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de Rood-Witten

A PSV Eindhoven Story
Started on 19 February 2019 by OohAhCantona
Latest Reply on 9 July 2019 by ScottT


The Football Gods be cruel, and there is only so much Eva Carneiro and the rest of the medical staff can do. Almost as soon as he arrived in Eindhoven Willian Arão came down with an injury during training, later announced as a pulled hamstring that would keep him out for two weeks. The very next day PSV would be without the services of Marlon Frey for two to five weeks after pulling a calf muscle in training. The extra depth that was added to the midfield suddenly evaporated, Mark van Bommel would need to dip into the Jong PSV squad yet again.

If the injuries weren’t bad enough, the Lozano transfer saga would sprout a branch of discord between van Bommel and President Toon Gerbrands. The accepted £24.5M offer for Lozano was leaked and the sharks continued to circle with Bayern Munich sweeping in late along with a surprise approach from Ajax. Van Bommel had no problem accepting the Bayern Munich bid as Lozano would express interest in joining them, but he was exceedingly opposed to sending him to Ajax. Gerbrands, feeling the bid was too good to pass up, would go over van Bommel and accept the offer. Inside sources report that van Bommel and Gerbrands had the first break in their relationship over this, van Bommel is well known for his feelings on Ajax so it was a shock to have Gerbrands go over him like that.

The conflict was short lived, and probably had more legs in the media than it did in the head office, apparently Lozano was headed for an agreement with Bayern Munich so van Bommel was able to move on. The two have had such a positive working relationship so far, it’s hard to see this one incident ruining everything.

Eredivisie (H) : PSV 4 - FC Groningen 0

PSV would open the second half with a big 5-0 on the road at FC Emmen before welcoming a team van Bommel had not forgotten about. Despite FC Groningen struggling to avoid relegation, this game would feel rather important for a number of reasons. The first reason was rather simple; revenge. After handing PSV their first league loss of the season it wouldn’t take much to motivate the team to win this one, and there would be a little pressure from the fans to win big. The second reason would be Hirving Lozano departing for Munich the day before the game after agreeing to a deal with Bayern Munich. With Lozano gone it would open up the LW for Bruno Henrique who would make his first start today, a bit of an easier fixture to step into the team.

The team that shocked PSV at home must have stayed back, and FC Groningen seemed to resort to fouls to slow down their hosts. It looked like it was working for most of the first half until it finally backfired 25’ minutes in. A rough challenge on Bruno Henrique as he made his way into the box put Antonio Marin on the penalty spot for a 1-0 lead. After 37’ it was a bit of shoving on a corner that put Marin back on the spot for a 2-0 lead, a score that was quickly looking to be insurmountable. Heading into the second half it was obvious FC Groningen were cutting their losses and trying to park the bus, they didn’t take a single shot the entire half. Pablo Rosario came alive in this environment, coming into the box late with the entire FC Groningen defense looking elsewhere. Rosario would score twice in this manner, barely facing a challenge on his shots, and finish the game with a 9.4 rating and the Player of the Match award.

While everyone could feel good about getting revenge, the mood quickly soured after the game. Marin, who left after 72’ with a light knock, would be diagnosed with a pulled knee ligament and would miss almost two weeks. There would be some time to get him back before the Atlético Madrid game, but any setback would leave them without one of their best players. Perhaps more concerning would be all of the games between now and then, losing Marin would mean that Jong PSV player Sékou Sidibé would move from emergency fill in to second team starter.
I'm glad to see you extracted revenge on Groningen. However, the loss of Lozano will surely be felt, given he is a player of real quality. Thankfully he opted for Bayern over Ajax, otherwise that would have significantly strengthened your main rivals, indeed.
Marin just doing Marin things...


The stress of the transfer window seemed to have passed, with van Bommel turning his attention to the KNVB Cup game against Heracles Almelo, when it bubbled up again the day before the game. In what would seem like a random offer, one that PSV would not sanction during the season, Leicester City stumped up a £9.25M offer (£12.75M with incentives) for team captain Luuk de Jong. Inside sources report that this offer was not even discussed, nor were the follow up offers of £12.5M (£17.25M) and £16.75M. Apparently Leicester City were so enamoured with de Jong, confirmed by SkySports via Leicester City, that they went all the way up to a £23.5M bid for him. This was also rejected.

“I will not be discussing transfer rumors” responded van Bommel when asked about de Jong during the KNVB Cup press conference. An icy stare was all anyone could muster on that subject after his statement.

KNVB Cup (H) : PSV 3 - Heracles Almelo 1

This game was not looking like van Bommel would be happy afterwards in the first half. Yes, PSV was dominating possession but Heracles Almelo was keeping them contained with a defensive approach. They were getting some shots, but not much more than the visitors. Things were not looking good for PSV, the hairdryer treatment was in store, and then Steven Bergwijn broke the game open in stoppage time. Luuk de Jong, fresh off trying to be prised away by Leicester City, took a cross from Nick Viergever and put it on goal from just a few yards out. Heracles Almelo’s Janis Blaswich managed to pull of an amazing save and knock the ball wide… right to Bergwijn who didn’t miss with the keeper on the ground.

van Bommel is not happy heading into the half.

The goal energized PSV coming out of the half, they started pouring in shots and making Heracles Almelo sweat. A second goal was not far off, but the surprise was it came for the visitors. At the 67’ mark Vincent Vermeij took a pass on the penalty spot and easily brought the score to 1-1, with all the traffic in the middle Jeroen Zoet didn’t have much chance to see it coming. Now van Bommel had some harsh words for his defense, letting the ball get passed in so close was not acceptable. The goal must have been a wake up call, or at least their luck broke, and PSV ran roughshod over the visitors. Heracles Almelo couldn’t get out of their own end, even cleared balls were headed back in, and three minutes after drawing even Robert Arboleda kicked in a Gastón Pereiro free kick to take the lead.

