Phillip Cocu admits his coaching career has taken an unexpected twist this week, but has vowed to give his all for PSV Eindhoven after being promoted from assistant for the rest of the season. Cocu was promoted to the role on Monday following the sacking of Fred Rutten.
The 41-year-old former PSV and Netherlands midfielder, who was Rutten's number two and has also been part of the national team's coaching staff since he finished playing, will oversee his first league game at home to Heerenveen on Sunday after today's UEFA Europa League tie with Valencia.
PSV have lost three of their last four league games and are currently fourth in the table, one of three clubs - including Heerenveen - locked on 48 points, four points off leaders AZ Alkmaar. Cocu accepts his own part in the club's recent disappointments, but having now been thrust into the role his fully committed.
He told reporters: "The club appealed to me, asking me to finish the season. I've taken the responsibility on and I will go for it 100 per cent. I had a certain (career) plan in mind but now we are in an exceptional situation."
"The past few weeks have been painful and I feel partly responsible (as assistant coach). I have a different role now, though, so I will have to act differently towards the players," Cocu admitted. "Looking at the attitude the players have shown in training gives me confidence. I have experienced these moments as a player myself and it is good when the next match comes quickly. There is no time to stand still, we have to look forward."
AZ host NAC Breda on Sunday and FC Twente - the other team on 48 points - entertain Feyenoord, who themselves are not far behind on 45. Second in the table on 49 points are Ajax, who unlike AZ, Twente and PSV do not have Europa League commitments to worry about this week.
The Amsterdam outfit travel to ADO Den Haag, a side down in 14th position at the moment but not to be underestimated, according to Ajax defender Dico Koppers. "While they are not on a very good run this season, they have good players," Koppers told www.ajax.nl. "They find it very special to play football against Ajax so will approach the game in earnest. We must be alert."
Sunday's other match is FC Groningen's trip to FC Utrecht, with Saturday's games seeing strugglers Excelsior, De Graafschap and VVV Venlo face Roda JC, RKC Waalwijk and NEC Nijmegen respectively. Elsewhere, Vitesse Arnhem take on Heracles Almelo tomorrow night.