Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Feyenoord: From Big Three to bottom three

Posted in European Football by peterbein on November 21, 2010
Mario Been

Feyenoord coach Mario Been is a man under pressure

Feyenoord Rotterdam is a footballing institution in the Netherlands. For many years it is often referred to as one of the “Big Three” along with Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven but, although this is historically true, it is very much diminishing in terms of achievement for most of the last decade. Since winning the UEFA Cup in 2002, a tournament win which was supposed to herald a renaissance within the club, Feyenoord have only won one trophy since and that was ‘only’ the Dutch Cup in 2008. For a club whose hopes are to challenge for the title, each passing year without a trophy hurts. What’s worse is when your team, so used to being at the top, is hovering dangerously close to the bottom of the league table.

That is the precarious position which Feyenoord now find themselves in following their 2-0 defeat away at FC Groningen today. FC Groningen went up to third place as a result of the win, a position which Feyenoord would normally both aspire and expect to be at worst. Even more embarrassing for Feyenoord is that their cross-city neighbours Excelsior, hardly a rival on any scale, are currently looking down at the more illustrious Rotterdam giants. Even if the gap between the two teams is just one place and one point the fact is that Feyenoord are in a big mess and for coach Mario Been, a former Feyenoord player, the job just gets harder and harder.

Feyenoord’s last league championship win was in 1998-99, since then PSV Eindhoven have dominated the Eredivisie having won it seven times whilst Ajax have won it twice. In the last two years there have been two new teams who have savoured title success in the form of AZ Alkmaar and Twente Enschede. When provincial clubs such as those can boast they’ve won the title it makes Feyenoord’s title drought all the more depressing for their hardcore loyal supporters who, most would agree, are the most vociferous and passionate in Holland. Signs of danger weren’t so apparent in the first few years following the last title win. In 2002 Feyenoord beat Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Cup final and for six out of seven seasons following their last championship win the Rotterdammers finished in the top three. From the 2006-07 season, however, things have not been easy for Feyenoord and a distinct lack of success – bar the 2008 Dutch Cup win against Roda JC Kerkrade – weighs over the club especially in light of less glamourous but ambitious clubs such as AZ and Twente having their moment in the spotlight.

This season has seen many a lowlight but none more so than the 10-0 defeat at the hands of PSV Eindhoven which has gone down as the club’s heaviest ever league defeat. That defeat in late October has certainly rocked the club to the core and they have taken only five points from the last five games since that infamous day. In today’s encounter at Groningen a brace from Slovenian striker Tim Matavž sent Feyenoord down into 16th place in the 18 team Eredivisie. If this position was to be replicated at the end of the season then Feyenoord would see themselves in the relegation play-offs. Feyenoord’s fans could be forgiven for thinking that even their club is not too big to go down when taking such bad form into account. The only point of stability is that the club are standing by coach Been, but for how long? Only time will tell.

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