For the first time since 1984 the Turkish season begins this weekend with none of the three big Istanbul clubs as reigning champions. However, Bursaspor know that Fenerbahçe SK, Galatasaray AŞ, Beşiktaş JK and the only other side to win the title, Trabzonspor AŞ, are intent on wresting the crown back.
Champions Bursaspor kick off their campaign on Monday against promoted Konyaspor and, with a UEFA Champions League debut as well as a title defence in prospect, coach Ertuğrul Sağlam has strengthened his squad. The reinforcements include left-back Gökçek Vederson, returning defender Milan Stepanov and several Argentinians headed by international playmaker Federico Insúa.
Yet Insúa missed most of pre-season with an ankle injury and Bursaspor fell to a 3-0 defeat in last week's Turkish Super Cup against Trabzonspor, albeit with six likely starters missing. Having never finished in the top three until last season, Bursaspor enter 2010/11 under a new burden of expectation. Sağlam said: "
We want to be involved in the title race, but we don't want to put ourselves under pressure by saying, 'We'll either be champions or finish second.' We'll do the best we can. Many clubs are spending lots of money but we are staying realistic and trying to balance the team."
The biggest spenders have been Beşiktaş, who have appointed coach Bernd Schuster and made the high-profile acquisitions of Guti and Ricardo Quaresma. However, although they have won through two qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League to earn a play-off with HJK Helsinki, the club still want to recruit a striker and Schuster also must decide in the next fortnight which foreign player to let go having surpassed the quota.
Another managerial change took place at Fenerbahçe where Aykut Kocaman added the coach's role to that of director of football following Christoph Daum's departure. Pipped by Bursaspor on the final day of last term, the team suffered another blow with their UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of BSC Young Boys, slightly tarnishing the folk-hero status of former player Kocaman. He is keen to land another forward and a defensive partner for Diego Lugano, though Slovakia midfielder Miroslav Stoch has arrived from Chelsea FC. Kocaman said: "My players should act more professionally and need to keep the ball better."
It has been quieter at Galatasaray, where defensive midfielder Lorik Cana has replaced Valencia CF-bound Mehmet Topal and Colombia winger Juan Pablo Pino has joined along with promising striker Mehmet Batdal. The return of Milan Baroš from injury at the end of last season effectively gives Frank Rijkaard's side another option while Arda Turan remains the key player.
Trabzonspor, for whom Super Cup success complemented a Turkish Cup triumph, struggled for goals last year but Colombia forward Teófilo Gutiérrez's hat-trick against Bursaspor last weekend suggests the January signing has now settled. Alongside him, Brazilian attacker Jajá comes in from FC Metalist Kharkiv. Coach Şenol Güneş, charged with ending a 26-year championship wait, said: "We'll fight to win the title. Any rebuilding process takes more than a year, and we'll gradually reach the next level."
Of the rest, promoted Bucaspor – who welcome Beşiktaş on Saturday – have installed the coach that worked wonders at Sivasspor, Bülent Uygun, while Eskişehirspor, Kayserispor and Gaziantepspor all appear to have made useful signings.