17 September 2014 18:50
All eyes return to the field following the resignation of AZ head coach Marco van Basten as De Klassieker leads the Eredivisie fixtures.
Netherlands legend Van Basten – who replaced Dick Advocaat in the close-season – opted to call time on his brief tenure on Wednesday, citing ‘mental and physical’ problems.
In all, the 49-year-old oversaw just four games before initially taking an extended leave of absence amid reports he had suffered from heart palpitations following the death of his father in July.
And it was on Wednesday announced that Van Basten would give up the head coach’s job entirely, opting for a demotion.
Van Basten will remain at the club in an assistant’s role, although it remains to be seen whether Alex Pastoor will, as expected, be promoted to the top job.
Should he be in charge, Pastoor faces a tough baptism on Sunday versus a PEC Zwolle side who are now level on points with leaders PSV following their win over the Eindhoven outfit last time out.
That encounter comes in a round of fixtures featuring the season’s first clash between bitter rivals Ajax and Feyenoord.
It was the Amsterdam club who ended with the bragging rights last time out when pipping Feyenoord to the title.
That Ajax eventually finished four points ahead of Feyenoord was largely thanks 2-1 victories when they faced one another.
Last year’s runners-up will, therefore, be aiming to exact a measure of revenge – especially after managing just five points from as many games since Fred Rutten took over following Ronald Koeman’s departure.
Ajax have not enjoyed their most stellar start, either, with losses to PSV at home and Groningen away undermining their title defence.
However, Ajax got back on track by beating basement club Heracles 2-1 last weekend.
PSV, meanwhile, will look to return to winning ways when they tackle third-placed Cambuur on Sunday.
Defeat at PEC for Phillip Cocu’s men’s last time out was their first of the Eredivisie campaign, following on from four impressive victories.
Heerenveen have enjoyed a good start and are likely to fancy their chances on Saturday as Vitesse, who have managed just one win so far this term, come to town.
The sole Friday game sees Willem II take on NAC Breda, while Excelsior tackle Dordrecht and ADO Den Haag meet Go Ahead Eagles on Saturday.
Sunday’s fixtures are rounded off by Heracles playing Twente and Utrecht facing Groningen.