November 2011 – January 2012 – The Twente Train is now boarding!
Welcome back to another FC Twente post! This post will cover November 2011 – January 2012, going through the new year and the January transfer window. The race is hotting up for Twente with us competing on three different fronts, the Eredivisie, the Dutch Cup & the Europa League.
Youth Facilities Upgrade
First, some house-keeping news. With our Training facilities rated as ‘Top’ and the Youth Facilities only ‘Average’, I went to the board asking if they could improve the Youth Facilities. They agreed straight away and the work on the Youth Facilities will be completed by the end of October 2012, costing £4m.
It was another excellent month for FC Twente as we won 5 out of our 6 games to further progress in 3 different tournaments. We started November off with a very tricky away game against Lazio in the Europa League – Lazio dominated us and we were lucky that the score finished at 3-1, our first defeat of the group. We then welcomed second-to-bottom FC Utrecht to Grolsch Veste – FC Utrecht went 1-0 down early on but they pulled it back to 1-1, before Twente did a thoroughly professional job, riding out 4-1 winners. Next up was RKC away in the league, a team that we’re sitting in mid-table, but we were comfortable favourites to win – we did so courtesy of a Luuk de Jong double and a Douglas header. Next up we were back in the Dutch Cup as we hosted the Vitesse Reserves in the 3rd Round, and a much changed side won 2-0. Then came the big game of the month – Ajax away. But we put in our best performance of the season to date, smashing Ajax 5-1, with Twente leading 3-0 at HT. Walter Montillo bagged a brace as well as a goal each for strikers Welbeck & de Jong, and an own goal by Andre Ooijer (a screenshot of the result is below). We ended the month with our penultimate group game in the Europa League, facing Sevilla at home – we produced another fantastic performance as we thumped them 4-2, giving us qualification into the 1st Knockout Round of the Europa League. Although, it could of been different – we were 4-0 up before Sevilla missed a penalty, they pulled 2 back and could of easily got an equaliser if they scored that penalty, but a win and qualification nevertheless.
December was yet again another fairly successful month for Twente, with us progressing in the Dutch Cup and the league. We started off with a home game against Feyenoord (our only home game of the month) and despite our dominance, we faltered and ended up with a poor 0-0 draw. Next up was ADO Den Haag, 4th in the league and doing okay – we smashed them 5-1. Another inspiring performance by Twente, headed by a wonderful Danny Welbeck hattrick. But the next game was the biggest of the season yet – NAC Breda away. It was 1st v 2nd and if we won we’d just to the top of the league. We struggled and were maybe unlucky to lose 2-1, but I was disappointed that we didn’t get at least a point, setting our title challenge back. We then traveled off to Ukraine for our final Europa League Group H game against Vorskla and I fielded a strong side despite us already qualifying, and I was disappointed to see us muster up only a 1-1 draw, but it didn’t matter anyway as we finished 2nd in the group, a point behind group winners Lazio. We then traveled back from Ukraine to face another giant, PSV Eindhoven. After a 2 winless game streak we got back on track with an excellent 3-1 victory, Welbeck bagging a brace and CB Bengtsson scoring his 5th of the season. We ended the month with an away game against RKC, the second time we had faced them in as many months – another strong performance saw us win 3-1 courtesy of a Glynor Plet hattrick, sending us into the 5th round of the Dutch Cup and giving us an excellent end to the year.
Europa League 1st Knockout Round Draw
After coming 2nd in the group we were set to face a group winner in the 1st Knockout Round, and we got… Manchester City?! The oil-rich club topped the group and sit 2nd in the PL and we face a horrible struggle to get through against them.
Europa League 2nd Knockout Round Draw
The 2nd Knockout Round was also drawn, if we somehow manage to beat Manchester City and progress through, we will face either Italian side Udinese or fellow Dutch club PSV.
Change of Season Expectations
With the club doing well and sitting 3 points clear at the top of the year I was offered the chance to change my season expectations. I was currently on ‘Title Challenge’, but I wasn’t confident enough to change it so left it on that, although a received £1.6m extra in transfer funds, which I put all into the wages budget.
Extra Transfer Funds
After being given an extra £1.6m because of the change in season expectations I put that into the wage budget – a few days later I was given an extra £1.6m to spend on transfers, which I left as a transfer budget.
Pre-Contract Signings & Departures.
In January I can confirm I made no signings, although I did sign 3 new players on a pre-contract deal, and one player of mine signed a pre-contract deal at another club. Here are the pre-contract signings;
Stijn Wuytens was my first pre-contract signing, signing from dutch rivals PSV. He is predominantly a DM but can also play CB & CM, and will be used as back-up to the first team. He holds a 3 1/2 star rating, and most of his attributes are double figures.
Michael Svec was my second pre-contract signing coming from another Dutch club, Heerenveen. Again he is predominantly a DM, although he can also play in CM. He has a 3 star rating and will be used as back-up, his best attribute being his flair, composure, concentration and long throws, all 15.
German Lux was the final pre-contract signing, the Argentian GK signing from Spanish side Deportivo. He’s rated 3 stars and is half a star better than my current starting GK, although I plan to buy a GK in the summer so Lux will most likely be backup.
One Twente player also signed a pre-contract deal with another club, and that was Denny Landzaat, the 35 year old signing for French side Stade Rennais FC.
Only 3 games in January because of the 3 week winter break, with Twente playing two league games and the Dutch Cup Quarter Final. We started off at home to Heerenveen – it was 1-1 until the final minute of stoppage time, Danny Welbeck cooly slotting into the bottom corner to send the home crowd wild, although it was debatable that it was offside. We then had the Dutch Cup Quarter Final away at Jupiler League side FC Zwolle – I decided to field a mixed side, with first teamers and reserve players, and a poor performance saw us scrape through 2-1 AET, courtesy of a 114th minute Bas Dost winner. The final game of the month was another big one, as we went to Vitesse Arnhem – 2nd in the league against Twente the league leaders. Vitesse took an early lead through a penalty before Bengtsson equalised. Welbeck thought he had won it for Twente with 5 minutes left but Vitesse equalised straight from kick off, giving a fair point to both sides. So at the end of January we still sit top of the league, by 4 points to second place Vitesse;
Player Stats from the Eredivisie
From the player stats you can still see Danny Welbeck leads the goalscoring charts in the Eredivisie with 19 goals in 20 games. He is still the highest average rated player in the league with a rating of 7.76, a 0.11 improvement from the last post. Also you can see that Douglas is now the 4th highest average rated player in the league whereas he was 7th in the last post, and Luuk de Jong is now the 6th highest rated player. Wout Brama is still the league’s most successful passer despite the rate going down by 3%, and Walter Montillo has the most assists in the league with 9. Danny Welbeck has 7 MOTM awards, more than anyone else.
Transfers from around the world in January
That’s it from this post – I’ll be back soon with a special post for our Europa League games against Manchester City.
Until then, please rate/comment!