Stephen Halliday: Dick Advocaat has been robbed of a season to cherish

Former Rangers boss was chasing Dutch double

Feyenoord coach Dick Advocaat. Picture: Tom Bode/AFP
Feyenoord coach Dick Advocaat. Picture: Tom Bode/AFP

When it comes to rough justice being meted out to football clubs as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, Dick Advocaat’s Feyenoord side have more reason than most to curse their wretched luck.

The Dutch FA’s unequivocal decision to declare the Eredivisie campaign null and void, while also abandoning the Dutch Cup, denied Advocaat the opportunity to win a truly remarkable double in the autumn of his managerial career.

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When the former Rangers boss replaced Jaap Stam at the helm of the Rotterdam club last October, they were 12th in the league table and flirting with a relegation battle. Their transformation under Advocaat was spectacular. An 18-match unbeaten domestic run saw them soar to third in the Eredivisie, just six points behind joint leaders Ajax and AZ with nine games remaining when football was suspended because of Covid-19.

They had also reached the Dutch Cup Final, where they were favourites to defeat one of Advocaat’s many former clubs, Utrecht, in the now aborted final. The indefatigable Advocaat will be 73 in September and Feyenoord are believed to have a succession plan in place for his departure at the end of next season, with ex-players Dirk Kuyt and Henrik Larsson strongly rumoured to be lined up as the new management team.

But the evidence suggests there is still life left in Advocaat’s coaching odyssey.

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