Fortuna Sittard


Chapter 12
How Many Right Backs Can You Get Injured In A Month!!
1st September 2024

There is no doubt that our opening fixture of the new season is a difficult one against AZ and the board and fans don't expect much from the game.

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I had a big decision to make when picking my I stick with the man Kaj Sierhuis who scored 17 goals for us last year or do I start my new £1.2 million striker, Steffen Tigges. I opted to keep the faith with my proven scorer from last season and he repaid that faith in under 3 minutes by giving us an early lead! We absolutely dominated the first half having 8 shots to AZ's 1, but couldn't find that 2nd goal. They came out and were better in the 2nd half and earn a draw. I felt we were the better side over 90 mins and if anyone deserved to win the game it would be us, but a draw away at AZ on the opening day isn't a bad result.

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Incoming: I still needed another right back after the 5 month injury to Ivo Pinto and I had in mind what I wanted - a Dutch player who was young and could improve...and with £9 million in the transfer kitty, I had the money to spend! The player I have brought in is 18 year old Enoch Mastoras fro AZ for a fee of £3.6 million (flat up front). Hopefully, he can develop and become out number 1 right back for years to come!

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Our second game of the season is another tough fixture as we take on Feyenoord. However, we held our own against them last season and might just be able to sneak another positive result against them.

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But it wasn't to be. We weren't really in the game in the first half and then we can feel a little bit sorry for ourselves in the second. After making a few changes at half time and then around the hour mark, we started to come back into the game and were creating chances (definitely 1 or 2 we should have scored). With momentum on our side, right back Omar Elabdellaoui got injured and had to come off in the 71st minute and having made all my subs, we had to play the remainder of the game with 10 men and I had to move a central midfielder to right back and Feyenoord got two more goals that they didn't really deserve.

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And that injury is another serious one...I now have two right backs out on long term injuries as Elabdellaoui will miss 2 months!

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Incoming: So I had no choice but to bring another player in. As I already have 3 permanent right backs in the squad, I turned to the loan market just for temporary cover and Goncalo Esteves joins us for 5 months from Atalanta.

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We needed to chalk up our first win of the season and fast and our next game against newly promoted Willem II would give us the ideal opportunity to do just that. They had lost both their opening fixtures (although they were against Feyenoord and Ajax). Things didn't look good when we went 1-0 down in the 52nd minute, but we rallied and turned the game on it's head to get our first win of the season!

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Enoch Mastoras had a good debut for us and got the assist for the winning goal, pinging in a cross from the right wing. However, he has picked up an injury that will keep him out for up to 4 weeks...incredibly that's now 3 right backs that are out injured for between 4 weeks and 5 months!!

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Incoming: No, no it's not another right back!! I have added another centre back to the side though for the season, as Shawn Adewoye joins us on loan from Nice. Adewoye was a player I was looking at in the Summer before he left RKC Waalwijk to join Nice for £2.1 million and I was shocked when I saw that Nice had put him up for loan before he even made an appearance for them.

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Our Europa League fixtures are announced and we'll play a range of sides from 7 different countries. I'll be honest - we're here for the ride this year and to cash in on the money and build our reputation as best we can...I am under no illusions we will win this competition this season!

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Apart from us, PEC Zwolle were the biggest overachievers in Dutch football last season and also had a shot at European football this season becuase of it. However, they blew their chance losing in the qualifiers to Kazakhstan based Tobol Kostanay. They'd made a poor start in the league this year too, failing to win any of their opening 3 games and we then piled on the misery a little more by beating them as well.

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So after only taking a point from our opening two games, back to back wins have seen us shoot up into the top half of the table at these early stages of the season.

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Chapter 13
Hello Europa League Football
4th October 2024

The transfer window closes and there were no more deals for us on deadline day. I think we have been busy enough this window and I wanted to keep a little bit in the kitty for January.

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Here's the biggest deals of the transfer window this Summer across Europe (over £12 million).

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Back on the pitch, my team were excellent against Go Ahead Eagles, thumping them 5-1 even though the stats suggest it was a relatively close game...the difference was in the finishing as we had one of those days where we just sensational in front of goal!

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And that would be perfect preparation for our first venture into the Europa League and a game with Austria Wien. We will go into our first European match as favourites!

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And boy did we live up to that expectation by absolutely battering the Austrian club! Amazing start to our European campaign!

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Further improvements have been made to the club's infrastructure with the youth recruitment getting some more investment.

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We have the challenge of balancing both domestic and European football this season and it remains to be seen how we cope with it. Just 3 days after playing Austria Wien, we were back in action in the Eredivisie against FC Emmen and then just 3 days after that we'd be out there against Heracles.

