Heracles: Looking for pretty Polman Stadion football
Ahead of 2015-16, Heracles Almelo can be relaxed thinking about two things: It’s impossible to start the season worse than last season, and if they struggle at the start, the Almeloërs have shown that they can get through a crisis and stay up. Last term, the first eight games delivered zero points, but a miraculous turnaround managed by interim-manager turned permanent John Stegeman saw Heracles avoid relegation quite comfortably. It was not the only gain. Just two years ago, Heracles Almelo were the darlings of many football lovers, as Peter Bosz had turned the team into a slick attacking machine inspired by Barcelona. The entertainment in Almelo was to be found at both ends, with the club from Overijssel boasting the fifth best attack, but also the fourth leakiest defence. The season following, Heracles had lost that goodwill, as a team designed by Jan de Jonge grinded out results with a more physical and frankly more ordinary game. When John Stegeman took over from De Jonge it’s one of the things he has turned around. And by the end of last season, many had again been endeared by the small but remarkably well-ran club from the east of the country.
The departure of the most prolific Heracles player of the last few years, Bryan Linssen, will put a strain on the ambitions of Stegeman’s men. But as always in Almelo, there is still plenty to work with. Stegeman will rely heavily on hungry players in their early twenties. With talented 21 year old troublekid Ousmane Tannane back in the squad and Brahim Darri (20), one of the revelations this calendar year, tricks and skills from the flanks can be expected. The two will have to feed one of Wout Weghorst or Paul Gladon, both strikers are 23 when the Eredivisie kicks off.
Iliass Bel-Hassani (22) is a slick ball-playing midfielder that still has a lot of promise to fulfil, but his potential is obvious. Along with 23 year old Thomas Bruns and 22 year old Joey Pelupessy Heracles have a young and talented midfield. That, new additions such as the earlier mentioned Gladon, Robin Gosens, Peter van Ooijen and the experienced heads such as Mark-Jan Fledderus and Ramon Zomer make Heracles a fascinating team to keep an eye on. With the stadium expansion (from 8.500 to 10.000) raising the Polman Stadion’s capacity Heracles can reach five digits in terms of attendance for the first time since the promotion in 2005. Given the talent available, we can only imagine it’ll be a matter of games before that objective has been met.
Player to watch: Brahim Darri
His favourite food is pancakes and he once had two ‘woodwork assists’ in one game, earlier this year in March versus ADO Den Haag: The 20 year old Brahim Darri can best be described as frivolous. Within eight months, he has become a firm BeNeFoot favourite and not only because he comes across as a sympathetic character and likes pancakes. A youngster without any visibility on game time at Vitesse, the winger made the switch to Heracles in January and made an instant impact to such an extent that we can imagine the Arnhemmers already being frustrated they have let another (after Adnane Tighadouini) big talent go so easily. The playful Amersfoort-born is a very talented dribbler and a fine technician who possesses a good shot. While he still has to gain in efficiency (the first actual Eredivisie assist still awaits for Darri) the potential is so obvious that we suspect that within a year’s time, Bryan Linssen will be but a mere memory.
BeNeFoot prediction: 13th