‘Sunday an opportunity to start on a new run’
Two impressive records were wrestled from Feyenoord on Wednesday in Eindhoven. The loss at PSV was Feyenoord’s first in nine Eredivisie and Europa League matches and first all season away from home in the league. Fred Rutten will therefore be happy that his men have one last chance to get back on course on Sunday against NAC. ‘It’s an opportunity to start a new run,’ said the coach on Friday.
The match in Breda brings the curtain down on an up-and-down first half of the season. Fred Rutten’s side topped their Europa League group to earn a place in the knockout phase, but saw the gap to the Eredivisie leaders grow to twelve points. Rutten has mixed feelings about the past months. ‘Clearly, the dominant feeling I have is the points difference. On the other hand, in footballing terms we have made huge progress. We are developing a way of playing that can serve this club for years.’
The match at PSV was symbolic for Rutten. The coach saw that his side were more than a match for the league leaders. The only disappointment was the result. But Rutten is not concerned that his players will lose heart. ‘We have too many experienced lads in the squad for that. They know that you have to pick yourself up and go again. The mourning process cannot last more than 24 hours, which also goes for feelings of euphoria after a victory. We have to be fully focused on the match in Breda.’
Sunday’s opponents are finding life tough at the moment, but Rutten is wary of taking NAC lightly, despite their lowly position – seventeenth – in the Eredivisie. ‘A match like this can be dangerous, precisely because they are on a poor run. Sunday’s game is an opportunity for NAC to end the year on a positive note at their own stadium.’
Rutten may be able to recall Jens Toornstra in Breda, after the midfielder limped out of the AZ match with a hamstring injury. ‘At least it’s not torn. I think he has a fifty-fifty chance of being in the squad on Sunday,’ said the coach, who also expressed the hope that Jean-Paul Boëtius will also return. The defender missed the Eindhoven trip through illness.