‘Gentleman Slot should stay at Feyenoord, soon the top clubs will come’

‘Gentleman Slot should stay at Feyenoord, soon the top clubs will come’

NOS Football

  • Jorrit Hansen

    Follows Feyenoord on behalf of NOS Sport

  • Jorrit Hansen

    Follows Feyenoord on behalf of NOS Sport

That Feyenoord will be national champions this season, Zeljko Petrovic has no doubt about that. And who will make the big difference compared to the competition? He is also outspoken about that: Arne Slot. “The best coach in the Netherlands and a real gentleman.”

Petrovic himself worked for two periods at Feyenoord. A lot has changed since the first, the 2004-2005 season under Ruud Gullit, according to the former assistant. “It has become so professionalized. We were still training on a training field in the parking lot in front of De Kuip. Now they can work quietly on a beautiful training complex. The club has developed in every way.”

Zeljko Petrovic as assistant at Feyenoord with André Bahia

Petrovic’s second stint at Feyenoord was not that long ago: in the 2020-2021 season, he was an assistant under Dick Advocaat. A sportingly volatile period, in which he did not see the successes of this and last season coming.

I am not saying that Slot is now achieving successes thanks to us, but we have done some preliminary work.

Former assistant coach Zeljko Petrovic on Feyenoord’s season

“Under Advocaat, Kökçü was still a starting player. Geertruida has since won a starting place. With us, the best player, Sinisterra, was injured for a long time, but we kept giving him confidence. I am not saying that Slot is now achieving successes thanks to us, but we did some preliminary work. It almost always works that way when one staff succeeds another.”

“Slot has further developed the team with his own idea of playing soccer. The fitness of the team, the way of playing with a lot of pressure, high tempo and a good structure in the team. What he is doing is unprecedented. I find it a pleasure to watch. In addition, Slot has the favor factor. A neat guy, good with his words. Fantastic.”

Assistants to Slot

Petrovic is also appreciative of Slot’s assistants. With John de Wolf he still worked together and Marino Pusic is a good friend of his. “Pusic has done well everywhere, at FC Twente and at AZ. That Slot took him from AZ to Feyenoord says it all. He is really doing an excellent job.”

Arne Slot (right) with assistants John de Wolf (left) and Marino Pusic (center)

“And John settles into his role. He has no ego, makes no demands and talks behind no one’s back. He does everything for the players. I enjoyed working with him. They sent him onto the field after the lighter incident against Ajax to address the supporters for a reason. I hope the club never forgets that and that he stays at Feyenoord his whole career.”

Lighter incident

With that, Petrovic himself broached the subject of the “lighter incident. A big blemish on an otherwise almost flawless season. Does Petrovic think this takes the shine off a possible national title? “No, Feyenoord are doing too well for that. What else should you say about it? Sad that something like this happens. The club, staff and players don’t deserve that.”

“You have people screwing up everywhere. And then everything you say about it, everyone interprets it differently or wrongly. I just want to say that I think it’s great that Ajax played the game out. And that it has to stop the good supporters suffering under those few bad ones.”

Mature Kökçü

Rather, Petrovic talks about what is happening on the field. About the best two players this season, for example, Kökçü and Giménez. “Kökçü has matured. He puts good balls between the lines, plays faster forward and conquers balls now. And Giménez has developed stormily.”

Santiago Giménez and Orkun Kökcü

“In addition, I like to see how Geertruida and Hartman are developing. The pace Hartman puts into the attacks, I like to watch. Geertruida I begrudge a top transfer. That’s a very nice guy.”

‘Slot can continue for years to come’

But first they will be champions with Feyenoord, Petrovic said. “I don’t doubt that for a second. Feyenoord is the rightful champion. And hopefully Slot will just stay after that. I’m sure there will be nice clubs for him, but Feyenoord is also a nice club.”

“Feyenoord will strengthen with the money from the Champions League. Then Slot can continue here for years to come. He can now go to a club in England, where he has to fight against relegation. Or he can stay with Feyenoord, become champion once more and then go to a top foreign club where he plays for prizes. He deserves that.”

Kayleigh Williams