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In the first half against Emmen, it looked like we weren't coping well at all and we were awful! However, a good kick up the backside at half time seemed to motivate the lads into a much better 2nd half performance and we turned the game around and take the 3 points.

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Again, we went 1-0 down against Heracles and again we came back to win in our next league game. It's good to see that the lads aren't panicking when we go down in games and seem to be reacting to my touchline shouts and team talks in the right way.

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We're now on a run of 6 straight wins in all competitions and the board decide to reward me for our good form with a new 3 year deal.

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Unfortunately I couldn't celebrate my new deal with a win as we were beaten by FC Twente.

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We're in 5th position in the table after 8 games and it's no real surprise to see that Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV all remain unbeaten in the division.

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Meanwhile, back in the Europa League, we made it 2 wins from 2 games with victory out in Germany! A great result where young right back, Goncalo Esteves netted the winner with just minutes remaining with a powerful strike from outside the box that any striker would be proud of.

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Chapter 14
A Bad Run Brings About A Change In Tactic
24th November 2024

Our game against Vitesse left me feeling ****** off and frustrated as we lose with one of the last kicks of the game. We were pushing forward looking for a winner of our own after having the better chances in the game and then they countered, catching us short handed at the back and stole the 3 points!

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Our away game with Excelsior finished in a 3-3 thriller last season and again this year there were plenty of goals as the game finished in a draw again. Not quite sure how we didn't win this one though...just look at those stats!

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In Europe, we had won 2 from 2 already and there was an argument to say St Gallen would be the worst team on paper that we have played so far in the competition, so another win was expected.

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So of course it is the first game we lose in the competition, getting thrashed in the process!

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When you're on a run of 3 games without a win, the last thing we needed was to be playing Ajax! Naturally that became no win in 4!

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I didn't hold out much hope that we would get a result against 3rd placed Heerenveen and I was right as we are beaten again!

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And our bad form continued back into Europe as well, although Newcastle away was always going to be a very difficult game for us. Although we did get to the 80th minute 1-0 up but then totally lost our **** in the last 10 minutes!

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Confidence is really low right now and things just aren't going right at all. Even Roda, one of the newly promoted sides, who haven't won in 10 league games, looked like they were about to beat us as they led 3-1 going into the final minute of the game. Somehow we rescured a draw but it's still a terrible result from our perspective!

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We've been so awful of late, that I felt I had no choice but to switch things up a little with the formation, so this is what I'm trying for the Utrecht game.

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Even with a tactic set up that I thought was pretty attacking, it still took us 31 minutes to even have a shot. When we did, it was from the penalty spot and at least Kaj Sierhuis scored it to give us the lead. In fact, both sides only managed 2 shots on goal each and it was looking pretty drab for the fans at the break. In the second half, neither team went on to create lots of chances, but we did at least put the ball in the back of the net a couple more times through an Oguzhan Ozyakup brace.

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That was not only our first win in 8 games (in all comps), but it was also the very first clean sheet we have kept all season! Maybe I'll stick with that new formation for a few games and see how it goes.

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And the win does at least move us back into the top half of the table and in amongst it with all the clubs chasing down the top 4.

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A poor run there but was always going to be hard mixing European football and the league this season

Chapter 15
Feyenoord Running Away With It?
21st December 2024

Having lost our last two Europa League games, we were in desperate need of a win, but I didn't actually expect to get one against Atalanta. However, we did just that and give ourselves a chance of qualifying for the next stage once again.

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I reckon one more win from our last three games would almost guarantee us a spot in the knockout playoffs at least.

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As we prepare to face off against Sparta Rotterdam in the league, I am expecting a goalfest as both games last year finished 3-2 in our favour.

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Both sides created lots of chances, but the better quality ones were ours and we managed to put three away for a relatively comfortable win. The game definitely swang more in our favour when I made changes and it was substitute Steffen Tigges who got us on our way with the first goal.

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We've scored 3 goals in each of our last 4 fixtures, so I had to think we would bang in a few against bottom side, Volendam.

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But we were actually ******* awful, threw away a 2 goal lead and only take a single point from the bottom side.

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The infrastructure of the club needs to be improved continuously for us to make any dents on the top clubs in the country over the coming years and the latest investment is into the junior coaching.

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On one off games, we can clearly compete with the big boys, as proven in our next game beating PSV 1-0 with a really solid performance!

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Clearly, the lads were still in buoyant mood after the PSV win as we ran riot a few days later in our Europa League match against Malmo!

