Welcome back to the second update of our 4th season at the helm of HFC Haarlem Globetrotters, where we are having a wonderful time in the Netherlands having been promoted in Season 3 and now competing with the big dogs of the Dutch Eredivisie.
When we last left off in Part 1, we were sitting in 10th place in the league in January 2026 after 17 games played, having started reasonably well but naturally taking some time to get used to the big jump in quality at this level. As soon as January hit, we were suddenly presented with a real problem…
As if that wasn’t bad enough…
It’s all crumbling down around us! If the prospect of losing our best player isn’t bad enough, we receive word that our so-called esteemed Chairman and patriarch Ruud Gullit is looking to move on and before we even have a moment to process this revelation, we receive confirmation of the fact that the deal is done, our relationship with Gullit is no more and there’s a new Ruud in the house…
Ok, so back to Krattenmacher. Our German Golden Boy. Originally signed for €400k (plus many add-ons) from German 3rd tier side SC Verl in Season 2, the lad has bagged 21 goals and 15 assists in 49 starts for us so far and is very much the flagship player in our mission to play Sexy Football and restore HFC Haarlem to global stardom.
It was inevitable that the lad would outgrow us but I wasn’t expecting it this soon – we haven’t even completed our first season back in the Eredivisie yet!! German giants Bayern land in with a bid of €2.1m up front rising to €11.25m with installments and add-ons etc, while Milan offer a whopping €5.75m up front rising to €10.5m after installments and add-ons.
This is a predicament. We can do a lot with that money. A lot. Considering we had €200k in our transfer budget last summer – it’s safe to say this would be a game-changer. That said – Krattenmacher would be a key player for the entirety of this save if he were to stay, good enough to play at a very high level and is exactly what we need in terms of goal contributions and sheer class off that left-hand side (assuming he wouldn’t kick off too much should a bid be rejected).
After much deliberation and emotional turmoil, we decide to brave it and decline both bids without any negotiation. THE KRATT IS NOT FOR SALE. This is our boy, a gem we unearthed from the depths of lower league Germany. The first player to get profiled in our Wonderkid Watch series and that rare player where you feel you have signed a wonderkid that no-one else knew about. We have to keep him, at least until the end of the season. He wasn’t over the moon about the decision however when we sat down and discussed it, we agreed that €15m is a fair valuation of his services and that until someone meets that price, he remains a Haarlem player.
We may have declined a cash windfall for Krattenmacher but don’t forget we still have a good chunk of the Gabriele Corbo cash left over after he left for €2m on Deadline Day a few months back. While we have a 20-man squad, we are still lacking in terms of quality/depth and often struggle to make an impact from the bench in games where we need to score or overcome a deficit. Sticking with our philosophy of signing fast, attacking, technical and “flair” players wherein our scouts are continually scouring local and European leagues for potential recruits, we unearth not one but two potential stars who absolutely fit the bill of what we are trying to do and will offer significant competition and depth to our forward line.
Winger Martin Pečar joins from Austria Wien on a Free Transfer, coming in with excellent Dribbling, Passing, Touch and Technique as well as Determination to beat the band at this level. He is joined by our first big Newgen signing in the form of Emilio Tjärnberg who arrives for €500k from Osters IF in Sweden – a hefty fee for a player at that level, but at age 18 he has bags of potential to nail down a spot on either wing or leading the line up front, as reflected by his in-game value which rockets up towards €11m-€13m becoming our highest value player behind Krattenmacher.
DISCLAIMER: New signings do not lead to a change in on-pitch fortunes..
One win in seven games sees us slide back to 13th in the league and suddenly we are in free-fall – not really in danger of relegation but showing nothing but mid-table mediocrity which is far from our objective of Sexy Football here in the Netherlands. Having persisted with Marten Winkler up front after his 24-goal haul last season which effectly sealed promotion for us, it’s clear he simply can’t kick it at this level so we turn our attention to Feyenoord loanee Fabiano Rust, who we signed at the beginning of the season as backup to Winkler in the lone striker role.
Attributes-wise he is no superstar – quick, versatile and well able to hold his own looking at his technical ability and attacking figures – for some reason however, he gives us the jolt we need, picking up 4 goals in March as we pick up two more wins, and seemly inspiring Maurice Krattenmacher to raise his game as he also bags 4 in April to give us another couple of victories. We suddenly look a more threatening, fast-paced, high-octane side – breaking out of the traps much quicker and creating/taking far more chances than was the case previously, culminating in a powerful 4-2 away win over FC Twente in the penultimate game of the season (thanks for the hat-trick Fabiano) before we went on to absolutely thrash NEC Nimjegen 7-1 in the last game of the season courtesy of the Rust/Pecar/Krattenmacher show. Why couldn’t we play like that all season?!
Thanks to Rust’s overall tally of 16 league goals, in the end we hold on to 10th place in the league a comfortable 21 points clear of the relegation zone, but 40 points behind Champions Ajax (surprised much?) which shows the massive gap that exists between the top and bottom of this level especially considering there are only 18 teams in the league. That said, 10th is an excellent achievement for us considering we were originally tipped to finish bottom of the league after gaining promotion, not to mention what it means in terms of Prize Money for the first time in 4 seasons of this save 💰.
A much improved second half of the season gives me genuine hope and confidence that we are building something special here at Haarlem – particularly when we look at some in-game stats which highlight the gulf in class that exists in this league and how much we are punching above our weight based on our current size and means:
We have one of the youngest squads, one of the lowest average wages paid, the least amount of cash and by far the lowest stadium capacity/attendance in the Eredivise which as part of our original save objectives is one of the biggest concerns I have at present. Thankfully our new board and Chairman are in agreement, and while it’s not a new stadium as desired, we will absolutely take the opportunity to effectively double our capacity and take Haarlem to the next level.
Things are looking good, a new stadium, a mid-table finish and we might actually have a real transfer budget to play with this summer…things can only get better from here right?
Thanks for reading, roll on Season 5 🚀.
Check out my new “Wonderkid Watch” series over on 5StarPotential.com where you can find profiles of some of the best wonderkids out there, looking at how their real-life development compares to their Football Manager ability and potential. You can also catch us talking all things FM on the 5 Star Potential podcast, the longest running Football Manager podcast.