Heracles Almelo sat back and absorbed the PSV attack for the next 20 minutes, seemingly fine with being down 2-1. With stoppage time starting de Jong finally put one in to lock down a 3-1 win. The victory, coming harder than they would have liked, would pit them against FC Utrecht in the semi-final with Vitesse and sc Heerenveen playing in the other game.

Eredivisie (H) : PSV 6 - Fortuna Sittard 0

With the first team sitting back, the second team would put on a real show for the home crowd. This would quickly turn into an outright evisceration of Fortuna Sittard with the score rocketing to 6-0 after 24’, a score line even more impressive considering they managed to do that with only (8) shots on target. Mervielle Goblet had an absolute nightmare in goal, anyone could see he would be more than happy for this game to end.

The fact that van Bommel had selected two Jong PSV players to start, Maxime Soulas and Sékou Sidibé, made the 6-0 halftime lead even more surprising. There are some conspiracy theories that say van Bommel asked the team to go easy in the second half, taking pity on his first professional team, but in reality Fortuna Sittard did a better job of keeping PSV out of the box and PSV obliged by taken long aimless shots that didn’t make Goblet work. While nobody thought PSV would lose this game, it was good to see a weakened second squad dominate so thoroughly.


The best bit of news to come out of this recent stretch of games, even better than keeping Luuk de Jong, is PSV’s capture of Dutch Wonderkid Ryan Gravenberch from Ajax. The 16-year-old central midfielder represents a rather expensive signing for PSV at £8.5M, a signing made possible by the sales of Hirving Lozano and Jorrit Hendrix, but team management feel Gravenberch will be a future star.

Will this young Dutch star rise at PSV?

“We saw an opportunity to strengthen our team, and on some level weaken a rival” said PSV Head of Youth Development Ernest Faber. “This is part of building a team for the future, and we believe Ajax will rue the day they let him go.”

There is some buzz around the organization that Gravenberch may move directly to the senior squad when he joins the team at the end of the season. We have already seen that van Bommel is willing to give promising teenagers, like Antonio Marin, a real shot at serious playing time.


Two identical 2-1 wins on the road, against FC Utrecht and sc Heerenveen, would mark an impressive (12) game unbeaten streak in the Eredivisie going all the way back to the FC Groningen loss. Antonio Marin, out with a knee injury, would make his return and score in both games to continue making PSV fans forget about Hirving Lozano. His return couldn’t have come at a better time with Atlético Madrid up next, and his agent Antun Vrgoc saw this as an opportunity to get his client paid. PSV also saw this as an opportunity to lock up Marin on a longer deal and they agreed on a 4-year deal giving him a raise to £460,000 a year. There is still a risk that a Premier League club, or really a club from a number of other leagues, can swoop in and offer him more. That danger is slightly mitigated by the extra years, but only the most innocent of fans think Marin will play out the full length of that contract in Eindhoven.

The return of Marin was dampened by the loss of Robert Arboleda for 2-3 weeks after injuring his calf in training. This suddenly opened up a big problem on defense, there is no doubt Antoine Griezmann was drooling about the news. This was not what van Bommel needed heading into one of the biggest games of the season, but that would not alter his approach.

Philips Stadion could use some upgrades.

Toon Gerbrands did have a positive announcement, something much needed after the Arboleda injury, PSV would be expanding Philips Stadion by 8,500 seats. While 43,500 is still short of Ajax (54,990) and Feyenoord (51,100) it’s the first step toward pulling even and eventually passing them. Gerbrands deflected questions about rebuilding the stadium in the near future, which of course was taken as proof that PSV were working on it.

Champions League (H) : PSV 1 - Atlético Madrid 2

The atmosphere at Philips Stadion was easily on par with Der Topper Derby as the fans waited for the teams to make their way onto the field. The matchup would be a chance for PSV to exorcise the demons of the 2015-2016 Champions League when they were eliminated by Atlético Madrid 8-7 on penalties after two 0-0 draws. This was not something van Bommel was particularly concerned with, but the fans were definitely hoping for revenge.

“We play to win, no matter who we play, we are here to win.” replied van Bommel when pressed on the revenge storyline. As massive underdogs the team likely didn’t need additional pressure.

Make no mistake, PSV came to play and basically outplayed Atlético Madrid. It was hard to tell that one of these teams had a shot at winning the tournament and one of them wasn’t picked to get out of their group. Atlético Madrid played a 4-4-2 and clearly sat back waiting for a counter attack, presenting an eight-man brick wall for PSV to crash against again and again. Antonio Marin and Bruno Henrique were terrors on the outside, making great passes and pulling wide defenders inside on runs. All of this made it look like PSV was going to take this game, until the 23’ minute played out a nightmare for van Bommel. PSV won a corner and Nicolas Isimat-Mirin headed an in swinging kick toward a well prepared Jan Oblak. PSV began to retreat, but not fast enough for a lurking Antoine Griezmann enjoying PSV’s half with just Angeliño to keep him company. Oblak smartly identified the mismatch and punted the ball to Griezmann, rapidly creating a one-on-one with a player that didn’t know it. Angeliño drifted away, heading back toward the LB position, but quickly noticed he was the only defender in position. It was too late, Griezmann took the moment of indecision to make his way beyond Angeliño and rifle a shot past Jeroen Zoet to open the scoring. Zoet barely made an attempt to stop the shot, appearing to be sleeping like the rest of the defense.

A view to a kill.

