[2008/2009] Road to the Title - Xtratime Community
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old April 27th, 2009, 14:15 Thread Starter
International
 
Slagathor's Avatar
 
Join Date: 02 2003
Location: The Hague, NL
Teams: AZ Alkmaar
Posts: 7,004
[2008/2009] Road to the Title

STAGE 1 | A FALSE START

After a disastrous season, the players manage to convince Van Gaal to stay after he announced he failed to see any future perspective. Over the summer, the squad undergoes a makeover that sees the departure of the weakest links and the arrival of several low key reinforcements. The fans have their doubts. Who are these players? Why aren’t we spending any serious money to secure improvement?

A brittle sense of hope fills the Victory Stadium for the first encounter of the season against NAC Breda. After 90 minutes, the score line reads 1-2. Enough to unleash a sense of despair in Alkmaar.



Two weeks later, the away game to The Hague is lost by demoralizing figures: 3-0. Brett Holman sees red and the fans are preparing themselves for another season of hardship. Despite all this, Van Gaal declares he witnessed his team play “the best football I’ve seen in six months” – the coach harvests nothing but cynicism with his comments.

Stage 1: two games, zero points and a goal difference of -4.
Slagathor is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old April 27th, 2009, 14:16 Thread Starter
International
 
Slagathor's Avatar
 
Join Date: 02 2003
Location: The Hague, NL
Teams: AZ Alkmaar
Posts: 7,004
STAGE 2 | SLAYING THE SUPERPOWER FROM EINDHOVEN

When the trees in Holland turn yellow and red to signal the arrival of Fall, Louis van Gaal introduces tactical changes. From now on, his team will cease pouring forward and pressurizing the opponent. Instead, the forwards linger along the halfway line and AZ allow the opponents to play ball. The second they lose possession, one-touch counter attack football launches Mounir El Hamdaoui and Moussa Dembélé forward.

It works. When PSV visit Alkmaar, they fail to punch a dent in the organized defence. A clever chip by Maarten Martens hands AZ victory in the dying minutes of the game (1-0). The game would soon be known as the definitive turn around.



Gallery play in Tilburg against Willem II (2-5) and at home against Sparta Rotterdam (6-0) secure deserved victories. Almost every chance equals a goal. Mounir El Hamdaoui and Moussa Dembélé enchant the supporters with wonderful solo runs and brilliant shots. Optimism returns, as do pride and hope.

Next in line are the relegation candidates De Graafschap away (0-2) and Volendam at home (3-0). Both are disposed of with ease.

Stage 2: seven games, fifteen points and a goal difference of +11.
Slagathor is offline  
post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old April 27th, 2009, 14:16 Thread Starter
International
 
Slagathor's Avatar
 
Join Date: 02 2003
Location: The Hague, NL
Teams: AZ Alkmaar
Posts: 7,004
STAGE 3 | LEAGUE LEADERS AND WINTER CHAMPIONS

On the eve of the difficult month of November, Mounir El Hamdaoui guides his team past Roda JC by scoring twice (0-2). After eight rounds and eleven goals by the Moroccan forward, AZ reach the top spot in the Eredivisie. An unexpected injury-time equalizer by Heerenveen in the Abe Lenstra stadium (3-3) makes everyone feel like the game was lost rather than drawn but AZ remain league leaders.

A new strength surfaces during the 3-0 victory over FC Twente: depth. Dembélé, Schaars and Jaliens are all sidelined but it’s barely visible from the display.



That newfound asset fails one week later when VItesse steal a point in Arnhem (1-1). AZ fall back to fourth place in the league, but it’s a blip on the radar. One week later, the Alkmaarders beat Ajax in the snow (2-0) and return to claim pole position. The match against Ajax would be the first of an impressive clean sheet streak.



FC Groningen is casually brushed aside in its own Green Cathedral (0-2) and the month of November draws to a close. AZ dealt with a tough series of fixtures without losing even once. The winning streak continues through December as Heracles (2-0), Feyenoord (0-1), Utrecht (2-0) and NEC Nijmegen (1-0) are all served defeats.

Stage 3: seventeen games, forty one points and a goal difference of +26.
Slagathor is offline  
post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old April 27th, 2009, 14:17 Thread Starter
International
 
Slagathor's Avatar
 
Join Date: 02 2003
Location: The Hague, NL
Teams: AZ Alkmaar
Posts: 7,004
STAGE 4 | RECORDS AND TITLE TALK

The winterbreak comes and goes without bringing significant changes. Ragnar Klavan joins the group from Heracles Almelo, but nobody leaves. However, when the league starts again, the defensive partnership of Héctor Moreno and Niklas Moisander has been sidelined due to injuries. Fans worry, but little goes wrong at the back.

