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Cruyff: Gullit in 'big trouble' if Hearts deny Feyenoord


FEYENOORD coach Ruud Gullit will be in serious trouble if his side fail to beat Hearts in their UEFA Cup tie, according to Johan Cruyff. The Dutch legend, speaking after taking part in the first round of the Dunhill Links championship at Kingsbarns, said Gullit had made an immediate impact on taking over as coach of the club, but acknowledged that failure to win the opening Group A match could jeopardise all his good work.

"Feyenoord is going well," said Cruyff, who, although best known as an Ajax and Barcelona player, had a highly successful spell with the Rotterdam club late on in his career. "They’ve changed a lot round, and Ruud is doing well.

"I think he’s happy there, and he’s created quite a competitive team. But they must win against Hearts - otherwise there will be big trouble."

Gullit’s two managerial posts in English football, with Chelsea then Newcastle, both ended in acrimony. At Feyenoord, so far at least, everything is harmonious, according to Cruyff, whose niece Estelle is married to Gullit. "Ruud didn’t have any problem when he took over, I thought. Almost right away they were working quite well."

The Hearts coach Craig Levein spoke earlier this week of the Edinburgh club’s hopes of sneaking a point in their opening fixture. To listen to Cruyff, it sounds like even that will be a tall order.

But Dutch teams and coaches habitually expect too much of themselves, and may, as Levein hopes, make the mistake of underestimating their opponents.

That could take place the other way round in the case of the other Scottish-Dutch clash in the group stages. AZ Alkmaar reached the final of the UEFA Cup more than 20 years ago, but have made little impact in continental competition since, and in ordinary circumstances would not be expected to give Rangers too much trouble.

At present, though, although Alex McLeish’s team have won their last five fixtures - including the penalty shoot-out victory against Maritimo which took them through to the inaugural group stages - most teams are able to give them a fair bit of bother. Cruyff believes Alkmaar could cause problems for Rangers, but does expect the Glasgow team to prevail.

"Alkmaar are not the strongest team, but they play quite well together," he explained. "They move the ball around well. It could be a nice game to watch, but Rangers should be favourites."

Taken from the Scotsman

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