Lots of bad and good things happened in 2020. In this article, you’ll find all about what made an impact on the PSV Eindhoven football club.
A year ago, the PSV managers fired Mark van Bommel and appointed Ernest Faber as the new head coach. Armindo Bruma, Ritsu Doan, and Kostas Mitroglou were still part of the team, while Steven Bergwijn was about to sign at Tottenham Hotspur, and Jeroen Zoet moved to FC Utrecht to make minutes again.
I write about all that’s happened since then, in chronological order. Let’s hope I haven’t missed anything you wanted to read about.
PSV sign with PUMA
One of the first big things for PSV in the new year was the deal with PUMA as a new partner on 14 January. The German company takes over duties from Umbro as clothing supplier of the first team, PSV Under 21, all teams from the PSV Youth Academy, PSV Women, and PSV Esports at the beginning of the 2020/21 season until 2025.
The club stated on their website: “PUMA offers us the opportunity to remain unique and authentic, while at the same time leveraging the knowledge and quality of one of the world’s largest sports brands.” This video presentation, which includes the internationals Cecilia Santiago, Ritsu Doan and homegrown players like Ibrahim Afellay and Cody Gakpo, made the new brand partnership public – click here.
Rough start to 2020
On 26 January 2020, PSV drew against FC Twente and sank to the fifth position on the Eredivisie ranking. A couple of days earlier they got eliminated from the KNVB Cup tournament by NAC Breda, a Dutch second division team.
Several supporters got so angry that they wanted to enter the stadium and tell managing director Toon Gerbrands and technical manager John de Jong to pack their bags. The mobile police unit had to intervene, and the whole situation was televised. Many other PSV fans and supporters expressed their disapproval, as this kind of thing had never happened before and doesn’t suit the club’s reputation.
PSV lost away against Ajax, won at home against Willem II, lost away in Den Haag and Arnhem, drew at home against Feyenoord and won away against Groningen on Sunday 8 March. Ernest Faber, slowly but surely, managed to get the club back to the top of the league, until COVID-19 blew up the entire Eredivisie competition.
Roger Schmidt announced as new head coach
On 11 March technical manager John de Jong announced Roger Schmidt as head coach for the new season. It was a surprise to many because PSV usually works with Dutch head coaches and Schmidt’s teams play Vollgasfussball – a kind of system that needs a lot of work to get implemented into a new squad. Think of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool and you get the idea.
Now that the new head coach had been announced, Ernest Faber had the chance to finish his job as interim coach, and reclaim his duties as head of the PSV Academy. Schmidt’s official appointment was to take place after that.
The province of Noord-Brabant is the first region in the Netherlands that had to deal with this coronavirus. The annual carnival was identified as a reason for the rapid spread of infections. The rest of the Netherlands were mostly still unaware what was coming, but soon it became clear how the pandemic would affect the country, and, the Eredivisie competition.
KNVB decides to end the competition
At first, matches were suspended until further notice. But after six weeks, on Friday 24 April, the KNVB (Royal Dutch Football Union) announced the following on their website:
“The professional football board has, after consulting clubs, players and trainers, and with the Supervisory Board’s approval, decided to stop the 2019/2020 competition and allocate the places for European club football based on the current league table. This is in accordance with UEFA guidelines. Regarding promotion and relegation, it’s been decided not to promote or relegate.”
That left interim head coach Ernest Faber at a loss in his quest to reach a higher position on the ranking. PSV ended as number four and would have to start the new season early, in the third round of playoffs to try to reach the Europa League group stages.
With a new head coach also came a new technical staff, and Roger Schmidt brought some heavy-weights to Eindhoven: Lars Kornetka, Yann-Benjamin Kugel, and Jörn Wolf become the video analyst, fitness coach, and personal assistant respectively.
André Ooijer, Raimond van der Gouw, and Boudewijn Zenden become the Dutch trainers for PSV’s defenders, keepers, and wingers respectively, while Bas Roorda was appointed as team-manager, with club icon Mart van den Heuvel as his teacher and mentor.
Royal Swinkels Family Brewers joins Brainport Eindhoven
On 18 July, the Royal Swinkels Family Brewers officially joined Brainport Eindhoven as a partner. They now collaborate with ASML, Philips, High Tech Campus Eindhoven, VDL Groep, Jumbo Supermarkten, the Brainport foundation, and PSV in the field of innovation, vitality, entertainment, talent development, and recruitment in the Brainport region.
If you want to know more about what this means, watch this short video series online.
