The coach was not in the best of moods at Friday’s press conference. He even admitted to being a little irritable. ‘I get that way sometimes.’ Van Marwijk has not yet been able to get over the loss at Groningen. ‘It still makes my sick,’ he said, returning to the subject a little later: ‘And a few little things have cropped up these past few days.’
Van Marwijk was unwilling to go into more detail about those things, but there was no real need for him to spell it out. The coach was unhappy about the Chun-Soo Lee situation for one. The South Korean is finding it hard to settle and returned to his homeland for a short break this week. Van Marwijk referred the journalists to technical manager Peter Bosz. ‘I feel that would be better.’ And another thing was of course the crowded treatment room, which has decimated his squad. ‘We are vulnerable in every area.’
It all means that the coach has little choice when it comes to his starting eleven against Heracles. He had seventeen to choose from last Sunday and that included youth player Leroy Fer. Now that Fer has also picked up a knock the list is down to sweet sixteen. Not forgetting Henk Timmer, who may have to sit it out in the stands. The keeper is battling against a knee injury he contracted in Groningen. ‘I’ll see how Henk is on Saturday,’ said Van Marwijk, who also indicated that Erwin Mulder will replace him if needed. Keepers’ coach Patrick Lodewijks will sit on the bench. Michael Mols is not injured, but he will also sit the game out to complete his suspension.
Some uncharitable analysts are happy to claim that Heracles would not be half as successful as it has been without the artificial surface at Polman Stadium. Coach Ruud Brood and his men train on the surface every day, while opponents play on it for the first time a few days before their game. These analysts claim that Heracles simply has an unfair advantage when they entertain at home.
Looking at this season’s results, you might tend to agree. Heracles have picked up just two points on their travels this season, whereas opponents of the calibre of AZ have been beaten on home ‘soil’.
But there are more reasons for the club’s ‘success’ this campaign. Since promotion to the Eredivisie in 2005, Heracles have finished thirteenth and fourteenth under Peter Bosz and Ruud Brood respectively, which cannot be exclusively due to the all-weather surface.
The driving force behind Heracles is surely their strong team spirit, although the Almelo side are not always consistent or predicable. Take last season when Feyenoord stormed to a 4-1 win at the Polman Stadium only to be held at De Kuip in a 0-0 draw.
Ruud Brood finds himself with a tough job on his hands this term, as Heracles are currently languishing in sixteenth place, which would put them in the relegation/promotion playoff if they are still there come the end of the season. Importantly, their goal difference is very poor, with 29 goals conceded in 12 games and just 8 scored. That’s much worse than last season, although Heracles did lose Diego Biseswar, Rob Friend, Stefaan Tanghe and Robbert Schilder in the summer.
Heracles have shown they can cope in the past however as long as they stick together. Whatever the surface.
Feyenoord – Heracles Almelo
Sunday 2 December, 14:30 at De Kuip
Referee: Van Egmond
Feyenoord: Timmer (Mulder); Lucius, Hofland, Bahia, De Cler; Sahin, De Guzman, Van Bronckhorst; D. Buijs, Makaay, Slory.
Heracles: Pieckenhagen; Klavan, Bosnar, Ouedraogo, Looms; De Vries, Michalke, Quansah, Bridji; Everton, Lakic
27/08/2006 Feyenoord - Heracles Almelo 0-0
27/11/2005 Feyenoord - Heracles Almelo 7-1
15/04/2007 Heracles Almelo Feyenoord 4-1
29/01/2006 Heracles Almelo Feyenoord 0-4