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Season review: Netherlands

Published: Thursday 20 May 2010, 14.12CET
AZ Alkmaar upset the applecart in 2008/09, and there was further disappointment for the Netherlands' big three this time around as Steve McClaren's FC Twente took their first crown.
by Berend Scholten
Season review: Netherlands
Twente celebrate their maiden Dutch title ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 20 May 2010, 14.12CET

Season review: Netherlands

AZ Alkmaar upset the applecart in 2008/09, and there was further disappointment for the Netherlands' big three this time around as Steve McClaren's FC Twente took their first crown.

Twice runners-up, Enschede-based FC Twente stole the headlines in 2009/10 as they outpaced a resurgent AFC Ajax to ensure the title was kept out of the hands of the Eredivisie's big three for a second season. Ajax took some consolation after winning an unusual two-legged Dutch Cup final.

Champions: FC Twente
A run of 14 straight wins was ultimately not quite enough for Ajax to claim first place in the league as a Twente secured the first title since their foundation in 1965 by a one-point margin. Former England manager Steve McClaren's side proved a canny outfit, winning plenty of games by small margins, while Costa Rican forward Bryan Ruiz was responsible for 24 of the club's 63 goals.

Cup final: AFC Ajax 6-1 Feyenoord (agg)
For security reasons, the usual one-legged final was split into home and away fixtures, with no visiting supporters. Siem de Jong struck twice as Martin Jol's Ajax won 2-0 in Amsterdam, while he and Luis Suárez shared four between them as the Rotterdam side lost 4-1 at home in the return, Jon Dahl Tomasson scoring their consolation.

European places*
FC Twente – UEFA Champions League group stage
AFC Ajax – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
PSV Eindhoven – UEFA Europa League play-off
Feyenoord – UEFA Europa League play-off
AZ Alkmaar – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Utrecht – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Luis Suárez (AFC Ajax)
In three years since his arrival from FC Groningen, Uruguayan international Suárez has developed into a goal machine. He scored 17 in his first season, 22 in his second and hit stunning form in 2009/10 with 35 goals in 33 league games, equalling Mateja Kežman's 2003 tally when the Serbian player – then at PSV – became the league's highest scoring foreign player. 'El Pistolero', 23, also scored 12 goals in Europe, 14 in the Dutch Cup and led the league assists ranking with 17.

One to watch: Gregory van der Wiel (AFC Ajax)
The Netherlands' Young Player of the Year was a reliable presence in the Ajax defence; the only player to featured in all 3,060 minutes of the Eredivisie season, scoring six goals in 34 games. An academy graduate, the 22-year-old's talent was acknowledged by national-team coach Bert van Marwijk, who has made him the Oranje's starting right-back.

Surprise package: Heracles Almelo
Having barely escaped relegation last season, the side with the third-lowest budget in the league fought well above their weight under Gertjan Verbeek. They were pipped to fifth by AZ and lost to FC Utrecht in the end-of-season play-off for a UEFA Europa League place. Verbeek will enter the competition anyway, having agreed to coach AZ next term.

Leading scorer: Luis Suárez, AFC Ajax (35)

Relegated: RKC Waalwijk, Sparta Rotterdam

Promoted: SBV Excelsior, De Graafschap

Number: 155
Ajax's stellar scoring total in their 51 official domestic games this season represented a total of over three a game. It is their second highest aggregate tally for a campaign, though they will struggle to match 1960/61's total of 171.

Quote
"Twente gave me a chance of rehabilitation. I have always felt at home, and I feel I have become a real Tukker [Twente's nickname]. I am happy to have combined that with sporting success and extremely proud to say farewell now with the championship in our pockets. At Twente I became a better coach and learned from past mistakes."
Twente coach McClaren after announcing his departure for VfL Wolfsburg

Last updated: 01/06/10 19.01CET

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