As the Eredivisie draws to a close for another season, we take a look at the clubs that have exceeded their initial expectations, whilst also looking at those clubs for which it has been a season to forget.

  • By Matthew Trevalyan
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pec ere overOverachievers:

PEC Zwolle

For a team that was only promoted to the Eredivisie at the end of the 2011/12 season, finishing 11th for the last two years can be seen as a success in itself as they consolidated their place in Holland’s top flight. Added to that, they sensationally beat Ajax 5 – 1 in the KNVB cup final to secure a spot in the Europa League. This season, they’ve done even better. Heading in to the final five games, they seem to look comfortable in the Europa League play-off spotsin 6th place, a spot which, if they can hold on to, will ensure that they finish in their best ever league position. Once again they beat Ajax again in the Super Cup at the annual curtain raiser for the Eredivisie, and in addition, they qualified for the final of the KNVB cup for the second year in a row thanks to a thrilling penalty shoot-out victory over FC Twente in Enschede. Key players such as Mustafa Saymak and Jesper Drost, as well as charismatic manager Ron Jans, have been key to the success of Zwolle this season and if they can hold on to this trio and make some additions at the back, they could be in for another successful season next year.

SC Cambuur

Since the turn of the century, Cambuur have spent much of their time languishing in the mid-table of the Jupiler League, the Netherlands’ second division, and on more than one occasion, they came close to being relegated, finishing 17th in 2008. Their recent rise to mid-table security in the Eredivisie must, therefore, be applauded. On a shoestring budget, coach Henk de Jong has led the club to 8th place this season, and with only Ajax away out of their last five games representing a probable loss, there is every chance that they will hold on to 8th. Even if they slipped up now, their season has certainly been a very successful one, given that they were probably preparing for a relegation dog fight in August.

PSV Eindhoven

With five games to go and a ten point advantage, PSV seem to have secured their first title since 2008. Breaking Ajax’s stranglehold on the Eredivisie crown has been no mean feat, and the youthful PSV squad has put in some exceptional performances, especially in front of goal. The likes of Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong, combined with the goal scoring abilities of Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Maher, have seen the club from Eindhoven smash five past both Utrecht and Twente away from home. Phillip Cocu also deserves praise for masterminding PSV’s march towards the title, especially given that only Andres Guardado is above the age of 25, of those players that have regularly featured. What is important now PSV is that they manage to hold on to some of their prized assets. Depay looks set to leave but if they can keep a hold of the majority of their players, and indeed manager, they could be set to dominate the Eredivisie for at least the next few seasons.


twente ejejeUnderachievers:


Finishing second in the Eredivisie is not what many would consider to be a disastrous season for the champions. However, when combined with their performance in the cup and in Europe, it can be justifiably argued that this season has been below par for Ajax. Thumped 4 – 0 in the Amsterdam ArenA by Vitesse shortly before Christmas and dumped out of the Europa League by a Dnipro side they really should have seen off has left Ajax without any chance of a trophy for the first season since 2009. Key players seem set to leave, such as Ricardo Kishna and they may also struggle to hold on to Jasper Cillesen, who has been continuously linked with a move abroad since his impressive performances in Brazil last summer. Nemanja Gudelj has been brought in for next season already, as Frank de Boer and his team look to move on from a disappointing campaign.

FC Twente

Where to begin? Docked three points for financial irregularities and seemingly looking likely to be docked three more, Twente find themselves in the wrong half of the table. Poor player performances, hampered by injuries to key players such as Felipe Gutierrez and an inadequate transfer policy has led to a very poor season for the Dutch champions of 2010. Knocked out of the Europa league by FC Qarabag of Azerbaijan before the competition proper set the tone for the Enschede club. Things never really got off the ground and their last hopes to revive their season were shattered when Zwolle beat them in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final of the KNVB cup. They need money, a proper transfer policy and perhaps a new set of faces in the dug out if they are to get back to their best.

Go Ahead Eagles

They may have only been promoted to the Eredivisie last season, and a number of other clubs such as Utrecht and Groningen have had below-par seasons but the manner in which Go Ahead Eagles have capitulated this season was key for them being named as underachievers. The squad may not be the best in the Eredivisie but in players such as Wesley Verhoek, Giliano Wijnaldum and Glynor Plet they had the required experience to stay in the division. Performances have been sub-standard and confidence at rock bottom, possibly not helped by the constant jeers from the crowd. A morale boosting draw against Ajax in February was scuppered by Mickey Van der Haart’s comical but very unfortunate error and having lost their last 6 games in a row, they look almost certain to be playing in the relegation play-offs.

Matthew Trevalyan (4 Posts)