The Phoenix rises from the ashes. The question is: will Feyenoord? While Ajax and PSV both are facing issues, Feyenoord must be in crisis. Ajax is struggling with the exit of De Ligt and De Jong and the fact that most of the other lads who were believed to leave, aren’t leaving… It’s luxury issues, for Ten Hag. He’ll fix it.
And it might not be in time or enough, for another huge CL campaign, but Ajax will win the Dutch title with one hand tied behind their back, one foot in a cast, two fingers in the nose and a blind fold.
PSV has issues too. It needs to reshuffle and re-invent themselves with the exit of Luuk de Jong, Angelino and now also Lozano.
But Van Bommel will. Business as usual for any coach. And yes, Mark is young, but he will most certainly become a great coach. And with Gakpo, Malen, Guti, Ihattaren and others (and Schwaab returning) PSV will be able to secure the second spot (and another shot at CL football next season).
But Feyenoord. Once the pride of The Netherlands…. The first Dutch club to win the European Cup in 197o. The first club to win the World Cup for clubs. The last club to actually win a European Cup as well… Once, the Richest Club of the World (c).
Feyenoord’s biggest prospect: Kokcu (sadly decided to play international for Turkey)
Today, the club is not well. To say the least.
There are no amazing talents coming through (Kokcu is the only real talent)
The two centre backs are getting on and not getting any quicker
The main striker (Jorgensen) is injured
The newcomers are either pint sized players from the Championship (Kelly), or rejects from the Championship (Narsingh, Fer – both not match fit) or failed former stars on loan (Karsdorp).
Narsingh (right) and Leroy Fer (left)
Striker target Ricky van Wolfswinkel is injured. They discovered a brain aneurism, by chance, when they treated him for concussion. Ricky is 6 months out, at least.
But more important than all these typical football things, there are bigger problems to deal with:
There is hardly any cash (compare that to Ajax!).
The technical manager Martin van Geel left and is replaced by inexperienced part time ex-player Sjaak Troost, who engaged the services of player manager (!) Rob Janssen… The fox in the hen house?
The general manager Jan de Jong asked to be relieved form duties as he doesn’t agree with the long term vision of the board.
So, Feyenoord is facing some serious issues (financial, new stadium, new players, youth development and entrance into the football pyramid) but there is no management team (other than a commercial manager).
Jaap Stam, the coach, was surprised to hear that right back Jerry St Juste was going to be sold to Mainz, one day before the important EL qualification game vs Dynamo Tiblisi. And yes, this meant money would come in (8 mio euros) for replacements but there was no replacement ready for that important match. Karsdorp would come in later.
Fortunately for Feyenoord, Tiblisi didn’t seem too good and Feyenoord won 4-0, but with Karsdorp the Rotterdam Pride dropped 2 more points in the competition vs Heerenveen 3 days later.
Left, AZ general manager Robert Eenhoorn (right, Max Huiberts, AZ technical manager)
Stam is scratching his head. He needs to deal with the inexperienced Troost and his agent friend Rob Janssen, while Stam prefers to work with his own manager and friend Henk van Ginkel (and former Feyenoord goalie Henk Timmer) who are both rivals of Rob Janssen. Nice one!
In their search for a new technical manager, all the usual suspects declined. Joris Matthijsen will stay with Willem II, Ferry de Haan with Excelsior, Henk van Stee with Sparta and Max Huibers at AZ. And with reason.
In search of the new general manager, AZ general manager Robert Eenhoorn is the dream candidate. Eenhoorn is from Rotterdam, and a life long Feyenoord supporter (!). He’s got experience in US pro sports (he played short stop for the New York Yankees) and has experience in leading a pro football club with success at AZ Alkmaar.
But Eenhoorn will be cautious. As Feyenoord is facing some strategic issues.
Steven Berghuis, the new talisman
One huge issue is Feyenoord’s new home. The current Kuip is still the most amazing place to watch football, but the stadium is really old and not equipped for the modern game (with sponsor boxes, restaurants, meeting spaces, toilets (!), etc). And it might not be the safest anymore… The new stadium plans are still in contention. Some people think the traditional Kuip needs to be renovated, others believe Feyenoord needs to build from scratch someplace else. The finances for this adventure are still not secured.
Another huge issue is the influx of new money (and not just for the stadium). Feyenoord is rapidly losing ground on Ajax and PSV and some people in the club want to bring in an investor. Some US based investors were/are interested but Feyenoord will have to let go of their autonomy. Rumour has it they demand a seat on the board and want to be in on the decision which coach will be appointed. Conditions most of the Feyenoord die-hards aren’t too happy with. So for now, the investors will be kept out, but for how long?
Centre, with Stam, Wouter Burger, another young talented midfielder
Another problem Feyenoord has is their position in the so-called football pyramid. The Feyenoord 2 team does not play competitive football, like Ajax 2, PSV 2, AZ 2 and most other pro clubs. Not only are Feyenoord’s talents tested less as a result, some talents have decided to leave the club for a different club where they can play on a weekly basis and some talents simply won’t consider signing for Feyenoord due to this situation. This was a massive mistake by Feyenoord’s previous management (not entering the Feyenoord 2 team) and now it’s hard for Feyenoord to enter into the pyramid.
Add to all this, the fact that Jaap Stam was selected as the head coach due to his attacking vision of football, a vision he hardly can translate to the pitch as the foundation of last year’s team is gone. Three key players are gone (Vilhena, St Juste, Van Persie) and three key players are injured (Jorgensen, Toornstra, Van Beek). This means Stam needs to work with a team that is half new, with players who have yet to learn to play together and some of these players like rhythm / match fitness (Narsingh, Fer, Karsdorp). Not a great situation for Stam to try to play his dominant style of play, with a high press and precise passing.
Sven van Beek’s comedy capers moment vs Southampton in the pre-season
But, on the bright side, PSV and Ajax dropped points as well. It seems that this season, the third spot should be Feyenoord’s, at least. And depending on how PSV fares, it might even reach the 2nd spot. Tibisli was not a tough opponent either and Feyenoord should be able to reach the Europa League group stages and give the season some more flair.