Feyenoord edge closer to the abyss as player revolt sends Mario Been packing

The Rotterdam giants look set to struggle again next season after seeing their head coach leave the club following a disastrous 2010-11 campaign
By Stefan Coerts

Mario Been’s decision to resign as Feyenoord head coach last Wednesday marks the end of an eventful two-year spell. The club icon, who made well over 100 official appearances for the Rotterdam giants during his active career, survived a humiliating 10-0 loss against PSV last season but he saw no other choice than to throw in the towel this week after 13 out of 18 players voted against retaining him during a meeting on Tuesday evening.

Been made a relatively good start in charge of his boyhood club as he guided them to fourth spot in the league table and reached the final of the KNVB Beker in his first season. However, there was little reason for optimism ahead of his second year in Rotterdam as players such as Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Roy Makaay and Jonathan de Guzman all left De Kuip in the summer of 2010. To make things even worse, there were no funds available for adequate replacements and it was therefore not much of a surprise that Feyenoord were unable to compete for the top places in 2010-11.

Nevertheless, very few would have expected that Been’s men would end up fighting against relegation last term. Only after the arrival of Ryo Miyaichi in January did they move away from the drop zone and Feyenoord’s tenth spot finish was far below expectations. Remarkably, Been never really had to fear for his job and even the aforementioned shambolic performance against PSV was quickly forgiven.

SNAPSHOT | Mario Been

Age: 47

Place of birth: Rotterdam

Senior playing career: Feyenoord, Pisa, Roda, Heerenveen, Tirol, Excelsior

Teams managed: Excelsior, NEC, Feyenoord

Much to the 47-year-old's frustration, Feyenoord's precarious financial situation meant that the Rotterdam side again couldn't make any significant signings this summer, while star players Luc Castaignos and Georginio Wijnaldum left De Kuip for greener pastures. With Leroy Fer seemingly on his way out as well, yet another disappointing season seems to be on the cards for the fallen Eredivisie giants.

Despite the far from rosy situation, Been was looking forward to his third term as Feyenoord coach though as he targeted Europa League qualification with his young team. However, players like Jerson Cabral, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi and Ricky van Haaren, who all made their debut under the former Netherlands international, decided different and basically sent their mentor packing with their vote of no confidence last week.

Tacticians such as Huub Stevens and Ronald Koeman have already expressed their interest in succeeding Been in Rotterdam and the Feyenoord coaching job is clearly still one of the most prestigious positions around in Dutch football. Nevertheless, any trainer would act wise to think twice before accepting a job offer from the 2002 Uefa Cup winners.

Not only does Feyenoord's tricky financial situation mean that they'll be forced to cash in on their best players for at least a few more years, but Feyenoord's current squad simply lacks the quality to compete for the top places. Clubs like Twente, AZ, Groningen and Heerenveen all have better players, while Utrecht and Vitesse are on the rise as well courtesy of their wealthy owners.

Captain of a sinking ship | Ron Vlaar has been unable to halt Feyenoord's slide

Only skipper Ron Vlaar, De Vrij and Fer have demonstrated to be worthy of the Feyenoord jersey, while the rest of the team consists of promising, yet unproven, youngsters and players like Sekou Cisse and Karim El Ahmadi who have failed to make an impact since arriving at De Kuip.

Taking all of this into account, there is absolutely no reason for anyone at the club to think that success in the short term is an option. As absurd as it might sound, Feyenoord could even end up fighting against relegation again in 2011-12.

As for Been, the coach is obviously devastated with his 'forced' departure and the club's ongoing misery will doubtlessly hurt the Feyenoord fan inside him. However, it's perhaps in the best interest of his career as a coach that he's no longer part of the decline of one of Netherlands' traditional powerhouses.

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