PSV went into the tunnel down 1-0, and van Bommel was clearly waiting for Zoet to make his way in. Zoet made the way into the locker room with slumped shoulders, van Bommel and Goalkeeping Coach Ruud Hesp on either side of him. Whatever was said in the locker room, PSV came out with as much fight as they had started with. Nothing changed in the second half, PSV were dominant and continued to press Atlético Madrid who were more than happy to sit on their 1-0 lead. Oblak had quite the game, despite facing (13) shots he seemed very comfortable dealing with them. PSV had a few opportunities, mostly fluffed by Luuk de Jong, but Atlético Madrid continued to weather the assault. Things turned hopeless at 77’ when Atlético Madrid used a short corner to catch PSV with their pants down. Thomas Lemar hit a hard pass to Juanfran lurking unmarked beyond the left hand side of the box, Gastón Pereiro was the closest man but he failed to close down Juanfran and let him run free. Juanfran would fire the ball not that far from Zoet, sending the ball between his outstretched arms for a 2-0 lead.

PSV fans were starting to whistle, seeing their players stand around with their hands on their hips staring off into the middle distance was not something they wanted to see. With the game seemingly decided, literally just off PSV’s kickoff, budding PSV legend Marin headed in a cross from Aziz Behich to send the home fans into a frenzy. The whistling would quickly be exchanged for singing about Marin, but it wouldn’t cover up the 2-1 deficit.

The hosts would continue appearing to outplay Atlético Madrid, but they wouldn’t even really come close to scoring again. Diego Simeone had put together a master class in counter-attacking, something van Bommel would need to study up on if they were going to reverse the result in Madrid. His body language was clear, the effort just want there on PSV’s side and Atlético Madrid were hardly troubled to take this one.


Eredivisie (H) : PSV 2 - Feyenoord 1

After blasting Feyenoord 5-0 at De Kuip earlier in the season PSV would head into this game with some confidence, not nearly as much confidence as a win against Atlético Madrid would have created, but still enough to send out the second team. Only 4’ in and everyone knew what kind of game this would be as Daniel Schwaab grabbed a yellow for a hard challenge on Robin van Persie.

Apparently Feyenoord was game, and the two teams exchanged unsavory challenges and a few choice words here and there. Both teams started collecting yellow card with Feyenoord’s Steven Berghuis joining Willian Arão in the book. A few minutes after Arão cynically tripped Jefferson, Ryan Thomas tried to get in on it and chose the worse place on the field to do it. Jefferson would curl a free kick into the box toward van Persie who would find himself falling to the ground after Thomas kneed him in the thigh. He didn’t get booked, but he did send van Persie to the penalty spot. The former Arsenal star, despite being in the last year of his career, would not miss.

A sense of “Oh no…” fell over the fans, but it wouldn’t last long as Steven Bergwijn would equalize off an Angeliño cross and put PSV right back on track. The goal must have taken the fight out of Feyenoord, or at least the desire to kick the tar out of PSV, unfortunately for them it did nothing to halt PSV. Two more yellows later, Thomas finally making his way into the book, and Maximiliano Romero would score with a heartbreaking goal for the visitors. Donyell Malen would boot the ball from almost the half way line and drop the ball right in the middle of three defenders onto Romero’s foot, he controlled it quickly and shot from just outside the box to make it 2-1. At this point Feyenoord seemed resigned to losing, no matter how much Giovanni van Bronckhorst gestured angrily at his players, and after Angeliño was booked Arão opened the door for Feyenoord.

In what would amount to a bad day for Jefferson, Arão would clatter into him and quickly draw the attention of the ref who didn’t hesitate to give him a second yellow. Feyenoord now had at least eight minutes to score an equalizer, and they did their best to do it but instead found out how well van Bommel’s 4-2-3 worked. When the dust settled PSV would have (6) yellow cards and an astounding (23) fouls to Feyenoord’s (6). PSV has tried to develop a reputation as defensive stalwarts, but this was not what van Bommel had envisioned. His own history as a bit of a hard man didn’t help the reaction to this game, van Bommel refused to engage in that line of conversation.


Move over Roberto Loor, PSV has signed a new “crown jewel” player thanks to the Hirving Lozano transfer fee. While it isn’t even close to their record youth signing (Maximiliano Romero, £10.4M in 2017) the fee doled out for Guillermo Garcia is a hefty chunk of the available transfer funds. Based on what they paid for Romero at 18, snagging Garcia at 16 might prove to be a wise move.

Guillermo Garcia (ST, Club Atlético Brown de Adrogué - Argentina) £1.8M
Anatolie Ţugui (CB, Unsigned - Moldova) Free

Ţugui is definitely an odd signing as he was not playing at a club already, but he is 16 so the signing will not be official until 2020. Because he isn’t currently at a club he has been allowed to join PSV on trial, but will not be able to play in competitive matches until he turns 18. Head of Youth Development Ernest Faber is very positive about Ţugui and everyone wanted him to be able to use the practice facilities and become familiar with the club prior to officially joining.

KNVB Cup (H) : PSV 4 - FC Utrecht 0

While van Bommel would never put a single player over the team, a dark cloud has descended upon de Rood-Witten in the past week. The 6-0 win over SBV Excelsior seemed to fade into the background, at least with the media, as Antonio Marin would be lost for almost the remainder of the season a few days before the game. A sports hernia suffered during training would sideline the budding star for 4-5 weeks, completely ruling him out for the upcoming game against Atlético Madrid and the Ajax game a few weeks later.

“It’s unfortunate” said van Bommel during the semi-final media conference “what’s more important is that Antonio [Marin] get healthy, we won’t bring him back until he’s fully fit. It isn’t worth risking further injury.”

Even without Marin, van Bommel would be focused on winning the KNVB cup semi-final. With the Champions League fading in priority, the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup would loom large as attainable goals. A double was still in reach, and losing Marin wasn’t going to prevent PSV from taking another step toward achieving it.

