Today I’d like to discuss FC Utrecht: a club having undergone some tumultuous recent years but always living up to its reputation as a great Eredivisie side. Erik ten Hag leaving the club for Ajax was perhaps the highest-profile departure in recent years and could have led to a disastrous spell. Nevertheless, Utrecht finished sixth last season and have their hopes set on an improved position when next spring rolls around.
John van den Brom has coached his side to an undefeated start to the season, albeit with only three matches played. However, those three matches included an away trip to Den Haag and De Kuip in Rotterdam. Off-form Zwolle and ADO saw themselves soundly defeated while Feyenoord managed to garner a point from their bout in “The Tub”. With star player and main attacking force Gyrano Kerk committing his future to Utrecht, things are looking up.
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Utrecht have started with a bang. For one, they were eliminated from Europa League contention by Bosnian outfit Zrinjski Mostar. Not so great for the Dutch European competition coefficient ranking, but pretty good for keeping a team fit for the weekend matches. Utrecht have done some great business this summer, bolstering not only their dangerous attack but their entire squad as well.
Václav Černy (Ajax) and Adrián Dalmau (Heracles) will both compete for starting positions in attack, having left their previous Dutch employers for a combined total fee in the range of €1.5 million. Former Heracles defender Justin Hoogma–who had left for TSG Hoffenheim after a breakout season–joins Utrecht on loan as a starting central defender. Questions may be asked about Van den Brom’s midfield, but Adam Maher (free transfer from AZ Alkmaar) has come in to bolster that part of the squad and to try and get his form back to the level of his PSV days.
Tussen de Linies’ Thom Bleijerveld spoke on Utrecht’s draw with Feyenoord over the weekend, highlighting the midfield fragility of the Rotterdammers. Too much space was given to FC Utrecht, space that was fortunately not taken for granted. It seems attacking midfielder Simon Gustafson is prepared to build off a statistically phenomenal 18/19 season as he and the midfield trio exploited a haphazardly-assembled Feyenoord unit. Of course, it may be argued that Feyenoord are one of the least prepared sides coming into this season, a large contrast to the likes of AZ and Vitesse, but Utrecht capitalized on their mistakes nonetheless. This is a really good sign for Utrecht, especially as this year’s table looks a bit open underneath the forces of PSV and Ajax.
Featured image found on voetbalprimeur.nl.