I started at my new job in Rotterdam with the news that I only 75K to spend on new players. Not great news..... As I said there were a few good young players at the club;
With these players I knew that Sparta could have a great future but I knew I needed quality player for now. I stubled accross two decent players, Franklin Salas for the striker and left midfield areas on a free, I also managed to sign Laurentiu Rosu for 3K from Spanish Cadiz.
I let my assistant take care of all my friendly matches using my tactics. I was very pleased with the team's performances.
They managed to keep it tight at the back throughout the friendly campaign, which left me with a smile on my face seen as we would be fighting against relegation throughout the season.
My squad looked in great shape as I wanted to play a friendly to really test my team against league champions PSV which we managed to get a draw against!
I was feeling good as we came closer to the opening match up against mid-table FC Utrecht. This is what my squad looks like:
Sadly, Fraklin Salas and Sander van Gessel got injured a few day before the game which was a devestating blow to my ambitions as they both played like there was no tomorrow in the pre-season campaign....
FC Utrecht - Sparta Rotterdam
I was feeling extremely confident going into this match and I really felt my team could at least get a point in the Galgenwaard. But it wasn't meant to be..... My team got off to the worst start possible as my left back Jaggy was pressured into giving the ball away to van der Gun who managed to slot the ball into the back of the net. 1 - 0 to Utrecht. Only five minutes later my central defender Touzani missed his interception to let Somers score a real poachers effort. 2 - 0 to Utrecht. I was extremely pissed with my defense and even considered taking some off..... but that was too harsh, I changed my tactics slightly to cause some more trouble for their defense with a more direct style of play. It paid off. Poepon was given a huge chance from a magnificent ball from Strootman. He took his chance. 2 - 1. I felt like we had the momentum to carry on for the equalizer. But we weren't even finished with celebrating or van der Gun had made his second of the day after a misser from my other central defender, Ruud Knol. 3 - 1. Now almost the whole of my defense had fucked up except my talented right back, Vermes. He did quite the opposite..... Vermes slotted home from close range to make it 3 - 2. Again I thought that we were back in the match just to see Boussaboun score the 4 - 2. That was when I decided to go for broke and pile on the pressure. Again it paid off.... Strootman managed to finish off a great solo from his own half to make it 4 - 3. Again I had hope that I would snatch a point from Utrecht.... Utrecht substitute de Jong shatered that dream after finish off from close range. 5 - 3.
After that performance I wasn't pleased at all with my defence to say the least.... and I let my back four have it in the dressing room.....
Next I was headed to Den Haag, to play against the yellow-green of ADO Den Haag. They were also relegation candidates so I knew that this would be an important battle.
ADO Den Haag - Sparta Rotterdam
My second successive away game in the Eredivisie was not spectacular. ADO got off to a one nil lead after an error from..... guess who? Jaggy, Jaggy kept his reputation high as the worst defender you could have on your team. I subbed him in the 10 min for a young loan star from Ajax, Slijngard. After my half-time speech my team really some flair back into the game making hard tackles and inspiring solo's. Kevin Strootman placed his header just out of reach of Waterman (ADO's keeper) leveling the two sides. The boys battled on as Falkenburg almost scored a wonderful goal with a thunderous drive bouncing back off the post. Both teams went for the win but the points were shared on this nice saturday afternoon. 1 - 1.
I got my first point as a manager for Sparta and if it weren't for Jaggy terrible defending it would have been 3.....
My next game in charge was in the cup. The KNVB Beker. It was against the amateurs if Katwijk.
Katwijk - Sparta Rotterdam
In this match I wasn't expecting much resistance so I played new signing Salas with Godee up front. I mixed up my defence to see with the other defenders I had were any good. The first 15 minutes of the match were boring as hell but new signing Franklin Salas slotted home for a debut goal. 0 - 1 to Sparta. My team carried on as van Bueren got injured in the second half so I brought on Sander van Gessel who scored with his first touch of the ball. 0 - 2. Just as I made my final subs Godee got injured leaving the team to finish off the match with ten men. Fair play Katwijk as they gave it their all with a blazing shot smashing off the cross bar. It ended 0 - 2.
I was pleased to finally keep a clean sheet. Next up was strong FC Groningen.
Sparta Rotterdam - FC Groningen
My first home game against Groningen who had been challenging the traditional top (Ajax and PSV) the last few years. A good game with only one error which decided the game..... And it wasn't one of my defenders! Groningen's Meerdink came in way too late on Strootman, which only left Knol to cooly slot home the penalty giving me the win. I was delighted with the win as I hold FC Groningen in high regard.
With this win Sparta moved up into 10th place. But now a very tough match against the league holders, PSV.
PSV - Sparta
A good game where we were out-played by a strong side from Eindhoven. We were even kinda lucky to get a goal and possibly to snatch a point, but it wasn't to be.
PSV 2 Sparta 1
Sparta - NEC
A match we really needed to win to avoid relegation and maybe reach a mid-table spot. Sadly, we weren't able to finish off the chances we created, the match ending in a 0-0 draw.
Sparta - Roda JC
Another must-win match and that's exactly what we did! Rydell Poepon and Charles Dissels scored to secure the three points.
Vitesse - Sparta
We got off to the worst possible start as we went 2-0 down within 10 minutes. Poepon managed to claw one back but it wasn't enough.
Vitesse 2 Sparta 1
Sparta - Willem II
We welcomed Willem II and the fans to a crucial match up in the fight to avoid relegation. But I think the fans would have wanted to stay home as all 22 players showed no intention to win. The match in a goalless draw.
Feyenoord - Sparta
It was time for the Rotterdam derby, a lot of pressure was hanging on this match and it affected the players too. We managed to get a sneaky goal in just before half-time taking a deserved 1-0 lead. My players totally collapsed at the sight of a few charging Feyenoord player as they lost concentration and let Feyenoord score two very late goals.
Feyenoord 2 Sparta 1
Sparta - FC Eindhoven
A welcome break from Eredivisie football as I gave some of the talented and backup players a chance to perform and possibly break into the starting line-up. They didn't let me down as Eindhoven were put aside in the 2-0 win.
Heracles - Sparta
We got a good away win as Heracles were brushed aside.
Heracles 1 Sparta 2
Sparta - Ajax
A good game where we drove title challengers Ajax back and dominated. Remarkably, we were unlucky to win.
Sparta 0 Ajax 0
AZ - Sparta
Again a good performance as Franklin Salas got us a well deserved equalizer in the 80th minute.
AZ 1 Sparta 1
Sparta - Volendam
We got another crucial win getting the 2-1 win.
Twente - Sparta
We didn't have a chance against a free flowing Twente and were quite lucky that CÃ¡ssio was on form to hold them to just a the 1 goal.
Twente 1 Sparta 0
Sparta - NAC
A good win as surely were heading the right direction as Salas made himself important getting two goals.
Sparta 2 NAC 0
NEC - Sparta
A poor performance adding to a disapointing defeat to a team who were really beatable.
NEC 1 Sparta 0
Sparta - Heerenveen
Another good display from our keeper CÃ¡ssio making several sublime saves to hold Heerenveen to a goalless draw.
Sparta 0 Heerenveen 0
So far so good with us sitting on the 10th place far from relegation:)