Monday, September 13, 2010

The UEFA Cup was increasingly becoming more interesting tournament than Cup Winners Cup. Classier teams competed here, and understandably so – national cup competitions had illogical logic: often small clubs were able to reach at least domestic final and thus to play on European turf. Interesting, but not attractive… On the other hand big clubs unable to win neither title, nor cup at home, but finishing high enough in their leagues had the chance to compete for the UEFA Cup, thus concentrating quality in the third ranking European tournament at the expense of the second rank. It was also the most numerous international club competition with 64 participants – double the size of the other tournaments. East German success continued with 1.FC Lokomotive (Leipzig) reaching the ½ finals, but that was the only surprise. The other three ½ finalists represented the top European countries: West Germany, England, and Holland. At the end, it was London’s Tottenham Hotspur and Rotterdam’s Feyenoord to compete for the trophy – more interesting pair than Cup Winners Cup finalists, with expectations slightly favouring Tottenham: the latest years of this cup were entirely English, it was almost a tournament reserved for English teams. However…
Final 1st Leg, White Hart Lane, London, 21 May 1974, att 46281
Tottenham Hotspur (1) 2 Feyenoord (1) 2
39' 1-0 TH: England43' 1-1 F: Van Hanegem64' 2-1 TH: Van Daele og85' 2-2 F: De Jong
Tottenham Hotspur: Jennings; Evans, Naylor, Pratt, England; Beal, McGrath, Perryman, Peters;Chivers, Coates
Feyenoord: Treytel; Rijsbergen, Van Daele, Israël, Vos; De Jong, Jansen, Van Hanegem,Ressel; Schoenmaker, Kristensen
Final 2nd Leg, Feyenoord Stadion, Rotterdam, 29 May 1974, att 59000
Feyenoord (1) 2 Tottenham Hotspur (0) 0
43' 1-0 F: Rijsbergen84' 2-0 F: Ressel
Feyenoord: Treytel; Rijsbergen, Van Daele, Israël, Vos; Ramljak, Jansen, De Jong,Ressel; Schoenmaker, Kristensen (Boskamp (Wery)
Tottenham Hotspur: Jennings; Evans, Naylor, Pratt (Holder), England; Beal, McGrath, Perryman,Peters; Chivers, Coates.
If anything, the UEFA Cup final cemented the reputation of the Dutch football – after 4 years of winning the Champions Cup, now it was fifth year of success. A second European trophy for Feyenoord, telling that their Champions Cup of 1970 was not just sheer luck. Also telling that Dutch football was not only Ajax, and not just a temporary peak. Feyenoord featured experienced squad full of present and former national players – 10 played against Tottenham. The squad was completed by experienced former Yugoslavian national player Ramljak and promising Danish striker Kristensen. The team also represented variety – they played different kind of football than Ajax. Not total football, but still mobile and exciting to watch. Worthy winners.Not precisely the UEFA Cup winning squad, yet close – Feyenoord had more than 11 strong players at hand. Top, left to right: Ger Reitsma, Wim Rijsbergen, Harry Vos, Rinus Israel, Dick Schneider, Wim van Hanegem.
Bottom: Peter Ressel, Wim Jansen, Theo de Jong, Joop van Daele, Jorgen Kristensen (Denmark).
Well, soon after winning the UEFA Cup four of the above will be known to everybody caring about football. Peter Ressel will never become world-class star, but will collect trophies with Anderlecht (Brussels) nevertheless. Almost everybody present would be a staple for the rest of the 70s. Except one… the coach. In 1970 Feyenoord were coached by the Austrian Ernst Happel. In 1973 he went to coach Sevilla in Spain – the route of successful coaches. Wiel Coerver replaced him in Feyenoord and coached the team to the UEFA Cup.
Hard to say why, but Coerver was generally ignored and forgotten… True, most of the famous Feyenoord squad was a result of Happel’s work, but Coerver was not simply riding on somebody else’s achievement. He was dubbed ‘the Albert Einstein of football’, a brainy nickname, given because he developed ‘the Coerver coaching method’ – something still massively practiced and generally seen as the foundation of the continual success of Dutch football. Yet, Coerver did not achieve the fame of Happel, Kovacs, and even less that of Michels. Feyenoord is the only big club he ever coached – and after leaving it in 1975, he went to coach… Indonesia. Game over. Hard to say today was Coerver really great coach – his name is forgotten; his method – remains. Unsung hero? Unlucky one? I would think so.