Wow guys, I needed a couple of days to emerge again after the celebrations….
“It was 20 years ago today…”, The Beatles said, but it was actually 18 years and 9 days…
The desire and shear need to win the title was humungous in Rotterdam. Once, one of the richest clubs in the world. The first European Cup winner of the country. For decades, the biggest football temple of the country. The largest fanbase and most widely supported Dutch club, with one of the world’s best pitches…
But no title for 18 years! That hurt, in Rotterdam. Traditionally, it was always between Ajax and Feyenoord. In the late 1970s, PSV joined in and the Eindhoven club eclipsed Feyenoord for years.
Ajax has the most titles, that tremendous academy, the most European trophies, produced the likes of Cruyff, Keizer, Van Basten, Bergkamp, Krol, Kluivert and Van der Vaart, but their Hollywood vibe and their Amsterdam arrogance never pushed them to the position of the people’s favorite.
The last 20 years, Feyenoord had its last European success in 2002 under Van Marwijk. Since then, they only won the National Cup twice (2008 and 2016). As a result of consistent financial and technical mismanagement and high risk taking, Feyenoord was almost bankrupt in the mid 00s. A last ditch financial injection by the Friends of Feyenoord rescued the club and with a license losing threat above their heads the likes of Leo Beenhakker, Mario Been and later Ronald Koeman and Martin van Geel worked to turn that beat around.
After having to try and boost the club forward with some older big name players (Van Bronckhorst’s return, Makaay, Hofland), Feyenoord had to resort back to using talent from Varkenoord to survive. Young lads like Wijnaldum, Fer, Biseswar, Martins Indi and De Vrij Feyenoord battled with ups and downs, the infamous 10-0 trashing in Eindhoven being the lowest down of all. Slowly, Feyenoord managed to dig themselves out of a hole, using the money of the sell-out of Wijnaldum and Fer and using smartly scouted loan players and question marks (Guidetti, De Guzman, Pelle, Janmaat, Vermeer, Van der Heijden, Berghuis).
As big bonus, Feyenoord gets to play Champions League football again. This will result in a financial bonus of at least 20 million euros. Still, very needed as Ajax and PSV both have budgets at least 20 million above Feyenoord. The last time Feyenoord played CL football was in 2002/2003 when they competed with Juve, Newcastle United and Dynamo Kiev. And finished fourth in the group.
League leaders since day 1
Feyenoord dominated the Eredivisie from start to finish. The team was number one for 277 days on end. In 61 years Eredivisie, only AZ led longer in days, in the 1980/81 season. Feyenoord is the first team to be league leader in every week match week since Ajax in 11997/98.
Defeat against relegation club
Feyenoord 2017 is the second club to win the title after losing against the club that would get relegated. In 1964, it was Feyenoord managing the same feat, versus NAC.
The starting eleven of Feyenoord was just short of 28 years old on average. Feyenoord was only older in the 1989/90 season. Only two champs managed to field and older team: PSV in 1991/92 and DOS in 1957/58. Brad Jones and Dirk Kuyt pushed the average up for Feyenoord.
1-0 guaranteed the win
Dirk Kuyt scored the opener vs Heracles after 43 seconds. Which meant the game was played. Feyenoord was the only club this season to never drop points after being 1-0 up. They won 23 games after scoring first. Feyenoord won 26 of the 34 matches. The club record is 27 matches, reached back in 1972/73.
Ajax hangs in to the end
The last 5 times that the gap between champions and runner up was only 1 point, Ajax was always the number two.
Botteghin plays every minute
Eric Botteghin, the Brazilian defender who came to Feyenoord via FC Groningen played every minute this season: 3060 minutes. He is the first Feyenoord player to achieve this since the season 1970/71, when Eddy Treijtel and Wim Jansen did the same.
Only Cruyff older than Kuyt
The 36 year old Kuyt is the second oldest player to win the title with Feyenoord. The oldest champion was Johan Cruyff, 37 years old. This is Kuyt’s first title in The Netherlands, while Cruyff won eight titles before, with Ajax. Only goalies Pim Doesburg (43), Sander Boschker (39) and midfielder Leo van Veen (36) were older than Kuyt, when winning their titles.
Hattrick in championship match
Dirk Kuyt is the first player to score a hattrick in the championsmatch, since Arnold Bruggink who did this in 2000, when he scored three for PSV vs FC Twente.
Van Bronckhorst youngest champion coach.
Feyenoord won the title 15 times in Holland. Five times before the second world war and ten times since. All ten titles were won by ten different coaches. Giovanni van Bronckhorst is the youngest of them all, at 42 years and 98 days.
Jørgensen in footsteps Ove Kindvall
Feyenoord won the title and Nicolai Jorgensen won the golden boot (21 goals). The last time that Feyenoord won it and produced the top scorer was in 1970/71, when Swedish striker Over Kindvall found the net 24 times. The 26 year old Jorgensen is the first Danish player to win the golden boot and the oldest top scorer of the Eredivisie since Pierre van Hooijdonk (32 years old) in 2001/02. Jorgensen is also the most valuable pplayer (MVP) with 13 assists on top of the 21 goals.
This title couldn’t come soon enough for Feyenoord. The club needed it and the loyal fans deserved it.
Feyenoord was consistent, solid and clearly worked with one goal in mind. The team members operated close and as friends, supporting each other when times were rough (injuries Vermeer, Kongolo, the death of Vilhena’s mum). It takes a good goalie and a good striker to win trophies, they say. Brad Jones was a lucky, when Vermeer got injured, Feyenoord needed something. Kuyt remembered his old team mate from Liverpool and tipped Martin van Geel. Similarly, Kuyt met Berghuis this summer and simply said: you should be playing more. Why not come to Feyenoord? And it clicked. Jens Toornstra had his best season ever, Jan Arie van der Heijden, the Ajax reject, had a rough start but became a cult hero and Karsdorp and Kongolo are developing into European top defenders. Dirk Kuyt might have been captain of this team, the real leader on the pitch in football terms was El Ahmadi. The former Twente prospect is the metronome in midfield, with strong challenges and pinpoint positioning play. When King Karim starts the press, the whole team responds.
Will they manage to defend the title next season? Will they be able to make an impression in the Champions League? It depends, on who will go and who will come…
– Kuyt might retire, he’s not clear yet
– Berghuis might be called back by Watford
– Elia says he wants to make one more big move
– Jorgensen is on many a scout’s list
– Karsdorp same
– Kongolo appears to be fragile and injury prone
– Brad Jones will have to make way for Ken Vermeer
Surely, if a player like Jorgensen goes, he’ll cost at least 20 mio euros. That money can be spent on new players, plural. With Ricky van Wolfswinkel a serious candidate for the striker position.
Jean Paul Boetius, developed at Feyenoord, might be brought back in from the cold and Amrabat of FC Utrecht is high on the list to be signed as well… Time will tell if Feyenoord is able to make that step up. Getting to the top is one thing, staying there is another… Next post will be on Ajax!