The Eredivisie (literally, 'Honour Divison') is the top-tier of Dutch football and home to the 4 Dutch clubs that are actually relevant. These clubs are Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord and (for that one season when Steve McClaren managed them) FC Twente.
Since its foundation in 1956, 23 of the 56 league seasons have been won by Ajax, 18 by PSV and 9 by Feyenoord and only 5 clubs have won the league since 1965.
Decline in Quality
Since the late-90s, there has been an inexplicable discrepency between the quality of Dutch players/the Dutch national team and the quality of the Dutch league. Despite there always having been a good core of emerging Dutch talent and despite the Dutch national team perpertually being one of the best 3-6 teams in world football, the Eredivisie became a bit shit.
The league continued to decline as even dross like Ryan Babel decided they could do better for themselves at a mid-table club in a proper league then they could at a top club in the Netherlands. Rather than adhering to the previously accepted dichotomy of either choosing to stay in the Erevdivisie or getting snapped up by properly big clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid or Milan, young, relatively talented players started desperately jumping on planes, ferries and into passing lorries hoping to reach Spain, England, Italy or Germany to sign for clubs like Athletico Madrid, Everton or maybe Schalke.
For these reasons, the Eredivisie is not considered to be one of the 'proper leagues' (La Liga, Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga and, at a push, Ligue 1).
Presumably in an attempt to convince the outside world that the standard of the Eredivisie is at the same level as in the late-80s and early-90s, the league's logo looks like one of the default screensavers you could select on an Amiga 4000.
Ajax is most famous for its academy and, in the last 20 years, the Champions League winning team of 1994/5 which reads like a 'who's who of 90s' and early 00s football.
Gangly goalkeeper Van Der Sar, Frank Rijkaard, the de Boer brothers, dreadlocked style guru Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, evergreen Octogenarian Nwankwo Kanu and Champions League-ophile Clarence Seedorf all took to the field against A.C Milan.
'Strikers from the Dutch League'
The league is prone to producing the occasional talent who is clearly a cut above the level of domestic opposition, traditionally such players would have gone to PSV or Ajax. However, since Ajax and PSV became a bit rubbish in the late-90s, managers from the English and Spanish leagues have often 'swooped' to sign attacking talent coming from the Dutch academies, thinking they have found 'the new Van Basten'. This is never the case. Promising attacking players often move to prestigious foreign clubs on the back of unrealistically good scoring ratios in the Eredivisie, almost never coming close to achieving similar ratios in a proper league. Such players have further damaged the Eredivisie's reputation.
Players who looked the absolute tits in the Eredivisie but were dogshit in proper leagues
- Bolo Zenden - Winger Boudewijn Zenden scored 32 goals in 107 league games for Ajax and looked a hot prospect before moving to Barcelona. His spell at the Camp Nou followed by stints at Chelsea, Middlesborough, Liverpool, Marseille and Sunderland left him with a tally of 27 goals in 297 games outside of the Eredivisie.
- Dirk Kuyt - whilst Kuyt has been an honest pro during his time at Liverpool, his record of 51 goals in 207 league games is dogshit when compared to the 122 in 261 he scored in the Eredivisie.
- Klaas-Jan Huntelaar - Huntelaar undoubtedly looked the tits in the Eredivisie, scoring 76 goals in 101 games. However during a couple of years in La Liga and Seria A, including the year of being at Real Madrid and not really getting played which is deemed customary for all Dutch talent (see: Arjen Robben, Rafael Van De Vaart, Wesley Sneijder), he scored 15 goals in 45 games. Despite these bad years, a move to Schalke seems to have revived his career, scoring 37 in 56 for the Germans, whilst retaining an impressive 31 in 51 for the national team.
- Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink - The ridiculously named Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink looked a relatively good prospect in the Eredisivie, scoring 134 goals in 316 games. Despite initial success on his move Celtic where he netted a respectable 34 in 78 games he moved to Hull where he was quickly shown to be a bit shit, scoring a pitiful 3 goals in 31 Premier League games.
- Fat Ronaldo - Fat Ronaldo first made his name at PSV scoring 42 goals in 46 Eredivisie games. He kept up a similar ratio until his run of crippling knee injuries and subsequent corpulence, ending up with 175 goals in his 252 games for Barcelona, Internazionale, Real Madrid and AC Milan.
- Ruud Van Nistelrooy - Van Nistelrooy scored 75 goals in 98 games during his spell in the Eredivisie. This success continued as he scored 141 goals in 218 games during 9 years as a top-class striker for Manchester United and Real Madrid.
- Luis Suarez - Initially, noted 'That Kind of Player' and dreadful bastard Luis Suarez's 15 goals in 44 games in his first season and a half for Liverpool held the faint aroma of dogshit after an impressive ratio in the Eredivisie. However, he's turned it round impressively, the horrible weasel.
The only legitimately interesting thing that has happened in the Eredivisie recently is Steve McClaren's stint at FC Twente where he won the league. This is most memorable for that interview he did for Dutch telly where he put on a Dutch accent and answered questions about an upcoming Champions League tie against Arsenal in broken English.