Clear what we have to do, says Rutten
Feyenoord need a good result against Standard Liege to retain a realistic ambition of extending their European campaign past Christmas, something Fred Rutten is always fully aware of. ‘That makes tomorrow’s game very important,’ said the coach a day before match day two in Group G of the Europa League. His side lost the first one, but showed a lot of promise in a fine win at Go Ahead Eagles at the weekend.
Rutten expressed the hope that Feyenoord have now shaken off the inconsistency that has plagued them in recent week. ‘I have a good feeling about that. I’ve had it for a while, not only because of the result in our most recent match. In phases we are increasingly achieving the standard we want to get to with Feyenoord, there has just been a lack of reward up till now. It’s now about continuing that progression and showing what we can do again and again. We cannot alternate between good performances and less good ones.’
Feyenoord certainly cannot afford a below-par performance on Thursday, as Rutten knows only too well. A defeat would not eliminate the Rotterdammers at this early stage, but it could leave them six points off second if Sevilla pick up three points against HNK Rijeka. Even a draw would leave them with a mountain to climb. ‘The challenge is clear to us. We have to win,’ said Rutten, who was unwilling to give too much away about his line-up.
Thursday’s opponents Standard Liege have also had a hit and miss start to the season. ‘That was shown this weekend when they inexplicably gave away a two-goal lead,’ said Rutten. ‘Sometimes they even alternate very good phases with less good periods in the course of games. It’s partly due to the departure of some key players. In that respect it’s comparable to the situation we are also faced with. On the other hand, Liege is still a team with a lot of experience and a physically strong opponent.’
The question put to Jordy Clasie was whether Feyenoord are approaching the match against the Belgians in a different frame of mind now that they have a win under their belts. ‘There has always been a good feeling in the squad, although a win obviously makes you feel even better,’ admitted the smiling captain, who accompanied his manager at the press conference. ‘I myself am preparing the same as always. It’s just that some matches are more special than others. We have worked for years to play in Europe; this season we’ve finally made it. That’s why I’m looking forward to Thursday.’