FC Emmen coach Fred Grim critical: ‘I really wonder whether you need a winter break in this setting’

Before the match against NAC Breda, Fred Grim is critical of the format of the winter break. If it had been up to the FC Emmen coach, the competition would have started earlier.

This season, the winter break lasted for the majority of the first division players from Saturday, December 23 to Friday, January 12. A period in which trainers often release their players from Christmas to New Year. So does Fred Grim. On January 2, he welcomed his pupils back to the training field. If it had been up to him, the competition would have started again shortly afterwards.

“This was a winter break of nothing,” said the trainer during the weekly press hour. According to him, there was little or no time for a good training camp. Not to mention the fact that FC Emmen could not have afforded that. Instead, the Drenthe team spent two nights in Oisterwijk at the expense of supporters. On the way back, a practice match was played against De Graafschap in Doetinchem.

‘As a human being I understand that’

“I really wonder if you need a winter break in this setting,” Grim continued. “It’s just not it. Perhaps you should choose to release players during the holidays, but then restart the competition as soon as possible. You will now see that the play-offs will soon be brought forward, because otherwise the summer break will start too late. It can simply be done differently.”

Nevertheless, the experienced Amsterdammer was pleased with how his team is doing heading into the match against NAC Breda on Saturday afternoon. “My players look fresh and have a lot of experience. That is something that we must continue together. Of course there is always disappointment with guys who don’t play. As a human being I understand that, as a coach you simply have to make those decisions.”

Disastrous December

The match between FC Emmen and NAC Breda is one between numbers seven and nine in the rankings. Only one point separates both teams. At the beginning of last month, the people of Drenthe were able to grab the leading position, but four defeats in a row made it far out of reach. FC Emmen will be motivated to the core on Saturday to make the disastrous month of December forgotten.

In the attempt to continue the upward trend, Grim will most likely have Desley Ubbink at his disposal again against NAC Breda. The attacking midfielder missed three games due to an eye injury, but seems to have recovered in time. On the other hand, the match comes too early for Michaël Heylen. “He is on the right track,” said Grim, “but he still has to be great first.”

Who will replace Ahmed El Messaoudi?

It is still unclear how exactly the trainer will deal with the loss of Ahmed El Messaoudi. The 28-year-old Moroccan Belgian, usually a regular behind the striker this season, completed a transfer to Kazakhstan this week. If it were up to Grim, Ubbink and Ben Scholte are the most obvious options. Both players have already proven that they can play in that position.

And then there is the formation issue. While Grim normally plays 4-3-3, he tried out 3-5-2 during the practice match against De Graafschap. Something he had previously done during training. He says he wants his players to be able to switch between multiple systems. “As a coach you sometimes have to look further. But to be clear: against NAC Breda we ‘just’ play 4-3-3.”