This game had a familiar pattern, but on the surface it was an outright demolition waiting to happen. FC Utrecht were practically played off the pitch, managing only (3) shots to PSV’s (23), and only managed to stay in the game because PSV just couldn’t score. It looked like FC Utrecht were playing for penalties, and then the wheels fell off that idea in the 64’ when Robert Arboleda scored on a corner. Erick Gutiérrez made it 2-0 just two minutes later and FC Utrecht were dead in the water, PSV fans were already singing and booking their tickets to Feyenoord. Not to be forgotten, and possible a little harshly considering the circumstances, Luuk de Jong would score at 85’ to really slam the door shut. Kicking the ball around to run out the clock took over the game as it went deep into stoppage time, and de Jong couldn’t help himself. PSV broke forward and Léo Dubois would cross a ball in from the wing, finding de Jong in a crowd of defenders in front of goal that was headed in much to the displeasure of Utrecht’s David Jensen. The yelling and anger started out being aimed at his back four, but a jubilant de Jong was standing near by and became the target of a few unkind words. The final whistle did little to break up the shouting match that broke out, and both sides needed to pull the two apart.

With a ticket to the final in hand the team would watch the other semi-final together, a 1-0 win over sc Heerenveen sends Vitesse to Feyenoord as well for the final. De Kuip will be red, white, black, and yellow for a final where PSV is likely to be heavy favorites. The two teams have already played to a draw earlier, and the two will play again just a few weeks before the final.
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5 yearsEdited


Champions League (A) : Atlético Madrid 5 - PSV 0

Things were not looking good for PSV before the game starter, needing to score at least (3) goals AND win really put van Bommel in a bad spot. The way they were held in the first leg didn’t bode well for the second, and missing Antonio Marin made expecting a bunch of goals even more difficult. The media didn’t give PSV much hope, and this time they seemed to know what they were talking about.

Just 7’ into the game, van Bommel found himself sending a death stare at a usual suspect. Antoine Greizmann received a pass near the top of the box with Nicolas Isimat-Mirin a few steps behind him, Isimat-Mirin did not move to close him down, and Greizmann made a turn and was able to fire a shot in for a 1-0. Isimat-Mirin could only look dejected, why he let one of the best players in the world have a cushion and stay back to allow him a shot will always be a mystery. Just a minute later Diego Costa rushed on to a low cross at the far post and the route was on with PSV down 2-0.

PSV came out of the half down 2-0 needing to win 3-2 now, but the body language and the way Atlético was playing didn’t leave much room for error. At the 50’ mark all hope died with a goal from Vitolo, and the hosts would go on to score two more times to send home the point. PSV was just not good enough to win this game, and the players wilted in the face of truly superior competition. The players clearly gave up, despite the prodding of van Bommel, and another usual suspect made himself known. Jeroen Zoet, almost as much as Isimat-Mirin, became a target of the media and fans. He continued a disturbing trend of letting long shots in, shots he has no excuse for putting in such a poor effort to stop, and fans were starting to turn on their captain.

“This was… this was not what we work for every week” said a dejected van Bommel after the game. “We will need to discuss a number of issues as a team, we can’t play like this. Ever.”

PSV’s capitulation was rather complete. The central defense was abysmal, allowing three goals on players who would run right by them after receiving the ball just a few steps in front of them. Their press seemed to vanish, and while a world class player like Greizmann can be expected to be dominant it seemed like PSV was in awe and failed to even attempt challenges. Games like this will force van Bommel to think hard about their available personnel in the offseason. PSV is probably fine with their current roster for the Eredivisie, the 2-0 win over NAC Breda a few days before this one show how PSV’s depth puts them far ahead of the league, but if they plan on going deeper in the Champions League they are either going to need to develop talent or spend more in the transfer market.

Eredivisie (A) : VVV-Venlo 2 - PSV 4

Nicolas Isimat-Mirin might need to make room for company in van Bommel’s doghouse. The irony of the situation is that the man who chided van Bommel for being lenient on Isimat-Mirin is the one who might be joining him. Jeroen Zoet has had a howler here and there, but he’s really starting to pile up poor performances. The Atlético Madrid game got a lot of attention because it was on the continental stage, but it wasn’t his first and today probably won’t be his last.

In what as become a disturbing trend, PSV dominated this game but seemed to do everything they could to keep it interesting. They never trailed, and once Erick Gutiérrez scored 6’ in they never surrendered the lead, but VVV-Venlo kept finding the door open to score. The man squarely in the center of these issues was the goat of the Atlético Madrid game; Jeroen Zoet. Zoet let in two very poor shots from VVV-Venlo, shots that seemed like vain attempts to put the ball on goal turned into another reason to worry about the team captain. Zoet’s shots face : goals allowed ratio has been troubling, it doesn’t matter if PSV holds their opponent to 2-3 shots on target while they manage 10+ if all of them go in.

On the bright side, things got much worse over at Ajax. A 1-0 loss to AZ Alkmaar would open up a (7) point lead on top of the league, but it would also cost Erik ten Hag his job. The club would announce ten Hag’s sacking not long after the game, fueling rumors that he wasn’t even let into the locker room after the game. Ajax have the international break to appoint a new manager, but this won’t help them in the De Topper Derby which comes up next.


Ernest Faber, PSV’s Head of Youth Development was very proud to announce their youth intake today. The team brought in (15) players on trial, but based on reports they managed to bring in what could be a golden generation of Dutch talent. A few of the signings look like the future of PSV right away, only time will tell who makes their way to the senior squad.

