Three points all that matters for Rutten
Feyenoord will be looking to put the record straight when HNK Rijeka come to town on Thursday. The Rotterdammers suffered Europa League defeat in Croatia two weeks ago despite creating plenty of chances to get something from the game. But revenge is not the only fuel, because a win is essential if Feyenoord are to stay in contention for a place in next year’s knockout rounds. ‘We are playing at home and we don’t want to lose more ground in the group. So for us victory is all that matters tomorrow,’ said Fred Rutten on Wednesday afternoon during the pre-match press conference at De Kuip that also featured defender Luke Wilkshire.
Feyenoord’s visit to Rijeka ended in a disappointing 3-1 loss, but Rutten told the attending journalists that he did not return from Croatia with only bad memories. ‘I felt we were better than our opponents, among other things based on the chance count. We had the opportunity to take charge of the tie at various times, but we didn’t. It was an expensive lesson for us. In Europe different laws apply from the league and it’s more about survival.’
The coach’s words were backed up by Luke Wilkshire. ‘In European games you have to deal with a higher level and different circumstances. For instance, look at the poor pitch we had to play on in Rijeka. It’s important to be able to cope with that as well as possible. In that regard these are very educational experiences for our young players in particular. It’s precisely by playing this type of game that they’ll grow. Where necessary I give them tips, during training, say, or after games,’ explained the seasoned wingback.
Ahead of the visit of the Croatians, the coach is delighted with the return of Elvis Manu and Lex Immers after a spell in the treatment room. It means that Feyenoord will be at full strength on Thursday, save Joris Mathijsen and Rodny Lopes Cabral, who has been out injured for a while now. That gives Rutten plenty of decisions but he doesn’t feel that’s a problem. ‘I’d prefer not to use the word ‘problem’ in such cases. For me it’s a luxury and a very pleasant feeling to have virtually everyone available at this stage of the season.’
Rutten rounded things off by mentioning the fantastic support he’s expecting on Thursday. ‘I’m delighted to be able to experience the fabulous atmosphere in this stadium from the positive side now,’ he smiled. Rutten has of course brought many teams to De Kuip down the years. ‘I always said that De Kuip was a legendary place, where the supporters can play a big part in the result. The way they always get behind us gives me a great feeling.’