Feyenoord aim to win first Eredivisie of the new millenium (video)

Last weekend Feyenoord recorded a 2-1 victory over league leaders PSV Eindhoven, taking the Rotterdam club to within 3 points of the champions elect as they aim to mount a challenge for their first Eredivisie title since 1999.

This victory represents incredible progress in a short space of time for Feyenoord, given that a little over 2 years ago, their  supporters witnessed the darkest day in the club’s history as the team succumbed to a humiliating 10-0 defeat to PSV.

Feyenoord are Holland’s third most successful club behind fierce rivals Ajax and PSV having won the Eredivisie on 14 occasions, 11 Dutch Cups, 2 UEFA Cups and the European Cup in 1970. However, in spite of a Dutch Cup win in 2008 and a UEFA Cup victory over Borussia Dortmund on home soil in 2002, Feyenoord have largely assumed the position as the sleeping giant within Dutch football since the turn of the new Millenium.

The club has been besieged by debt and alarming mis-management since they last lifted the Eredivisie title. Throughout it’s history, Feyenoord has had a renowned youth academy which has been responsible for the production of the likes of Ruud Guulit and Robin Van Persie. However this production slowed in the early 2000’s and perhaps more significantly the club were often found culpable of under-valuing their prodigious talents and selling them for cut-price deals. Robin van Persie is just one of many examples, sold to Arsenal for just £3million in 2004.

The fans often accused their team of lacking direction and strategy, the absence of which had been caused by short-termism within the club’s hierarchy. Technical director Rob Baan and his successor Peter Bosz had remarkably different views on the future vision of Feyenoord. Baan believed in the acquisition of global talents such as Saloman Kalou and Brett Emerton to support the club’s ambitions for success whereas Bosz believed in recruiting senior Dutch talent who aimed to finish their career in Holland after years spent elsewhere on the continent. Ultimately, Feyenoord suffered an identity crisis as the two men pulled the club in separate directions. The short-termism within the boardroom spread to the dugout – there have been 11 different managerial appointments since the club brought home the Eredivisie at the end of the last century.

Crippling debt, false promises of investment and perennial uncertainty over the future of the club’s De Kuip Stadium has also blighted the Dutch giants in recent years. However, the appointment of veteran Dutch player Ronald Koeman and former Feyenoord legend Giovanni van Bronckhorst to the management team appears to have given supporters of De Club ann De Maas a glimmer of hope for the future.

Last season, Koeman led Feyenoord to a 2nd-placed finish and Champions League qualification. The previous year the club had finished in 10th position and had failed to reach the top 2 since 2001. This season has continued in similar fashion with the club only trailing the league leaders by 3 points with 9 games remaining.

Koeman’s arrival has coincided with a new wave of youngsters who look set to finally awake the sleeping giants and bring Feyenoord into the 21st Century. Last month, the Dutch national team started four Feyenoord players under the age of 24 in a friendly against Italy – Daryl Janmaat, Stefan De Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi and 21-year-old Jordy Clasie who has already been earmarked as “the Dutch Xavi”.

Feyenoord supporters will be hopeful that their club can fend off continental interest in their youngsters and that one of Holland’s greatest clubs can enter a period of success and stability which has so far eluded it this century.