Dutch Dreams | New Beginnings

Welcome back to Dutch Dreams!
In this post I’ll talk you through the 2023/24 season, which was the first season after our first Eredivisie win, our first season in the Champions League and potentially the first with a new chairman in place 😉

Off the pitch:
Just days after the season had come to an end, I was handed yet another transfer embargo. This time there were three consortiums bidding for the club with two of them announcing that they want me gone. Luckily it was the third one that bought the club in the end. They paid for our remaining 32.5M€ bank loan and also put a whopping 275K€ into the clubs overall balance.

Club Vision:

That’s the club vision post-takeover

The new chairman seemed very relaxed in terms of this seasons expectations – until he noticed that we had already won the league last season…
From there on onwards, we were expected to win back-to-back league titles and make it to the KNVB Beker (dutch cup) final. Looking at the CL, we were basically required to attend the group stage matches. Since our league title win saw us earn a group stage spot directly, this seemed very realistic.

Transfers:
Last seasons successes hadn’t gone unnoticed troughout Europe. A number of European powerhouses put in bids for some of our key players during the summer transfer window. We were able to keep most of our Eredivisie winning side together, but sadly some players wanted to leave the club to join higher reputation clubs like PSG and Barca.

In the end, N. Mbuku ( 21 | PSG | 54M€ ), J. Teze ( 23 | Schalke | 39M€ ) and C. Santos ( 20 | Barca | 60M€ + add-ons ) along with some other, less important players left the club permanently. In total we made 204M€ from loan- and transfer fees this season, which once again is a new club record.

We also spend some money by signing C. Breton ( 18 | Stade Rennes | 63K€ !!! ), Altemar ( 18 | Sport Recife | 12.75M€ ), J. de Louw ( 19 | ADO Den Haag | 9M€ ), T. Parrott ( 21 | Tottenham | 9.75M€ )and S. Rosanas ( 22 | Barca B | Free ). Of course we signed more than just those four players, but most other players came in to provide first-team squad depth or to strengthen either Jong Volendam or the U19s. In total we paid 89M€ for incoming loans and permanent transfers.

Note: All player screenshots were taken at the end of the 2023/24 season.

Eredivisie results:

This time around the challenge for the league title wasn’t really a challenge. At times we were 15 points ahead of the second placed team and only a poor run of form starting on matchday 27 saw PSV reduce the gap to just 5 points. Luckily we were able to get the title over the line before they had a real chance to get into a proper title race.

Overall, the established forces of dutch football had a very inconsistent season, despite finishing in decent positions in the end. Once again, I predict them to bounce back next season.

Now that we’ve talked about the other clubs, its time to celebrate our second Eredivisie title in just two seasons!!!

Our top goal scorer was A. Dekkers (19), who replaced C. Santos in some style. He “only” got 12 league goals, but he did it in only 17 league appearances! ( -> avg. minutes per goal = 110 )

This time, there wasn’t really a top-assister, but we had 24 different players who assisted at least one goal this season. That’s mainly down to some heavy rotation going on all season but it also shows that there are a lot of players at the club who are capable of creating chances.

Jong Volendam and the U19s also won their respective leagues, too! To me, this another indicator that we’re doing a good job on the management and staff recruitment side.

KNVB Beker:

The cup felt like a formality once Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord and AZ had dropped out in the early stages. The thoughest opponent came in the final as we played our second KNVB Beker final against Vitesse Arnheim in just two seasons. We won it thanks to a(-nother) great performance by A. Dekkers, who scored a brace in the first half.

Champions League:

Now that’s what we’re all here for, right?!

We probably couldn’t have ended up in a worse group for our first ever Champions League campaign than the one we got; Barca, PSG and Borussia Dortmund.
At the time of the draw, I was 100% certain we would end bottom of the group with 0 points.

It turns out that I was wrong – very wrong.

