The Upside-Down Season

The 2022-2023 Dutch Eredivisie season proved to be a rollercoaster ride filled with unexpected turns and surprises.  Feyenoord Rotterdam, against all odds, emerged as the champions, capturing the title in a thrilling campaign that left their fans jubilant.  Feyenoord’s remarkable performance throughout the season culminated in their well-deserved victory, sealing their 16th Eredivisie title with two games to spare.  During the championship celebrations, the atmosphere in Rotterdam was electrifying as supporters flooded the streets, celebrating their team’s success with flags, songs, and an overwhelming sense of pride. The players’ hard work, determination, and talent etched a memorable chapter in Feyenoord’s history.

Feyenoord, along with PSV Eindhoven, secured qualification for the UEFA Champions League qualifiers, while Ajax Amsterdam had to settle for a spot in the UEFA Europa League. AZ and Twente, qualified for the UEFA Europa Conference League.  However, the season also saw the disappointment of Cambuur, Groningen, and Emmen, who faced relegation, dropping down to the First Division.  Conversely, Almere City, Heracles, and PEC Zwolle achieved promotion and will compete in the Eredivisie next season. As Feyenoord, PSV, Ajax, AZ, and Twente prepare to represent the Netherlands in European competitions, the relegated teams aim to bounce back, and the promoted clubs strive to establish themselves in the top-flight league. The season brought both joy and disappointment, setting the stage for anticipation in the upcoming campaigns.

In a surprising development, Ajax football club director Edwin van der Sar announced his resignation after 11 years on the club board. The decision came amidst criticism of the club’s poor performance in the season, with Ajax finishing in 3rd place, their lowest ranking since 2009. Van der Sar expressed the need to distance himself, reset, and explore other opportunities, while remaining in an advisory capacity until August. Ajax aims to appoint a new board, preferably with an Ajax background, after August 1. Van der Sar, a former international goalkeeper, joined Ajax as a marketing chief in 2012 and became director in 2016.

The coaching carousel in the Eredivisie saw Peter Bosz, the former Ajax coach, being officially announced as the new head coach of PSV Eindhoven. Bosz expressed his ambition to revive PSV’s past dominance, particularly during the mid-1970s and late 1980s when the club won the European Cup in 1988. With previous coaching experiences at Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, and Olympique Lyonnais, Bosz aimed to bring back the glory days of PSV, emphasizing the combination of the squad’s abilities and his preferred style of play. Meanwhile, Ajax was reportedly closing in on securing Maurice Steijn, the Sparta coach, as a permanent replacement for Alfred Schreuder, who was dismissed earlier in the season. The coaching changes highlighted the competitive nature of the league, with clubs striving for success by bringing in experienced and skilled coaches.  Arne Slot, the head coach of Feyenoord Rotterdam, is set to continue his tenure with the club despite reported interest from English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. Slot, who led Feyenoord to their first Eredivisie title in six years and the UEFA Conference League final last season, expressed his desire to stay at Feyenoord and build upon their progress. Discussions between Slot, his agent Rafaele Pimenta, and club officials have focused on a potential contract extension. Feyenoord has been impressed with Slot’s achievements, leading to an upgraded and extended contract, solidifying his commitment to the club.

Almere City made history by securing their first-ever promotion to the Eredivisie, defeating FC Emmen 2-1 in the playoff final. Despite FC Emmen’s early attempt to take the lead, Almere City showcased their resilience and determination, securing victory in the second half with goals from Van La Parra and Smeets. The disappointment was palpable for FC Emmen, as they not only lost the match but also faced the departure of their coach, Dick Lukkien, and relegation from the Eredivisie after just one season. Almere City’s success is a testament to their steady climb up the ranks and the support they received from real estate tycoon Lesley Bamberger – a remarkable achievement, marking the first time a club from Flevoland will compete in the Eredivisie, bringing pride to the team and the region.

The 2022-2023 Dutch Eredivisie season was a rollercoaster of emotions, with Feyenoord’s unlikely triumph, Almere City’s historic promotion, Ajax’s disappointment, and coaching changes that added intrigue to the league. Feyenoord’s remarkable performance led to their 16th Eredivisie title, while Almere City’s victory brought them into the top-flight league for the first time. Ajax faced turbulence and a change in leadership with Edwin van der Sar’s resignation. The coaching carousel saw Peter Bosz joining PSV Eindhoven, while Maurice Steijn was reportedly on the verge of becoming Ajax’s permanent replacement. Arne Slot’s commitment to Feyenoord provided stability and hope for the future. As the season concluded, the Eredivisie witnessed the unpredictable nature of football, leaving fans eagerly anticipating the next chapter in Dutch football history.

Written by John Mahnen