Tag: Pelle

Feyenoord chooses youth

A lot of great things in the world are born out of necessity. In the golden 1970s, Feyenoord was one of the more wealthy clubs in the world. A massive stadium, one of the most intriguing coaches ever ( Ernst Happel) and a sensational team with the likes of Israel, Kindvall, Van Hanegem and Wim Jansen. And a nice and shiney European Cup.

But the money went and not only in Rotterdam…. The Dutch football culture has been eroded and only Ajax has been able to keep the Dutch flame alive with their tremendous youth academy over the last decades.

Feyenoord may have won the UEFA Cup in 2002, but that was quite an anomaly and done with players brought in by Bert van Marwijk from other clubs, such as NEC’s Kees van Wonderen, Go Ahead Eagles’ Bosvelt, NAC’s Pierre van Hooijdonk and Japanese wunderkind Shinji Ono. The only local talent in that team was Robin van Persie and he made it hard for Van Marwijk to commit him to the club.

But the dramatic financial results of the last ten years has forced Feyenoord to do the only thing possible: focus on their own talent development.

Koeman recognises Louis van Gaal in the stands

The biggest asset Feyenoord has (and has had) in this field was lured back into the club: Wim Jansen. The old fox got his son-in-law Stanley Brard, former Feyenoord defender (and notoriously left winger when Johan Cruyff was with the club) to lead the Feyenoord academy and the rest is history. Players like Leroy Fer, Jonathan de Guzman, Georginho Wijnaldum, Jerson Cabral, Jordy Clasie, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Luc Castaignos came through and in some way or format have created value for the Stadium club.

And the Feyenoord fans have shown their appreciation. By filling up the stadium in every home game. While the scouts of big clubs from England, Italy, Germany and Italy find ways to buy tickets to De Kuip as well.

With Ronald Koeman at the helm for yet another season and youngsters Boetius and Vilhena recently signed new long-term contracts as well. The next targets for technical director Martin van Geel are Stefan de Vrij ( desired by Chelsea) and Graziano Pelle (desired by most women in Holland).

Stanley Brard is being chased by international clubs as well. Not so much to make a jump to these clubs but to explain how he does it. Martins Indi is a typical example of a player who benefited most from Brard’s approach.

Ted Immers

Until his 17th, the strong defender was never seen as a great talent. But Brard recognised – with his team of youth coaches – that the tall Martins Indi has the basic requirements for a defender: mental strength, focus, heading skills and speed. By working with him on an individual basis, Martins Indi’s vision and technical skills improved sensationally,

That Martins Indi is now symbol for the new Feyenoord. Talented, hard working and definitely a lad who is ready to move even higher up. The Feyenoord fans adore him and the interaction between him (and the other players) and the Legion is tremendous. Louis van Gaal has discovered the youngster and with two goals to his name in Oranje, most international top teams have his name on the list as well.

Feyenoord expects to be able to sell some of their best players every season, and sees this as a way to make the club financially healthy. And Stanley Brard is convinced that if Feyenoord can limit those transfers to two per summer, the academy should be able to keep up. Brard also gets lots of offers from foreign clubs for consultancy, as they would love to adopt the development philosophy. One of the key elements for Feyenoord, being awarded as the best youth academy of the nation for three years in a row, is the use of ex players, such as Roy Makaay, Gaston Taument, Joop Hiele, Wim Jansen and Michel Valke.

“We can expect financial injections into the club based on our education. Clubs want to buy our know-how and we will export youth coaches to China or Columbia, to set up youth academies there.”

Roy Makaay is working hard on delivering strikers. The former phantom supported super striker John Guidetti last season and is now thrilled to support new phenomenon Graziano Pelle. One player he has a weak spot for is Anass Achahbar, the 18 year old stocky center striker of the Feyenoord C-youth.

“Anass told me Feyenoord shouldn’t sign Pelle,” laughs Makaay. “He said: you have me! But Achahbar, strong on the ball and handy in the use of his body, is too young to carry all that pressure on his shoulders. He will have to wait.”