A disappointing but also promising 2-3 loss at home to Barca was followed by a brilliant 2-1 win away at the Parc de Princes and a 1-1 draw away in Dortmund. At this point, I felt like there was a slight chance of us finishing 3rd.
Two losses to Dortmund (0-2) and Barca (0-1) saw us drop down to 4th place with one game to go. We needed a miracle against PSG at home…

… and we got it!!! Dekkers gave us the lead in the 7th minute but in the 32nd minute PSG equalised through Havertz. With 20 minutes to go I decided to go very attacking as there was no point in drawing this match – so I thought at the time. A 92nd minute free kick by Liverpool-loanee K. Hoever had me fist bumping for the rest of the day!

Once I made it to the inbox, I realised that Dortmund had lost to Barca at home.
These news had major consequences…

… all of the sudden and thanks to the better head-to-head record against PSG, we were trough to the first knock out round of the Champions League!!!

We were drawn against Inter. Yet another big challenge, but this time it was too much for us to handle. The home leg was a 1-0 loss and a 1-1 draw away at San Siro wasn’t enough to make it past them. Overall, the better team across both legs advanced but we can still be very proud of ourselves for making it to the knockout stages and not getting humiliated along the way.

On a side note, the staring eleven average age in the second leg (which was the more successful one out of the two) was 20.6 years, so I’d like to think that these players will grow as a unit and that they eventually will be able to properly compete with clubs like Barca, Inter, Dortmund, PSG etc.

Awards:

For the first time since joining the club I agree with the supporters TOTS. The Player of the season and young player of the season awards also seem correct. However, I’m not too sure why they named A. Alaniz ( 19 | Boca Juniors | 4.1M€ ) signing of the season. 7 goals in 20 games is a decent rate but nothing special. To me, S. Rosanas is our signing of the season. Coming in on a free he replaced J. Teze in no time, completely exceeding my expectations along the way.

Another award for Dekkers! This time it is one of the most reputable personal awards a young player can get his hands on: The European Golden Boy.

Dutch Dreams:
Integrating Youth: Barely anything changed; van der Geest is still the main goalie and Ben Sallam is still getting some game time, too. Last seasons intake star D. Rosink made his staring eleven debut in the second leg against Inter and also got some more time in the league and cup.

Developing the best youth system in the country by 2024: Failed. Everything related to youth training/recruitment has been upgraded to the best possible level since the start of the 2019/20 season, but according to the board, it wasn’t enough. I never really expected us to even get this far and the board don’t care about it too much, so overall I’m fine with what we’ve achieved in the past couple of years.

Dutch players in the team: The forced departure of J. Teze wasn’t of any help to achieve this goal. Then again, A. Dekkers, D. Hoogewerf and J. De Louw became starters. Some exciting young dutch prospects were brought in, too. I’ll be trying to introduce them to first team football in the next couple of years. I also noticed that the percentage of Dutch players in the first team, which I talked about in my last blog, doesn’t make too much sense. That’s because I tend to promote promising players from Jong Volendam and the U19s to the first team so that they can train with better coaches and also join mentoring groups. In total, the number of dutch players that could be considered regular starters was 8. 3 other dutch players were also getting semi-regular first team appearances.

Improving club finances: Thanks to the new board, we went from being in 32.5M€ debt to not being in debt at all this season. The overall balance went from 54M€ to 146M€ thanks to some decent transfer business. The estimated value went up, too. Before it was at 735M€, now it’s at 1.64B€. This was one of the day one objectives of the save and it feels like this is the right time to consider it to be completed. Obviously I’ll still look to keep improving them, but I won’t be tracking them as much in the blogs as I used to do until this point.

Win a European competition: We didn’t even get close this season and I can see this being the case for years to come. Still, I’m convinced that we’re going to challenge for a European competition eventually.

That’s it for this seasons blog!
I hope you enjoyed this slightly smaller one compared to last season’s one and would love to welcome you again next time!

Feedback is always welcome, so please get back to me by writing a comment or give me a heads up on the FM Slack ( #oaky-fm ) !

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