Koeman calls for Feyenoord to pick up league form again

Ronald Koeman boarded the plane departing Prague on Friday morning a disappointed man after the elimination in the play-off round of the Europa League at the hands of Sparta. But the head coach had cause to smile shortly after touching down on home soil again, when he heard that four members of his squad had been called up to the international duty for the Netherlands. 'We can be proud of that at Feyenoord,' exclaimed Koeman. 'It shows that Feyenoord is a force to be reckoned with, perhaps more than in recent years. It’s a great development. Players see that they are making progress at this club and can make the step up to the Dutch team. The national coach is open to that, I understand that. Young players are given opportunities based on their performances for their club.'

The most surprising inclusion is Daryl Janmaat, bearing in mind that the defender was not even in the preliminary squad. 'It’s come very quickly for him, of course,' said Koeman. 'On the other hand it does not surprise me, because there are not too many options in that position. Based on what Daryl has shown at Feyenoord it’s only logical that he is one of the candidates for that position.'

Koeman took some time before the running session at Varkenoord on Friday to talk about the Europa League disappointment. The coach demonstrated the same realism as the day before just after the final whistle in Prague. 'I think we came up short in both games against Sparta Prague. We were not ourselves in the first half both home and away. We grew into the game yesterday, but the penalty was the turning point. We didn’t do what we wanted to do against a team with a clear game plan. We weren’t good enough.'

'We missed out on the dessert we so much wanted of six more European ties,' continued Koeman. 'It’s a pity, also for the players who wanted to show what they could do on that stage. On the other hand, we can now focus on weekly fixtures, which means we can train in a targeted way through the week. That’s certainly not a negative thing, looking at the league.'

Feyenoord have just two days to shake off the Prague blues and get ready for Vitesse on Sunday. Koeman realises that is a short timeframe. 'Especially as we are playing at twelve-thirty. Fortunately we have a good, fit group at our disposal, it’s just a pity that Stefan de Vrij is not available. The initial diagnosis after the defender limped off in Prague is a muscle tear, which would keep him out for six to eight weeks. That is a disappointment.'

Koeman is curious to see how Vitesse perform against Feyenoord at the weekend. The Arnhem club have been very active in the transfer market recently, signing Theo Janssen among others. We’ll have to wait and see how they set up on Sunday,' admitted Koeman. 'Vitesse is a club that will be looking to finish in the top five or six. In that respect it’ll be a tough away game, but if we can come away with a win we’ll be able to look back on a great start in the league.'

Probable team: Mulder; Janmaat, Martins Indi, Mathijsen, Nelom; Vormer, Clasie, Immers, Leerdam; Schaken, Cissé.
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