It’s time to address the elephant in the room. The unspeakable, unthinkable, unimaginable – but ultimately unavoidable – reality of Feyenoord’s league form. While the possibility of a vintage collapse from De club aan de Maas remains, the likelihood is shrinking with each passing week. Sobering, I know.
While this article may come across as treacherous, even sacrilegious, the burden of truth has become overwhelming and I feel it is my obligation to address the dispiriting parallels between Feyenoord’s 2016/17 season and Twente’s 2009/10 campaign which, as you know, ended with the Enschede club winning the title.
Without further preamble, here’s the latest edition of Friday’s Five, addressing the five reasons 2016/17 Feyenoord are a reincarnation of 2009/10 Eredivisie champions Twente.
1. LATE HEROICS
How many times this season have you found yourself excitedly watching Feyenoord, or tracking the score, about to drop points, only for those pesky pricks to rescue it late on? Too often. Somehow, they continue to find a way. You know who else always found a way? Just read the headline, it’s not a trick question.
Here’s the list of points rescued by Feyenoord 16/17 and Twente 09/10 from the 69th minute and on in their respective campaigns, through 24 games:
W 1-0 PSV (Botteghin 82)
W 2-1 NEC (Jorgensen 79, Kramer 91)
D 1-1 Ajax (Kuyt 85)
D 3-3 Utrecht (Jorgensen 90, Kramer 99)
W 2-0 Roda (Kuyt 69, Elia 88)
W 2-0 Twente (Botteghin 75, Jorgensen 87)
W 2-1 PSV (Zoet OG 82)
W 3-2 Utrecht (Ruiz 91)
W 3-2 AZ (Nkufo 90)
W 1-0 Vitesse (Ruiz 84)
W 4-3 NAC (Ruiz 88)
W 2-0 Roda (Perez 71, Ruiz 73)
W 2-1 Vitesse (Ruiz 82, Stam 92)
W 2-1 NEC (Ruiz 85)
If I have to watch Michiel Kramer get mauled by his teammates one more time, I will get physically ill. And please, do not get me started on Jeroen Zoet.
2. DEFENSIVE STABILITY
These are two clubs structured off disciplined defensive play. They’re organised, hard working and structured – but most of all, stingy.
Through 24 games in 2009/10, Twente had conceded 19 goals. With Douglas, Peter Wisgerhof, Ronnie Stam and Dwight Tiendalli leading the charge at the back, Steve McClaren’s troops kept 11 clean sheets through 24 matches. Feyenoord have 14, conceding just 13 goals.
Take it with a grain of salt, if you wish, as this is far and away the least coincidental item on the list. Every legitimate title challenging team has a sound defensive record, but there is an undeniable likeness between the two squads and their defensive makeup.
Leaking goals is not a recipe to win trophies. As the old adage goes, defence wins championships.
3. MIRRORING TRANSFERS (PART I)
This is less coincidence, more fact. No digging required. The path these clubs took to building their roster, revealed over the next two posts, are shockingly similar.
We start with the summer preceding the campaigns in question. The main piece of business for each club, with a strong core in place, was to address the attack. Leading the line for Feyenoord in 2016/17 is Danish striker Nicolai Jorgensen, brought in at the start of the season from Copenhagen. Leading the line for Twente in 2009/10 was Costa Rican striker Bryan Ruiz, brought in at the start of the season from Gent.
Jorgensen has played in every game so far this season for Feyenoord and is their leading scorer with 15 goals. Ruiz played in every game for Twente in 09/10, leading the ranks with 24 goals.
Why is this so peculiar? Well, it isn’t. But the situations have irrefutable resemblances. Both players were brought in as the final piece to the puzzle. Ruiz pushed Twente from title hopefuls to title winners – will Jorgensen do the same? It’s certainly looking like it.
Note: Both strikers were flanked by Premier League loanees arriving in the same transfer window. Feyenoord bringing in Steven Berghuis (Watford) and Twente with Miroslav Stoch (Chelsea). Convinced yet?
4. MIRRORING TRANSFERS (PART II)
If you’re not convinced, there’s more. Above, I discussed the two strikers as the final piece to the puzzle. Here, I’ll look at how the meat of the puzzle came to be.
The process of crafting a championship side began the year before the spotlighted seasons. Each side solidified their squad with a plethora of core signings the previous summer (before applying the finishing touches the year after):
Here’s the arrivals for each club in the referred to time period (Feyenoord 2015, Twente 2008), along with their contributions during the campaigns in question (Feyenoord 16/17, Twente 09/10):
Feyenoord (stats through 24 games):
Eric Botteghin, CB, Groningen (24 apps, 3 goals)
Michiel Kramer, ST, Den Haag (10 apps, 2 goals)
Dirk Kuyt, W, Fenerbahce (22 apps, 7 goals)
Jan-Arie van der Heijden, CB, Vitesse (21 apps, 1 goal)
Twente (stats through full league season):
Cheik Tiote, DM, Anderlecht (28 apps, 1 goal)
Ronnie Stam, RB, NAC (33 apps, 1 goal)
Theo Janssen, M, Vitesse (28 apps, 1 goal)
Kenneth Perez, M, Ajax (31 apps, 5 goals)
Peter Wisgerhof, CB, NEC (33 apps, 1 goal)
These are all key pieces that compliment the makeup of their respective squads. It took a season following their arrival to build the proper chemistry, but the year after proved fruitful for Twente, and the same can be said for Feyenoord through 24 games.
5. NEAR-IDENTICAL RECORDS
This one may seem glaringly obvious, because it is, but it also holds plenty of merit. Through 24 matches in their campaigns, here’s how their records looked:
2016/17 Feyenoord (20-3-1, 63 points)
2009/10 Twente (19-4-1, 61 points)
We can sit here and hope this is all just a giant coincidence – and I’m sure if I looked hard enough I could find similarities between any two clubs – but at what quantity do coincidences stop being coincidences?
I’m not here to answer that question; I merely present the info. We can analyze numbers and trends, dig through every nook an cranny, making as many measured calculations as we want – but ultimately, those calculations are nothing more than educated assumptions. Only time will tell. I, for one, hope I’m dead wrong.