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With 2 games of the league stage left, I feel quietly confident we might just be able to sneak a place in the top 8. We are only a point off at the moment and our last two games are against FC Midtjylland and Sturm Graz who have both failed to get a single win yet!

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Unfortunately, back in domestic action, we were well beaten by league leaders, Feyenoord. A really weird game where we had just 2 shots and struggled to compete in the first 75 minutes of the match, then all of a sudden we kicked into life and dominated the last quarter of an hour, but by then the damage was already done!

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Feyenoord actually look like they might wrestle Ajax's title away from them this season as we pass the half way mark of the season. As for our own situation, we've turned our own form around a bit and are now chasing down the European qualification places again.

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We did have one more game to play before the Winter break and that was the 2nd round of the cup, where we'd drawn Heerenveen at home. A tough draw considering they are having a great season in the Eredivisie this year! But we are probably in our best run of form of the season ourselves and manage to get through to the next round via extra time!

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We will now play Cambuur in the next round. We knocked them out of the competition in the second round 5-0 last year!

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Chapter 16
Making A Play For The Europa League Knockout Stages
2nd February 2025

AZ are a team with a good record against us and we didn't have a win against them in our last 3 meetings. However, we put an end to that run with a really solid performance here that earned us a big 3 points!

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We played Cambuur in the 2nd round of the Dutch Cup last season and thrashed them 5-0 to progress. We've drawn them in the 3rd round this year and I felt confident going into the game.

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I was right to be confident, even if the scoreline wasn't as elaborate as last season.

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There's still three teams from the division below in the last 8 and Ajax and Feyenoord manage to draw two of them. Meanwhile, we will take on Go Ahead Eagles for a spot in the semis.

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Our next game was away from the Eredivisie as well as we faced off against last year's Europa Conference League winners, FC Midtjylland, in the Europa League. Somehow we took a 1-0 lead into the break after only having 1 shot in the first half, whilst our opponents created and missed 12 shots on our goal. The second half was a different story though and we were very much in control and saw off the game reasonably comfortably in the end.

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With that win, we have guaranteed ourselves a knockout playoff spot at least, but a win over Sturm Graz in our last game could see us finish in the top 8 and go straight through to the last 16.

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But before that, we had a league game against Willem II to play and turned in our worst performance for a while!

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I demanded a response back in the Europa League and was pleased to get it. We had the game sewn up by half time with a 3-0 lead and cruised through the second half, never really getting out of second gear for an easy win.

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And that win just about snuck us into the top 8 so we avoid the playoffs and go straight through to the last 16 alongside rivals PSV. Our Europa League campaign has been a very impressive one this year as we are definitely overachieving in the competition! Anything further from this point will now be a bonus!

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Incoming: On transfer deadline day, we only went and signed Bellingham didn't we!! Haha, not that one, but the younger of the two brothers does join us from Sunderland for a fee of £3.6 million (whole fee paid up front). Jobe can play both my central midfield roles in the new formation of both ball winner or deep lying playmaker and at just 19, he has plenty of time to improve further!

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AZ were the biggest spenders of the window forking out over £13 million on 4 new players.

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Here's the biggest transfers across Europe in January.

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Back on the pitch we turned in a dominant performance against Zwolle, which resulted in an impressive scoreline. That's a double completed over Zwolle this season.

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Only 7 points separate 5th and 10th in the league and we are in amongst those sides that are all chasing down the top 4 for a European qualification spot. Still 13 games of the season to go and plenty of time for things to develop for lots of teams, but one thing is pretty much nailed on - the title race is between only two sides.

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Chapter 17
That Bellingham Banger!
13th March 2025

Two games back to back against Go Ahead Eagles ended in two different results. First we managed to overcome them in the quarter final of the cup, although we did need extra time to get the job done. Unfortunately, we couldn't back that up in the league as we suffer defeat to one of the other sides chasing down the top 4...that one hurts!

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The draw for the semi final of the TOTO KNVB BEKER pits us against Feyenoord, who we knocked out of the competition last season. However, this year they have already beaten us twice in the league and are dominating proceedings at the head of the table, so it will be extremely tough to repeat the feat of knocking them out again.

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We were also in the draw for the last 16 of the Europa League and have been handed a difficult tie there too. Valencia will be tough opposition to overcome, but we're just enjoying the ride in this competition now as I didn't actually expect us to get this far.

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We had a couple of league games to play before we get back into cup action and the first was at home to FC Emmen, who sit in the bottom half of the table. We made light work of them and Daan Rots had his best day of the season with a 10.0 match rating scoring our opening goal and then setting up another two.

