After changing coaches just six weeks into the season, and launching a scathing attack on the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) at the halfway stage, Besiktas president Yildirim Demiroren ended the campaign with both the league and cup in his trophy cabinet.
By Mehmet Demircan in Istanbul
Demiroren had earlier accused the authorities of conspiring against the Black Eagles.
“We think that the TFF is doing wrong,” he raged. “Besiktas is loosing points but don’t deserve this attitude. We think that the referees, with the help of the TFF, is misusing us and helping other clubs to survive.
“When you look at the last 10 years, we only won one league championship. Why? Because the FA is putting us aside! But we will not sit and wait anymore. We are asking for justice.
“From now on, Besiktas will not let people make use of our calm behaviour. From this moment on, Besiktas will talk when needed and never let the TFF misuse us.”
Strong words maybe, but no stronger than those directed at Demiroren himself by Besiktas fans when he fired young coach Ertugrul Saglam and brought in Mustafa Denizli.
As it transpired it was a master stroke as Denizli made history by becoming the first coach to win league titles with all three of the country’s top sides: Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and now Besiktas.
The team were sixth at the halfway stage and Denizli only added two newcomers to his squad: 30-year-old Fabian Ernst from Schalke and 33-year-old Yusuf Simsek from Bursaspor. However, a superb run in the second half of the campaign, topped off with a 4-2 victory over Fenerbahce in the Turkish Cup Final, gave the club a first double in 19 years ago (when they were led by Englishman Gordon Milne). Ironically, it was Besiktas’ fierce rivals Galatasaray who handed them the league, Arda Turan scoring twice on the last day of the season to seal a 2-1 win over Sivasspor.
Under the command of Bulent Uygun, Sivasspor were the surprise of the season, leading the table until the last few weeks before being forced to accept second spot and a place in next season’s Champions League third qualifying round.
It was not only the red and white’s creative style of play that made them so popular with neutrals last season but also chairman Mecnun Odyakmaz’s transfer policy.
Needing to buy players cheap and then sell them at a profit to be able to compete with the big three, Sivasspor unearthed bargains such as Brazilian defender Bilica, who they paid around £700,000 for and have now sold to Fenerbahce for £5million.
Having spent almost £20m on players – including £4.5m for the Brazilian winger Alanzinho from Stabaek of Norway – Trabzonspor’s investment almost brought them a Champions League place, but failure to get all three points in the last game of the season against Fener meant they had to settle for the third place.
As usual, Trabzonspor couldn’t finish a season with the same coach they started and parted company with Ersun Yanal, the former national boss, with six weeks to go.
Fenerbahce also spent heavily in pre-season, blowing £10m to acquire Spain’s Euro 2008 coach Luis Aragones and a further £14.5m on fellow countryman Daniel Guiza from Mallorca. Star names don’t, of course, guarantee success and the Yellow Canaries made an awful start to the season and had to live with a lot of harsh criticism.
Their championship hopes were all but handed a knockout blow in a highly charged 0-0 draw against Galatasaray in the Ali Sami Yen, where Diego Lugano and Semih Senturk were sent-off along with Gala duo Arda and Emre Asik.
And what of Galatasaray themselves? For many, the Lions are the best team in Turkey. With their positive, attacking football and the summer signing of players such as Milan Baros and Harry Kewell, allied to a sound defence, they started the season as strong favourites.
However, there were question marks over new coach Michael Skibbe, who many thought was not experienced enough. Those responsible for bringing the German to Turkey soon began to agree, and a 5-3 loss at home to Kocaelispor in February proved to be the last straw. Chairman Adnan Polat sacked Skibbe and replaced him with Bulent Korkmaz.
Former Gala star Bulent got off to a good start, beating Bordeaux in the UEFA Cup, but supporters were shocked when the team then gave away a 2-0 lead and lost 3-2 to Hamburg in the next round.
Meanwhile, Konyaspor, Kocaelispor and Hacettepe were all relegated, and they will be replaced by Manisaspor, Diyarbakirspor and Kasimpasa.