Former FC Utrecht head coach René Hake took over at Go Ahead Eagles in the summer of 2022. After an 11th place finish last season, he has guided the side into sixth place after 21 games. With 13 games to go, the side are on course for their best Eredivisie finish since the 1970s.
What will please both head coach and fans so far this season will be how the team have not had to rely on just one individual player. Willum Willumsson leads the side with six goals, but then three players sit just behind him on five goals, with two others having four. In terms of assists, Phillippe Rommens and Bobby Adekanye both have four a piece. Midfielder Rommens is one of those with four goals, already the most he has scored in a single top flight season.
Defensively, the side have been one of the best in the league. of the sides in the play-off spots at the moment, only A Alkmaar with 21 goals have faired better than the 29 that Go Ahead Eagles have conceded. Goalkeeper Jeffrey De Lange has kept seven clean sheets in 21 games.
After a run of five league games without a win, Hake and his side have regained momentum in recent weeks. They have gone unbeaten in four league games since their 3-2 loss at home to Ajax, with wins over Sparta Rotterdam and lowly Vitesse alongside draws against NEC Nijmegen and PEC Zwolle.
Go Ahead have very much been a yoyo team in the past few decades, but the hope is that they can now cement themselves as a stable Eredivisie side. In 2015 they played European football for the first time in their history, participating in the preliminary rounds of the Europa League. They have another shot at European football this year, but this will be based on their sporting merit, rather than the fair play route that got them there almost a decade ago.
While the gap to those below them is not big enough to breathe a sigh of relief just yet, they can also see Ajax getting closer to them. The side from Amsterdam are only four points ahead of the team from Deventer.
GBeNeFN | Ben Jackson