HFC Haarlem Globetrotters – Phase 6
Welcome back to Haarlem – home of the 2028 KNVB Beker (Dutch Cup) Champions!!
Okay let’s rewind. In my last post we had just competed our 5th season of Sexy Footballing in the Netherlands, helping the resurrected HFC Haarlem finish 8th in our second season back in the Eredivisie, having finished 10th the season before following promotion from the Eerste Divisie. With main man Maurice Krattenmacher moving on, loanee Adam Geraerts (Club Brugge) stepped up to the plate last season however the Belgian club refused to extend for another season which means we find ourselves again on the hunt for a top quality Inside Forward to fill the void on the left hand side of our front three.
Out for a Scout
I’ve really been enjoying scouting this year, mixing a combination of the Recruitment Focus with specific nation scouting assignments has yielded some outstanding bargain players for us (e.g. Lähteenmäki, Tjärnberg, Krattenmacher, Ruiz etc).
More recently we decided to spend some time exploring South-East Europe with the idea that players from these nations/leagues will do well in stepping up to the Dutch league, and while rambling around Croatia our Chief Scout Alen Terzic helped us unearth yet another ridiculous gem to add to our collection. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you TONI MAJIĆ ⭐.
Toni arrives on an initial loan from Dinamo with a €2.9 million option which I will be amazed if we don’t activate next summer. We’ve been doing well on the finances front and in particular we have inadvertently built a “buy low, sell high” model in Haarlem of late wherein players are arriving for little to no transfer fee and then being flipped for a high price a season or two later.
|Che Nunnelly||Willem II||Free||Sparta Rotterdam||€1.5m|
|Conor Noß||BMG||Free||FC Twente||€2.9m|
|Maurice Krattenmacher||Aachen||€800k||Young Boys||€16m|
|Emilio Tjärnberg||Osters IF||€525k||PSG||€10.75m|
€28.7 million of pure profit over the past 5 seasons, much of which has been reinvested into the squad and facilities and although we have a very healthy €7 million transfer budget available, I am quite happy with the quality of our current squad in terms of ability and potential so for now we only add a couple of players on loan in the form Tjärnberg (who PSG bought but offered back to us on loan for the season), Martim Ferreira (DMC – Benfica), Mauro Basoski (MC – Feyenoord) as well as securing four free agents in Giovanni Haag (DMC – Nancy), Mads Orbe (DC – Vendsyssel FF), Isak Hansen-Aarøen (MC – Man Utd) and Juande Fuentes (AML – Barcelona B).
That means we kick off Season 6 at Haarlem with a slightly new look side but a strong one nonetheless with the exception of captain Theo Zidane who misses out through injury. Having missed almost all of last season through injury after signing in January from Roma, Eldor Shomurodov leads the line with Majić deployed on the left and Lähteenmäki on the right of our front three. New boy Mads Orbe starts alongside Sepp Ven Den Berg in defence – a strong bench also, looking forward to an improved this season this year 🔥.
Despite all that unwavering positivity we suffer a 2-0 opening defeat to RKC Waalwijk, but thankfully we bounce back in the next game to thrash FC Twente 4-1. The weeks that followed saw us very much endure a roller-coaster ride from there – we see glimpses of absolute poetry from this team on the pitch but consistency becomes a MAJOR issue with the likes of Majić, Tjärnberg and Shomurodov all struggling to maintain any type of goalscoring form. By Christmas we find ourselves in 13th place in the league after what has been a highly disappointing period of this save adventure.
Break Glass for Emergency
Desperate times call for desperate measures. While we can of course continue to try and tweak our tactics, review our training, refresh our backroom staff or look at what we can do with morale and dynamics etc, when you are in dire need of goals sometimes you simply need to go out and buy them…and that’s exactly what we did.
Dion Drena Beljo arrives from Osijek in Croatia for a fee of €7.5m, becoming our highest ever transfer and at 25 potentially has 10 years of football ahead of him at this level. Beljo is someone I’ve seen pop up in a few other FM saves around the community and a player I have wanted to manage in FM23 – hopefully he can deliver the goals we need to try and rescue this season and push for a top half finish at least.
Well well well. What a signing this has proven to be – not just in the goals that he brings, but somehow his arrival galvanizes the rest of the squad and suddenly the likes of Lähteenmäki and Majić are also upping their levels in front of goal and appearing somewhat inspired by their new forward colleague. Beljo’s presence spearheading our attacking line seems to be the key in making this tactic click and we start to see some outstanding patterns of play particularly between our Croatian Combo who together are loving life in 2028 Haarlem .