Anass Achahbar scored another goal

The young talent gets his minutes in Feyenoord 1 and scored a thrilling goal late in the Sparta Prague European cup game. With a typical backheel. “These goals, you basically score instinctive.”

Achahbar burns with ambition. His age is nothing to him. “My benchmark is very high. I want to reach the absolute top. I have always wanted to play, every day. I am not happy with my current role. I want to play as much as possible. I want to hear my name chanted, I want to be important for the club.”

Feyenoord copped some criticism from the likes of Willem van Hanegem when a number of “could-be” players were signed from mid-tier clubs. Vormer, Goossen, Singh, Immers, Janmaat, Verhoek… With the risk that talented youth players would – again – be put on hold, development-wise.

But talent will always emerge and it’s Ronald Koeman who has chosen to play youngster Boetius and Vilhena over more established names like Verhoek and Vormer, while Janmaat and Immers have proven real assets to the team.

The player who dominates the spotlight in Rotterdam now, is – again – the center striker. This time, it’s Graziano Pelle. On loan from Parma. The lanky, elegant Italian was scouted years ago by Louis van Gaal for AZ, when Van Gaal saw the striker excel for Young Italy. But Pelle was never a success for AZ and hardly found the net in 3 years with the Alkmaar club.

Also in his homeland, Pelle never made it as a prolific striker.

Ronald Koeman took a gamble on the fan favorite. “I worked briefly with him at AZ and despite his lack of goal scoring, you could see he was very skilful. If I needed to chance a last minute deal with a striker on loan, I preferred him as I know his personality and he knows me and he knows Dutch football. I knew that with the right team around him, and wingers to service him, he would score 10 to 15 goals in the season.”

Pelle already scored 10 in the Eredivisie.

Koeman thinks it’s too early to talk title, but it’s clear that with Twente, PSV and Ajax not in best form, Feyenoord could wriggle itself between the contenders.

Daryl Janmaat: attacking defender

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And finally we can start the competitions…

I said it before, for me the competitions haven’t really started when everyone is still trying to sign or sell players… It’s so weird… You can’t expect players to commit fully when they know their clubs want to offload them or when you know you might be packing your bags for another country…

It definitely ruins my football pleasure. And in the meantime, some of the biggest games of the season are being played. Before September started, Feyenoord was already kicked out of the CL qualifications AND the Europa League. Theoretically, they could have signed Messi, Rooney, Van Persie and Pirlo on the last day of the transfer window but that wouldn’t have helped them in Europe… Weird.

I repeat (ad nauseum, I know and I apologise 🙂 ) please, either shorten the transfer window (less time to play games) or start the competitions at Sept 1.

So, to give you a brief overview of all relevant (as far as I’m concerned) transfers of this last transfer period.

Raf van der Vaart returns to HSV. The playmaker cost Spurs 3 Mio Euros if I’m not mistaken (or 5?) and is sold now for 12M. Dembele and Sigurdsson will compete for his spot.

Nigel de Jong is off to join AC Milan, like many Dutchies before him. The Man City destroyer looks happy when he visits the fashion capital of Italy.

Ibi Afellay joins Schalke 04 on loan, and is reunited with former PSV chief Huub Stevens.

Gertjan impressed with Hiddink’s work

Greg van der Wiel is off to Paris. Wealthy PSG will pay a healthy 6 Mio euros for the player who would have walked out of the Arena for free in a year’s time. Well done Ajax. Ajax makes more money this period, as they can claim 700k for Nigel de Jong’s and Raf van der Vaart’s moves.

Funnily enough, Feyenoord will not get any euro from Van Persie’s move from the Gunners to Man United. Only international moves count, which obviously is stupid. The multi million deal for Van Persie would have netted Feyenoord a cool million euros, which they would have gotten if Robin would have gone to Juventus, for instance.

Ajax has done very good business, as they will sign the transfer free Ryan Babel for one year, allowing him a opportunity to shine and make himself attractive again. Frank de Boer already lamented the physical frailty of Boerrigter and Sighthursson and with Babel has a powerhouse upfront. Ajax also signed a number of high potential talents from Denmark and Eastern Europe.

