The Dutch Eredivisie kicks off this weekend with AFC Ajax, winners of the last three editions, hotly tipped to complete a fourth successive triumph.
Since his appointment in December 2010 the Amsterdam club's coach Frank de Boer has won the title in each of his seasons in charge, matching the feat of celebrated predecessors Rinus Michels (1966–68) and Louis van Gaal (1994–96). Ajax have never claimed four in a row but that historic achievement is within reach according to De Boer.
"Ajax are the favourites this season. Our squad is still intact, we have reinforced and we are aiming to reach a higher level than last season," said De Boer, who recently extended his contract until 2017. The likes of Miralem Sulejmani, Ryan Babel and Derk Boerrigter have moved on to pastures new, yet the core of last term's team remains, despite interest in players such as Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen. The reinforcements include on-loan forward Bojan Krkić and defender Mike van der Hoorn.
However, for captain Siem de Jong, who has also attracted admiring glances, a fourth straight championship may not be as logical as it seems. "The only thing you hear is that we are ready for it, are the favourites and that the squad is still complete," said the No10. "But we still have to prove it. Everyone wants to beat us, certainly now we have become champions three times in row. We will not get anything for free."
Runners-up last season, PSV Eindhoven's abililty to challenge has been questioned after they lost key players Jeremain Lens, Mark van Bommel, Dries Mertens and Kevin Strootman. New coach Phillip Cocu, who succeeded Dick Advocaat, is building a side around youth, backing exciting young Dutch talent including Adam Maher, Georginio Wijnaldum, Jurgen Locadia, Luciano Narsingh and Memphis Depay.
Meanwhile, many observers are watching goings-on at Feyenoord with interest: coach Ronald Koeman appears to be slowly shaping the team into title contenders. The Rotterdam outfit also signed striker Graziano Pellè outright from Parma FC after a successful loan in 2012/13.
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