The 5 – 0 drubbing of FC Twente by PSV on Saturday night completed a season of total disappointment for the Enschede club. Yet their demise since the success of Steve McClaren is of no surprise following years of transfer market mistakes.

  • By Matt Trevalyan
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0000000000000000000tweFor Alfred Schreuder this was a weekend to forget. The FC Twente manager’s young and untested side came up against the likes of Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Luuk de Jong in fine form and were utterly humiliated in front of their own fans. By the end of the 90 minutes, the Twente players looked utterly down-trodden, embarrassed at their performance in front of their own fans. Five years ago, Steve McClaren was leading Twente to Eredivisie glory, and a year later, the club won the KNVB cup with the likes of popular Austrian striker Marc Janko powering Twente to success. These are different times for Twente, however, with the club hampered by financial insecurities, poor form from some key players and an inexplicable transfer policy over the last five seasons. The success of McClaren in the title-winning season of 2009-10 was in part down to the arrival of Bryan Ruiz and Miroslav Stoch, who were instrumental in leading Twente to the club’s first ever title.

Schreuder is not solely to blame for Twente’s season, however, he must shoulder some of it. A full-strength Twente team crashed out of the Europa League in the preliminary stages to FC Qarabag of Azerbaijan, contributing to the financial issues as the club lost out on qualification money and the all-important TV rights to at least 6 matches in the group stages, as well as the other financial benefits that come with hosting three home games against European opposition. They drew their first six competitive games of the season, which has been a factor in what looks like Twente’s worst final league position (10th) since 2003.

Such is the financial situation at Twente, they had to sell one of their better centre backs in Rasmus Bengtsson to Malmo in March, who could possibly have helped to alleviate some of the pain induced by the 18 and 20 year pairing of Joachim Andersen and Peet Bijen against PSV. In addition to Bengtsson, the club are also going to have to sell other high earners, with Luc Castaignos, Felipe Gutierrez and and Andreas Bjelland all looking likely to leave. Indeed, Castaignos has been linked with Swansea, yet his rather modest return of just 10 Eredivisie goals this season may have cooled the interest in him that was mooted in January.

Twente’s biggest mistake, however, is not replacing the quality that they once had, which has seen them plummet from title contenders to hovering outside the Europa League play-off spots. Since 2010, the likes of Cheick Tiote, Nacer Chadli, Dusan Tadic, Marc Janko and Quincy Promes have all left Grolsch Veste and their replacements have been a far cry from the quality that Twente need. Steve McClaren’s disastrous second spell in charge saw him bring in players such as Wesley Verhoek, Glynor Plet and Joshua John, all of which were considered flops and were no doubt a factor in Twente’s drop down to 6th position in 2012. In more recent times, Kasper Kusk, brought in from Danish side Aalborg to replace Dusan Tadic has spent most of the year playing for Jong FC Twente in the Jupiler League. Jesus Corona has shown glimpses of quality since his 3 million Euro move from Mexico last year but has also spent far too much time on the sidelines with weight issues. The club has perhaps also overpaid for players such as Hakim Ziyech and Luc Castaignos, who cost around 10 million Euros together – they may have some quality, but they are certainly not worth the money that a club with the financial burdens of Twente paid for them.

There is, however, some good news for Twente. Bilal Ould-Chikh could be the future of the club over the next few seasons. The youngster, who came on against PSV on Saturday night, was full of pace and trickery and was the only player on the pitch wearing red who looked the least bit interested even after Depay smashed in PSV’s fifth goal of the night. However, it could be a similar story for Twente if they lose Ould-Chikh in the summer. It would be a huge surprise if another club did not come in for him this summer, especially given the well-documented case of Twente’s need for money.

It has been a sad decline for Twente since their first league title in 2010 and it looks certain to continue as they desperately require hefty investment in new players. In the meantime, relying on the youth system will certainly improve the youngsters, but the current batch look short of the quality that Twente need to return them to the top.

Twente play PEC Zwolle in the semi-finals of the KNVB cup tonight, and with a jackpot of 2,3 million Euros on offer to the winning team, this match has more significance than most for FC Twente.

Matthew Trevalyan (4 Posts)