For a long time, there’s reasonable term De Grote Drie or the big three referred to Ajax Amsterdam, PSV Eindhoven, and Feyenoord Rotterdam that dominating Dutch football league. Indeed, these leading trios totally have achieved 62 prestigious Eredivisie titles, with Ajax being the strongest one through 33 titles hold. However, as per usual, resistance always exists wherever hegemony emerges. No exception in the Eredivisie.
Last time a David could defeat Goliath it was FC Twente Enschede. The football miracle that happened in 2009-10 season. The momentum that ultimately delivered Enschede City a pride being voetbal kampioen, which means to equal to the others famous football city such as Amsterdam or Eindhoven. However, now that status quo has returned to the dull. Twente relegated last season to Erste Divisie (second tier), which means a fate being a mediocre team, again.
There were several chronic circumstances that weakening Twente side. Perhaps, financial mismanagement in 2015 was the biggest blow. In fact, the turbulence came over the years. In 2016, Twente nearly relegated by the Dutch FA due to the same complicates. Indeed, that problem forced Twente to sell their best players. Obviously, it impacted on their game performances season-by-season and its hard for the players having a peaceful mind when there’s a vulnerable circumstance in their club. How time so flies happened for Twente. From Dutch champion in the summer 2010 and relegated one decade further.
At their best form in 2009/10, with the non-reputable squad, Twente obtained the Eredivisie title through close and tight result in the end. With 85 points and only one point ahead superior and offensive side Ajax, they triumphed the first league title ever in their history since established in 1965. Twente was completely a dangerous underdog at the memorable moment.
Inevitably, in the history of the best team, there were typically backgrounds within it. Indeed, the Twente sides from structural level or board, players, manager, until the enthusiastic supporters had played in substantial parts toward their remarkable achievement with Eredivisie 2009/10 title.
To begin with, an initial success was derived from the new club’s board, who saved Twente from bankruptcy in 2003. Under these board, Twente managed to be the Champions League’s participant and enjoyed Eredivisie title for the first time in their history. The former chairman, Joop Munsterman should be pointed out as the figure who led Twente to the triumphant. Despite ironically the club decline also suffered from the same chairman leadership.
In the technical aspect, the revival project was once under solicitude when Fred Rutten went to Bundesliga for the 2008/09 season. Moreover, Rutten who had built a solid team since his tenure from 2006. Afterward, Steve McClaren took the charge in Twente, replacing Rutten. Absolutely, McClaren, the man behind miserable England failure to pass Euro 2008. However, astonishingly McClaren succeed brilliantly to sustain what Rutten had done and even elevated Twente into the better level.
Indeed, McClaren adapted excellently to the Dutch football style within the 4-3-3 Twente’s formation, and he also didn’t bring contrast changes in the club. However, ignoring this Englishmen manager influence to the Tukkers, was a denial thought otherwise.
When McClaren arrived in 2008/09, he naturally had Rutten squad from the previous season with prominent players like Marko Arnautovic, Eljero Elia or Edson Brafheeid. With the Rutten legacy squad, McClaren brought Twente became the Eredivisie runner-up. But, Twente well-performances under successful McClaren tenure made several European clubs attracted to their players. Subsequently, Arnautovic signed for Internazionale, while Elia and Braafheid had new adventures in Germany with Hamburger SV and Bayern Muenchen in early 2009/10 season.
So, how about Twente’s life after their several the best players went, were they regressed with McClaren? No. In fact, the new signings contributed something better for Twente. For instance, Twente promptly bought Bryan Ruiz Gonzalez (5 million euros) from Gent and Miroslav Stoch (loan from Chelsea) to be partnered with the striker, Blaise N’Kufo in the attacking force.
Stats in Eredivisie 2009/10, Costa Rican attacking midfielder, Bryan Ruiz beside responsible for a creative role, he also managed 24 goals. Meanwhile, Slovak winger Miroslav Stoch delivered 10 goals, then Swiss center-forward, Blaise N’Kufo managed 12 goals. Not to mention other players who demonstrated massive contributions such as box-to-box midfielder Theo Janssen, defensive midfielder Wout Brama, and veteran goalkeeper Sander Boschker. McClaren has made the new players quickly integrated and kept harmony in that mesmerize Twente season.
Besides McClaren quickly adapted to the Dutch football climate and players contribution, another extraordinary thing that made Twente rampant Eredivisie 2009/10 it was their home performances. They won comfortably 16 from 17 home games in De Grolsch Veste stadium. Exactly, home games were the extremely significant factor that gave 51 points from 85 in the totals when Twente won the league. The 16 home-win run including two crucial moments against Ajax Amsterdam in game week 13 with 1-0 result and full pressure battle versus Feyenoord (2-0) in speelronde 33.
For Steve McClaren himself, the Eredivisie titled champion in 2009/10 established him as the last England manager who won a league in the big European football country since Bobby Robson in FC Porto season 1995/96. In another hand, the Eredivisie title also the instant replies to them whoever doubting his managerial capabilities after England tragedy.
After giving the memorable title in 2009/10, he left Twente and made several adventures jobs in Germany and England before returned to the middle of 2011/12 season. However, McClaren failed to emulate the same success in his second spell for Twente and got sacked in early 2013.
Besides well-run club structure, underrated squad qualities and proper manager, Twente magnificent 2009/10 season with the first Eredivisie title ever also thanks to the affirmative gestures did by the supporters. Almost in all home games, the stadium was full. Undeniably, that’s why Twente managed plenty of wins at home when Der Groestce became the fortress.
In another hand, the supporters had an amazing gesture to the club and important players as well. It proved with Blaise N’Kufo statute in front De Grolsch Veste stadium, which was built up by the enthusiastic supporters. N’Kufo is a legend for Twente and the supporters because he is an all-time goalscorer with 114 goals.
Now, De Grote Drie are so strong to be defeated. AZ Alkmaar or another mid-table team like Heerenveen seems at ease only compete for the European tickets spots. Perhaps, we need a decade or more years to enjoy again the “anomaly” just like what FC Twente served honorably in 2009/10 season. Meanwhile, today Twente or the last underdog who triumphed against old supremacy has sunken in the low caste. Therefore, a piece of memory about the last Dutch miracle has been forgotten for a while.
Writer: Haris Chaebar
Photo soures: Eufa.com, Getty images and cloudfront.net.