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Unfortunately, the victory came at a big cost as we lose my best centre back for the next 2 months. Shawn Adewoye has been the most impressive of all my defenders this season and he'll be sorely missed at the worst possible time of the season for us to suffer an injury.

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On a much more positive note, the board invest further into the facilities at the club as we continue to build in order to compete with the big boys.

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Our next league game against Heracles saw Jobe Bellingham score his first goal for the club and what an absolute cracker it was!

It was a game we went on to win, although it was a little nervey for a moment when Heracles closed the gap to a goal and were piling on the pressure.

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Feyenoord were up next in the semi final of the Dutch Cup. We have lost twice to them already this year, but a couple of wins last season show we do have the ability to get a result against them, but we acknowledge it will be incredibly tough.

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An incredible ending to this game in 90 minutes saw us break away with the perfect counter attack started from the back by Bellingham and score what we thought was the winner in the 94th minute, only for Feyenoord to come back within 60 seconds and equalize! Unfortunately, in extra time they got the better of us, but it was a good effort from the lads and I can't be too harsh on them after this - it just wasn't our day in the end.

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We turn our attentions to the Europa League and a trip to Spain where we will play a Valencia side that find themselves in the same predicament as us in their domestic league...sitting just outside the European qualification places and in need of a push at the back end of the season!

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Disappointing that we will only take around 100 fans with us though!

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But our 100 fans will have a good trip home after they watched us earn a very credible draw against a team much bigger and much better than ourselves (on paper at least). We're still very much in this tie!

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Sandwiched between the 1st and 2nd leg would be a league game against FC Twente and it's 6th vs 5th between two sides desperately trying to impact on the top 4!

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Bad news though as the day before the game, we lose our number 1 keeper for up to 5 weeks to injury! Alongside losing my best centre back as well, this could have a really detrimental effect on our next few games.

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Despite that, we managed to pull off a massive result and even kept a clean sheet in the process.

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The result was so massive it takes us into the top 4 with 9 games to go!

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Chapter 18
Injuries Starting To Mount Up At The Worst Possible Time
8th April 2025

The second leg of our Europa League Last 16 game would give us home advantage, carrying a score of 1-1 from the first leg. Despite that, we would be massive outsiders to win the tie and go through!

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But we defied the odds and pull off a big upset, claiming a very decent scalp in the competition! We weren't lucky either and were actually good value for the win and over the course of these two legs, my lads have really impressed me! It was left back Mitchell Dijks who popped up with the winner as he latched on to Leroy Fer's through ball over the top, brought the ball down with his right foot, before smashing the ball into the top corner with his left! His first goal of the season and it was a big one!

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I genuinely never thought I'd be seeing us in the quarter final draw at the start of the season, but here we are! And we will now take on Hoffenheim who we beat in the league phase of the competition.

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You might recall that last time we played Vitesse, I was left feeling ****** off as we conceded a 94th minute goal to lose the game with one of the last kicks. So it was ****** good to go out there and inflict our revenge on them with a good hiding here! We were nothing short of sensational throughout and Steffen Tigges will take the match ball home with him after scoring his first hat trick for the club!

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Our German striker is having a solid first season with us and now has 17 goals in 31 appearances in all competitions this year. He now seems to be really finding his feet.

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Throughout my time at the club, I have encouraged the board to make several improvements to the youth recruitment here. At first glance it looks like it might be starting to pay off as a potential golden generation is announced with this year's youth intake.

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But after taking a closer look, I'm not convinced myself! Although there are a couple who might just make it. Maurits Keizer is a promising striker who already has good finishing ability but his unambitious personality could hinder him reaching his full potential.

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Jan Scholten is another player who already has some good technical attributes for a winger, including good dribbling and flair, but his mental attributes don't wow me at this point and I'm not sure just how good he will become.

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Without doubt our most talented teenager at the club right now is new signing Jobe Bellingham, but he isn't going to play another game this season after picking up an injury in training! Absolutely gutting!

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Back to the action now and Steffen Tigges picked up exactly where he left off against Vitesse, with a nice little brace against Excelsior to guide us to victory.

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Two more injuries to first team players were suffered though and we lose Remy Vita and Loreintz Rosier for up to 4 weeks each. Our injuries are really piling up as we approach the business end of the season and it's not ideal at all!

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We were on a run of 5 straight wins in the league, but we were very aware that was likely to come to an end as we faced Ajax in our next match. We found ourselves on the back foot for large periods of the game and were pretty soundly beaten in all honesty.

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The 50 best wonderkids are announced and we have our first player making an appearance in the list as right back, Enoch Mastoras features at number 32!

