Feyenoord take on Heracles in the Eredivisie late Sunday afternoon in the club’s first game on a synthetic surface for quite some time. It’s something that coach Erwin Koeman is unwilling to get wound up about, although he’s clearly not a fan of fake. ‘My opinion of artificial grass is well known. I want to give it minimal attention. We could talk for hours about the pros and cons, but the fact remains that we have to play on artificial grass on Sunday. So we shouldn’t harp on about it, but ensure we have the right footwear and just play football.’

Feyenoord’s no-nonsense coach has few personnel problems going into the game. Besides the long-term treatment room visitors, only Sebastian Pardo is a doubt. The Chilean has been bothered by a niggling foot injury for some time and no decision will be taken on his availability until the last moment. If he’s ruled out then Nicky Hofs is first in line to take his place. Otherwise, Koeman has a fit squad at his fingertips. That includes Dirk Kuyt, who is reported to be nearing the end of his tether in the media. ‘I even read that Dirk was experiencing burnout,’ grinned Koeman. ‘That is all a huge exaggeration. Dirk is doing the same as anyone else in training and so he will be able to play against Heracles.’
Pierre van Hooijdonk will be available for selection for the first time Sunday. Two days before the game Koeman talked about the striker’s potential added value for his team, even if he doesn’t come off the bench. ‘Pierre is a player opponents always have to take account of. Everyone we play will acknowledge that with Pierre Feyenoord have an extra weapon in reserve. That is only positive for us.’
Koeman underscored the fact that there can be no lack of clarity as to Van Hooijdonk’s role. But the coach also suggested that role could change. ‘Of course,’ responds Koeman, ‘because no one knows what will happen in the future. Maybe he’ll be a first team regular after a couple of games. Who can say? Anything can happen in football, so I think it’s ridiculous to rule out anything in advance. It’s really very simple: ultimately the law of the strongest applies.’
Koeman is happy with the arrival of Van Hooijdonk, as he also was with Ron Vlaar’s. ‘First of all, I had not counted on us being able to make two buys in this period, so in that respect I cannot complain. Secondly, I am happy with Ron and Pierre because they are just the types we were looking for. I have much more faith in two targeted purchases that in buying for the sake of buying. Even if it was just because of the signal it sends to the other players. If you buy six or seven players on the off chance in the winter break you only generate unrest in the squad. We have avoided that. There is now a calmness and a clarity in the squad and that is pleasing,’ says Koeman, who does not rule out more changes to the squad in the foreseeable future.

Earlier in the day the coach heard that Leonardo has left Feyenoord. While his predecessors felt it would be something of a personal defeat to oversee the departure of the young Brazilian, Koeman was fairly unaffected by the news. ‘It all depends on the willingness of the player to do his utmost to succeed. But if you are a young player under a new coach and you are constantly at the back of the group during the running exercises in training you radiate the opposite. In that case I do not feel obliged to invest a great deal of negative energy.’
Heracles Almelo – Feyenoord
Sunday 29 January, 16:30 at the Polman Stadion
Referee: Wiedemeijer
Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Greene, Bahia, Vlaar; De Guzman, Paauwe, Bosschaart, Hofs (Pardo); Castelen, Kuyt, Kalou.
Heracles Almelo: Pieckenhagen; Jansen, Reekers, Smit, Looms; Maas, Tanghe, Quansah; Nurmela, Hirayama, Sluijter.

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