Van Bronckhorst stresses importance of European football
Giovanni van Bronckhorst is unshakeable in his belief that Feyenoord will secure a place in European competition through the playoffs despite the disappointment of last weekend. The head coach expressed his confidence at his first press conference in his new position, at De Kuip on Wednesday afternoon, which was attended by journalists from the Netherlands and abroad. ‘We still have four chances to achieve what we want. We have to do our utmost, come what way,’ said Van Bronckhorst.
Van Bronckhorst has a long and tight relationship with Feyenoord, so he did not need any time to think it over when the club management approached him to replace Fred Rutten on Sunday evening, he says. The original plan was for Van Bronckhorst to take on head coach duties next season. ‘Obviously I would have rather seen us finish well in the league under the staff we have worked with the whole season. But I am totally behind this decision. I started here as a little boy and being head coach is a dream come true.’
That being said, Van Bronckhorst knows that this is not the ideal time to start his new job, given Feyenoord’s recent run of bad form that has condemned them to the playoffs after being knocked out of the top three on the last day of the regular season. ‘Normally you start with six weeks of preseason, but now we have two big games within a few days,’ said a smiling Gio, referring to the two-legged playoff semi-final against SC Heerenveen on Thursday and Sunday.
Van Bronckhorst has used the past couple of days to talk with his players, both individually and as a group. The most important message he wanted to get across was the need to play as a team in the games to come. ‘We didn’t do that against PEC Zwolle when we fell behind, for instance. We have to cope with any setbacks and the pressure over the next few days.’
In spite of the disappointments of recent weeks, Van Bronckhorst feels certain that Feyenoord will come through the playoffs. He bases that among other things on the strong performances early in the season. ‘Like against Ajax and PSV, while the home game against Sevilla was perhaps the best example. This season we’ve experienced how fantastic it is to play that type of game. That has to be our motivation for the playoffs, because we can qualify for European football again through them. That is very important for the whole club.’