Yesterday, 32.000 supporters saw PSV play their first European match at the Philips Stadium. Only the approximately 35 Croatian supporters had a fantastic night, watching their favorite team steal 3 points to take home to Osijek.
Fear of supporters beforehand
Every PSV supporter was hoping for a start that would wash away the memories of last season, which ended in general disappointment. Some are strongly doubting the potential of the head coach Phillip Cocu and his staff, and feared the new signings won’t be good enough to fill the gap that strongholders Héctor Moreno and Andrés Guardado left, after their transfers to AS Roma and Real Betis respectively. Even though it’s way too early to jump to any conclusions, it’s obvious that the fear and anger of both fanatics and more moderate supporters now burns stronger than before.
During the press conference, prior to the match, Cocu and his players said to have had a good preparation and to know the goal is obvious: win any single match against any opponent in order to also play European football after winter stoppage. No excuses were made, the technical management is sure the new signings and new youth players are sufficient to fill the gaps left behind by the before mentioned players, the aim is to rely on own strength and so on. In other words: there’s nothing to worry about, everybody in the team knows what went wrong last season and the focus and will power to do better is very much alive. But after the first official match, all supporters feel they have been right to worry about PSV’s status as it collectively is today.
A search for clarity
The first half saw PSV dominate in ball possession and create some chances, only lacking the sharpness and some luck to convert it into goals. Ironically, that was one of the absolute main issues of the team, last season. Cocu has always kept faith and trust in his most important striker and captain, Luuk de Jong, but he, unsuspectedly playing even without the captaincy, showed the same lack of conviction as he has done for many months before. Next to that, the defense looked weak, sloppy and adrift, missing clarity in task division and an overall sight on how to simply act and connect. Even though brand new captain Marco van Ginkel was active as ever and Jorrit Hendrix worked like a horse as usual, it appears the team is still looking for who is actually going to take responsibility for what and when and how. So if there would be any conclusion to draw after the overall weak game that was put on the mat, last night, it would be that it’s time for some passionate fight behind closed doors, in order to let the new leaders step up and bring the absolute necessary fire into the core of this young, but talented group of players.
Heat in the kitchen
Will the weight of the supporters’ fear and anger spark the essential flame for Cocu’s men, or will it paralyze the group as a whole? Next week, away in Osijek, we’ll see if they have come closer to the answer. In the meantime, the second biggest challenge probably is about keeping the heat from outside out of the kitchen at De Herdgang.
For Eindhoven New: Joey