AZ continue a clean sheet streak. The wonderful goals keep coming and dropping points is something only the competitors do. With the mark of a true champion, AZ converts difficult games into 3 points (Sparta away 0-2 and Roda at home 1-0).



Said Boutahar keeps goalie Sergio Romero from setting an all-time Eredivisie clean sheet record when he scores during their visit to Alkmaar. Despite that, the game ends in a victory: 3-1.

The difficult trip to Eindhoven ends in a disappointing draw (2-2) where AZ could and should have won. An improvised side plagued by injuries manages to grab all three points on the astroturf in Almelo (0-2) and Groningen are overrun when they visit Alkmaar on the last day of Winter (3-0). The encounter with Groningen is the highlight of the season for striker Graziano Pellè who scored the first two goals and was crowned man of the match.



Stage 4: twenty five games, sixty three points and a goal difference of +40.
Slagathor is offline  
post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old April 27th, 2009, 14:18 Thread Starter
International
 
Slagathor's Avatar
 
Join Date: 02 2003
Location: The Hague, NL
Teams: AZ Alkmaar
Posts: 7,004
STAGE 5 | SET BACKS AND MINIMALISM

Free from European duties, AZ focus entirely on domestic competitions. However, a slip-up against NAC Breda sees the club eliminated from the KNVB Cup. In the aftermath, Sergio Romero doesn’t know how to deal with his frustration over a crucial error he made during the game and he breaks his hand punching a wall in the dressing room. The air of invincibility that surrounded the team for months has all but evaporated. NAC Breda once again illustrate how AZ can be defeated.



Opponents and rivals cherish hope once more, but not for very long. The tricky away game to NEC in Nijmegen sees AZ struggle, but survive (0-1). The media, the fans, the players and the coaching staff had all nominated it to be a crucial game in the season. An important test was passed.

Utrecht is forced to acknowledge defeat one week later (0-1), but Feyenoord manage to escape Alkmaar with a point the following round. It doesn’t fade anyone.

Minimalism still surrounds the title charge, nobody at the club dares to openly admit the status of title candidate now held by the club. The Woudenstein trauma is too big. All of that changes when AZ obliterate The Hague in early April (4-1). Only chairman Dirk Scheringa remains cautious.



AZ once again struggle against NAC in Breda. An individual moment of brilliance by Moussa Dembélé eventually seals the deal (0-1). FC Twente and Ajax also win which means AZ can officially claim the title if they beat Vitesse in Alkmaar a week later.

With all the preparations for celebrations in place, AZ stumble and fall against Vitesse (1-2). Two lucky shots by the Arnhem outfit bring an anticlimactic experience to the Victory Stadium and the Woudenstein trauma is unleashed in full force.

However, less than 20 hours later, the world looks a different place entirely. Ajax get slaughtered by PSV in Eindhoven (6-2) and the title goes to AZ for the first time since 1981. Thousands of fans gather outside the stadium where the players and the coaches have been watching the game between PSV and Ajax. A spontaneous celebration erupts.





Stage 5: thirty one games, seventy six points and a goal difference of +45.
Slagathor is offline  
post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old May 6th, 2009, 11:11
World Class Player
 
henryrules's Avatar
 
Join Date: 03 2005
Location: LONDON
Teams: Arsenal,AZ ALKMAAR,MIlan
Posts: 8,506
Nice write up i enjoyed reading them.

Kelly Brook The sexiest woman in the world.

And one day my future girlfreind

My twitter is Darren800 you find me there now
henryrules is offline  
post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old May 8th, 2009, 11:16
Star Player
 
Dutch Lion's Avatar
 
Join Date: 03 2003
Location: Holland
Teams: Dutch football
Posts: 4,071
Nice Slagathor, you are our personal AZ reporter.

"Always look on the bright side of life"
Dutch Lion is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Xtratime Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive. Try to avoid choosing short (like '1'), simple (like 'abcd') and easy to guess passwords (like a name of your favorite team, player, etc)! Complex and long enough passwords, that consists of random string of alphabet and numerical characters, are almost impossible to be stolen and misused.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in











Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome