HFC Haarlem Globetrotters: Phase 5
Welcome back to Haarlem, for what is now our 5th season at the helm of the HFC Haarlem Globetrotters whom we have spent the last 4 seasons resurrecting from dissolution to take a place in the Dutch Eredivisie, having finished 10th in our first season back in the top tier and more than holding our own against heavyweights Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord.
As usual we have another mini-clearout and squad rebuild over the summer but before we do that I need to give you an update on our 3-year love affair with a certain Maurice Krattenmacher.
Since signing him for €400k up front (with another €400k in installments over 3 years), Krattenmacher has been by far our best player with 29 goals and 19 assists in 60 odd games for the club playing as an Inside Forward (Left) wherein he frequently cuts in on his favoured right side and plays in our Striker or takes a shot on goal himself. In my last update I had told you that we rejected bids from Bayern and Milan for his services, ultimately agreeing with Krattenmacher that it would take €15m for me to accept a bid for his signature. After rumoured interest from Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Everton – surprisingly the highest bid came from a somewhat unexpected source and €16m was an offer we simply couldn’t refuse.
We tried to see if anyone else was interested however no other club was willing to match the €16m bid from Swiss Champions Young Boys, literally 20 times the amount we paid for him just two seasons back. With our board giving us 50% of all incoming transfer revenue, we get a tasty €8m into our Transfer Budget and once again we get to treat ourselves to a summer transfer window shopping spree 😎.
First things first – we need not one but two wide forwards with Krattenmacher leaving and Jaden Slory returning to parent club Feyenoord. The latter was outstanding in our promotion season but simply hasn’t been good enough to cut it at this level. This is still a tricky transfer window – we have money, but our reputation and size is still such that interest levels in joining Haarlem are still relatively limited when it comes to the calibre of player we can attract. That coupled with our continued focus on highly technical, creative and explosive players as part of our Sexy Football philosophy means that our taste is very particular when it comes to who we bring into the club.
Enter a wonderkid from Finland…
Juho Lähteenmäki arrives from the talent factory that is FC Nordsjælland for a fee of €1 million after racking up 6 goals and 3 assists in 20 odd games last season. At 20 years old he has excellent technical attributes, is relatively quick and has huge scope and runway to rapidly develop under our tutelage and become a key part of our Sexy Footballing ways on the right-hand side of our forward three.
Of course – that still doesn’t fill the gap left by Krattenmacher. For that we need to go to Belgium..
We are back in Newgen territory as Adam Geraerts arrives on loan from Club Brugge in the Belgian Pro League. While we could have tried to sign someone permanently, Geraerts is the player I really wanted based on the fact that although naturally a Striker, he is primed and ready to be fully retrained into a Left Inside Forward, again cutting in on his favoured right-hand side and with good Finishing, Technique and Flair should be able to fill the goal contribution void left by Krattenmacher. Replacing a €16m player with a 19-year-old Belgian loan signing while risky is very good business, and with a €10m optional fee we may even be able to sign him permanently if he bangs this season. If he doesn’t – why not have a new Serbian newgen as back up?
Welcome Filip Panović who signs from Partizan Belgrade for €1.2m ✍️.
From here we have three more positions to fill. After signing Theo Zidane last season to replace the outgoing Luciano Valente, it became clear that he is much more suited to the DLP Support role rather than as a CM on Attack. We need a more mobile, explosive and direct attacking midfielder who will make those surging runs into the box and cause havoc for opposition centre-backs accordingly. Again our scouting system takes us in a slightly unexpected direction but comes up trumps again as we welcome Brais Ruiz to the club, signing for €650k from C.D. Badajoz in the Spanish Third Tier. At 18 he already has great physical and mental attributes, and looking at his Technique, Passing, Touch & Shooting combined with that Vision and Off the Ball, we are going to have a lot of fun with this chap in Haarlem.
Next our focus is on a Left-Sided Centre Back which I have grown extremely fond of in this year’s game looking at the options they give on the ball and when playing out from the back (so much so I wrote an article about them here). Having had Soumaïla Coulibaly on loan from Dortmund last year, his departure means we need a replacement and in true Football Manager fashion we succeed in finding our man before the season had even finished with Dennis Cirkin agreeing to sign from Sunderland on a free Transfer at the end of his contract at Sunderland. That’s right – not only did we rob the Mackems, he is also Irish 😍.
Our final signing is a Left-Back, with another previous loan signing from last season returning to Feyenoord. Considering we have just signed three players aged 20 or under, probably wise to bring in a bit more experience to help in terms of dynamics and average age etc. During our travels in Denmark we spotted a pretty decent option at Nordsjælland, and it takes €2.8m to convince them to part ways with Martin Frese who should be able to immediately slot in as our first-choice Attacking Left Full Back.
