Galatasaray, Rijkaard, Bursaspor, Twente

Full page pictures in the papers this week of Frank Rijkaard, Dutch coach of Galatasaray, one of the three big Istanbul clubs. A purple shawl (the colour of the Galatasaray shirts this season) around his neck, his head bowed down: his team just lost an important game against Sivasspor, a match they really should have won. Right up to the last minute all was well, then Sivasspor scored and the final score was 1 all, leaving the team in fourth place of the competition, 7 points behind the leading team.

The pressure on Rijkaard’s shoulders is increasing, because this is of course not what the fans expected when he came to Istanbul. I remember the pictures in the papers last year when he came to sign his contract: he was welcomed at the airport by hordes of fans, and although he must be used to enthusiasm, the expression on his face made it clear that this craziness was unusual even for him. How can you ever make such high expectations come true? Not that I feel pity for Rijkaard, I mean, it’s a tough job, he’s paid extremely well for it, and this was a risk.

I’m not into football enough to know if Galatasaray has a good chance to get, for example, to runner up position in the competition, but as a fellow Dutchy, of course I would like it. Don’t I want Galatasaray to become champions? Well, I’m not against it, but the point is, this year it seems an outsider is going to be number 1: Bursaspor. Founded only in 1963 (the three big Istanbul clubs have more than 100 years of history) and they have never been champions before. It would be great for Bursaspor to beat the big ones.

Like Twente. Twente? That’s the club of the region in the Netherlands where I was born. Founded in 1965 and they also never won the championship. And they too are leading the league now, and the big three – Ajax, Feyenoord, PSV – can still beat Twente but in ‘my region’ people get more and more confident: the cup is coming their way. The same feeling must be taking over Bursa, a city not too far from Istanbul: it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen!

It would be great if both in Turkey and in Holland for once not an obvious team becomes champions. So I just say it: Rijkaard, I hope you can get your team away from that awful fourth place, but don’t take a final spurt and take the cup away from Bursaspor. Let the outsider get the cup, just as it will happen in Holland – yeah, I’m confident too!

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