“It has been two long years, with little break.” Dick Advocaat establishes this when he takes the floor in the run-up to the crucial game between Feyenoord and fellow townsman Sparta. The experienced, 73-year-old trainer has to save the failed season by withdrawing the last remaining European ticket on Saturday.
In any case, it is his last week in De Kuip. “The latter doesn’t bother me.”
“Hopefully it will not be over until the end of the week”, he looks ahead to his latest work in South Rotterdam. If Feyenoord wins from Sparta tonight and makes it to the final of the play-offs, the winner of the FC Utrecht-FC Groningen battle will be the last opponent of Advocaat as club trainer on Saturday.
The trainer realizes that Wednesday’s game with Sparta who is in good shape could also be his last as trainer of Feyenoord. De Hagenaar, who himself played at Sparta in the past and was a trainer, is not working on it. “I don’t think about that. I don’t like this or that. I focus on the game,” he said soberly.
Often tossing about
At the end of a turbulent football year, a lot is at stake for Feyenoord this week. In the competition, the team acted so erratically that direct qualification for European football turned out to be a ‘mission impossible’.
The low point was recently the defeat at the relegated ADO Den Haag. It was typical of the team that often drifted across the fields and simply missed the level to join the top of the premier league.
The play-offs for a ticket in the second heat of the new Europa Conference League are now the only remaining escape route for Advocaat and his troubled team, but then it has to be won from fellow city rivals Sparta. In recent weeks, however, the neighbor has made a better impression than the residents of De Kuip.
“Sparta has had a good season. They ended well. The team is in a flow and they were not the easiest opponents they have beaten in recent weeks. They scored thirteen points from the last five matches. Feyenoord also has such a match. series. We are also the favorite. Feyenoord finished fifth and Sparta eighth “, says Advocaat with confidence about a good outcome.
In any case, Feyenoord misses attacker Bryan Linssen. Lutsharel Geertruida is in doubt. Feyenoord closed the regular season with a clear victory over a defensive-minded RKC Waalwijk. The outgoing trainer has a good feeling about that. “That looked good.”
Lawyer is not completely at ease. Feyenoord and the play-offs for European football were not a happy combination in the past. After the reintroduction of the play-offs in the 2005/2006 season, Feyenoord did not win any of the eight games played in this league format. The last time, in 2014/2015, the Rotterdammers were eliminated by Heerenveen in the first round.
“We trained on penalty kicks,” says Lawyer. Earlier this season, the meeting between the two Rotterdam clubs in De Kuip ended in 1-1. The advantage for Feyenoord is that an audience can be present again. About 6,500 fans will populate the stadium.
Lawyer: “We cannot estimate what a year and a half without an audience meant. The Feyenoord fans are fanatic. It can have an impact. Whether it is fair that there are only Feyenoord fans? You should put that question to the KNVB.”
Eurovision Song Contest
If Feyenoord reach the final of the play-offs, it cannot take place in Rotterdam on Saturday due to the Eurovision Song Contest in the city. Lawyer does not understand this. “I cannot imagine that Mayor Aboutaleb finds the Eurovision Song Contest more important than Feyenoord.”