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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 28, 2008

Top trio start Dutch league with new coaches

ROTTERDAM, Aug 28 (Reuters) - For the first time since 1959 Ajax Amsterdam, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord, the traditional top three in the Dutch championship, kick off their league campaigns all under the command of a new coach.

Marco van Basten begins a four-year spell at Ajax, the club where he began his professional career as player, while Huub Stevens is at the helm of PSV after spending most of the last 10 years in Germany.

Feyenoord saw Bert van Marwijk leave to become national coach and appointed Gert Jan Verbeek, who had impressed at Heerenveen by qualifying for the UEFA Cup four years in a row.

Van Basten, tasked with ending PSV's streak of four consecutive titles, signed Spanish defender Oleguer following the departure of John Heitinga and splashed out some €30 million to reinforce his midfield and attack.

Stevens at PSV signed Swedish goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson and striker Nordin Amrabat to replace Heurelho Gomes and Jefferson Farfan and despite a young squad they are still considered favourites for the title.

Verbeek has experience in abundance at Feyenoord but weak finances limited his plans in the transfer market at the club, which celebrated their 100th anniversary this year.

Jon Dahl Tomasson returned to the club he left after winning the UEFA Cup in 2002, while holding midfielder Karim El Ahmadi was the only other new signing Verbeek can add to his first-choice 11.

PSV start the new season away at Utrecht on Saturday, while Ajax travel to Willem II Tilburg on the same day. Feyenoord travel to Heracles Almelo on Sunday.

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