Feyenoord were unable to claim the Alpen Cup Thursday evening, going down to a thirty-second minute Rudevic strike, which proved to be the only goal of a game played in the heights of southern Germany. Ruud Gullit’s men started in the same formation as in the win against Arminia Bielefeld, but the Serbs were more astute and fitter than the Germans. The Rotterdammers hardly had a chance. Indeed, keeper Babos was Feyenoord’s top performer.

The first half was lacklustre. Lazovic did have an opportunity just before the break, but he was unable to find the net. ‘I felt that we were poor in the first half,’ admitted Gullit. ‘We found it difficult to find one another. The switch from possession to ball loss wasn’t good either.’

Patrick Paauwe found that was due to some extent to communication problems. ‘We have to talk to each other a lot more. We do that too little now. I don’t know why, but it has to change fast. It wasn’t our best evening. We didn’t put enough pressure on the ball, which meant we were not able to dominate at any time. We did have a couple of chances which could have turned the game, but after we didn’t convert them we were fairly powerless.’ Both those chances fell to Shinji Ono in the second half.

By that time Feyenoord had broadened the playing area as Castelen joined a three-man attack and the Maassiders improved a little. ‘In that period I saw a couple of nice things,’ admitted Gullit, but there were a lot of mistakes then too.’

The Feyenoord coach had to conclude that the new system is vulnerable against canny teams like Partizan, which has made an art of sitting back and waiting for a mistake. ‘I’m using this period to try some things out. As a result I now know what’s possible and what’s not. I now know how far the team is and that is a nice foundation to build on.’

Gullit spoke of a useful week of training that has given sufficient food for thought. Looking forward to the next test – the international tournament at Newcastle – Gullit expressed the hope that his team would have grown some by then. ‘We have to improve every week, step by step.’

The coach was again unwilling to say too much about trialist Fernandez. ‘I’ve seen enough of him to make an assessment. I know what I need to know and I’ll tell him what I think soon.’

Partizan Belgrado-Feyenoord 1-0 (1-0)
32’ 1-0 Rudevic

Babos; Bosschaart, Paauwe, Fernandez, Gyan; Ono, Ghaly (74’ Mtiliga), Goor (55’ Magrao), Buffel (46’ Castelen); Kuyt, Lazovic (72’ Kalou).

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