Feyenoord reverted to 4-3-3 against FC Twente and secured a win, although the system has not been particularly successful in the early rounds of the Eredivisie. But with Feyenoord finding it difficult to make 4-4-2 work, coach Koeman decided to switch back again on Thursday. It’s certainly a formation his players have admitted they feel more comfortable with. Not least Jonathan de Guzman who found himself on the bench against FC Twente after expressing his dissatisfaction.

Koeman saw the young Canadian come off that bench and net the winner though, so it’s not surprising that he’s happy to welcome De Guzman back into his starting eleven. ‘That means we are back to our basic system. I intend to stick with that over the coming period, but it obviously all depends on how things go,’ confirmed the coach two days prior to the game at Roda JC.

Koeman threw his tactics out the window early in the season for a clear reason. ‘I believe, all told we made one and a half chances against Groningen and Heracles. I changed it around, because the wingers were unable to dominate their opponents. When that happens there’s not much use having a striker. With the arrival of Charisteas, who incidentally can play in a 4-3-3 system, we reverted to 4-4-2. Despite the result being reasonable in a couple of cases, I felt the performance was below par. The straw was the 0-4 against Ajax. It’s now about where players feel most at home. That is 4-3-3.’

After giving his squad two days off, he welcomed his players back on Wednesday. It was an instinctive decision by the coach. ‘I felt it was necessary for the lads to have two days to clear their heads and think about what had happened. I didn’t take that decision based on a sense of anger; that would strip me of my credibility. The Wednesday we came together again it felt like rock bottom.’

Koeman spoke with De Guzman on Wednesday – one of many ‘positive critical meetings’ the coach has held with the squad and with individual players this week – the Canadian youngster said that he wasn’t comfortable with the system. ‘That suddenly came out on Wednesday,’ explained Koeman. The fact he’s only just said it shows that the lad is still only nineteen, while many people already feel he is the team’s leader. It wasn’t a disaster to put him on the bench. Players get better when they learn to deal with disappointment. He did that well against Twente.’

Feyenoord will travel to a short training camp in Limburg after Saturday training, although Nicky Hofs will not be on the bus. The midfielder’s yellow card against Twente was his fifth caution of the season and he is consequently suspended, as is Pierre van Hooijdonk, although Sebastián Pardo returns from a suspension of his own.

Roda JC have won a lot of people over this campaign with their impressive start in spite of the departure of Simon Cziommer and the hard-working Gregoor van Dijk, which appeared to weaken the Kerkrade outfit going into the season. Sixth in the league, Roda JC have already recorded a fine win over Ajax, and they looked capable of repeating the trick at the Philips Stadium only to crumble under home pressure after holding the lead for so long and left Eindhoven without a sausage.

Marcel Meeuwis is undoubtedly the player that catches the eye in Huub Stevens’s team, which has included a large percentage of foreigners in recent years. Stevens has changed tack this term, raising the quotient of homegrown players in his squad to improve communication. Midfielder Meeuwis stepped up a division from VVV Venlo in the summer, but he has not shown any problems adapting to life in the Eredivisie. The 26-year-old has not been frightened of stepping up to the plate when called upon.

The same can be said of central defenders Pa-Modou Kah and Jan-Paul Saeijs, who have kept things tight so far – Ajax and PSV has conceded fewer than Roda’s nine.

Indeed, it’s in attack if anywhere that Roda are ‘failing’. The Kerkrade outfit are not even in the top half of the goals-scored table. Last Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against NEC was in that respect fairly characteristic. Top scorer Adil Ramzi has just three strikes to his name. Davy De Fauw – a defender – has two, which is in itself a pretty articulate stat.

It may give Feyenoord extra confidence on a ground where they have failed to lose in the past five years.

Roda JC – Feyenoord
Sunday 29 October, 12:30 at Parkstad Limburg Stadium
Referee: Haverkort

Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Lucius, Bahia, Drenthe; Buijs, Greene, De Guzman; Vincken, Charisteas, Huysegems.
Roda JC: Kujovic; De Fauw, Kah, Saeijs, De Jong; Agustien, Meeuwis, Bodor; Ramzi, Van Tornhout, Oper.


20/11/2005 Roda JC - Feyenoord 2-3
17/10/2004 Roda JC - Feyenoord 0-2
19/10/2003 Roda JC - Feyenoord 1-1
24/8/2002 Roda JC - Feyenoord 2-2
22/8/2001 Roda JC - Feyenoord 0-2

22/1/2006 Feyenoord - Roda JC 0-0
13/3/2005 Feyenoord - Roda JC 4-1
28/3/2004 Feyenoord - Roda JC 3-0
29/5/2003 Feyenoord - Roda JC 3-1
3/2/2002 Feyenoord - Roda JC 5-0

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