Talking Tactics: Van Nistelrooy seeking to get PSV back to Ruud health
Ruud van Nistelrooy is aiming to make himself a legend at PSV Eindhoven for the second time.
As a player, he scored 77 goals in 90 games for the Dutch giants, helping them to win two Eredivisie titles.
Having returned to the club as a youth coach, the former striker was made PSV manager last summer and now has his feet well under the table at the Philips Stadion.
As he seeks to overturn a 3-0 deficit in tonight's Europa League knockout round play-off second leg against Sevilla, we take a look at Van Nistelrooy’s second coming.
The decision to appoint Van Nistelrooy as the new PSV manager was made in March last year, when it became clear that Roger Schmidt would not be signing a new contract at the club.
After retiring in 2012 after a final spell playing for Malaga, the goalscoring ace began his coaching career in 2013 with the PSV Under-17s side.
In 2018, he became the manager of the U-19s, before progressing to Jong PSV in 2021. In addition, there were spells working as assistant coach of the Dutch national team.
When Van Nistelrooy got the main job, he said: "It has always been my dream to be head coach at PSV.
"I was convinced I could pursue a professional coaching career and originally thought I needed one more year to gain experience. But sometimes things do go their way and you find out that life is not completely manageable.
"This is the right moment to take the next step. PSV are ready to embark on a new path this summer and I am ready to play my part."
Van Nistelrooy’s reign got off to a perfect start when PSV won the Johan Cruyff Shield with a 5-3 victory over Ajax that saw new signing Guus Til score a hat-trick.
The club were then given a tough path to the Champions League group stage. Though they beat Monaco in their first qualifying tie, they were beaten by last season’s Europa League finalists Rangers in the play-offs.
Having made it through to the knockout stages of the Europa League, PSV lost the first-leg 3-0 at Sevilla, with the LaLiga outfit scoring all their goals within a 10-minute period to take control of the contest.
A European exit would not be the worst thing for the team’s domestic ambitions, however. Fourth in the Eredivisie, Van Nistelrooy’s men are only six points behind leaders Feyenoord, with 12 games remaining.
They are also through to the quarter-finals of the KNVB Cup, where they are expected to progress from their home match against the second-tier side ADO Den Haag.
If Van Nistelrooy can add some more silverware to that Johan Cruyff Shield, then he can be very happy with his first season in charge. Particularly as his squad has been decimated by departures.
The January window saw both Cody Gakpo and Noni Madueke make big-money moves to the Premier League. Gakpo’s loss was particularly acute, with the forward having contributed nine Eredivisie goals and 12 assists this season before relocating to Liverpool.
Despite receiving an estimated £64million for the pair, Van Nistelrooy had to make do with the loan signings of Patrick van Aanholt, Thorgan Hazard and Fabio Silva to reinforce his squad.
The 46-year-old admitted: "Even after selling our most important players, I said that we are sticking to our ambitions, but the chance of achieving your goals is of course smaller.
"Everyone knows what happened in the transfer window and why. But we continue with the young boys and we will develop them. That’s the goal. We’ll see where we are at the end of the season."
Change in approach
Last weekend, PSV drew 2-2 at Utrecht, which was the latest example of their away form letting them down. They have only won two of their last nine league games on the road, drawing three and losing four.
Though he has lost key attackers, Van Nistelrooy still has plenty of firepower, but he is struggling to stop the flow of away goals being conceded. Across all competitions, PSV have only kept one clean sheet in 18 away games this season.
In contrast, PSV have a good defensive record at home and have kept clean sheets in each of their last four contests at the Philips Stadion.
Perhaps that stems from the fact that it is easier for Van Nistelrooy’s team to control the game at home. Playing with a 4-2-3-1 formation, he has implemented a patient, possession-based approach.
His predecessor Schmidt played with intensity and a high-press, so there has been a major change in style this season, which was always likely to result in some difficulties.
Though he has yet to truly flourish, the ex-Real Madrid forward is far from floundering in his first big job. The patient approach could pay off for both Van Nistelrooy and PSV, should the club keep faith in him.
But a miraculous turnaround in tonight's Europa League tie could fast-track his rise to coaching prominence.