Looking for reasons for the tail off in performances, the technical staff have identified the recent international break as a contributing factor, No fewer than seven Feyenoord players were called up to the Dutch squad. ‘It can have something to do with it that players have pushed themselves to the limit and so are a little tired right now,’ explained Koeman. ‘Not all seven internationals have been in the best of form in recent weeks.’
Koeman also feels that the very low age of a lot of his squad has played a part. ‘It is not coincidental that players like Joris Mathijsen and Graziano Pellè have performed to their usual standard recently. That has to do with age and experience. We should not forget that many of our players are between 18 and 21, so they can be expected to experience dips in form. At that age you still have to improve.’
At the same time Koeman was bullish about what Feyenoord can achieve over the next month, in spite of the dropped points last week at RKC Waalwijk, which could yet prove costly. With just four matches left Feyenoord are still in the hunt for a second-place finish, and victory at rivals Vitesse on Sunday would keep them on course.
‘I’m pretty sure that the winner of this game will finish the season in second place. At the moment we have two points more than we did at this stage last season. If we win our home games we’ll have had a very good season. In that context, the game against Vitesse is crucial. We can put something right after the draw against RKC. A good result would give us some impetus for the last three games of the season.’