Feyenoord did a deal with FC Twente. Jerson Cabral was on his way to Swansea but decided against the EPL and goes to Twente instead. His mate Leroy Fer interfered. Twente has offered winger Wesley Verhoek to Feyenoord. The stockey ex ADO player could well become a cult hero in De Kuip. Former AZ striker Pelle will also join Feyenoord on a one year loan from Parma. The Italian striker could never impress at AZ but does have good memories of working with Ronald Koeman.

All this came too late for Feyenoord’s European return. No CL and no EL groups stage football for the former Giants. Despite a courageous game in Prague, Spartak simply was too strong and a cheap penalty signed Feyenoord’s fate. AZ was simply taken to the cleaners by Hiddink’ Anzhi in an open game in Alkmaar: 0-5.

Ronald Koeman: “We are simply not good enough. We play along nicely at this level and we do create opportunities but we lack quality and experience to kill off games like this. It is how it is. Small steps forward.”

Gertjan Verbeek: “Last week they gave us the impression we could maybe get something against them… But tonight they showed their real class. They are 3 levels better than us at any aspect of the game. Every opportunity is a goal with them, today. As opposed to us. We have nothing to expect against an opponent like them.”

Heerenveen was totally toothless at home against Molde. Not really highflyers, but Marco van Basten’s side could have used San Marco as a striker instead of a coach. And without the hosts scoring, the visitors decided to take the initiative and executed the Friese pride. Marco van Basten was livid. But not towards his players. Towards the club management. “I feel let down and screwed over. We sold our top forwards for quite some good fees and I was promised half of that money to invest. Instead I only got players on loan deals and free transfers. You can’t expect to maintain a sub top spot like this. I feel let down. I don’t blame the players. They did what they could. But I won’t throw the towel. We’ll simply do what we can, but a subtop spot in the Eredivisie is too much to ask for this season.”

Leroy impresses at Twente

PSV had no problem whatsoever. The second tier team (Engelaar, Manolev and youngster Depay, Wijnaldum and prospects Van Ooijen (scoring two) and Zanka) won 9-0 against Zeta, making it 14-0 on aggregate.

FC Twente had to dig really deep to get through, after losing 3-1 in Turkey. In the “Hell of Enschede” the game went into extra time and a very late goal by Leroy Fer, always important in big games scoring big goals, Twente was able to progress.

Oranje coach Louis van Gaal must have liked Fer’s development over the last weeks, as the Twente midfielder is in the Oranje squad for the Turkey game, along with Feyenoord debutants Clasie and right back Darryl Janmaat. Twente defender Douglas has been left out of the squad (although he was on the prelim list)… Van der Vaart, De Jong, Afellay and Gregory van der Wiel (all focused on getting to a new club) are off the definite list. Vurnon Anita, Khalid Boulahrouz, Ola John, Luuk de Jong, Siem de Jong, Adam Maher, Stijn Schaars and Ruben Schaken are also dropped.

This is Van Gaal’s elite:
Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Bas Dost (VfL Wolfsburg), Urby Emanuelson (AC Milan), Leroy Fer (FC Twente), John Heitinga (Everton), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahçe), Jeremain Lens (PSV), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Joris Mathijsen (Feyenoord), Luciano Narsingh (PSV), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Ricardo van Rhijn (Ajax), Arjen Robben (Bayern München), Wesley Sneijder (Internazionale), Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma), Kevin Strootman (PSV), Nick Viergever (AZ), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Michel Vorm (Swansea City), Jetro Willems (PSV).

And lastly, some more positive news (….wink wink…). The CL draw.

Ajax is in the group of Death. Why not? After all the drama this summer at the Euros and the demise of AZ, Heerenveen and Feyenoord, why give Ajax a break, right?

Real Madrid, Man City and Borussia Dortmund. Three champions. Spain, England and Germany. And Holland of course. Can this draw get any tougher? Why didn’t they add Juventus too?

Poor Frank de Boer. Poor Ajax. Another anonymous season in Europe…


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