Coach Koeman was not of a mind to show his cards at the Friday press call, but one thing he was willing to reveal was that Pierre van Hooijdonk will start for the second successive week when Feyenoord begin their home Eredivisie campaign against Heracles Sunday. ‘It’s expected we’ll play most of the game against Heracles in their half. In that case you can do with a good header of the ball in attack like Pierre,’ explained Koeman, who may have to do without Ron Vlaar. The defender has a foot injury.

Royston Drenthe is also set to start against Heracles. ‘Royston was on the bench for the last game because he was troubled by a broken nose and we played with three defenders anyway. He will play Sunday,’ confirmed Koeman, who is also expected to play new signing Dwight Tiendalli from kick-off. Other recent signing Philippe Léonard will not be in the starting eleven however. ‘Because he didn’t have a club Philippe has mostly trained alone for the past few months. So he needs time to get fully fit – and match fit. I hope to bring him into the squad for the Sparta match.’

One thing Koeman has no doubts about is the way his team will perform in front of their own fans Sunday. ‘Everyone is convinced of the need for us to revenge the big defeat last weekend in Groningen. I have the feeling this group is fired up to give their all for the supporters. And so it should be; it’s an obligation we have to our fans.’ Koeman did admit the blow was still felt a couple of days into the week at De Kuip. ‘Of course, it’s only logical. We all watched the footage a day later. It soon became clear that we were defending like amateurs. Hopefully they’ve learned from that.’

Koeman expended most of his energy during the week ensuring that off-the-pitch events at De Kuip did not affect things on the training field. ‘Quite a lot has happened this week of course. All the stories about finance and possible new buys were a tiresome additional concern for us. Topped by the report that Feyenoord were interested in Patrick Kluivert. I met Feyenoord supporters who hadn’t slept all night. I thought they’d all had a fight with their wife, but it turned out it was due to the report that Kluivert was on his way to De Kuip. It’s unbelievable that something like that suddenly surfaces. Incomprehensible, because it’s rubbish.’

Feyenoord continue to look for reinforcements, although Koeman has a few words on that subject too. ‘I read everywhere that Feyenoord has to bring in a top European striker. That isn’t really realistic. Top strikers play for clubs like Chelsea. If you think about it, you realise that Feyenoord cannot bring in players like that. That doesn’t mean we aren’t looking hard though. We have until Thursday. It is two minutes to midnight, but I don’t think we have to get het up about the time factor. If we don’t find a player that meets our requirements we have to ask ourselves if we can justify bringing in someone we have doubts about.’

As for Sunday’s opponents, the season started with Heracles vying with Excelsior for the nomination as the club most likely to get relegated. To some, the Almelo outfit have dug their own grave by targeting nothing more than Eredivisie survival. But the 3-0 opening-day thumping of local rivals Twente raised eyebrows and perhaps also expectations at the Polman Stadium.

Indeed, Heracles were clear relegation favourites last term too, but coach Peter Bosz piloted the club to an impressive thirteenth position in their freshman Eredivisie year. Coach Bosz did move on to a position as technical manager at Feyenoord however. Ruud Brood has taken over in Almelo.

On the pitch the club has also lost old heads Nico-Jan Hoogma, Nurmela, Sluijter and Tamerus, but they have been replaced with promising youngsters like Karim Bridji, Diego Biseswar, Emmanuel Boakye and Brazilian Everton. Brood also contracted defensive experience in the guise of Björn Daelemans and Australian Eddy Bosnar. Midfielder Kai Michalke is another who will steady the ship., although the German did sustain a serious injury against Twente. In an instant response, Heracles signed Robbert Schilder on loan from Ajax.

All in all the side that started against Twente included just two Dutch-born players, but there was no shortage of fight or skill. A red card for Enschede player Wilkshire helped the cause of course – as most likely did the club’s plastic surface– but the margin of victory was large enough to leave no doubt that Heracles are not coming to De Kuip as lambs to the slaughter.

Feyenoord – Heracles Almelo
Dateline: Sunday 27 August at 14:30
Venue: De Kuip
Referee: Van Sichem

Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Greene (Vlaar), Bahia, Drenthe; Lucius, Hofs, De Guzman; Vincken, Van Hooijdonk, Huysegems (Kolkka).
Heracles: Pieckenhagen; Daelemans, Boakye, Bosnar, Klavan; Maas, Schilder, Tanghe; Biseswar, Hirayama, Quansah.


2-2-1964 Feyenoord – Heracles 1-1
28-3-1965 Feyenoord – Heracles 5-0
13-3-1966 Feyenoord – Heracles 5-2
21-8-1985 Feyenoord – Heracles 5-1
27-11-2005 Feyenoord – Heracles 7-1

15-9-1963 Heracles – Feyenoord 3-0
8-11-1964 Heracles – Feyenoord 1-5
12-9-1965 Heracles – Feyenoord 1-3
22-12-1985 Heracles – Feyenoord 2-5
29-1-2006 Heracles – Feyenoord 0-4

Feyenoord Business CLub