With more and more players leaving the treatment room and a ‘new’ face in ‘Kike’ Acuña, who is now officially on the Feyenoord payroll, the press found Bert van Marwijk in fine fettle on Valentine’s Day. AZ could feel the brunt of that enthusiasm in Saturday’s Eredivise game in Alkmaar. ‘Now I have more opportunities to mix it up’, smiled Van Marwijk. ‘And that’s certainly what I plan to do.’

Things went well for twenty-five minutes in last week’s draw in Amsterdam before the players began losing their way and the coach is chiefly interested in getting that early form back and holding onto it for longer at Alkmaarder Hout at the weekend. ‘Obviously I’m not going to change much. You have seen that we have been working hard on the Thomas Buffel-Robin van Persie partnership in training. We want to optimise that. I want them to swap over as often as they can, so that we can mix it up more and more on the basis of a flat formation. Against Ajax they were a lot more rigid in their positioning. Robin did well in the number 10 position and Thomas was especially busy when we lost the ball by keeping Trabelsi under wraps. But they still have to learn to play in tandem and swap over.’ Van Marwijk certainly radiates a confidence in the pairing and indeed in his team as a whole. ‘My aim is to gradually build up a strong team. In that context I’m happy to see Acuña finally arrive. He looks fit, so I’ll be taking him to Alkmaar. He can play just about anyway in the centre and can also be used to mark an opponent out of the game. He strengthens our squad, even when he doesn’t play. In training he is a bit cautious, but in games he pushes you on. We can use someone like that and in Holland you can’t buy them for that money. I believe that Utrecht wanted five million euros for Bosschaart. In that case you have to take a closer look in countries like Chile and Argentina.’ The coach went on to praise South American footballers. ‘I’m now experienced how bright these guys are. Sebastián Pardo made a good impression again today, maybe that has to do with the arrival of Acuña. Those guys are made of the right stuff; they’ll make us better. What I’m most looking forward to is the fact that I have different types of players that can play in a fixed formation, each with his own specific qualities.’ Saturday 15 February 2003 Holland Casino Eredivise AZ-FEYENOORD Venue: Alkmaarder Hout Kickoff: 8pm Probable team Lodewijks; Emerton, Van Wonderen, De Nooijer, Paauwe; Kalou, Bosvelt, Ono, Buffel; Van Hooijdonk and Van Persie The history 15/12/2002 Feyenoord 6-1 AZ 10/3/2002 Feyenoord 4-1 AZ 19/8/2001 Feyenoord 2-0 AZ 30/4/2000 Feyenoord 5-3 AZ 30/1/2000 Feyenoord 1-3 AZ (Amstel Cup) 20/10/2001 AZ 1-3 Feyenoord 4/2/2001 AZ 0-3 Feyenoord 3/10/1999 AZ 0-0 Feyenoord 2/4/ 1999 AZ 0-2 Feyenoord 23/3/1997 AZ 0-2 Feyenoord
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