Inconsistency is a recurring theme at Feyenoord

Bryan Linssen tries to score in a clever way, but Michael Heylen defends well in an awfully empty Kuip.Image Guus Dubbelman / de Volkskrant

His team starts off reasonably fresh, but gradually acts sloppier, weaker and more incoherent. The unity of doing and thinking completely evaporates in the second half, although the 73-year-old Lawyer still carries on along the sidelines like a young hooligan.

Feyenoord will be the leader again in no time. Sparta takes the second point of the competition, but still leaves with a tomcat. After some good preparatory work by the elusive substitute Emegha, Sparta midfielder Duarte is alone in front of Feyenoord goalkeeper Bijlow in the last second of the game, but the latter saves well.

Bijlow as the best Feyenoord player is almost surrealistic; against Willem II he was still in the shadow of many others. With smooth combinations, tight forward passes, smart dribbles, clean shots and ingenuity, last season’s revelation was blown away after half time. Captain Berghuis already warned: “We need this kind of performance over a longer period to compete for the title and for European wintering.”

The lawyer can have the fit striker Jørgensen against Sparta, but sticks to the good footballers Berghuis, Linssen and Diemers in the front, and shortly behind Teixeira in the hope that the combination carnival will continue. Teixeira in particular sometimes shows his class for rest. Certainly without an audience, it is striking how slick the Portuguese midfielder’s handling of the ball by Vitoria Guimaraes last summer is. Where with other players every touch of the ball is accompanied by sound, with Teixeira’s assumptions and passes you hear almost nothing. As if he rides in a pack of cyclists and is the only one who has cleaned, lubricated and caressed his chain.

Ridgeciano Haps has scored the 1-0, but there is no crowd to cheer him on. Image Guus Dubbelman / de Volkskrant

In addition to his technique, his voice is also at a higher level. With a soft scream he asks for the ball if it doesn’t come immediately. As peace approaches, that sounds more often. The refined football, leading to shooting opportunities for Berghuis and Diemers, sneaks out of the game at Feyenoord, although the home club comes to 1-0 shortly before half time via a sustainable shot by left back Haps.

Feyenoord is increasingly involved in the physical game of Sparta. Another less fine-tuned newcomer at Feyenoord, center-back Uros Spajic, tells Teixeira to stop screaming, but causes a stupid penalty shortly after the break by hooking Sparta midfielder Harroui. Spits Thy gets the job done coolly.

After that, Feyenoord gets the ball ‘no more three times to each other’ and Sparta is ‘even more aggressive’, Advocaat grumbles afterwards. Sparta’s central defense trio Vriends, Beugelsdijk and Heylen eats up the small, made striker Linssen, and helps the backs against Berghuis and Diemers. For example, it is increasingly becoming the competition of the Sparta hacker Beugelsdijk than of the ballet footballer Teixeira.

The lawyer makes a valiant attempt to replace the audience with his shouting at referee Blom and yelling at his players when they do not enter the duels hard enough. The coach is a walking advertisement for a pub, drink and cigarette free life.

Image Guus Dubbelman / de Volkskrant

Inevitably, the question afterwards is whether it would have turned out differently with the usually fanatic Feyenoord fans there. Feyenoord midfielder Toornstra, who escapes red before half time after a hard charge on Harroui, says that a full Kuip ‘certainly provides a few percent extra motivation.’

Sparta coach and former Feyenoord player Fraser points out: ‘Last season they shouted Feyenoord to a late equalizer against us. Today we are gaining almost right before time. ‘

For example, the question arises whether it would not have been better for Feyenoord if professional football had also been stopped to be caught up with the public later. Apart from the verbal support, playing football without fans costs Feyenoord 1 million euros per home match. On the other hand, the seven million euros that FOX annually transfers would be at stake. Shirt sponsors and billboards now continue to appear, and the bond with the fans remains intact, a spokesman said. Admittedly via TV, newspaper or radio, but still.

It is ‘too easy’ to pass the draw on to the absence of the legion, says Advocaat. Inconsistency is simply a recurring theme at Feyenoord, Toornstra agrees. “We cannot fall back on automatisms.”

Not a new one, but a worrying observation in the knowledge that Feyenoord is entering busy weeks with European football without the injured binder Leroy Fer. The sun is gone above De Kuip, the clouds are back.

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