Karim El Ahmadi is leaving Feyenoord after eight seasons at the club. The 33-year-old midfielder, who has won four trophies...
Head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst welcomed his coaching staff and players to the first official training session of the season on Monday. The group trained together at the new 1908 training complex in the morning, with the first public session ahead of the 2018-2019 season at De Kuip in the afternoon. Van Bronckhorst then looked forward to the coming football year with the press.
‘The holiday was a short one, but I’ve been able to recharge my battery,’ said Van Bronckhorst. ‘I’ve been looking forward to starting with the lads for a few days and I’ve been working for two weeks now myself.’ The head coach, who does not yet have his full squad available, also said that Marko Vejinovic is in advanced negotiations with AZ about a move to the Alkmaar club.
The Dutch internationals will return in the coming week or so (Justin Bijlow on Thursday, Steven Berghuis and Tonny Vilhena on Monday), with those players representing their countries at the World Cup – Karim El Ahmadi, Sofyan Amrabat, Brad Jones, Nicolai Jørgensen and Renato Tapia – following in due course.
Van Bronckhorst is keeping a close eye on their performances. Some have already been eliminated. ‘It works two ways for me,' the head coach admits. ‘You obviously wish your players lots of luck at the World Cup. I know myself what experience you can gain there. You are not involved in something like this often. But as a coach you do get your players back earlier when that happens. That said, the experience is more important for me,’ said Van Bronckhorst, who explained that those Feyenoord players at the World Cup would be given three weeks off as soon as they were released by their countries.
Ayoub making good impression
Van Bronckhorst welcomed new face Yassin Ayoub to the 1908 training complex on Monday and was upbeat about the midfielder, who came from FC Utrecht this summer. ‘The impression I have got of Yassin today? These were obviously his first training sessions at a new club, at a new complex with new teammates. But my first impression is a good one. Yassin is a lad who will quickly feel at home at Feyenoord. We have a group that quickly integrates new lads. It’s good that we have him onboard. He can take the next step in his career here.’
‘Longer in the title race’
Van Bronckhorst has a clear goal for the coming season. ‘We want to stay in the race for the title longer than last season. Two years ago we were top from day one, last season we fell away too early. The most important thing we are going to do is take everything we can from every day to grow as a team and as individuals. That should earn points. I’ll also be doing some things differently compared with last season. You shouldn’t tinker with things that work well. Things that should have gone better last season we now have to do differently.’
Happy with 1908
The new training complex is one of the factors that could lead to improved performances. Van Bronckhorst is happy with his new environment: ‘1908 is a fantastic complex. It’s calm there, we have some top pitches and the building is fully equipped. The complex does not yet have a soul, but that will come as we all work together there. It already feels good to get in there every day and work together on something great.’