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We were just minutes away from a massive victory against 3rd placed Heerenveen but have to settle for a point in the end. Although that was probably a fair result based on the balance of play.

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But what a surprise...another injury which keeps a player out for weeks.

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With 5 games of the season remaining, we sit 5th in the table and it looks like it will be between us, PSV and Twente to secure that 4th place spot and European qualification. However, with the injury problems we have, I feel the odds are firmly stacked against us!

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Chapter 19
Aiming For A Top 4 Finish
9th June 2025

We will host Hoffenheim in the first leg of our Europa League quarter final and I felt that we must get a result in the first leg to stand a chance of going through. Fans and pundits can't really split us and the general consensus is that this tie could go either way so taking advantage of the home leg could prove crucial.

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Our injuries are clearly really hurting us and for this game I had no less than 6 players from the youth team on the bench. We were dominated by our opponents and lucky to come away with just a 1 goal defeat in the end, but we now have it all to do in Germany if we're going to progress to the last 4.

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Sandwiched between the two Hoffenheim games was a league game against Roda who haven't won in 27 games!!

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Make that 28!

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Just a few days later we were out in Germany for our 2nd leg against Hoffenheim. They were considerably better than us in the 1st half and it looked like they might put the game out of our reach in the 21st minute when they were awarded a pen, only for Alfred Gomis to save it and keep us in the tie! I tried to motivate the lads at half time into a better performance in the second half and at just one goal behind we were very much in the tie still! However, we weren't much better in the second period and that 1 goal deficit became 2 in the 71st minute and put the game out of reach. We're out of the competition, but I am proud of our run to get this far - genuinely further than I thought we would.

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The hurt of going out of Europe obviously carried over into the Eredivisie as a poor performance against Utrecht ended in defeat!

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Generally, after a really poor performance I tend to demand a response in our next game and generally I get a pretty good display from the lads...and that happened again here!

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We followed it up with a win against Volendam in our penultimate game of the season, but only just as Kaj Sierhuis scored a 20 yard banger into the bottom corner in the 94th minute to ****** the 3 points.

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It sets up the final day of the season as we face a massive showdown with PSV for the 4th placed finish and a European qualification spot.

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Despite the tension in the air around the importance of the fixture, both teams put on a fine display and a great game of football was played out to close the season. It ends in a 2-2 draw and that result is good enough for us to hold on to that 4th place spot to repeat our first season and qualify again for the Europa League next season!

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We've had some stand out individual performances this season that are worth a mention. Alen Halilovic recorded the best average rating in the whole division from the 23 games he featured in, contributing with 8 goals and 12 assists in the league.

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Steffen Tigges scored 15 league goals and finished just 1 place off the golden boot as he enjoyed a good first season for us. Whilst last season's top goalscorer (for us) Kaj Sierhuis once again reached double figures.

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With our 4th placed finish this season, we bagged over £6 million in prize money and with that, next year's budgets are announced which are quite frankly, rubbish.

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Another great league campaign where we wobbled a bit after a positive start, but recouped and pulled it back to drive ourselves up the table and qualify for Europe again.

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We went one step further in the Dutch Cup this season, reaching the Semi Final and there is no shame in going out to Feyenoord.

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And in our first European adventure, we exceeded all expectations in the Europa League making it as far as the Quarter Final there as well. Hoffenheim eventually overcame us, but I'm incredibly happy with our showing in the competition.

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Our impressive run in the Europa League this season helped us rise a massive 75 places in the European club rankings, although we are still outside the top 100!

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Overall Squad Stats

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After a second successive very successful season, the squad is a very happy one!

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The New Arrivals

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The Best 11

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Club Awards

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The Commercials

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The Finances

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Our stature in the game continues to grow with a fanbase that includes over half a million social media followers now! In terms of the fan's expectations, they still only expect a top half finish next year, despite us finishing 4th two seasons in a row.

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And the five year plan from the board matches the same ambitions. It could be exciting times for the club in the near future though as the board announces ambitions to build a new stadium at some point.

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Considering the less than ideal start it was a good season, even better when you consider you were predicted to finish 7th. Hope next season will be even better

That English European domination was insane, but the fact that Tottenham won the UCL is astonishing. I'm curious about who they faced in the tournment.
What a way to end the season after the start you had so still getting European football at the end is great. Disappointing with the budgets but I guess its always a concern when doing transfers with a future fee as it comes out of the next few seasons budgets so always hard to find the balance.
Considering the less than ideal start it was a good season, even better when you consider you were predicted to finish 7th. Hope next season will be even better

That English European domination was insane, but the fact that Tottenham won the UCL is astonishing. I'm curious about who they faced in the tournment.

