The woods surrounding PSV Campus De Herdgang are familiar territory for Ruud van Nistelrooij. Yet they had a new look when the newly appointed head coach took charge of his first pre-season training session, who also took time to look ahead at the new season. After having worked at the PSV Academy for many years in different roles, Van Nistelrooij is now head coach of the club where he made a breakthrough as a prolific striker. “Many years ago, I started this dream and now I am back to take the next step in my career.” Van Nistelrooij considers it an honour to be in charge as head coach of the first-team squad. “I start the new season well-prepared”.
Build on Cup Final win
The former top striker succeeds Roger Schmidt, who has left PSV after two seasons. “He has laid a solid foundation for the future and there’s plenty to build on for us. I was struck by the passion and fighting spirit of the players during the KNVB Cup Final win and also by the tremendous support from our supporters. I want to carry on in this spirit and take it into the upcoming season”, said Nistelrooij, who looks to fill some holes in the trophy cabinet. Taking a walk around PSV Campus De Herdgang, the PSV legend explains what he expects of his players. “There must be a mix of mentality and professionalism and a desire to perform well. It is the Brabant character: work hard, act normal and reach new heights. That’s what I aspire to achieve with this group of players and some newcomers.”
Van Nistelrooij would love to keep Cody Gakpo in Eindhoven. The winger frequently sent the Philips Stadion faithful into raptures and the new head coach hopes for more of the same. “He knows what we have to offer, the way we would like to play and his part in that. We had some pleasant conversations and I assume he will stay with us if nothing else materialises.”
Van Nistelrooij, born and raised in Brabant, will givepromising youngsters Frederik Oppegård, Johan Bakayoko, Kjell Peersman and Ismael Saibari an opportunity of being promoted to the senior squad. “They deserve this. Peersman is a potential first-team goalkeeper, Bakayoko has impressive stats to boast of, Saibari has developed well with PSV U21 and Oppegård also has a bright future ahead of him. They are now in a position to live up to the high expectations.”
Van Nistelrooij has appointed some new coaches to his backroom staff. They have been carefully selected. “Like we so, when we select our squad.” The brand new coach sets high standards: he identified Fred Rutten as an experienced manager with a strong mentality, energy and love for the game. : It was very important for me to have him on board and it is awesome he has joined the backroom staff.” Javier Rabanal has also been appointed as assistant manager. “I was looking for a coach who is familiar with the Spanish way of working”, said Van Nistelrooij who contacted the Spanish FA. “They recommended Javier, who worked at Willem II in Tilburg, not far from Eindhoven.”
Van Nistelrooij and the players want to work hard to be ready for the UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign. It is a tough challenge, as part of the squad has not yet returned. “I take things as they come”, said Van Nistelrooij. "What’s the use of worrying about things you cannot change. We will grow as a team this season. I am really looking forward to the first few games in the Philips Stadion. I’m itching to get the season going. We want to play Champions League football and we will give our utmost to achieve our goal.”