GULLIT DELIGHTED WITH PROGRESS SO FAR

Ruud Gullit guided his young squad to the first trophy of the season, after Betis Seville were tamed Thursday. But the coach is much more excited about the way his squad has adapted to a new system. ‘I have to complement my players. Not only for the way they played tonight, but also for the way the group has handled the conditions these past few days,’ declared Gullit in Seville, where the temperatures have been high even at night.

‘The most important conclusion with respect to this game tonight is that everyone in this squad has the ability to function within the system we envisage. Tonight we had a team with seven new players compared with the last match and we still did well. And against a team that was further along than our last opponent.’

Gullit flagged up the value of Magrão, and name-checked the team’s youngest and oldest players. ‘At 17 years old Gianni Zuiverloon was excellent. And Patrick Lodewijks was not only strong in the game, he also showed his class when Alfonso missed the penalty. By remaining on his line for so long he put some doubt into his opponent’s head. As a result he shot over.’

The silverware was a nice bonus for the new coach. ‘Naturally, because it’s good for the team’s moral. And they’ll be reading about Feyenoord winning the tournament in the Dutch papers tomorrow and that can only be good for the club. But the most important gain for me is that everyone was able to play in the system for ninety minutes. That is a source of hope for the future.’

The next test comes Sunday at De Kuip when Fulham are the visitors. Gullit is hoping that he’ll have another two players to choose from by then. ‘Saidi will probably be back with the squad by then, and I hope to have Song available again too. Those are good signs.’

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