Antônio Carlos (RB, Netherlands-Brazil) - This could be PSV’s best signing of the year, the Brazilian born Dutch national is from Eindhoven and already looks like a generational talent. He’s been a PSV fan since childhood and even shunned an approach from Ajax to join his local club. Antônio Carlos has incredible speed and the kind of technical ability coaches dream about, he will need to continue working hard but the media has pegged him as a rapid riser on par with Antonio Marin. There is already talk he could find his way to the senior squad as quickly as next season, he certainly has the physical ability to make the leap, but PSV coaches are quick to deny any such plans are in place right now.

Boudewijn Dembélé (CB, Netherlands) - Van Bommel could not have asked for a better signing, especially with the developing issues in central defense. Antônio Carlos is getting most of the attention but Dembélé could be just as good and find his way to the senior squad just as quickly. He has ideal size and height, handles aerial threats well, and has tremendous speed for a central defender. He’s very comfortable with the ball at his feet, passes very well, and has drawn comparisons to Ajax’s Matthias de Ligt.

Andrès Senkye (LW, Netherlands) - Another pacey player with flair and technical skills, definitely a step ahead of other players his age. He currently gets by with his pace and ability to dribble around and through defenders, if he can strengthen the rest of his game he could be a star.

Rinus Bakayoko (ST, Netherlands-Ghana) - Very polarizing prospect, some scouts think he’s a superstar in the making and some think he’s a one-dimensional player. When people talk about his potential based on his speed the comps range from Kylian Mbappé (positive) to Theo Walcott (negative), at the very least everyone agrees he’s one of if not the fastest player at the club. He also already plays an advanced forward role, so there is definitely a place for him in van Bommel’s tactical setup. If he can develop more to his game than blinding speed PSV might have a solid striker on their hands.

Falko Landman (RW, Netherlands) - Landman is already being compared to Antonio Marin, and it isn’t just because he plays an inside forward from the right. He’s seen as a step below fellow recruit Senkye, but the two are actually very similar. Senkye gets more attention because of his speed and dribbling, but Landman is definitely more refined and gets praised for his technical ability and passing acumen. He might not score as often, but his ability to deliver assists and draw off defenders to open up passing lanes will be valuable.

Danilo Boldewijn (CD, Netherlands) - Essentially a poor man’s Dembélé, but don’t let that description fool you. He doesn’t have the speed of his fellow signing, but he possesses the size and tactical intelligence to become a solid if not very good starter. He might be a year or two behind Dembélé, but he has the potential to form an imposing central defensive pairing.


Eredivisie (A) : Ajax 1 - PSV 1

You could not ask for more drama, or perhaps schadenfreude, from the return leg of De Topper Derby. Ajax find themselves (7) points behind PSV in second, out of the Champions League, out of the KNVB Cup, and now without a manager. Assistant coach Alfred Schreuder has been appointed as a caretaker after the removal of Erik ten Hag, and to make things worse for everyone it was raining in Amsterdam.

It was hard for Ajax to come into this game with more hanging over their heads, but there would be no doubt that they would be up for De Topper. Beating PSV would take them down a notch and make them work to repeat as champions, something all Ajax fans would love to prevent. Luckily for the hosts, van Bommel would have no choice but to start Nicolas Isimat-Mirin and Robert Arboleda together and open themselves up to the Ajax attack. Isimat-Mirin and Arboleda, both fine defenders on their own, have formed a rather poor partnership this season that needs to be dealt with. The fans and media have placed the blame squarely on Isimat-Mirin, and a loss today would have only turned up the volume on the complaints.

The rain that would make everyone miserable would really do a number on the field at Johan Cruijff ArenA. With the pitch soaked both teams would need to be careful with their passing, this was made evident on the kickoff when Kasper Dolberg comically tapped the ball to David Neres and it barely moved. The two were able to share a smile, but the smiles ended there as a dull and bitter De Topper followed.

For the most part PSV dominated this game, they managed to attack as quickly as anyone could on a rain soaked pitch and kept André Onana busy in goal. Ajax would be forced to work the ball around in their half, constantly under pressure, and despite a fairly even split in possession they could not get down to PSV’s end to make much of the possession. Gastón Pereiro broke the game open after a rough 35’ off a Léo Dubois cross from the right, a glancing header sent the ball heading into the far netting as Onana was caught flat footed expecting a more direct deflection. With the game heading into the half Pereiro would pull up lame and need to be helped off the pitch, hopping with a physio under one arm.

Not much changed, aside from Mauro Júnior coming on, and PSV went right on exerting their will all over the field. Then they faltered, something that seems to happen later in games but today they managed to do it 58’ in instead of leaving it to the end. Ajax stopped a PSV attack in their own box, and after receiving a pass Neres ran through the whole PSV defense down the left, found Dolberg coming back for the ball, who crossed it deep into the box and found Lasse Schöne rushing onto the ball. Schöne kicked the ball out of the air and into the back of the net with Isimat-Mirin standing a few steps away, just about the last thing van Bommel needed to see. That ended up being the only shot Ajax took the entire game, they only needed the one to frustrate PSV on their way to a 1-1 draw.

“That was disappointing to say the least” said van Bommel, stoically enduring the postgame press conference.

The aftermath of the last De Topper this year would be a mix of frustration and hope for the future. The big problem would be Periero’s injury that sent him off in the first half, PSV would announce that he suffered a thigh injury that would keep him out for 10-12 days. While Mauro Júnior has proven to be more than capable, losing his leadership right when they need it most is going to hurt as van Bommel tries to hold on to a solid lead in 1st.

David Neres' run exposed a PSV weakness.

The good news came as the PSV U-19 squad would win the Eredivisie U-19 with a whopping 6-1 win over Feyenoord U-19. They would be joined by Jong PSV, champions of the Keuken Kampioen Divisie with a 2-1 win over FC Den Bosch. With ⅔ league titles in hand, van Bommel would definitely feel the pressure to nail down all three.

