Fenerbahce were expected to walk the league last season after an ambitious summer, signing Manchester United duo Robin van Persie, Luis Nani, Lille stalwart Simon Kjaer, Liverpool winger Lazar Markovic among a long list of exciting transfers.
It did not quite go to plan and Vitor Pereira ended up taking the blame. The Portuguese manager was fired just a fortnight ago after bowing out of the Champions League play-off round against Monaco.
Pereira only got a season in charge to work with what was essentially a new team coached by a new manager. The former Porto boss made no secret that he required time to get his side to settle but last just one-season at the helm.
The problem Pereira had was failing to win over the fans. He also had a divided dressing room and wound up the press. The former head coach would probably have got more time had he not basically annoyed everyone who could have saved him.
The fans grew tired of his cautious playing style when he had the leagues most dangerous attacking talent at his disposal. His power games with Van Persie completely backfired. Pereira decided he was going to make a statement by using Van Persie as a substitute for most of the season. He did not have the best of relations with the rest of the team either. Turkish intentional full-back was banished to the reserves after a massive bust-up towards the end of last season.
It was not a surprise to see Pereiera leave. What was odd was how late Fenerbahce left the decision. Dutch veteran Dick Advocaat was replaced him predecessor just a week ago giving him absolutely no time to prepare.
Advocaat has had literally a week to get to grips with the job but did manage to get off to a brilliant start. Fenerbahce won their first game under his stewardship 3-0 against Grasshoppers in the Europa League qualifier first-leg tie and won the return leg as well to book a place in the group stages.
Fenerbahce have not however, got off to a great start in the league and are currently without a victory after dropping points in their first two games.
On paper Fenerbahce have the strongest squad in terms of quality and depth in the league. The Istanbul giants strengthened their defence over the summer bringing in Liverpool veteran Martin Skrtel, Schalke 04 defender Roman Neustädter and Van der Wiel from PSG. The Yellow Canaries now have a defence with an average height of 1.90m with years of top-level experience between them. Nigerian international Emmanuel Emenike returned from loan at West Ham and Aatif was brought in from Sivasspor to add depth. Advocaat did not have time to really have his say in the transfer market but did manage to bring in Lens from Sunderland towards the end of the window.
Fenerbahce did lose Luis Nani to Valencia, on-loan winger Lazar Markovic returned to Liverpool and Caner Erkin was snapped up by Inter – and later loaned to Istanbul rivals Besiktas.
Emenike has looked a completely different player to the one that was controversially booed off by his own fans the season before last – in Europe anyway. The powerful striker was impressive against Monaco and has excelled over the pre-season.
Speaking of players who have had triumphant returns from loan, Salih Ucan has shown glimpses of the form that earned him a move to Roma – which ultimately did not work out as plans. The Turkish international has a lot of potential but has struggled for consistency. Fenerbahce could end up relying on Ucan for creativity in the midfield and his form could play a huge role in the overall success of the team this season.
The Canaries almost have the complete package this season, strength and depth in attack midfield and defence. One area of concern is on the wings as the Canaries have not replaced Nani and Markovic but they still have decent – but limited – options in Volkan Sen and Miroslav Stoch.
Fenerbahce will head into the season as favourites but and this is a big but it will all come down to the manager. Advocaat has not had a lot of time to settle in and he has a number of big egos to contend with. Should the Dutch manager get his side to click they have a squad capable of winning the league without too much of a struggle. Then again as Pereira found out last season having the best players means nothing if you can’t control them.
Prediction: Top 3