It’s the 1st June 2025 and Erwin van Dijk is sat at home in his birthplace of Groningen, the Netherlands. It has been 15 months since the debacle at Plymouth, where van Dijk resigned from his role one game away from being sacked after a poor run of form. The past 15 months have seen an incredible turnaround in the fortunes for van Dijk – this turnaround began in late September 2024 with MVV Maastricht taking the opportunity to hire Erwin van Dijk.
This post will review the incredible turnaround that has enabled van Dijk the opportunity to spend his summer at home in Groningen.
Incredible Turnaround – MVV Maastricht
Van Dijk’s upturn in fortune began when he was chosen as the man to become MVV Maastricht’s new manager. The club had a poor start to their season in the second tier of Dutch football and as such there was a little pressure on van Dijk to hit the ground running.
With just 1 win in their opening 8 games, MVV were looking for someone to inspire their side to turn things around. Erwin van Dijk was that man. Van Dijk’s first game in charge was a Dutch Cup game against Achilles ’29.
The 1st Round tie was decided in ninety minutes with MVV coming out on top. Two goals from winger Boban Lazic helped guide van Dijk’s side to victory.
Things failed to follow suit in the league and MVV won just one of van Dijk’s opening six matches in charge in league football. However an astounding game against PSV (Eredivisie champions the previous season) ignited the form that would revitalise van Dijk’s managerial career.
MVV took PSV to extra time in their Round 2 tie. PSV did take the lead in extra time but Joshua Sanches equalised for MVV. The tie went to penalties and van Dijk’s side came out on top to progress through to Round 3 of the Dutch Cup!
This victory propelled MVV into action in the league as they won 4 of their next eight matches. This run of form lifted MVV away from relegation danger and more towards mid-table. Round 3 of the Dutch Cup came around and we were drawn against another Eredivisie side in Sparta Rotterdam.
Incredibly, our amazing cup run continued as we beat Sparta 2-1 in normal time. Sparta led the game by scoring in the 32nd minuted before goals from Boban Lazic and Farhan Shukor guided MVV to victory. Four league games were played before the Quarter Final of the Dutch Cup and MVV won three out of those four, scoring ten goals and conceding just 2.
The QF of the Dutch Cup saw van Dijk come up against Eredivisie side Groningen, the club based in the city of his birth. Again, MVV put up stern resistance and managed to force the game into extra time. However this time the Eredivisie side were too strong as they scored two goals in extra time to end MVV’s magical cup run.
In the build-up to the Groningen match, it was brought to van Dijk’s attention that there was a managerial vacancy at Groningen after their manager left the club to join AZ earlier that month. After MVV’s exit to Groningen, van Dijk began to weigh up whether to apply for the vacancy or not. He’d only been with MVV since September, less than 150 days, and he was thoroughly enjoying the club. But the prospect of managing the city of his birth in the top tier of the Netherlands was too tempting to turn up. Van Dijk promptly applied for the Groningen job.
MVV rose from 17th to 13th under van Dijk and although this doesn’t sound like an incredible rise, MVV were just six points off the playoffs by the time that Groningen approached van Dijk to become their manager.
Incredible Turnaround – FC Groningen
Erwin van Dijk has really fallen on his feet here. Groningen were in 8th place in the Eredivisie and could look forward to a Dutch Cup semi-final upon his arrival. And van Dijk’s magic touch continued as Groningen won all five of his opening five matches as their new boss.
Groningen’s first loss under van Dijk came in the Dutch Cup semi-final and, after winning five on the bounce in the league, it came as a complete surprise. NAC won the game 2-1 and went on to win the Dutch Cup, beating Heracles in the final.
Groningen’s league form meant that European qualification was a real possibility moving into the final six matches. As you can see from the above graphic, Groningen came into the final six in 5th place but ended up finishing in 2nd after a great end to the season saw them beat Utrecht 5-0 on the final day. Ajax won the league at a canter in the end, finishing 7 points ahead of 2nd place.
Erwin van Dijk has gone from resigning from Plymouth to finishing 2nd in the Eredivisie in the space of 15 months. It really has been a truly incredible turnaround for our manager. The challenge now will be to reproduce the form that saw his Groningen team rise from 8th to 2nd in just 12 league matches.
The next post will review the upcoming season with Groningen and to be very truthful I have no idea what it will entail! I certainly could not have predicted what has happened this season!
The Achievement Hunter Challenge
I’m taking part in The Achievement Hunter Challenge alongside several other FM content creators. I’ve had a very slow start to the challenge but I have now managed to achieve five out of 42 total achievements.
With Plymouth I was given the responsibility of choosing my own affiliate.
With MVV I broke their record purchase (Luke Berry £147K) and record sale (Nikolaj Kirk £120K).
Finally with Groningen I led them to their highest ever league finish by achieving 2nd place and I achieved the ‘Get specific club job’ achievement. In my first post of this series, I ran a vote on which club Erwin van Dijk should aim to reach and the winner of the vote was Groningen based on the club being in van Dijk’s city of birth.
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