Eredivisie (H) : PSV 1 - PEC Zwolle 0

If De Topper Derby was frustrating, the second squad decided they could do one better. In a display of finishing ineptitude, which van Bommel didn’t seem too worried about because they won and shut out their opponent, PSV confirmed they have a problem converting dominance into goals.

Maximiliano Romero scored 7’ in, turning a mistake by Bram van Polen into an embarrassing goal. A PSV cross to the less side of the goal was collected by van Polen who lazily tried to pass it out through the middle of the box, Bart Ramselaar pressed him into a weak pass and Romero was right there to hammer it in. Diederik Boer barely knew what was going on and spent the next thirty seconds staring down van Polen. That was it, and Romero really put a bow on it by missing a penalty in stoppage time to complete the offensive futility.

PSV were thoroughly dominant, with 64% possession and a whopping (36) shots. The fact that (15) of those found Boer would make you think the score was higher, PEC Zwolle even took to fouling PSV to slow them down. It’s rare for an opponent to double up on PSV in terms of fouls, but PEC Zwolle did it and managed to hang around. This was not the performance van Bommel wanted coming off a draw at Ajax with the title in sight.


Eredivisie (H) : PSV 0 - De Graafschap 0

Something must have happened during the draw to Ajax, maybe the injuries are really piling up, PSV have lost their swagger. The frustrating 1-0 win against PEC Zwolle may have been an early indicator, and they are still stuck in a rut. PSV drew 1-1 against 6th place Vitesse last week, a sad draw in a game they should have easily won. There seems to be only so much yelling can do, but today van Bommel tried switching things up. The primary change was sitting Nicolas Isimat-Mirin in favor of Daniel Schwaab as part of the first team. It did not do the trick.

This was one of the poorest, if the not the poorest, showings of the season. A home game where PSV completely dominated, and they couldn’t even score. De Graafschap spent the game fouling PSV and just trying to keep up, but de Rood-Witten made it easier on them by failing to convert their chances. Making it worse was how poorly PSV played while dominating, with only a single player rating higher than 7.0 (Angeliño was the 7.0) it was truly an uninspiring performance. Léo Dubois rated at 8.1, he’s the only player that seemed to be taking this game seriously, and took home the Player of the Match Award without any competition.

The draw got even worse after the game when Angeliño, who was taken off injured at 69’, was diagnosed with a twisted knee which would keep him out for 5-7 days. Losing Angeliño would make the LB position dangerously thin, Aziz Behich would now move into the second squad and be the only viable option behind Nick Viergever. At least Gastón Pereiro would be returning for the next game, it wasn’t all bad news.

Eredivisie (H) : PSV 3 - ADO den Haag 1

If something was wrong, van Bommel must have fixed it. Maybe the solution was playing the first team since the second squad played against De Graafschap, whatever it was vanished against ADO den Haag. Three draws and a win in four games was not helping the title run, with Ajax pulling within (5) points of PSV.

Things didn’t look great at first, or to be more specific the attacking play on the field wasn’t resulting in goals. Over the past few weeks this kind of outcome has led to disappointment, but after 38’ Bruno Henrique finally put PSV up. Nick Viergever threw the ball in near the box, Bruno Henrique chested the throw in and spun with the ball to lose his defender. Making a run right to the penalty spot he hammered it in with little resistance as his marker ran hopelessly after him.

Coming out of the half up 1-0 would make van Bommel happy, but the fans needed to see more to feel like their team was back in top form. Just a minute later a familiar exchange put them up 2-0. Viergever running down the left would send a long cross into the far side of the box and find Antonio Marin rushing in from the wing to kick the ball in on the fly. The two goal lead was enough to get everyone excited, and the now familiar song for Marin filled the Philips Stadion. Luuk de Jong made it 3-0 on a bizarre goal that was more familiar to PSV fan earlier in the season. Marin would cross a ball in to de Jong who headed it over ADO den Haag’s Robert Zwinkels in goal, sending it to the far side of the goal but hitting the inside of the goal post. Zwinkels and de Jong rushed for the ball at the far post and were joined by Tom Beugelsdijk and Wifred Kanon, de Jong kicked it into the three of them with Zwinkels making a kick save that sent it right back to de Jong. Like small children squabbling for a ball, the three all kicked at the ball but de Jong’s kick glanced off Kanon and went in.

Van Bommel may have fixed the offense, but he didn’t fix a problem that the fans will not let him forget about. Up 3-0, PSV seemed to be coasting and had this game in hand. At 76’ ADO den Haag halted a PSV attack and made a counter attack, moving rapidly down the field the ball made it to Tomas Necid who rushed toward the box with three PSV defenders closing him down. Well outside the box, above the arc, Necid took a speculative shot on goal… and it went in. Jeroen Zoet had let in a goal from long distance that he should have seen coming a mile away yet again. This was the start of what would be a sour finish to a victory.

Gastón Pereiro, just back from an injury, would leave the game and be diagnosed with a knee ligament strain. He would be out 2-3 weeks this time, essentially a season ending injury. If that wasn’t scary enough Antonio Marin, who left late in the game over a slight knock, would end up with tightness in his thigh which would have him out up to a week. Losing two key players with the title so close would be disheartening at best. The Marin injury completely wiped out the media coverage of PSV U-19 winning the double, beating Feyenoord U-19 3-1 in the U-19 KNVB Cup.
A couple of draws are disappointing and halt your momentum but I'm sure you will recover it


Eredivisie (A) - Willem II 0 - PSV 5

The second team must have been sick of getting blamed for the sad draw against De Graafschap, and Willem II got it taken out on them. The benching and demotion to the second team also seems to have helped Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, although this game might not be the best to judge if he’s improved. PSV played so well that Ryan Thomas, who had an incredible game and rated at 9.1, wasn’t even the Player of the Match. Angeliño, back from injury, would take home the award after posting a 9.2 rating.