Season tickets sold out
On Tuesday 28 July PSV announced that they had sold 26,000 season tickets and, therefore, stopped sales. Commercial manager Frans Janssen states, “The maximum has been reached. If the rules regarding COVID-19 are relaxed at a later time, we may consider resuming the sale of PSV Season Club Cards”. That’s an amazing achievement considering that there wasn’t much chance of watching games live at the stadium during the season.
Roger Schmidt wanted to assess the whole team before attracting new players or letting go of any current ones. In the end, a total of 15 players left PSV. Daniel Schwaab ended his professional career, while Ibrahim Afellay didn’t get a new contract. Kostas Mitroglou and Ricardo Rodríguez went back to their clubs because their loan deals ended when the season ended.
Goalkeepers Hidde Jurjus, Luuk Koopmans and Yanick van Osch left PSV transfer free, while Robbin Ruiter was sold to Willem II for €200,000 and Jeroen Zoet left off to Spezia for just €1,500,000. This low fee is how PSV typically deals with players who’ve proven their loyalty to the club throughout the years.
Armindo Bruma (Olympiacos), Ritsu Doan (Arminia Bielefeld), Derrick Luckassen (Anderlecht), Dante Rigo (ADO Den Haag) and Michal Sadílek (Slovan Liberec) tried their luck elsewhere on loan for a season. So far, there have been only reasonable, expected transfers and suitable deals for all parties.
Several players joined to enforce the squad: goalkeepers Vincent Müller and Yvon Mvogo, defenders Philipp Max and Armando Obispo (back after loan), midfielders Mauro Júnior (back after loan) and Ibrahim Sangaré and strikers Joel Piroe (back after loan), Maxi Romero (back after injury), and Eran Zahavi. The signing of the Israeli striker was relatively big news, partially due to Ajax’s management denying that they seemed to have missed the boat on this deal.
Zahavi openly responded to those comments, you can read all of it here.
One of the most interesting things about the pre-season preparation was not that Schmidt gave all the players a chance to show themselves. I was really surprised when he used Olivier Boscagli and Jordan Teze as central defenders and actually made them a strong duo. Boscagli was considered a flopped signing from the previous season, and I personally had already given up on Teze after his many years at PSV U/21. I’m really glad they proved me wrong.
PSV ended the training camp in Germany with two exhibition matches. They won the first one against Hertha BSC with 0-4, but drew the second against Victoria Köln, 1-1. It was nice to see Sam Lammers, Noni Madueke, and Cody Gakpo being so productive and with Donyell Malen getting back into shape, the forward section looked promising so far.
PSV started the Eredivisie competition with an away match in and against Groningen. The local FC had managed to re-attract their most successful and popular youth exponent, who had already quit his professional career – Arjen Robben. The former Bayern Munich winger moved back to Groningen with his family to be closer to their extended families.
The coronavirus clearly negatively affected FC Groningen’s (financial) situation, and Robben gave the club of his youth just what they needed. Many supporters bought a season ticket and some of them were able to see one of the Netherland’s best, most professional players shine in the colours of their beloved team.
Unfortunately, Robben had to leave the pitch with an injury within 30 minutes. PSV eventually took three points home after a 3-1 win. Watch the full recap right here.
Sam Lammers’ transfer was quite unexpected. He had gotten plenty of playing time so far under the new head coach. The PSC Academy striker had yet to deliver on his promise, especially after all the help he got from the club when he was recovering from several injuries. After a season on loan in Heerenveen, he was back in shape and was given a lot of room in the new head coach’s new formations. However, the 23-year old fell for an offer from the Italian squad from Bergamo.
The PSV management made it clear they weren’t pleased with Lammers possible move and didn’t play nice during negotiations with Atalanta. Ultimately, TM de Jong managed to get a €9 million deal plus bonuses. The first rumours of a possible loan of Lammers have been released through media like Corriere dello Sport, and I personally feel this is what a player can expect when he leaves PSV the way Lammers did.
Yvon Mvogo’s shakey start
John de Jong signed Suiss goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo because Roger Schmidt plays a type of system where the last man on the match needs better ‘footwork’. With only 13 official matches in the last three seasons, at RB Leipzig, it was obvious the 26-year-old goalie needed some time to find his feet again. His blunders in the two first matches were a source of much discussion and ridicule in the media.
PSV managed to win their first competition matches and beat NŠ Mura (5-1) and Rosenborg SK (2-0), both away. This resulted in the first success of the season, namely qualification for the Europa League group stage. The drawing decided PSV would compete against Granada FC, Omonia Nicosia, and PAOK Saloniki; a group with great positive opportunities for PSV.
Mario Götze to PSV?