Yea I know, I was shocked too...and ****** off because I hate Spurs :ROFLMAO:

This was their run...


Chapter 20
Our Reputation Is On The Up
1st August 2025

My first signing this Summer is a 22 year old centre back from Manchester United on a free transfer. Will Fish has a strong profile for a centre back with great tackling, heading and marking ability and it surprises me that my assistant manager only rates him as 2.5 stars. I think he could become a very important player for us and it's nice for Jobe Bellingham to have another Englishman in the squad.

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I have approached the board to improve junior coaching budget again at the club and with a bit of convincing, they have agreed. We now have our youth recruitment up to exceptional and the junior coaching will soon reach that level too.

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And then the board went one further and actually approached me to discuss improvements to the youth facilities as well! I ain't going to say no to that!

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After finishing 4th in the Eredivisie two seasons in a row, our reputation in Holland is on the up and now only 8 teams are above us in the Dutch rankings now.

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It's fixture day for the upcoming 2025/26 season and we have a winnable game on the opening day, albeit away from home. Our first game at the Fortuna Sittard Stadion will be against the reigning champions!

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We also get our fixture for the Europa League Third Qualifying Stage. We have a tougher route into the competition this year because of Holland falling down the coefficient rankings and will have to get through two qualifiers, where as last season we went straight into the league phase. Our first qualifier won't be an easy one either as we face off against Basel.

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Incoming: My next signing this Summer boosts our numbers in attack and may just prove to be a real bargain buy! Thai winger/striker, Suphanat Mueanta had a £1 million release clause at Chaves and I was more than happy to activate it to bring the 22 year old to Holland. He looks like an exciting talent and can play a big role for us over the next few seasons, especially if he continues to improve as he gets older.

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Outgoing: With the arrival of Mueanta, it leaves little room for Umaro Embalo who is a considerably worse player. He leaves for Portugal in a deal worth £1 million with Portimonense.

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Outgoing: He's quickly followed out the door by centre back, Ryan Flamingo, who's spent just one season here. He was unimpressive when he played and came to me demanding first team football half way through the season and in short, we fell out! I'm happy to see the back of him for £1.6 million to Pisa.

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Outgoing: When I joined the club, Oguzhan Ozyakup was one of the best players in the squad. However, he is soon going to turn 33 years old and was massively overshadowed in the attacking midfield role last season so I have opted to sell him on and will look to replace him with a young up and comer. He joins Goztepe SK for a fee of £500k.

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Incoming: His replacement didn't actually turn out to be an up and comer but instead joins as one of the best players in the whole squad! 20 year old Croatian midfielder, Luka Vrbancic looks like a bit of a coup for the club and has some very impressive attributes all round. I'm looking forward to watching him develop with the club! Vrbancic signs from Dinamo Zagreb for a total fee of £5.25 million (with £2.2 million up front and the rest paid over the next 3 years).

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Incoming: I then added a new backup keeper to the side, signing Fabian de Keijzer from Heracles for £140k. The 25 year old is an ex U21 national player and has room to grow to potentially become our number 1 between the sticks.

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Our pre-season campaign included another tour of England as it did last year, but it wasn't a good time for us over there as we fail to win any of our three matches. At least we did win the other three and finished off with a decent victory over Besiktas, coming from 2 goals down.

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Chapter 21
Europa League Qualifiers
31st August 2025

Ivo Pinto has been my captain for the past 2 seasons, but with him leaving the club this Summer on a free transfer at the end of his contract I needed to appoint a new one. I signed Miguel Reisinho for the club and he has become a very important member of my squad and one of my favoured players, so he gets the armband!

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Our first competitive game of the season was in the Europa League in the first leg of our 3rd round qualifier against Basel. It will be tough to get a result out in Switzerland so I felt we needed to win here at home, but what I wasn't expecting was such a dominant display and a commanding lead to take into the 2nd leg! Suphanat Mueanta came off the bench to make his debut and marked it with two goals!

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Before that 2nd leg, we will kick off the Eredivisie campaign with an opening day fixture against FC Voldenam who are expected to struggle this season. As for ourselves, the bookies have taken notice of our two 4th placed finishes and have us pegged for a top 6 finish this season. Feyenoord are favourites to retain their title.

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We left it late in our league opener but we did get the win in the end.

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I rested a few players out in Switzerland, with the job against Basel pretty much already done. But we still managed to get the win in a thriller of a game, capped off with a goal from 17 year old Oleksandr Polunytskyi who could well be the first product of our youth academy for me to bring through.

