Koeman: ‘Grateful for the support’
Ronald Koeman reported to De Kuip on Friday for the first time since the passing of his 75-year-old father Martin on Wednesday. The coach left the preparations for Saturday’s home match against PEC Zwolle to his assistants, but did speak to the press after training about the past few days and about the weekend’s game.
Koeman returns to the Feyenoord bench on Saturday after Jean-Paul van Gastel, Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Patrick Lodewijks took control for the cup win at Heracles Almelo. ‘I’ll try to be myself,’ said Koeman. ‘My father would not have wanted it any other way than that I was occupied with football.’
Koeman, who followed the round of 16 KNVB Cup tie win at Heracles from a distance, wryly noted that Thursday’s draw had handed this side a challenging away quarterfinal at Ajax. ‘It was a strange situation,’ he explained. ‘I noticed that the match was on my mind even at that moment. I think it’s impressive that the squad still won in that situation. Otherwise the match is done and dusted, although we did get the toughest draw possible yesterday. But if we beat Ajax we have a good shot at winning the cup. And we can beat Ajax.’
In the days around the Heracles tie it was claimed in various quarters that Koeman had been asked to work as assistant coach of the Dutch national team under coach Guus Hiddink. Koeman quickly clarified the situation on Friday. ‘I’ve never been promised the position of national coach, but I knew that I was one of the candidates. My agent got a call ten days ago from the Dutch football association asking whether I would like to work for Oranje under the Guus for the next years, before doing the job on my own. That got to me, because I feel I’m capable enough of doing it alone. For me, either you want me or you don’t.’
Feyenoord’s fans have given notice that they plan to show their support for their coach during the twelfth minute of Saturday’s match. ‘A wonderful initiative,’ the coach called it. ‘Of course I’m touched, just as the tribute by FC Groningen was impressive. I’m grateful for the support. The Koeman name means something in the world of football; my father laid the foundations for that. My father wasn’t someone who liked too much brouhaha, but he would have been proud of this.’