Things might have turned out better for Van Marwijk. Already without a host of squad players and in Shinji Ono and Pierre van Hooijdonk missing two vital first choices, the Feyenoord coach is hanging on until the last moment before ruling anyone in or out of the club’s biggest fixture of the season so far. That said, after the win at St James’ Park, Van Marwijk has to believe that anyone who pulls on the red and white jersey will do so fully convinced of Feyenoord’s superiority over the English club. ‘We have to be confident, because we’re playing at home.’
In terms of the aim there is little room for argument. Only a win will do, and that may just work in the home side’s favour. Van Marwijk’s men proved more than once last season just what they can do when European games turn into do or die affairs.
The importance of Paul Bosvelt cannot be overestimated. The Dutch international has the tenacity and the diligence to turn games the Rotterdammers’ way and his coach will be hoping this captain fantastic returns to the heart of the Feyenoord midfield in time to face the Geordies. Truth is, it’s touch and go. ‘Paul trained well on Tuesday, but he remains doubtful,’ admitted Van Marwijk. ‘We’ll have to wait and see how his injury holds up to today’s reasonable laid-back training session. But at least he came through it. Last week he had to stop early a couple of times.’
With Shinji Ono sitting out a suspension, Bosvelt’s presence is more desirable than ever. The coach was characteristically tight-lipped about his options at Tuesday’s presscall, but if Bosvelt does make it, a partnership with Brett Emerton in the engine room would appear to be the most obvious choice. With Lurling and Song on the flanks, that would give Feyenoord a midfield with big lungs and a lot of legs. In that scenario Chris Gyan would reclaim the rightback position he lost at halftime in Sunday’s defeat of FC Zwolle.
If Van Marwijk decides to avoid shuffling his pack too much, then Seb Pardo or Robin van Persie could come in as a direct replacement for the missing Japanese. Van Marwijk is insufficiently convinced of the Chilean’s readiness however. ‘Sebastián is getting stronger, but he’s still lacking some sharpness. He was more ill than all of us thought.’
And so the moment of truth creeps ever nearer…
Wednesday 13 November 2002
Champions League Group E
Kickoff: 8.45 pm
Referee: Wack (Germany)
Lodewijks; Gyan (Pardo), Van Wonderen, Paauwe, Rzasa; Song, Bosvelt, Emerton, Lurling; Kalou, Buffel