PSV had already finished the fourth Eredivisie season round when John de Jong made some massive announcements on the – second, due to corona – Deadline Day. Not only had he managed to sign Bayern Munich youth player Adrian Fein and the recovering Marco van Ginkel, but Mario Götze left the Philips Stadium after signing a deal just before 23:30.
Earlier that day, an employee of a local Snackbar had noticed the German international player had parked his Mercedes on the sidewalk near Philips Stadium. She took photos, which spread like wildfire and soon the entire football world knew that PSV had signed the 28-year-old former World Champion for two seasons. He came over transfer-free from Borussia Dortmund and chose PSV because he wanted to play under Roger Schmidt and felt this coach and club were the best option for him.
You can watch some behind the scenes footage from this deadline day right here.
The Eindhoven side also managed to win their following two Eredivisie matches, which resulted in 13 points from their first five matches. The first setback came in Granada, when PSV gave away the 1-0 lead in the second half. This was the first of several matches to come that showed a huge decline in quality and strength after the halftime break.
The next Sunday, PSV bumped heads against Vitesse in Arnhem. Head coach Thomas Letsch knows how Roger Schmidt wants his teams to play, since he worked as his assistant at Red Bull Salzburg in 2014. PSV was dealing with several injured and COVID-19 positive players.
The team included Mauro Júnior as right back, Jorrit Hendrix as captain on the midfield. The only just recovered Ryan Thomas, and out-of-shape Mohamed Ihattaren were on the wings. And Noni Madueke and a just-back-from-a-corona-infection Eran Zahavi as strikers. So, the first loss of the season was a fact.
Interview SLO Coensen
It wasn’t ‘just’ the players and staff of PSV who caught the virus. Andre Coensen, the 61-year-old Supporter Liaison Officer, was confined to bed for several weeks and experienced first hand how this virus affects you, physically. In this interview, Coensen describes what happened and how he hopes everyone will take measures to stay safe.
Conflict with the Cypriot authorities
The first terrible week had just passed, but things got worse. The PSV team were boarded and waiting to fly off to Cyprus when general manager Toon Gerbrands got a phonecall at 9:50 telling him that Jordan Teze and Eran Zahavi weren’t allowed to enter the country. If PSV took them along, the entire team would have to be quarantined as soon as they entered the airport.
Gerbrands contacted the UEFA who agreed, but PSV would have to officially deal with a loss since countries have the right to deal with COVID-19. Teze and Zahavi had tested negative, but the rules and types of tests in Cyprus differ from those in the Netherlands. Eventually Teze was flown to Nicosia on a private plane on the day of the match, and PSV were able to bring the three points home to Eindhoven.
Read more on that in this article.
Debut of Felipe, Ledezma and Saibari
Prior to the match against ADO, Schmidt stated that “It can’t get worse than yesterday [Thursday], when we had to pull a player off the plane.” With many players still unfit to make their (re)appearance on the pitch, he let Ryan Thomas start as right back and Mauro Júnior as left back.
With Adrian Fein, Mauro Júnior, Donyell Malen, and Jordan Teze he had four 21-year-olds in the starting 11, plus an 18-year-old, with Mohamed Ihattaren. The other 18-year-old, Noni Madueke, replaced him in the second half. Luis Felipe (19), Richie Ledezma (20) and Ismail Saibari (19) all made their debuts as well, so the amount of youngsters that PSV needed to deal meant injuries and infections kept adding up.
Ledezma needed only ten minutes to add his first assist to his scorecard and would soon also make his debut for Team USA.
Night and Day at Toumba Stadium
The first half at Toumba Stadium saw the best PSV playing of the season so far. That’s why the decline in the second half was so unbelievable to see. PSV were leading 1-0, but after halftime, they gave three goals away in 13 minutes. The way it happened was even more shocking, and the brand new head coach of PAOK deserves respect for how he tactically deconstructed the Eindhoven side’s defense.
The result was that PAOK took over the second position on the Gropu E ranking, leaving PSV behind with only three points after three matches.
Philips extends contract
On Wednesday 11 November PSV announced that “Royal Philips has extended its current sponsorship contract with Eindhoven football club PSV by ten years until 2031. Ever since the Philips Sport Vereeniging was founded in 1913, PSV and Philips have been inextricably linked, resulting in the world’s longest running partnership.”
Learn about the connection between Philips and PSV in this video, where people like Marcel Brands, Phillip Cocu, Jason Čulina, and Héctor Moreno share their thoughts on both.
Harry van Raaij passes away
On Monday 16 November PSV announced the passing away of club icon Harry van Raaij. The former treasurer and chairman of the club made a huge impression on many people on all different levels, as was seen in the funeral procession the supporters gave him on his last ‘ride. ‘Mijnheer’ van Raaij was 84.