5 players in the door means we have some fat to trim in this squad to ensure we keep on elevating year on year in terms of quality and footballing sexiness, which means that we say goodbye to Conor Noß (FC Twente – €2.8m) and Tom Gaal (MVV – €250k), a decent haul overall considering the two cost us a combined €190k just two seasons back.
Right – let’s see how our squad now looks for Season 5 at HFC Haarlem 🔥.
HFC Haarlem Playing Squad 2026/2027
Goalkeepers: Alex Padilla, Vlastimil Helebrand.
Defenders: Jens Jacobs, Sepp Van Den Berg, Dennis Cirkin, Martin Frese, Inaki Leon, Maxim Gullit.
Midfielders: Lukas Quirin (c), Theo, Brais Ruiz, Fabio Markelic, Martin Pečar, Juho Lähteenmäki, Filip Panović, Jack Byrne, Caspar Jander.
Forwards: Emilio Tjärnberg, Adam Geraerts, Marten Winkler.
After opening with a comfortable 2-0 win over ADO Den Haag in which Adam Geraerts scored on his debut for the club, we thought we were onto a winner right from the go this season. We were wrong…
This is very much a changed side from last year – younger, less experienced and a lack of cohesion & familiarity leads to 5 games without a win however we continue to see signs of Sexy Football with us having good possession stats and creating plenty of chances (albeit not converting them). We ramp up the Team Bonding and Match Tactics training, and suddenly October is a lot nicer to us as we win 4 consecutive league games, followed by defeats against the likes of PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord to leave us in 8th place in the league by the end of January with 20 games played – not bad considering 8th or above can give us a path into European football next season.
Let’s talk about Strikers for a moment. Emilio Tjarnberg is our first choice Centre-Forward for the Lone Striker role and he has shown signs of being absolutely brilliant – 19 years old, Swedish with really promising all round attributes. The problem as we all know though is that POTENTIAL IS NOT ABILITY. While he has a promising future, for now he is just too inconsistent which has led to us having to draft in Marten Winkler frequently, however the latter just isn’t really good enough for this level to contend for a starting spot.
We need someone who is ready. A more experienced striker, someone with a bit more pedigree and more developed in terms of attributes and ability in game. With the January transfer window about to close, it’s time to see if we can find someone who can add some goals to this team..
Former Roma Striker Eldor Shomurodov signs on a free transfer after finding himself without a club since being released by José Mourinho in the summer. While certainly not a superstar, at 31 he still has good physicals and definitely knows his way around the box – here’s hoping he can hit the ground running to help us kick on and maybe, just maybe, push for a Continental place in our second season in the Eredivisie.
THAT FEELING. Your new signing scoring a hat-trick on his debut after signing him without spending a penny when no-one else wanted him, proving you are the shrewdest and most astute manager in the land. Eldor Shomurodov, Uzbekistan’s all-time leading scorer, the man who José Mourinho himself couldn’t get a tune out of, popping up in Haarlem to help us become true globetrotters and potentially propel ourselves into European football for the first time in 44 years. It’s written in the stars right?
Well. That’s that then. 3-6 months. Out for the season. See you next year Eldor.
We hit the business end of the season and both of our strikers are out injured (I forgot to mention we sold Marten Winkler for €900k in January because his contract was running down). Our dreams of a European place now rest on our young lads again with Adam Geraerts being thrown into the deep end up front….
On the plus side – Adam Geraerts loves being a striker, scoring in 5 games in a row and bagging 7 goals in 7 appearances and restoring my faith in this youthful Haarlem squad alongside Brais Ruiz who also chips in with a few lovely well-taken goals in that CMA role.
On the down side – despite this, we still only win 2 games across March and April and with 3 games to go, we are barely clinging on to 8th place. Can our young guns step up to the plate and help get us over the line once and for all?
More draws than Ikea but in the end Adam Geraert’s 81st minute equaliser in the last game of the season seals an 8th place finish in the league, which means we enter a playoff semi-final against SC Heerenveen for a chance at qualification to the Europa Conference League. Having taken 4 points from our two games against them earlier in the season, we have to be confident – all to play for as we look to truly become the Haarlem Globetrotters for the first time in this FM23 save…
Oh well , it was nice while it lasted! A scoreless draw at home in the second leg was not enough to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg, and we miss out on Europe for another season at least while Heerenveen go on to win the playoff final and take a place in the Europa Conference League. Adam Geraerts finishes as our top scorer with 12 goals which gives me great hope that this young squad will be even better next season if we can put the €6m prize money to good use. 8th place will do no harm to our reputation and standing in-game, meaning we might be able to bring in a couple of extra quality signings who can lift us to the next level and truly compete for European football next season.
Speaking of money….
Despite barely getting going for Haarlem, Emilio Tjarnberg’s €10.75m release clause is met by PSG and Juventus and in the end he opts for a move to France over Italy..what’s even more interesting however, is what happens next – the first time I’ve seen this in Football Manager without actually asking for it..
Thanks for reading – this save just keeps on giving 😅.
See you soon for Season 6 👌.
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