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Back in the league we faced the champions and earned ourselves a very respectable point against them too. We were actually in front twice in this game and when Feyenoord led for the first time on 71 minutes, I feared the worst. But my lads dug deep to bring it back level.

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In the Playoff for the Europa League, we have drawn Austrian side Wolfsberger and no disrespect to them, but I'd be really disappointed if we don't get through to the league phase!

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The game in Austria finished a bore draw. Incredibly, in 93 competitive games as manager of Fortuna Sittard, this was my first ever 0-0 result!

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The games are coming thick and fast as we face PEC Zwolle just a few days later in the Eredivisie. Zwolle hadn't won either of their opening 2 fixtures and we extended that to three, with a solid 1-0 as Jobe Bellingham scored his first goal of the season.

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That led us onto our 2nd leg in the Europa League Playoff and we will once again be playing in the league phase again this season after edging out Wolfsberger in a tight game. They had more shots than us, but when you look at the xG the better chances were ours. But we were made to fight hard for the win and I have some new respect for the Austrian side that I thought we'd walk all over across this tie.

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We have been handed some very tough fixtures in this year's competition and the likes of Athletic Club, Roma, Atalanta and Nice will all prove to be very tough nuts to crack!

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In the Eredivisie, we were well on top for majority of the game against Vitesse, so it is disappointing to have to settle for a draw.

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The draw ensures that both us and Vitesse remain unbeaten through the opening 4 games of the season. It's still very early days of course, but no surprise to see a familiar face at the top of the table.

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Chapter 22
A Result That Left Me Speechless!
23rd October 2025

This year's Summer transfer window saw Feyenoord as the biggest spenders with their purchase of Renato Sanches from PSG being their biggest deal.

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Here's the biggest deals across Europe this Summer.

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Heerenveen had a brilliant season last year, finishing 3rd in the table, but this year they've made a rather average start!

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But a 20th minute sending off of Omar Elabdellaoui made it easy for them! We were 1-0 down at the time and going down to 10 men, we simply didn't cope with them at all and were absolutely battered in the end!

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That sparked a down turn in form for us. We were poor over the next four games, only managing to win our most recent one against Go Ahead. It's fair to say we were lucky to win that one as well, as we were largely outplayed but just caught them on the break a couple of times. However, it is a win which was much needed after five games without one.

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The win against Go Ahead seemed to be the confidence booster we needed as we headed into our 2nd Europa League game against Rosenborg. We were rank outsiders to get a result despite being at home, but we performed much closer to our capabilities here and record a solid victory! Hopefully a sign we are getting back on track!

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I think we might just be getting our act together again, as we make it three wins in a row, beating FC Twente on their own turf. A good result and a good performance to match with everyone putting a shift in.

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We then had a 2 week break for the International fixtures before we would face PSV, who have started this season well and are unbeaten through their opening 9 league fixtures.

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I just have absolutely no words for what happened next!!!

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That result is well worthy of a highlight reel!

Ten games into the Eredivisie season and we are in the top 4 after stringing together some good results after a poor run. Ajax are opening up a lead at the top already as they look to wrestle the title back from Feyenoord this year.

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Unfortunately, we couldn't take that result into Europe with us and suffer defeat at the hands of Athletic Club out in Spain. We did well to fight back from 2-0 down to level things up in the 2nd half, but then Athletic flexed their muscles and exerted their dominance once again to wrap the game up pretty comfortably in the end.

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Just 1 win from our opening 3 matches leaves us down in 25th in the Europa League table. Ten points will likely be enough to secure a spot in the knockout playoff so that is the goal.

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Chapter 23
Another Tactical Shake Up Required
12th December 2025

We've got nearly £10 million in the bank, so I asked the board to invest some of it into the facilities again and over a third of that cash will now go into a training facilities upgrade.

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On the field, it was a case of 4th vs 5th in the league as we faced Utrecht, and we both remain in those positions after playing out a 1-1 draw.

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It was Ajax next for us and the scoreline suggests this was a close game as well, but if you look at the stats, it was anything but!

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It was defeat back in the Europa League as well, although we put up a good fight against Atalanta, they just about got the better of us in a close contest!

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And again we now seem to find ourselves in a bad run of form as we fail to beat league strugglers Willem II back in the Eredivisie. Our lack of progress on the pitch is bitterly frustrating this season and I really believe we should be doing better with the squad we now have!

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But maybe I am being too harsh on myself. The board and supporters are both still pretty pleased with what I'm doing and I suppose with the tiny little budgets I have had available to me, it has really restricted the sort of quality we can bring in compared to a lot of the other sides in the division.