Two days later, PSV also said goodbye to former goalkeeper Pim Doesburg, who passed away at the age of 77. A sad week for many PSV supporters; and the next Eredivisie match didn’t bring a smile to their faces either.
Those second halfs…
PSV beat Willem II at home several days after their dramatic defeat in Thessaloniki. However, the match against FC Twente on Sunday 22 November showed the typical defect again – a very dominant PSV in the first half and a huge decline in the second. What’s the reason for this? Did Schmidt ask too much from his players to play his volgasfussbal? Do the players simply lack the physical stamina to do that? Is it because they’re tired? And are they tired because of corona?
All these questions made for a lot of speculation in the media. And on top of that, came the discussions about Mohamed Ihattaren, who was completely out of shape.
Interview with a PAOK supporter
Prior to the away match against PAOK Saloniki, I wrote the usual review and preview article on the last played match and the first upcoming match. I learnt much more about the team’s Greek opponent – which seemed quite ‘infamous’ to me – than I usually learn about other opponents.
A devoted PAOK fan reacted on my choice of this word as description of his favorite team. Our correspondence resulted in an interview with him. I consider this the highlight of my articles about the first half of the 2020/21 season.
Mohamed Ihattaren’s personal crisis
Mohamed Ihattaren had been left out of the starting 11 and even the team several times already, but the culmination of the discussion came when Schmidt decided to give him time off to regain his full strength. The German head coach explained his situation, but couldn’t count on understanding from Ibrahim Afellay.
The former PSV midfielder stated, “I have not spoken to him (Mo Ihattaren) myself, but I think it’s a strange story. Especially if you communicate it like that. If you know that he has problems, why wait until now? You could have made it clear at the beginning of the week, right?” It would take several weeks before the world would know how right or wrong Schmidt was when he took his decisions concerning ‘Mo’.
Eran Zahavi is known for scoring anytime at any club, but has been struggling since he arrived at PSV. He got infected with COVID-19 and hasn’t found his shape and place in the team yet. In six Eredivisie matches he was good for one goal and two assists, and he hit home twice in the Europa League. He left the pitch after 38 minutes on 3 December, in and against Granada, and hasn’t been able to make his comeback yet.
Van Nistelrooij assistant at Oranje
On Monday 7 December, it was made public that Ruud van Nistelrooij will join the Dutch national team’s technical staff as assistant to head coach Frank de Boer. The former PSV, Manchester United and Real Madrid striker and current PSV U/19 head coach of PSV will join the squad in March 2021, when the final preparations for the European Championships start.
Frank de Boer earlier on took over duties from former PSV defender and head coach Ronald Koeman, who pursued a career at FC Barcelona.
Ledezma out for the rest of the season
Richie Ledezma was reaching for the stars and even made his debut for Team USA on 16 November with two assists. However, his debut in the starting 11 for PSV during the Europa League home match against Omonia Nicosia, on Thursday 10 December, ended badly. He had to be replaced by Adrian Fein, in the 17th minute, with a torn right ACL.
‘Mo is back’
Mohamed Ihattaren’s equalizer against FC Utrecht on Sunday 13 December was fantastic, and the way he celebrated the goal even more so. After months of speculations about his shape, fitness, mentality, and relationship with the new head coach, this was a huge moment and a clear message to all the critics. Watch these highlights, and you’ll understand.
Goal of the first season half?
Donyell Malen proved to be fully back from a severe injury sustained last season. It took him the entire first season half to get back to the level of fitness he had before he tore his ACL on 16 December of 2019. Malen scored seven goals in 13 Eredivisie matches, and some were beauties. But click here to watch the one he scored in the KNVB Cup tournament, exactly one year after his injury.
Seagate Technology official supplier
On 17 December PSV announced that PSV Esports has entered into a partnership with Seagate Technology. The company has committed itself as an Official Supplier to the club’s virtual football branch for at least a year.
The Cup match against De Graafschap was the first one were Denzel Dumfries made a sneaky move to fixed a penalty. Apparently he’s okay with being sneaky because he fixed another penalty with it against RKC Waalwijk three days later and he enjoys responding to the questions about it after the match.
I personally don’t like this kind of thing at all. Also, I have noticed that the Dutch referees really don’t see it when it happens. They often made wrong decisions when Hirving Lozano pulled similar tricks, last season, and on numerous occasions by Joël Veltman of Ajax. This season, the same goes for Nicolás Tagliafico, also of Ajax, and now our own captain jumped on the bandwagon.
