FC Twente Close In On League Title
This was, in reality, almost inconceivable. In essence, it doesn't happen and it really shouldn't. The man who stood underneath a brolly on a wet and miserable night within the belly of English football, watching his England team utterly fail to reach the European Championships with a team who were more than capable of getting there, is on the verge of winning his first Eredivisie.
Steve McClaren is a good football manager. To an Englishman, this sentence makes no sense. But he is, and FC Twente are testament to this. Currently sitting pretty at the top of the League, this small side, based in the western part of the Netherlands, has a modest and relatively humble history. Constants within the Eredivisie, they have managed to live within constraints and restrictions of being a small club within a small city.
But this has obviously been part of the reason why FC Twente and current League Champions A.Z. Alkmaar have managed to be so successful. Success brings expectation, and with that comes failure, something which the big three have been feeling for quite a while.
It is true that PSV are on the coat-tails of FC Twente, and Ajax and Feyenoord have managed to assemble competitive sides, but for these three, competitive sides are basic requirements, and while they have been struggling to live up to reputations, FC Twente have filled the hole.
How have they done this?
McClaren has proven shrewd in the transfer market, calling upon his contacts and other clubs. This season, we've seen Chelsea's Miroslav Stoch create a name for himself, whilst Slobojan Rajkovic has been putting in some great performances. These players have been backed up by regulars Douglas, Ronnie Stam, Wout Brama and their inspirational captain Blaise N'Kufo, who after being at the club for six years will join Seattle Sounders in August.
The simplicity in FC Twente's game is quite admirable. They play with efficiency and rarely give the ball away. This has made them very hard to break down, a trademark of McClaren's usual style.
And what of the man himself. He seems reawakened by this career revival. At interviews, he seems relaxed and calm and while his Dutch is sometimes suspect, FC Twente have seen that this man can manage a football club (something which the English didn't really see).
Often derided, McClaren is now having the last laugh. And as the run-in continues, and the whole of the City of Twente look on with bated breath and shredded nerves towards the league table, McClaren will still be smiling and with luck prevailing, laughing all the way to that League title.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it England.
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