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And I must be doing something right as I'm attracting interest from bigger European clubs.

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Our next result made me think I should have gone for that Lyon job after all! Absolute dog ****!

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Then out of absolutely nowhere, after 6 games without a victory, we went and won 3 games in just 6 days!

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And what sparked that was a shake up of the tactic again. I reverted back to my favoured 4-1-2-3 DM Wide formation with a much more simplified tactical instruction based on the gegenpress setup. It seems to have worked for now and sparked us right back into life!

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Another dominant performance and another victory followed as we hit 4 past newly promoted, FC Groningen. Great to see our 17 year old forward Oleksandr Polunytskyi coming off the bench to score his 3rd goal of the season.

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At the half way stage of the season, we find ourselves in very familiar territory...just outside the European qualification spots looking up at the top 4. Ajax are having a pretty hot season so far, winning 14 of their opening 17 fixtures!!

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In the Europa League, our final two league matches are set to be against Roma and Nice, so it was absolutely essential that we beat Panathanaikos first if we wanted any chance of making it through to the next stage. We did do just that in a thrilling encounter which saw us take the lead multiple times, get pegged back multiple times and eventually score a 5th and winning goal!!

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We are certainly in with a chance to qualify for the knockout playoff, but we might just need to scrape at least 1 more point from those last two matches.

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This very much explains why I very rearely use any other formation than the 4-3-3. For me it has been the most consistent for a few years already alongside the 5-4-1 I used last year with Vitória SC. Even though there are some bad results in there you are still 5th so not doing that bad.
This very much explains why I very rearely use any other formation than the 4-3-3. For me it has been the most consistent for a few years already alongside the 5-4-1 I used last year with Vitória SC. Even though there are some bad results in there you are still 5th so not doing that bad.

I've always favoured the 4-1-2-3 but have leaned more towards a 4-2-3-1 on FM24 and will probably now fluctuate between the two as I am having success with both in fits and spurts. Yea we seem to be riding the storms of bad form pretty well and coming out the other end still in the hunt to achieve our goals so I can't really complain.

Chapter 24
New Firepower In During The January Window
1st February 2026

After 5 straight wins in all competitions, we found ourselves up against the reigning champions in the Eredivisie and they put a very abrupt end to our winning streak, proving far too strong for us.

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We found the game against Sparta Rotterdam in the 2nd round of the cup much easier. The scoreline suggests it was tight, but they literally never threatened our goal once and even the time they hit the crossbar was from 30 yards out!

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The Winter Break came and passed and our return to action was an Eredivisie fixture against FC Volendam and I should be sitting here reporting an easy win based on the amount of chances we created, but instead it's a disappointing draw!

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Incoming: Clearly it was time to add some more firepower to the squad and I've done just that with the £1.6 million signing of Brighton's inside forward, Abdallah Sima. Sima bring with him rapid acceleration, great decision making and is a solid finisher! He should score goals in Holland!

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Sima went straight into the starting lineup for our 3rd round cup tie away at Ajax. Talk about a tough introduction for the lad, but at times he showed glimpses of what he might have to offer, without completely shining on his debut. We are out of the competition though, as expected, with Tammy Abraham single handedly putting us to the sword.

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We were absolutely **** in Europe as well. Getting the ******* ump now, I won't lie, as we can't seem to string any sort of run of results together at all for a sustained period.

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We only have one Europa League game to go and that's against Roma! We are unlikely to get a result in that game, but we might just about sneak a place in the knockout playoff even if we do lose, but a point would guarantee our spot.

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Outgoing: Alfred Gomis hasn't been my number 1 keeper this season and because of that, he had become disgruntled at the club. So I decided to move him on and he joins Zwolle for £1.1 million, which is 4 times what I paid for him.

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PEC Zwolle stuck Gomis straight between the sticks for their fixture with us, but he wasn't able to stop us winning the game although he played OK, limiting us to just 2 goals despite us dominating the game (in terms of chances anyway).

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Roma would undoubtedly be the best side we have played in the Europa League this season and if they had remained with 11 men on the field, I'm sure we would have lost to them. However, we took complete advantage of the fact they had to play more than half the game with 10 men and earned ourselves a credible draw out in Italy.

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It secures us a place in the knockout playoff round of the competition!

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Back in the Eredivisie, we picked up a big result against Vitesse, who like us are chasing down a top 4 position this year.

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We do currently occupy that 4th place right now, with 13 games of the season remaining, but there's a few teams behind us ready to pounce if we undergo a bad run of form again. Above us, the big three have a decent sized lead though and look set to play out the title amongst themselves again.

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