Rutte knows Heerenveen’s strengths
When Fred Rutten took his seat in the Fred Blankemeijer Room at De Kuip on Tuesday afternoon to look forward to the away game at sc Heerenveen, he did so in the knowledge that – barring injuries – the current Feyenoord squad will be available to him until at least the end of the season. Despite interest in Mitchell Te Vrede and Tonny Vilhena from the English Premier League, there were no more comings or goings before the winter transfer window swung shut.
All told, Rutten lost three players in the window – Ruben Schaken (contract cancelled), Wesley Verhoek (loaned to Go Ahead Eagles) and Matthew Steenvoorden (loaned to FC Dordrecht) – but the coach was sanguine when asked about the lack of new faces to replace them. ‘I’m not disappointed about that. It’s first and foremost a positive sign that we have managed to keep this group together.’
Rutten has had two days to work with his men ahead of Wednesday’s match at Heerenveen, after Sunday’s 2-1 win over ADO Den Haag at De Kuip. The coach expects a tough game in Friesland. ‘I watched Heerenveen’s home game against PSV again. You can see that Heerenveen put a huge amount of the energy into home games. They are able to grow to a certain standard, especially when big clubs visit. Heerenveen play with aggression and, just like me, the current coach’s starting point is positional play.’
The game means a return to his former club for Bilal Basaçikoglu, reason enough for Rutten to say a few words about the progress the striker has made. ‘He is very eager, he just needs to try to find the right balance with the provision of quality. Bilal is a player who can score, cross the ball very well and can get past his marker, it’s just that he has stagnated a little bit.’
Rutten is unable to call upon Luke Wilkshire in Heerenveen. The Australian has a hamstring injury. Elvis Manu is also unavailable, as he recovers from a groin injury.