‘Everything to win’ often crosses the wrong side of the line of fairplay, and it’s terrible to see that the Video Assistant Referees can’t see it from so many angles and as many replays as they want to use. It’s good acting from these players, but is it what we want in football?
31 players used already
On 19 December Fredrik Oppegård made his debut for PSV. The 18-year-old Norwegian left back replaced Philipp Max in the dying minutes of the away game against RKC Waalwijk, and became the 31st player that Roger Schmidt has used this season already. Knowing that Marco van Ginkel, Érick Gutiérrez, Armindo Obispo, and U/21 talent Shurandy Sambo are ready to make their minutes in 2021 as well, it’s clear that the record of most used players in one season will only be extended after Oppegård set the newest in 2020.
Typical German end of 2020
PSV played their last match of 2020 on Tuesday 22 December, against VVV-Venlo. The 4-1 was scored in the last minute; a typical German way to finish.
Ajax almost gives away the lead
On the last day of playing round 14, Ajax drew 1-1 against Willem II in Tilburg. This means they almost gave away their lead position, and PSV are now lagging by only one point. And, of course, a difference of no less than 20 goals stands between the Eredivisie’s number one and two.
This gap is also symbolic of the difference between Ajax and PSV: the team from Amsterdam won their matches relatively easy, with the new national record they set against VVV-Venlo as an absolute stand-out.
Vitesse Arnhem losing their third match of the season on the last matchday of 2020 is the second best thing after Ajax giving away so much of their lead position. Finishing second on the ranking after such a demanding season, the forecast of a second season half where PSV are active in three competitions is everything a fan could wish for.
Hopefully this winter break will give our players precisely the amount of rest they need to be fully recovered when preparation for the second season half starts. The level of opponents will increase, and it will soon be the ‘English weeks’ again.
The best case scenario is that Roger Schmidt can use this winter break simply to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and finally work with a fit selection. As far as I can tell, all goalkeepers are available, and defender Armando Obispo is about to partake in group training again. Midfielders Gúti and Van Ginkel are also close to making their comebacks. And Mauro Júnior, Ryan Thomas and striker Eran Zahavi should be back strong as well.
Taking into consideration that Boscagli and Teze have proven their worth, and Baumgartl and Viergever are fit again, and Mario Götze, Mohamed Ihattaren and strikers Donyell Malen and Yorbe Vertessen have all played on maybe 80% of their maximum capacity, I can conclude that PSV have become a serious candidate for the national championship.
My biggest worries
I’m not just optimistic on the future of PSV though. When I remember the ease with which opponents cut through our midfield and created serious chances, we can consider ourselves lucky to play in the Eredivisie. The away match at Toumba stadium is probably the best example of what can happen against stronger opponents.
The decline in numerous second halfs in the first season half is also worrisome. There was a bit more balance in the last couple of matches, but PSV has yet to dominate a full match. There’s not a single time that Roger Schmidt could look back and truthfully say it was a comfortable night.
Having said all that about football and fitness, no one knows what a new year will bring on many other levels. We start it with many unknowns, mainly due to the coronavirus. When will supporters finally be able wo watch matches in the stadiums again? What effect will the vaccine have? And how will the economy develop when life gets back to normal after…how many months?
No-one wants to consider these things, but they simply are the settings of early 2021. PSV fans having something to look forward to, though – training starts on Saturday 2 January 2021, and the first match is on Sunday 10 January. The opponent, you ask? Ajax Amsterdam!
All top matches
All top matches have been scheduled for the second season half, in the hope that more people would be able to watch them live at the stadium. Just because that is still not possible, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look forward to all the great top teams we’re up against.
The schedule is as follows:
Sunday 10 January, 16:45: Ajax Amsterdam – PSV (Eredivisie)
Wednesday 13 January, 18:45: PSV – AZ Alkmaar (Eredivisie)
Saturday 16 January, 18:45: Sparta Rotterdam – PSV (Eredivisie)
Tuesday 19 January, 21:00: FC Volendam – PSV (KNVB Cup)
Saturday 23 January, 20:00: PSV – RKC Waalwijk (Eredivisie)
Tuesday 26 January, 20:00: FC Emmen – PSV (Eredivisie)
Sunday 31 January, 14:30: Feyenoord Rotterdam – PSV (Eredivisie)
The first match for the knockout stage of the Europa League takes place against Olympiacos FC in Piraeus. The Greek giant, with 45 national championships to their name, will receive PSV on Thursday 18 February at the Georgios Karaiskákisstadion. Keep checking back here to find more information about that club and match.
Article by Joey van der Hart for Eindhoven News
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