Eredivisie season overview after seven matches, part one

Posted on 28 September 2010

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11tegen11 is enjoying a well-deserved, but short holiday break. In the meantime, here’s an overview of the Eredivisie so far, updated to include match day 7, kicking off with part one.

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ADO Den Haag

Last year: 15th Current position: 6th

W3 D2 L2

Preferred formation: 4-3-3, outside wingers, target man striker

ADO Den Haag’s new manager John van den Brom successfully built upon a direct playing style in a 4-3-3 line-up. His team is not shy of playing the long ball towards strong target man Dmitri Bulykin, who leads the club’s scoring charts with three goals in as many appearances. His play connects very well with flourishing right winger Wesley Verhoek, who already provided four assists and a goal in five appearances. Slovakian left winger Frantisek Kubik seems like a great asset to the team too, contributing two goals and an assist.

So far, ADO looks like a fine example of fitting the right playing style to the qualities of the players. After finishing the paperwork required to bring Bulykin to their team, the pieces come together and their direct and pragmatic play brought them eight points in the last four matches, drawing home to PSV in the process. Things are looking good at ADO and their pre-season goal of avoiding relegation seems by all means achievable at the moment.

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Ajax

Last year: 2nd Current position: 1st

W5 D2 L0

Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1, inside wingers, positional switches upfront

Even though manager Martin Jol complained about the number of players leaving last-year’s runners up this summer, Ajax succeeded, with a little help from the quiet transfer window, in retaining the services of Luis Suarez, Maarten Stekelenburg and Gregory van der Wiel for at least another half year. With El Hamdaoui replacing Pantelic upfront Ajax traded a target man who preferred the ball at feet for a technically skilled renowned goal scorer. Their 4-2-3-1 line-up is now characterized by frequent positional changes among their inside forwards.

Although Ajax lost the Johan Cruijff Schaal to Twente, their qualification for the group stage of the lucrative Champions League will be seen as a trophy in itself. Inept tactics and positional indiscipline made for a rather embarrassing return to the highest level of club competition, but their superior quality and squad depth ensured a convincing start to the Eredivisie where they lead the table at present, coming off an away draw at title rivals Twente.

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AZ Alkmaar

Last year: 5th Current position: 11th

W2 D3 L2

Preferred formation: hybrid 4-3-3 / 3-4-3, full-backs looking for overlap

Much to say about AZ in recent years, and this 2010/11 season seems no exception to that. 11tegen11 was among those prasing new manager Gertjan Verbeek for his fresh and attacking style of football, introducing a hybrid 4-3-3 / 3-4-3 formation. While Dutch pundits and fans alike may be pleased with seeing full-backs Klavan and Marcellis regularly involved in attacking play down the wings and central midfielders Martens and Wernbloom making probing runs at their opponents defenses, there is also such a thing called results…

And their first win after six matches brought a sense of relief, but Verbeek remains a manager at risk should results not start picking up soon. AZ’s financial crisis and the recent departure of their entire attack (Lens, Dembélé and El Hamdaoui) do force the club to settle for less than their title winning campaign of 2008/09, but anything less than qualification for European football next year will be a huge disappointment. So the pressure remains on in Alkmaar.

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Excelsior

Last year: promoted       Current position: 9th

W3 D1 L3

Preferred formation: 4-1-4-1, pacy lone striker

Excelsior might well earn the title ‘Surprise of the Eredivisie so far’. After an impressive home record of 13 wins in 18 matches helped them to the third position in the ‘Eerste Divisie’ last year, Excelsior guaranteed promotion to the Eredivisie by beating city rivals Sparta with the most dramatic of dramatic late goals as Guyon Fernandez scored the 94th minute winner to give Excelsior fans one of the best moments of their life.

Free from expectations, young manager Alex Pastoor succeeded in implementing a very effective 4-1-4-1 system, deploying pacy Guyon Fernandez in the lone striker role with strong target man Roland Bergkamp as a plan B. After a 100% score from their first three home matches and a loss against Vitesse they are in ninth position now, lending more and more reality to their dream of staying up in the Eredivisie.

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Feyenoord

Last year: 4th Current position: 13th

W2 D1 L4

Preferred formation: 4-3-3, mainly inside wingers

Feyenoord have by all means had a rough start to the season. Financial constraints have forced manager Mario Been to try to live up to expectations with a talented, but young squad, lacking the true quality at present. So far he has seen his teams being knocked out in the play-offs of the Europa League and the Dutch Cup and Feyenoord lost at their city rivals, newly promoted Excelsior. Deploying a 4-3-3 formation with, except for Schaken, inside wingers, Feyenoord never quite managed to link their three band together. Missing a genuine leading striker takes the focal point of their formation and it remains to be seen whether Been will stick with the fashionable one striker system or converts to the pragmatic two striker approach that seems to fit players like Cissé and Smolov better.

Despite chairman Beenhakker proclaiming that a mid-table position is what Feyenoord should be aiming for this season, their current 13th position remains dissatisfying to say the least. Bright sparks among their darkness have been the displays of youngsters like Wijnaldum and Cabral, who have seen their status improved given the absence of players transferred into the club. Especially Geoginio Wijnaldum has shown to be capable of lifting the team’s performance on more than one occasion. However, a mid-table position might be all there is this season for the former European giants.

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De Graafschap

Last year: promoted       Current position: 15th

W2 D1 L4

Preferred formation: 4-5-1

De Graafschap is another of those promoted teams who do rather well. Their 2-0-1 home start to the season, combined with a snatched point at ADO Den Haag brought them to the 15th position so far. And given the fact that since the introduction of the promotion/relegation play-off system 31 points have on average been enough to secure another Eredivisie year, their total of 7 points in 7 matches indicates a okay start, even more so when considering the fact that they’ve already faced PSV and Ajax.

With an estimated total squad value of just 10 million euro’s, young manager Darjie Kalezic will have to draw on his creativity and tactical knowledge, But he were to succeed in that effort, it would be quite a feat for the Superboeren and Kalezic will have obtained a good start to his managerial career.

Posted in: Eredivisie