Chagrin makes way for pride at FC Groningen, but was Jong AZ a benchmark? This is what Dick Lukkien thinks

At FC Groningen, grumpiness is quickly giving way to appropriate pride, especially in the part that its own youth have played in the club’s upward trend. Or was Jong AZ not a benchmark for coach Dick Lukkien’s team?

The good feeling is back at FC Groningen. There is widespread joy and relief at the club’s training complex and in the Topsport Care Center that the upward trend has started. Everyone is proud of the young, home-grown team that is currently leading the charge. Mention the name of Wouter Prins, Luciano Valente, Thom van Bergen, Romano Postema or Jorg Schreuders and a smile will appear on the faces of staff members and other employees of FC Groningen.

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Economical response

The outside watch, which has become cautious due to the disaster of the past year and a half, is still reacting somewhat sparingly here and there. Last Monday’s 0-5 against AZ certainly counts. The clock must be turned back more than forty years for the last away match that was won by FC Groningen by five goals: SVV away in 1978 (0-5) and FC Dordrecht away in 1979 (1-6). But the critical follower also points to the flawed promise team with which the Alkmaarders competed against Dick Lukkien’s team on Monday.

“You always have to keep things in perspective, but it is too simple for me to say that Jong AZ was not at fighting strength and that is why we won so big,” the trainer responds. “For example, there was a goalkeeper under the crossbar who plays for the Dutch under-20 team. Furthermore, there were guys like Wouter Goes, Maxim Dekker and Mexx Meerdink in the starting line-up. We simply delivered a good performance. If there is a different perception, we can only remove that by showing it again on Friday evening at home against VVV-Venlo.”

Comment Marvin Peersman

FC Groningen dominated in Alkmaar from the first to the last minute. “When you see the passion and power we played with,” the Veendammer coach said with admiration. “Jong AZ barely got the ball to their own forward line. Would that have been possible if all Alkmaar’s promises had been available? Say it. I do not think so. Marvin Peersman said in the debriefing: our midfielders and attackers have made it very easy for us as a defense. We stood on the halfway line the entire time with fifty meters at our back, but we hardly had to defend.”

The latter is mainly due to the four attacking youngsters, led by Jorg Schreuders. “He is very skilled on the ball and good in small spaces,” says Lukkien about the young Haren resident. “He also has a high pace in his legs and can achieve results. Very nice to see, especially in combination with the other three. That works great. We now play pressure football with enormous energy in the team and high intensity. I think that is the football that people in Euroborg would like to see.”

Last conversation with Van Veen

Or can it deliver the third win in a row against VVV-Venlo, which has one point more than FC Groningen? Lukkien: “You see that VVV coach Rick Kruys has given his own signature to his team. A solid, good team with a very clear pattern, which does not play far ahead in away games. He is an opponent to be reckoned with.”

The goals at FC Groningen will not come from Kevin van Veen’s shoe in the near future. The striker, who ended up on the reserve bench in recent weeks, has returned to his heavily pregnant girlfriend in Scotland for an indefinite period to become a father. “I think it’s good that he is there now,” says Lukkien. “I had another conversation with him, also about the choices we have made recently. I understand his disappointment and questions, I explained that to him. You don’t have to agree with each other, but there was mutual understanding. We’ll wait for the birth and see how things go from there.”