FC Twente are embroiled in one of the Dutch Eredivisie’s tightest relegation battles in recent history. But why? Football-Oranje writer Michael Statham takes a deeper look into the Enschede side’s season and the latest failings of a historically proud club.

  • by Michael Statham
  • Follow Michael on Twitter @EredivisieMike

Twente sat in seventeenth on Sunday afternoon before a home fixture with bottom of the table Sparta Rotterdam, the only side below them in the Eredivisie. After a dominant beginning, Twente couldn’t find a first-half goal. Flashes of lively attacking play were only met with frustration.

Supporters’ optimism soon faded when Sparta’s on-loan striker Fred Friday fired the visitors in front. Long-balls were thrown into opposition territory as desperation and anger filled the thirty thousand capacity stadium. Only a late Haris Vuckic goal from a scrappy corner saved Twente from falling to the foot of the Dutch top flight in a season filled with disappointment.

A season of difficulties

“You played League One football in the end?” a presenter asked Hidde ter Avest after the game. The Twente captain replied with a ‘needs-must’ answer, professionally backing his new manager Gertjan Verbeek, after some ugly, ‘English’ football late in the game.

René Hake was previously in charge and he helped oversee a seventh-place finish in the Eredivisie last season. However, after three wins from ten games, Twente’s directors wanted someone new to rescue the club’s 17/18 campaign. They turned to experienced coach Verbeek.

However, this has yet to make a real impact. The former AZ manager’s attempts to tighten up a defence have lead to a static back five that still give away cheap goals. In attack, new signings Adam Maher and Adnane Tighadouini have complemented Twente’s other stylish attackers Fredrik Jensen and Oussama Assaidi, but four goals in the last eight games show that the end product is still lacking. Despite the pedigree of players, one win from fourteen under Verbeek does not show improvement. Hake’s average of 0.9 points per game this season beats Verbeek’s 0.57.

Their problems were evident this Sunday. A 1-1 draw with Sparta despite 25 attempts on goal. Sparta had two shots all game, one of them was a goal gifted following no pressing in midfield on striker Michiel Kramer, who could nonchalantly chip a ball over the top of a stationary five-man defence for Friday to finish.

A decay of a once great club

FC Twente’s recent financial problems have been well-documented. The club nearly went out of business in 2016 after mis-spendings from the days of Steve McClaren when he won the 2009-10 Eredivisie title with the Tukkers.

A club steeped with history but riddled by debt. They have been disqualified from European football for three years, the club’s scouting has been stripped back to bare bones and the club’s second team had to be removed from the Dutch second tier.

“We have to realise that’s the point we’re in at the club,” said midfielder Fredrik Jensen in an exclusive interview with Football-Oranje last summer. “We can’t change that as players, the staff can’t change it, the directors can’t change it. We’ve just got to adapt.”

Can Twente be rescued?

Survival in this season’s Eredivisie is essential to the club’s future. One of the biggest fan bases in the Netherlands would be greatly missed.

With problems mounting, Twente’s fight against relegation is going to be close. A point against Sparta sees them sit sixteenth – currently still in danger of being relegated via a relegation/promotion play-off at the end of the season. The bottom five is very tight. and recent form is simply not good enough to ensure survival. A tense end of the season awaits.


The full video of our interview with Jensen:

Michael Statham (782 Posts)

Writer/interviewer/YouTuber for Football-Oranje. Massive Dutch football fan from the UK. Follow me @EredivisieMike & subscribe to Football-Oranje on YouTube.