By Chris Wright
Under the stewardship of one Aloysius Paulus Maria (‘Louis’ to his mates) van Gaal, AZ Alkmaar shocked just about everybody in 2009 by becoming the first side outside of the Eredivisie’s ‘Big Three’ to win the Dutch title for 28 years.
Sure enough, AZ got off to a fairly sloppy start to the 2008/09 campaign, but Van Gaal’s decision to abandon his principles and convert his side into a ruthless, deep-lying, counter-attacking machine with a month or so of the season gone paid huge dividends.
After getting back on track with a surprise 1-0 win over PSV, AZ then didn’t lose a single game in their next 28 matches – a winning streak that also included an 11-game run during which they didn’t concede a single goal.
Perhaps encapsulating Van Gaal’s all-conquering side’s successful marriage of flair and function, here’s Mousa Dembele’s fantastic meandering solo goal scored against Willem II (his former club) from September of 2008 – y’know, back when he used to do interesting stuff…
AZ went on to tie up the Eredivisie title with three weeks to spare, comfortably beating Twente and Ajax into second and third place respectively.
As for Dembele, he came to England and gradually got more and more boring.
More random great goals on Pies…
Patrick M’Boma (Gamba Osaka) vs Shonan Bellmare
Lothar Matthaus (Bayern Munich) vs Bayer Leverkusen
Ian Wright (Arsenal) vs Swindon
Roberto Cabanas (New York Cosmos) vs Tulsa Roughnecks
Steve Bull (England) vs Czechoslovakia
Thierry Henry (Arsenal) vs SC Wiez
Muzzy Izzet (Leicester) vs Grimsby
Darren Barnard (Barnsley) vs Huddersfield
Juan Roman Riquelme (Boca Juniors) vs Corinthians
Hugo Almeida (Porto) vs Inter Milan
Paulo Wanchope (Costa Rica) vs Uruguay
Youssef Safri (Norwich) vs Newcastle
Paul Lambert (Celtic) vs Rangers
Ilie Dumitrescu (Romania) vs Argentina
Rivaldo And Friends (Olympiakos) vs PAOK
Jon Harley (Fulham) vs Aston Villa
Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus) vs Fiorentina
Justin Fashanu (Norwich) vs Liverpool