Maxime Soulas, called up from Jong PSV, headed in a corner at 7’ and started Willem II’s miserable day. They put up a good fight and managed to hold off PSV until Angeliño scored at 37’ and shut the door on any hope of a draw. PSV were already up 4-0 when Freek Heerkens put in a nasty slide tackle on Maximiliano Romero that could have seriously injured him. Willem II’s fans were seen filing out after this, things could get worse down a man with over 30 minutes left to play.

PSV only managed to score one more time, not that they really needed to facing a side down a man. There was hope that this victory, which would break a long run of unimpressive results, would sput the first team into victory against Heracles Almelo next week and cling the Eredivisie title.

Eredivisie (H) : PSV 3 - Heracles Almelo 0

Everyone had expected the first team to get the call today, but van Bommel decided to take a bit of a calculated risk and keep the first team rested for the KNVB Cup final. A win today would clinch the league, but if they didn’t close out Ajax today they would have the chances in a little over a week against AZ Alkmaar in the final game of the season. After the 5-0 win over Willem II, van Bommel was confident that the second team could handle this.

“We are a team, I trust everyone to play to their best ability” said van Bommel when questioned about his lineup.

This game was very tense for just about all of the first half as PSV controlled the ball but couldn’t get close enough to shoot, Heracles Almelo had clearly decided they were going to park the bus. Playing a 4-4-1-1 allowed the visitors to set up a stout 4-4 defensive front that was making it hard to break them down. Things were looking good for Heracles Almelo until Angeliño saw an opening and hit Maximiliano Romero streaking down the middle, slipping between central defenders, he struck the ball out of the air and put PSV up 1-0 in stoppage time.

An important game wouldn’t feel right without some drama, and the officiating crew did their best to add spice. Willian Arão would find himself in hot water at the 55’ mark… twice. An innocuous takle, perhaps a little aggressive from behind, would land him in the book and earn a finger wagging. Less than a minute later, in the exact same manner, he would be handed a second yellow. Van Bommel would have some choice words for the ref, but the damage was done. Heracles Almelo would see hope, but would quickly discover how effective PSV’s 4-2-3 formation would be. Marlon Frey would come on for Romero, hold their lead, and manage to score two more times to put Ajax in a difficult position. The fans and players would stay on the field as the Ajax / De Graafschap game would come to an end in a 1-1 draw, clinching the league with a 5 point lead and a game left to play.

“I’m very proud of everyone” said a champagne soak van Bommel, “they all worked hard for this and we need to focus on the [KNVB] cup now.”

The win would be PSV’s second in a row, van Bommel’s first as manager, and put them in position to win the double. Now they need to focus on their trip to De Kuip for the KNVB Cup final where a mostly PSV crowd will be hungry for victory.


KNVB Cup (N) : Vitesse 0 - PSV 7

Much as expected the crowd would be mostly red and white, but the black and yellow of Vitesse would make up a healthy chunk of De Kuip. Oddly enough, despite being 6th in the league, this was one of the most interesting matchups for the final. Vitesse was the only team PSV didn’t beat this year, playing to a 1-1 and 0-0 draw in their two meetings. This gave Vitesse some confidence, manager Henk ten Cate would not let his players forget this.

“We have the advantage, we are not afraid of van Bommel” said ten Cate prior to the game “they haven’t shown that they can beat us!”

Vitesse’s players and ten Cate were very deliberate all week in mentioning that PSV had yet to beat them, and they made a lot of noise about their chances. Unfortunately it seemed like that exuberance didn’t make it out to the field, it may not have even made the trip to Feyenoord. Just 8’ into the game things started to unravel as Angeliño, who has been having an incredible run of form, would score a goal fitting of the cup final. A throw in on the side of the box would get kicked across the field to Angeliño waiting on the edge of the box, finding himself unmarked made it easy for him to fire a shot past Eduardo and start the rout.

PSV just overwhelmed Vitesse, whatever hold they had over van Bommel during the season vanished quickly as PSV scored again and again with ease. It was 4-0 at the half and Vitesse hadn’t put a single shot on goal, mostly because they rarely had the ball themselves and had to work out of their own end when they did. Bruno Enrique and Robert Arboleda, two midseason transfers, shone brightest and combined for (5) goals. Arboleda’s hat trick and defensive play easily helped him to Player of the Match and first shot at hoisting the trophy after the game. Antonio Marin would also shine, even though he didn’t score he supplied (2) assists and finished as one of the five PSV players that rated above 9.0.

This game was never close, ten Cate didn’t have anything to say after the game and likely wanted to leave as quickly as possible. A loss was somewhat expected, but a loss where they were never even remotely in the game would have the Vitesse faithful questioning their preparation. With the double in hand van Bommel could turn his attention to AZ Alkmaar in the final game as Toon Gerbrands and team management began preparing for next season.

Eredivisie (A) : AZ Alkmaar 1 - PSV 1

Apparently van Bommel doesn’t do dead rubbers and PSV spent the week focused on winning this game despite already being handed the league trophy against Heracles Almelo at home. While van Bommel doesn’t spend much time worrying about records, a win today would set a league points total record for PSV.

“We are here to play, to win, that is what the fans come for” said van Bommel when asked about being motivated after winning the league. “I expect AZ has come to play as well, they want to beat us. Beat the champions.”

