‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Erwin Koeman finally makes his competitive debut as Feyenoord’s coach Sunday as the Eredivisie gets underway again with the visit to De Kuip of NAC Breda. The new man feels he’s already had six hectic weeks on the job – ‘During my time at Feyenoord I’ve experienced more than in a year at RKC’ – and he’s looking forward to finding out what his efforts have achieved thus far – ‘This is a little different from Voorschoten away, that’s clear. And that also goes for the players. Sunday we’ll know where we are.’
Koeman feels that his side have to show their intentions immediately – to the supporters and to their rivals. ‘Against the club where a famous old Feyenoorder (Pierre van Hooijdonk) plays and the club that wants to get in among the top five, it’s down to us to not let that happen. I have a good impression of NAC, because I know the players. There is a healthy tension and that’s only good. It’s now down to us to show where we are. That’s a nice challenge.’
It’ll be even more of a challenge for the playing staff if Mark Wotte can bring in the reinforcements that Koeman feels he needs. ‘With an eye to the injuries we already have, of which Hofs is the most recent, we could use and maybe need some strengthening. If we want to stay near the top, progress in the Uefa Cup and the internationals are called up a lot we’ll automatically have to deal with injuries and suspensions. The question is whether there will be problems for me then. That depends on how many setbacks we have. If we bring someone in it has to be a direct improvement. I saw another tape of a player today and if I were to rely on the pictures we’d have to buy the lad immediately. But if they’d made a tape of today’s training, clubs would also want to buy me. We cannot buy players based on a tape; for that the technical staff – people who know how Feyenoord are going to play – must watch those lads in action. We’re on it every day in any event.’
The coach does know which players he’s planning to use against NAC and he’s told the squad too, but he’s not telling anyone else. ‘When I do that on Sunday it won’t be a surprise for the players. The guys can draw their conclusions for the matches and the training sessions.’ That would suggest that Koeman is planning to start with Alexander Östlund, André Bahia and Serginho Greene in defence. The left-back position is a little less clear-cut, although Pascal Bosschaart is likely to edge it from Ferne Snoyl. In midfield Patrick Paauwe (‘the probability of him playing is real’), Alfred Schreuder and Edwin de Graaf look likely to start, although Sebastián Pardo is in with a good shout. There’s little mystery up front, where Kalou and Kuyt are dead certs, while Boussaboun looks good for place on the right.
Tim Vincken is certainly not in the picture: he’s ruled out by a hamstring injury and will probably rejoin the squad at the start of next week, in time for the match at city rivals Sparta next Sunday. Nicky Hofs, Romeo Castelen, Cory Gibbs, Shinji Ono, Patrick Mtiliga and Chris Gyan are also unavailable against NAC.
Feyenoord – NAC Breda
Sunday 14 August, 14:30 at De Kuip
PROBABLE FEYENOORD LINE-UP
Lodewijks; Östlund, Greene, Bahia, Bosschaart (Snoyl); De Graaf, Schreuder, Paauwe; Boussaboun, Kuyt, Kalou.
7/11/2004 Feyenoord – NAC Breda 4-0
31/8/2003 Feyenoord – NAC Breda 2-1
2/3/2003 Feyenoord – NAC Breda 2-1
7/4/2002 Feyenoord – NAC Breda 0-0
28/1/2001 Feyenoord – NAC Breda 2-0
10/4/2005 NAC Breda – Feyenoord 0-2
4/4/2004 NAC Breda – Feyenoord 0-3
22/12/2002 NAC Breda – Feyenoord 1-1
4/11/2001 NAC Breda – Feyenoord 2-1
8/4/2001 NAC Breda – Feyenoord 1-0