But whereas Antonia provided and scored a lot last season this hasn’t been one of De Sa’s strengths so far for Ajax or their reserve Jupiler League side Jong Ajax. With newcomers Sven Nieuwpoort (Almere City, a former Ajax academy player), Niek de Bondt (Ajax), Peter van Ooijen (PSV), Jules Reimerink (VVV-Venlo) and Alex Schalk (NAC Breda) young players with something to prove have been brought in. Promising goalkeeper Micky van der Hart has been loaned from Ajax to defend the goal and it seems clear that Foeke Booy is taking a gamble on youth to remain in the Eredivisie for a second consecutive season.
Player to watch: Deniz Türüç
Every fanbase of a smaller club has a player they see play for their team and when they see him out there, wearing their jersey they’re convinced that it will only last until the next transfer window. While Antonia was the man who showed flair last season, that man for Go Ahead was Deniz Türüç. The talented midfielder was essential for his side and formed a very sturdy midfield pair together with Sjoerd Overgoor, another midfielder who stayed despite a lot of interest. A technically proficient midfielder with a great eye for a pass and not shy to throw in the tackle, he will surely be essential to any degree of success Go Ahead can achieve this season.
BeNeFoot Prediction: 14th place
SC Cambuur Leeuwarden – Starting from scratch
After losing their manager to arch rivals sc Heerenveen, their central defenders Martijn van der Laan and Ramon Leeuwin to FC Groningen and FC Utrecht and failing to keep hold of loan stars Marcel Ritzmaier (PSV) and Jody Lukoki (Ajax), a lot of the good dealings Cambuur did last season have come undone. This season is set to be even tougher than the last. The instalment of former assistant manager Henk de Jong should at least be a reason to cheer for the Leeuwarden faithful. De Jong was the man who led Cambuur to the Eredivisie as interim-manager in 2012/13, but wasn’t licensed to coach a team in the Eredivisie. But with his papers sorted, he’ll be looking to make an impact at the biggest domestic stage.
Replacing four starters will be tough and so far and the defence is still an issue despite the arrival of AZ player Etienne Reijnen. With former Ajax and Wigan winger Daniel de Ridder, who has been picked up from RKC Waalwijk, the void left by Lukoki seems sorted and to add to that, pacy winger Furdjel Narsingh has been signed from PEC Zwolle. With promising loanees Dejan Meleg (Ajax) and Albert Rusnák added there are again some unknown entities who could make a difference. Last season, SC Cambuur were completely reliant on a spectacular home form, with only the Traditional top three winning more home games than Cambuur (10). Away from home, there is a lot of progress to be made, as SC Cambuur were the only team without a victory on unknown soil. A big challenge for Henk de Jong and his men, but one they will surely relish.
Player to watch: Dejan Meleg
Last season, PSV loanee Marcel Ritzmaier was a huge hit as Cambuur’s attacking midfielder. This season, the Leeuwarders are trying to repeat the trick with Serbian attacking midfielder/winger Dejan Meleg. A hugely talented player, Meleg was one of the few in Jong Ajax last season that performed on a regular basis, racking up 12 goals in 27 games. In Leeuwarden they are convinced that, even though he is only signed on loan, Meleg will be an absolute success and so far he has looked good in pre-season. The current Cambuur team is one of hardworking men, but the fans of the Frisian capital will be looking towards the wizardly dribbling Meleg to make a difference for their side.
BeNeFoot prediction: 15th place