PSV fans would be without their newest scapegoat as Jeroen Zoet would be out after being cut by a cleat in practice. The cut, to his right leg, would be bad enough that he would be out for up to two weeks. Lars Unnerstall would start in Zoet’s place, a game that would essentially be his chance to show van Bommel that they wouldn’t need to look into buying another keeper during the summer.

The media was quick to point out that this game didn’t really matter, but van Bommel wasn’t willing to let the team sleep walk through this one. This game slowly turned into the kind of game fans came to expect toward the end of the season that drove the coaching staff and players crazy. The stats looked very similar to the demolition of Vitesse last week, especially the massive 62-38 advantage in possession, but they never put AZ away. Despite all of this Toon Koopmeiners scored off a corner and AZ were up 1-0 after 37’, a sense of frustration started to settle in. Failed attacks left Bruno Henrique and Antonio Marin throwing up their arms, failing to run around or through a defender brought questioning looks at unsympathetic refs.

Being down 0-1 did not sit well with van Bommel, he stalked the sidelines with his jaw clenched until Léo Dubois brought them level at 1-1. The way Dubois scored was starting to become familiar to PSV’s outside backs, a short throw in on leads to quickly switching the field to find an outside back unmarked or able to rush into one side of the box with tons of space to work with. Dubois’ shot wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but with AZ’s Marco Bizot still working his way across the goal and nobody closing him down it wouldn’t be all that hard to hit the back of the net with half the goal empty. PSV would wrap up an uninspiring draw and finish the season on a sour note.

In other news, at least PSV’s U-19 squad enjoyed some glory in Europe. After a bit of a Cinderella season the U-19 squad was defeated 3-1 by the Manchester United U-23’s in the UEFA Youth League final. There are plenty of arguments to be made about the fairness of an U-19 team playing against an U-23 team, but this level of performance bodes well for the Jong PSV team next year and possibly the senior squad sooner or later.


After a season that met or exceeded board expectations, there is no doubt van Bommel has been left with some lingering doubts and a sense of “What If?” around a few issues. Fans have been overwhelmingly pleased with the results, even being unceremoniously dumped from the Champions League after a 5-0 beating by Atlético Madrid (who would go on to win the tournament) seemed like a step forward considering they were just expected to make the group stage. Winning the Eredivisie again, beating Ajax along the way, and the KNVB Cup is a great way for van Bommel to wrap up his first season. The task at hand is to better those results and continue on the path to passing Ajax on and off the field.

Eredivisie - Winner (3 Points over Ajax)
KNVB Cup - Winner
Champions League - 1st Knockout Round (Lost to Atlético Madrid)

Roster & Awards
Jeoren Zoet - Dutch GK Of The Year
Antonio Marin - Young Croatian Of The Year
Donyell Malen - Dutch Young Player Of The Year

The biggest problem for van Bommel in terms of personnel made itself evident slowly over the season and then made a very loud announcement in the series against Atletico Madrid; central defense. Partially van Bommel’s fault, and partially the players, this group became a serious concern and had a knock-on effect with Jeroen Zoet (more on him later) that resulted in some bad losses and tense results. After being eliminated from the Champions League the fans turned on PSV’s central defenders, primarily Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (with good reason), and zeroed in on this group as the primary criticism of the season.

Toon Gerbrands and van Bommel can be blamed for the players made available, they weren’t lacking for bodies at central defense but they were lacking in players suited for those positions. Many of the players most suited to fill the role of a ball playing defender were outside backs (Nick Viergever) or defensive midfielders (Jorrit Hendrix), so they ended up relying on less-talented players when Isimat-Mirin, Arbodela, and Hendrix (who was sold) were not available. Add in the lack of discipline on display by Isimat-Mirin, and his propensity to get exposed by better forwards, and you can see how things got so bad. Isimat-Mirin was at the center when internal issues bubbled up over PSV’s handling of his three-match ban.

On the bright side, after being somewhat overlooked during the beginning of the season, PSV strikers had a banner year. Luuk de Jong, who struggled early on, performed extremely well across all competitions and finished the year with (24) goals. Maximiliano Romero finished third on the team with (14) goals, a pleasant surprise considering that he only started (18) games. The goals scored to games played ratio for both was impressive, and each helped fuel PSV’s top rated league offense. Both were the subject of transfer bids or rumors, so keeping both in Eindhoven will be a top priority this offseason.

Despite everything that happened, the big story in the Dutch media is the meteoric rise of Antonio Marin. Even van Bommel admits he didn’t envision the teenager ascending to become one of the best players on the team. PSV had faith in him, and were planning on giving him playing time, but nobody could have predicted he would supplant Steven Bergwijn as the starting RW and make everyone forget about Hirving Lozano before he was sold. He missed a healthy chunk of time, but even with the injury he finished with (16) goals, second on the team, and (11) assists which led PSV. A cynical take on Marin is that PSV only have 1-2 more years before a bigger team scoops him up, it wouldn’t be hard for a Premier League club to better his current salary. There is no doubt van Bommel will enjoy having Marin around and will do everything he can to keep him in red and white stripes.

2019-20 Season Expectations
Not much has changed for van Bommel, he is going to need to bring in some new players and doesn’t have much money to do it with. Based on the deafening buzz created by PSV fans, he might have some internal solutions with Wonderkids Antônio Carlos and Boudewijn Dembélé likely starting the season at Jong PSV. Everyone seems to think both of them have more potential than Marin, so they could end up on the senior squad with Ryan Gravenberch sooner than expected.

PSV is again tasked with winning the Eredivisie, KNVB Cup, and advancing to the Champions League group stage. All of these are definitely within reach, advancing beyond the group stage and possibly the first knockout round will be the real challenge.
Congratulations on a hugely successful season, domestically and in Europe, arguably. I look forward to seeing how you improve next season!

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