Jaap Stam and his Royals team will be travelling for another pre-season tour of Holland later this week, with four behind-closed-doors friendly matches lying ahead of us against a mixture of clubs from around Europe.
A mixture of first team and Under-23 players will be returning to Oosterbeek on Wednesday 12th July for a 10-day training camp, with two friendly double-headers punctuating what is sure to be a tough training schedule to bolster the players’ fitness ahead of the 2017-18 Sky Bet Championship season.
Here, we give you the lowdown on our opponents in our trip to Holland. All four matches are set to be covered on our club social media streams and website, with full match highlights to be shown on our brand new iFollow video service.
KV Kortrijk (Saturday 15th July, 3pm local time, 2pm UK time)
Current Kortrijk boss Yannis Anastasiou - formerly a coach with the Royals
First up for the Royals will be Belgian top-flight side KV Kortrijk. Nicknamed De Kerels, which translates simply as The Guys, the former Belgian Cup runners-up are also owned by Cardiff City’s Vincent Tan.
They finished a respectable 10th in the Belgian First Division A last season, and recently announced that Yannis Anastasiou as their head coach – the former Greek international forward was briefly a coach with the Royals in 2013. He can count fellow tour opponents Sparta Rotterdam as one of his clubs, as well as Ajax, who he left in 2006 just before the arrival of Jaap Stam.
Anastasiou got the job as manager at Panathinaikos in 2013, leading them to a second-place finish in the league and also winning the Greek Cup in his first season in charge. His excellent season was completed by winning the Greek Superleague’s Manager of the Year award.
Kortrijk play their matches in their traditional red and white colours, with the club returning to the top tier of Belgian football back in 2008 following relegation seven years earlier.
Gençlerbirliği (Saturday 15th July, 6.30pm local time, 5.30pm UK time)
Gençlerbirliği in UEFA Cup action against Blackburn in 2003
Two-time Turkish champions Gençlerbirliği await the Royals the same evening, a few hours after the final whistle blows against Kortrijk.
Gençlerbirliği are based in the Turkish capital city, Ankara, and they finished 8th in the Turkish Süper Lig last season under the guidance of manager and former Turkey international Ümit Özat.
Özat, 40, is a former player at Gençlerbirliği himself, having played more than 150 times for the club in the early 2000s, as well as earning more than 40 full Turkey caps. He was also a member of the famous Turkey squad that achieved third place at the World Cup in 2002.
The Ankara Rüzgârı may be remembered by eagle-eyed English football fans by causing a shock in the first round of the UEFA Cup back in 2003, after knocking out a strong Blackburn Rovers side 4-2 on aggregate over two legs in the first round.
Sparta Rotterdam (Saturday 22nd July, 11am local time, 10am UK time)
Sparta celebrate their promotion back to the Eredivisie in 2016
The Royals take on Sparta Rotterdam the following week in Oosterbeek, with the Eredivisie side set to start their second season back at the highest level of Dutch football, having ended a six-year stay in the second tier by winning the league in 2015-16.
Sparta Rotterdam are six-time Dutch champions, though, with their last title coming in 1959. Their academy is famed for producing international footballers as well, including former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay, former Ajax midfielder and Netherlands manager Danny Blind and current Netherlands left-back Jetro Willems.
De Kasteelheren, or The Castle Lords, got promoted under manager Alex Pastoor, a former midfielder who was previously assistant manager at AZ Alkmaar; where former Ajax and AC Milan midfielder Marco Van Basten was in charge.
Having escaped relegation only on goal difference on the last day of the season in the Eredivisie, Sparta will be hoping for a better campaign this time around in Holland’s top tier.
Cercle Brugge (Saturday 22nd July, 1.30pm local time, 12.30pm UK time)
Former Charlton and Blackpool boss José Riga, currently head coach with Cercle
Belgian second tier side Cercle Brugge will be the Royals’ final opposition in Holland, with a very quick turnaround after our match against Sparta Rotterdam in Oosterbeek.
Cercle Brugge play their matches at the Jan Breydel Stadium, which they share with Belgian First Division A side and local rivals Club Brugge. Cercle are currently managed by former Charlton Athletic and Blackpool boss José Riga.
Riga took over at the club last November, arresting poor form that left them in the relegation play-offs to avoid the drop to Belgium’s third tier, owing in part to the good form of joint-top scorers Ivan Yagan and Tomislav Kiš.
Cercle had only been relegated from the Belgian First Division A two seasons ago, so their focus for the season ahead will undoubtedly be a push for promotion to get back to where the club feels they belong in Belgian football.