No team in the Eredivisie has been hit more hard by departures than Feyenoord. Despite Ajax claiming the Eredivisie title last season, it has been obvious since the World Cup finals that in fact the most sought after Eredivisie players were mainly playing for Feyenoord. When the likes of Newcastle United, FC Porto, Fenerbahce, Fiorentina, Lazio and Southampton were looking for new additions in Holland their port of call was Rotterdam writes Andries Oosterveen.
Sadly, Feyenoord in the last three years under Koeman had started to build a team and squad of players, who would have had the strong possibility of dominating the Eredivisie and making a name for themselves in Europe. The exits were inevitable due to the financial position of the club and the plans to build Holland’s largest football stadium. What Feyenoord under Koeman achieved in the last couple of years merits a trophy considering what he had to work with and the financial constraints. Unlike some football clubs there was no rich owner or backing of a multinational company to provide unlimited funds.
New coach Fred Rutten will have to start from scratch and although, he will be helped by highly talented youngsters from Varkenwood, such as Ruben Schaken, Lex Immers and Jean Paul Boëtius, money is very tight and each transfer move be it permanent or on loan will have to be very well thought over, planned and scrutinized. Will Fred Rutten last the season? Should Ronald Koeman have been consulted over his replacement?
The defence has had its heart taken out of it with the sales of Bruno Martins Indi, Stefan De Vrij and Daryl Janmaat. The Australian right-back Luke Wilkshere has been bought in on a free transfer from Dinamo Moscow in what seems like a short term fix. He is joined by ex-Dutch international Khalid Boulahrouz, who joins from Brondby, which should add some extra experience to the defence. One cant help but think that all three were sold too cheap and will their replacements be adequate enough? Will the defence be mean enough?
On a positive note the midfield has not seen any dramatic changes yet but at the time of writing there seems to be strong interest in Jordy Clasie from the likes of FC Porto and Fiorentina. The highly talented winger Boëtius is also attracting the attentions of Turkish club Fenerbahce. Feyenoord though have managed to secure the services of the highly rated and talented winger from SC Heerenveen, Bilal Basacikoglu, who was in the top three for assists last season and has an eye for goal.
The excellent Tonny Vilhena seems to be staying at Feyenoord for this season at least and his partnership with Jordy Clasie will be crucial for when it comes to supporting the attack, protecting the defence and breaking up opposition attacks to break quickly. Overall it is crucial that they ensure that the strikers also will receive a good supply of the ball and this could also be the season when Ruben Schaken steps up to the plate as he could have an important part to play. Can they boss the midfield consistently enough for the season and provide the strikers with the opportunities they will need?
It is in attack where the team has been hit the hardest as with Graziano Pellè, Feyenoord had the perfect forward and his goals to games ratio was lethal. The pressure will be now on the likes of Lex Immers and Mitchell De Vrede to grab the vital goals but at least one more striker is needed. Feyenoord continue to be linked with Duvan Zapata of Fiorentina, John Guidetti of Manchester City, Jelle Vossen of Genk, Hector Villalba of San Lorenzo and Bas Dost of Wolfsburg. Will the goals come from a variety of sources? Will signing one striker be enough?
In conclusion, this is going to be a season of transition and rebuilding but a top three finish is the minimum along with victories home and away against 020. A cup run in Europe and in the KNVB Cup would be an additional bonus.
TRANSFERS INS AND OUT
IN: Bilal Basacikoglu (Heerenveen), Khalid Boulahrouz (Brondby IF), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Warner Hahn (FC Dordrecht).
OUT: Bruno Martins Indi (FC Porto), Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle United), Graziano Pellè (Southampton), Kostas Lamprou (Willem II), Samuel Armenteros (Anderlecht), Stefan de Vrij (Lazio).
MANAGER – FRED RUTTEN
Rutten faces a massive task rebuilding but the 51-year-old is an experience manager capable of adapting to any situation. A former defender, Rutten always builds his play from the back and with the plethora of attacking talent at his disposal it should be an enjoyable team to watch in De Kuip this season.
KEY PLAYER – JEAN-PAUL BOETIUS
Boëtius is a 20-year-old winger from the Varkenwood Academy, his attacking style is hard to defend against. The combination of raw pace and technique with the ability to read the game has lead former Dutch greats to have high hopes for him. He can skip past opponents easily, outrun you, and because of his excellent skill and technique outsmart you. Man to man and zonal marking are very difficult as a result. Positioning, off the ball movement, knowing when to pass and remaining cool under pressure seem second nature to Boëtius. Former Feyenoord coach Bart Van Maarwijk stated “I think Boëtius is the best winger in the Eredivisie”.
PREDICTION – 3RD