“Fortuna could be the season’s surprise package”

“Fortuna could be the season’s surprise package”

Mark van Bommel faced the media on Friday afternoon for his pre-Fortuna Sittard conference. It will be a special game for PSV’s head coach, who returns to familiar territory. He started his career as a professional footballer at Fortuna Sittard in 1992 and spent seven seasons with Saturday’s opponents before making a move to PSV in the 1999/2000 season. “Fortuna Sittard could be the season’s surprise”

Grew up     
Mark van Bommel made his debut on 15 May 1993 when he came on as a substitute for Fortuna Sittard against Cambuur Leeuwarden. Over fifteen years later, he will be in charge as PSV head coach in his first away game in the Dutch Eredivisie, against Fortuna Sittard of all clubs. “I joined them at the age of nine and left them when I was 22 years. That’s where I grew up. I learnt a lot from my coaches and team mates, also things you usually learn at home.” Van Bommel confirms that a visit to the Fortuna Sittard Stadion feels like coming home, although he has never played a match in the promoted-team’s current stadium. “I remember the good-old Baandert very well. The pitch would feel spongy and the atmosphere was electrifying. Most teams didn’t fancy playing there.”

Surprise package       
Van Bommel has warned his squad against the perils of complacency. “I feel Fortuna Sittard are a bit undervalued. They play some good football and I don’t think they will adapt to our style of play. We will be facing a solid side who could be the season’s surprise package. I obviously wish them the best of luck this season but would very much like to take all three points on Saturday.” Van Bommel looks to build on PSV’s impressive second-half display in their opening game against FC Utrecht last weekend. “The first thirty minutes were OK, but I think we can do better than that. Sometimes you have to be patient and find opportunities to carve open a tight defence. You should be able to read the game and strike when opportunity knocks. FC Utrecht defended deeply so it is a good thing we found a way of opening up holes in their defence.”

Van Bommel has a fully-fit squad to select from and does not intend to make any changes ahead of Tuesday’s crucial UEFA Champions League first leg clash at BATE Borisov. “When you are fit, you are sometimes expected to play three games a week. We will see if we can bring on some players in the second half, but whoever is on the pitch, they all know what is expected of them.”