Koeman is fully aware that Feyenoord will have to win every game between now and season’s end to have any serious chance of claiming the title. ‘I’m assuming nothing will be decided until the last game of the season’, he said. ‘We have to get maximum points if we want to win anything. The loss against Heerenveen was a step back for us, but we are still going for the ultimate prize. Maybe we had to lose once, we have come back down to earth.’
In recent days the coach has not lingered too much on the performance against Heerenveen, although he does admit that Feyenoord made too many mistakes. ‘We talked about what went wrong, but I don’t get the feeling we have been shaken by the loss,’ said Koeman. ‘You can always lose a game. It’s only logical for our players to have good games and bad games. If too many of our players have an off day, a result like the one in Heerenveen can always happen to us.’
That does not mean that confidence has been dented ahead of the home match against VVV-Venlo. That is partly down to the return of Graziano Pellè, who missed the last match due to a suspension. Koeman: ‘Our game is geared to him to a large extent, so it’s obviously important that he’s back. He holds on to nine out of the ten balls he’s given, which allows other players to join him. At Heerenveen we didn’t have that, because we kept losing the ball.’
The enthusiasm generated by Pellè’s return is dampened somewhat by the loss of Lex Immers, who has an ankle injury, and Jordy Clasie, who is suspended. On Thursday coach Ronald Koeman suggested that Harmeet Singh or John Goossens are vying for a starting place against VVV, although Singh is certainly not a shoo-in, due to a slight groin strain.