PSV Eindhoven’s season isn’t going to plan and with a number of their senior players out of form its time for Phillip Cocu to turn to the kids.

  • By Michael Bell
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lammers-psv-cocuOn Saturday night, PSV Eindhoven looked a shadow of the free-flowing, attacking side that we have seen so far in Cocu’s reign at the club as they slumped to a 0-0 draw away to second-bottom Willem II. It was the fourth time in six league games that PSV had been held and the club are now six points behind Feyenoord at the top of the table, while the Boeren are already out of both the KNVB Cup and Champions League.

For the first time since Cocu took charge in 2013, fingers are starting to be pointed at the club’s forwards and people are left scratching their heads as to what is going on with the reigning two-time Eredivisie champions, who have only managed 20 goals in 13 Eredivisie matches this season (eleven less than both Ajax and Feyenoord). The figure is astounding given that PSV have led the league in terms of goals scored for the past two seasons, with most of the clubs attack from those years still at the club. So what is going wrong?

Most of the blame so far has fallen on captain Luuk de Jong, who has looked out of form since the start of the season, netting only four goals in all competitions and not a single one in the league since the end of September. The striker has been so reliable since he joined PSV in 2014, but so far this season he has taken an average of 4.5 shots per game in the league, more than any other player, but that has only resulted in three goals.

However De Jong can’t do it all alone, and other players are not pulling their weight with Luciano Narsingh and the usually trustworthy assist machine Jetro Willems clearly both affected by missing out on transfers in the summer. Willems has been dropped recently by Cocu in favour of the improving Joshua Brenet, and Narsingh only has one goal and a single assist to his name. 19-year-old Steven Bergwijn has struggled with the weight of expectations on his shoulders, Gaston Pereiro is still hit and miss, while summer signing Siem de Jong has spent most of his time on the treatment table, along with Jurgen Locadia, who has been a big miss after suffering an injury early in the campaign.

Behind the attack, PSV’s midfield has also not been up to scratch, with Andres Guardado clearly struggling after representing Mexico in the summer and missing the chance to rest his ageing legs. The Mexican has been so crucial to the PSV formation over the past few years with his bullish style and passing ability two of the club’s biggest assets. However, he has been out of form this season and with Jorrit Hendrix injured, PSV have lacked spark in the middle. Twenty-year-old Bart Ramselaar has been really impressive since joining from Utrecht and popped up with crucial goals, but he needs help in the middle from his teammates.

So how can Cocu turn PSV’s fortunes around? The answer may lie with Jong PSV who have been excellent in the Eerste Divisie so far this season and have a number of talents who should be given the opportunity to stake their claim and put pressure on the underperforming regulars, who may feel their position in the first team is safe.

Striker Sam Lammers has scored goals for fun in the Dutch second division and for the Netherlands U19’s so far this season and looks more than ready to come into the first team. Ajax have shown with Kasper Dolberg that trusting a young striker can have a big impact on the team, but Cocu has been reluctant to throw the 19-year-old in so far, with the striker only getting seven minutes of action from the bench. Even on Saturday, PSV were searching for a goal, but instead of turning to Lammers, Cocu instead elected for another midfielder in Davy Propper, which had no effect on the outcome. Lammers could have stretched the Willem II defence and added another aerial threat in the box but was overlooked.

Midfielders Kenneth Paal and Pablo Rosario have both been present on the PSV bench this season, along with 17-year-old playmaker Dante Rigo, and winger Ramon Pascal Lundqvist, but none have been given an opportunity yet by Cocu, who seems determined to stick with his failing first team stars so far.

PSV have a rich history of putting trust in their youth players and its time for Cocu to follow with that tradition. The likes of Lammers and Rigo may just provide the spark and insperation to save the clubs flagging season.

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