Coach Van Marwijk will have to do without Glenn Loovens and Sebastián Pardo, as injuries really begin to take their toll on the Rotterdammers, who continue to miss Van Hooijdonk, Van Haaren and the two Leonardos. The silver lining to this particular cloud is that Bonaventure Kalou and captain Paul Bosvelt look set to make the cut in a game Feyenoord cannot afford to lose.
Bert van Marwijk tried to convince himself his cup was half full, rather than half empty at the Friday press call, but didn’t sound too sure. ‘I have 17 fit players left. I don’t really want to think about injuries anymore. I have to stay positive: Kalou has a problem with his hamstring, but he’ll most likely play. In Bosvelt’s case, we’ll have to see how well he got through training physically. Loovens has groin problems. It’s a pity for him, because he just got back to fitness. And Pardo is still in bed with flue. The last two definitely won’t be playing.’
Ramon van Haaren is also out of the running, after tearing a muscle in Kiev. ‘We haven’t had a lot of enjoyment out of him,’ Van Marwijk admitted. ‘He had a serious knee injury last season. I’d hoped Ramon would be available this year. In the games he’s played Van Haaren showed that he gives us something extra. But now he’s injured again. I even think he might be out until the winter break.’ The injury list is a worry to all, but the coach brushed aside a suggestion that the club’s medics weren’t doing their jobs properly with visible irritation.
Agenda point one is getting the Feyenoord train back on track and moving forward after the disappointments of recent weeks. ‘You could say it was going well when we started. I don’t want to hide behind injuries, but we are less good when we are missing a lot of players, although that’s not the only reason. Last year we had an air of invincibility. We were mentally and physically unbeatable. This season we are especially lacking physically. Too often we try to get out of situations by playing football, when we should really be rolling our sleeves up.’
Van Marwijk feels that a number of players must shoulder the blame. ‘Ono has made enormous progress this past year, but he has to think on another level. When we lose players like Bosvelt and Paauwe he has to rise up and make sure we win. He doesn’t even have to play that well; he has to stand up and be counted within the group.’
The same goes for two other stalwarts. ‘Emerton has been substituted twice now and he knows himself that he hasn’t played well. And I talked to Kalou today. He can take a leaf out of Thomas Buffel’s book. He wants to help the team and make it better in everything he does.’
Van Marwijk anticipates his team will put an end to the winless run Saturday. ‘I expect to see a very passionate team against Willem II. An offensive one, although we’ve played many games and had little rest. There’s little wrong with the mood in the group. It’s only logical there’s more to smile about when you’re ten points clear. I’m the same, but there’s nothing wrong with the group.’
Venue: The Kuip, Rotterdam
Kickoff: 8 PM
Referee: Dick van Egmond
Zoetebier; Song, Paauwe, Van Wonderen, Rzasa; Emerton, Ono, Bosvelt, Van Persie; Kalou, Buffel.
25/11/2001 Feyenoord 3-1 Willem II
26/11/2000 Feyenoord 1-0 Willem II
1/12/1999 Feyenoord 1-0 Willem II
26/9/1998 Feyenoord 3-2 Willem II
21/12/1997 Feyenoord 4-2 Willem II
5/5/2002 Willem II 0-0 Feyenoord
11/3/2001 Willem II 3-1 Feyenoord
20/2/2000 Willem II 2-1 Feyenoord
21/3/1999 Willem II 4-1 Feyenoord
19/10/1997 Willem II 2-0 Feyenoord