Feyenoord and Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC have taken the first step towards a talent and coaching development partnership. The two...
The loss of Leroy Fer, Diego Biseswar and Luigi Bruins means that Feyenoord may take the field in Enschede on Sunday with three youth team players in the starting line-up. Out of sheer necessity, because in normal circumstances youth players would not be thrown in the deep end so quickly. ‘But a number of young lads are doing well,’ said Gertjan Verbeek Friday afternoon at De Kuip. ‘And the youth academy and the scouts deserve a compliment for that.’
Luis Pedro made his first-team debut for Feyenoord when he came off the bench to replace an injured Bruins against HHC. The A-youth player made a dream bow with two goals and he is likely to play his first-ever Eredivisie game Sunday. ‘Our team against FC Twente will be completely different to the one against FC Utrecht,’ said Verbeek. ‘If A-youth team players are needed, then so be it.’
Verbeek has little choice given the sheer number of players unavailable to him and wanted to make it that clear. The coach has confidence in his young players but he does not want to drive them too hard. That said, after the cup win at HHC Verbeek did not feel that there were any problems for young striker Pedro for one. ‘If I was his age I’d like to be able to play two games for Feyenoord in a couple of days.’
‘I understand that Steve McClaren has changed little,’ said Verbeek, looking forward to the next opponents. Verbeek feels that the former England coach has a good team with a lot of settled players, although Twente’s midfield has changed a fair amount. ‘But at the back and in attack little has changed. In Eljero Elia they have a man in form.’
Yet it is precisely up front that the Enschede outfit are having problems. FC Twente have barely managed a goal a game in the league this season. ‘As the coach of the opposition you have to be careful what you say about that,’ concluded Verbeek. ‘Otherwise we’ll get a response.’
FC Twente have stolen the hearts of many football lovers in recent years with their blend of attractive, attacking football. Coach Fred Rutten and players like Karim El Ahmadi and Orlando Engelaar earned the Enschede outfit a lot of respect and a place the Champions League qualifiers.
The club paid the price of success in the summer when three important individuals exited. Engelaar followed Rutten to Schalke 04, while El Ahmadi made the switch to Feyenoord.
But even without them the club has continued to garnet praise this season. Former England coach Steve McClaren arrived in Enschede with a mind to put ‘the brolly episode’ well behind him and win back the respect that had earned him his country’s top job in the process. McClaren had guided former club Middlesbrough to a Uefa Cup final in 2006, so it was not such a surprise that Twente have shone most brightly in European competition early in the season. Arsenal proved too strong in the Champions league qualifier, but in the Uefa Cup Twente have been up to scratch thus far.
The early rounds of the KNVB Cup have also been safely negotiated. Twente earned a place alongside Feyenoord in the last sixteen with a 3-2 win at FC Eindhoven. One of the goals was scored by Blaise N’Kufo.
It was a rare goal from the Swiss international. N’Kufo has been scoring for fun for the past few years, but this season’s Eredivisie tally is stuck on one after ten games. It is characteristic for the scoring problems McClaren’s side are facing; Twente have just twelve goals all told this term.
That lack of firepower has done for Twente in the last two league games. Ajax and AZ scored two and three respectively without reply, which has put Twente in danger of losing ground at the top of the table. Victory against Feyenoord on Sunday may just get them back into the top five.
FC Twente – Feyenoord
Sunday 16 November, 14:30 at Grolsch Veste
FC Twente: Boschker; Stam, Wielaert, Douglas, Braafheid; Denneboom, Brama, Hersi, Tioté; N’Kufo and Elia.
Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Bahia, Hofland, De Cler; Pedro, El Ahmadi, Wijnaldum, Van Bronckhorst; Makaay and Janota.
27/10/2007 FC Twente - Feyenoord 2-0
11/02/2007 FC Twente - Feyenoord 3-0
25/09/2005 FC Twente - Feyenoord 1-3
29/01/2005 FC Twente - Feyenoord 0-0
13/12/2003 FC Twente - Feyenoord 4-2
24/01/2008 Feyenoord - FC Twente 3-1
26/10/2006 Feyenoord - FC Twente 2-1
02/04/2006 Feyenoord - FC Twente 4-2
12/09/2004 Feyenoord - FC Twente 3-1
01/02/2004 Feyenoord - FC Twente 3-2