Ruud van Nistelrooij surprised the PSV board Wednesday morning with the message that he was resigning with immediate effect. In the afternoon, general manager Marcel Brands and technical director Ernie Stewart joined a press conference to explain.
“Neither of us saw this coming,” Brands began. “We had a staff meeting in the morning when Ernie informed me of the news. I spoke at length with him (Ruud, ed.), but by then the decision had already been made.
“Yesterday afternoon Ruud came to me and we had a conversation,” Earnest Stewart said. “From that it came out that we would talk further in the evening, that conversation went reasonably well in my opinion. But this morning I was sitting in the office and Ruud came by. He surprised me with the message that his resignation was effective immediately. Ruud then informed players and staff. I then talked to them and asked Fred if he wanted to be on the bench on Sunday.”
“Tuesday night we parted differently,” Stewart looks back. “But you could see he was determined. He made a stricken impression, it was the intention to address the players’ group with the three of us (Van Nistelrooij, Stewart and Brands, ed.) to put the focus on Sunday.”
Indeed, internally there were some things going on within the organisation, Brands said. “Initially, there was the fact that André (Ooijer, ed.) and Fred (Rutten, ed.) were going to quit. We talked about that well before the cup final to see how we were going to resolve it. Then there were also signals from the group and we said: ‘go discuss it with the trainer’. This was fed back to us after the cup final. There were some issues but we thought they could be resolved.”
That Van Nistelrooij felt he received insufficient support from the management, Brands refutes. “We wanted to give him the feeling that we supported him. If you are just talking about what the staff will look like next season and which players we might want to attract. Within the club nobody has been concerned about Ruud leaving, then it does speak of confidence.”
For PSV, Van Nistelrooij is another club icon damaged after Mark van Bommel. “Of course it does something to the club. It hurts that someone like that leaves the club, feeling inadequately supported. But for our feeling there was no question of that,” Brands said.
Bumps in the road
“If you look at the situation, you know that with a young coach there will be some bumps in the road. You may not become champion, you don’t know if you will take that cup. But we want to maintain a long-term vision. That has always been the plan. After Volendam, the three of us went out for something to eat. Then we also looked at: what will be the skeleton for next season? We were 95 percent in agreement on that. There wasn’t that much discrepancy there.”
The expectation pattern Van Nistelrooij had sometimes caused friction between the exercise master and the selection. “Van Nistelrooij was an exceptional professional, who was so incredibly driven. That brought him the career he had. But that’s not a given. At PSV you often work with young players, and Gakpo also said at times, ‘trainer I need your help with that.’ His expectations were high, but that is also a learning process for him. As far as we were concerned, there was no reason to stop working with each other.”
For Eindhoven News: Lila Mehrez