‘THE TITLE IS OUR TARGET’

Ruud Gullit has left no one in doubt about what he’d consider a good first season as Feyenoord coach. ‘We are going for the title. We don’t know yet whether we can achieve that, but I think that the championship always has to be the target for a club like Feyenoord. That’s how it should be. If only for the thousands of people who watched training today. I mean, they’re definitely not here for third place.’

Gullit enjoyed the atmosphere during his first day on the training pitch as Feyenoord coach and was clearly glad to get the show on the road. ‘Of course, I’ve had to follow Feyenoord from the shadows these past few months, and mull over the approach I had in my head. But you only gain a really good impression of the squad when you get to work with the lads. That’s why I’m glad we’ve made a start.’

The first few weeks of preseason will focus on getting the players back up to the requisite level of fitness. ‘Then I want to fashion the style I have in my head as well as I can. I’d rather not talk about the precise plans I have. But in general, you could say I want to achieve a situation in which everyone at Feyenoord feels that De Kuip is ours. Last season there were too many matches in which Feyenoord only started playing after going a goal behind. I want to be rid of that.

‘Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not criticising my predecessor Bert van Marwijk. He did well here, pure and simple. There’s no denying that. But I will attempt to get even more out of this squad,’ said Gullit, who was without a number of important players on his first day at the office. ‘It’s frustrating,’ admitted the coach, ‘but that’s just how it is. I’ll have to get used to it.’

The press continued to sound out Gullit about that style he was so reticent about revealing, but the new man nixed suggestions that he was a defensive-minded coach. ‘No, I’m not. But I do think that the defence is the bedrock of the team. The defence has to be strong. You can build on that. And otherwise, my job is to find the game plan that suits this squad the best. All roads lead to Rome, after all. But again, it all starts with a good defence.’

That’s why Gullit is so happy to have Saidi on board. The Tunisian is yet to make his entry at De Kuip, but his club coach has already formed a good impression of Feyenoord’s newest defender. ‘I saw him at the African Cup of Nations. He was impressive there. He is a good header and he’s nice and mean. I like that. The lad looked hungry and that impressed me.’

The coach also confirmed that Patrick Paauwe would continue to captain the team this term.

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