The pair score 13 goals between them and assist eachother 7 times in a period that saw us win 6 games in a row to lift us up to 8th in the table after 25 games played. Talk about a turnaround! Suddenly we are goals galore and this outstanding run of form also leads us to a KNVB Beker Semi-Final clash with Ajax, this is HUGE as we have a chance at our first silverware of FM23 as well as offering a direct route into European football should we win which was one of our original save objectives laid out all the way back in November. COME ON YOU GLOBETROTTERS 💪💪.
Dutch Cup Semi-Final
We don’t make it easy for ourselves and it takes extra-time to decide it as Emilio Tjärnberg emerges a hero by scoring a 108th minute winner to put HFC Haarlem into the Dutch Cup final for the first time since 1950 – 78 years after a 4-3 defeat to PSV. Though the Dutch Cup hadn’t really been in our minds when we embarked on this adventure, a shot at a trophy and a path into Europe would most certainly be welcomed with open arms by yours truly.
FM Course Correcting?
This good run of form almost feels unnatural – so much so that it’s like the game itself realises what is going on and attempts to course correct in an effort to restore balance to the FM universe. First – we play NEC in our next league game after that semi-final win, and out of nowhere we go down to 9 men end up losing 5-0 in our worst display of the season.
Next, we are hit with a ridiculous quanity of simultaneous injuries – by ridiculous, I mean 4 first team players all announced injured in the space of 24 in-game hours which takes our total to 7, the highest in the league by far 🤷♂️.
Add in a host of random VAR disallowed goals and it really feels like the game is trying to sabotage our season – BUT WE SHALL PREVAIL NONETHELESS. Despite all of this chaos, we manage to persevere and continue our good form as we go on to pick up 4 wins and 2 draws from our next 7 games which means by the end of April with just two games to go. we remain in 8th place just 3 points off AZ in 5th and only a point behind Willem II in 6th place. Is there a late twist in this chaos merchant of a season?
KNVB Beker Dutch Cup Final
The biggest day in HFC Haarlem’s history for over half a century. After starting this save back in November with an empty squad and no staff to be found, we find ourselves in a Cup Final six seasons in and as luck would have it, we face RKC Waalwijk who you will remember gave us a 2-0 opening day defeat at the beginning of the season. With Feyenoord, PSV, AZ Alkmaar and now Ajax all out of the competition, it’s safe to say we will probably never have as good a chance as this right now with Haarlem listed as 6-5 favourites..I won’t do a play by play here on the blog as I actually did a live Twitter thread for it so hit the Tweet below to relive this memorable occasion for the HFC Haarlem Globetrotters.
If you are here, now you know. HFC HAARLEM ARE THE 2028 DUTCH CUP CHAMPIONS 🏆 !!! A cracking 5-1 win over RKC with five individual goalscorers, an all round outstanding team performance to win us the KNVB Beker trophy and even more importantly, a guaranteed place in the 2028/2029 Europa League Group Stages. SAVE OBJECTIVE #4 COMPLETE ✅
The Final Lap
Two games to go. While we already have secured European qualification and one might argue that our league position won’t really change that outcome (only Top 3 qualify for the Champions League) – there is still money and pride to play for with around €2m of a difference in prize money between 4th (€8m) and 8th (€6m), not to mention our desire to finish higher than last year’s 8th place finish. If we can beat Vitesse and AZ and hope that other teams drop points elsewhere, we might MIGHT just finish in 4th or 5th which would be a hell of an achievement based on where we were just 5 months back.
We do our job convincingly and finish with a bang, Toni Majić putting in a barnstorming performance on the last day which had us in 5th place all the way to the final whistle until Willem II snatched a 96th minute winner at Heracles to seal 5th place for them and leave us in 6th place for the season.
A small kick in the teeth from FM right at the end but overall a cracking end to an outrageous season – a season of two halves in which we finished 13th in the first half of the season and 2nd for the second half of the season. I guess 6th is fair overall, but what could have been!
Toni Majić really is magic – he finishes as our top scorer and provider with 21 goals and 11 assists with an average rating of 7.49, and he is deservedly rewarded with the Footballer of the Year award as well as earning himself a place in Croatia’s Euro 2028 squad. I guess he is worth triggering the €2.9m transfer clause right?
Also – what’s that they say about self-praise?
Thanks for reading – see you next time.
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