Whatever the fixture list claims, the season is over for Feyenoord, but that won’t lead Ruud Gullit to try out new players in Sunday’s Eredivisie match in Groningen Sunday. The coach is desperate to round out the campaign with a run of wins, which means he’ll be fielding his best team over the next few weeks. ‘It went through my head, but I’m not going to,’ confirmed Gullit. That may be the best way to flush away some of the disappointment that flooded De Kuip last week.

Gullit looked back on what he called a ‘lost season’ Friday. The Championship has been dominated by PSV; Gullit thinks he knows why. ‘The key to the season is the linking player that PSV had and Ajax and Feyenoord didn’t. Ajax have Tomas Galásek, but he scarcely played. We tried with Bosschaart and Ghaly, but it wasn’t what I’d hoped for. It’s not coincidental that I was working on Hossam so much. PSV have two of this type of player in Van Bommel and Cocu. It was the big difference and the missing link for us. It’s easy to say that with hindsight, it’s about having players that can do certain things on the pitch. Lodewijks has that for us. And Ono, but he is more of a creative player and not a real ball winner. We’ve missed a linking man between the lines all season.’

There were positives this season at De Kuip however, according to Gullit. Kalou and Castelen took the league by storm early on and cemented their arrival as the season progressed. ‘What’s more, Dirk is top scorer, Bart Goor is playing very strongly, no one’s getting past Östlund, everyone’s talking good things about Karim Saidi and other players are maturing. We are scoring a huge amount of goals too and we are making the most of that. But sometimes we had to score a lot to win. You don’t become champions through the goals you score but through the goals you prevent. Look at Chelsea and AC Milan this season. There are a lot of positive things to report, but the balance is obviously negative. I realise that as much as anyone.’

There are now five games for Feyenoord to restore some pride after a series of disappointments in recent weeks. Gullit will have to start without Saidi at the Oosterpark Stadium, as he’s suspended. André Bahia is expected to deputise. Otherwise the team doesn’t look likely to change from the one that went all the way to penalties against PSV in midweek. Hofs will continue to stand in for Ghaly, who remains sidelined by concussion.

FC Groningen – Feyenoord
Sunday 24 April, 12:30 at the Oosterpark Stdium
Referee: Jol

FC Groningen: Roorda; Elshot, Kruiswijk, Matthijs, Florén; Krstev, Buijs, Seedorf, Van Gessel; Hugo, Nevland.
Feyenoord: Babos; Östlund, Bahia, Gibbs, Bosschaart; Castelen, Ono, Hofs, Goor; Kalou, Kuyt.

2/11/2003 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 3-3
3/11/2002 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 0-2
10/2/2002 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 0-1
17/12/2000 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 1-0
28/09/1997 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 2-0

21/11/2004 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-2
2/5/2004 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-2
23/2/2003 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 4-1
14/10/2001 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-0
11/2/2001 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-0

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