Nearly two years after making his 187th and last Eredivisie appearance for PSV Eindhoven as a player, Phillip Cocu has returned to first-team affairs at the Dutch club after being appointed as an assistant to interim coach Dwight Lodeweges.
Cocu departed PSV for a brief swansong at Al-Jazira Club after helping them to a third successive Dutch title and, though they made it four in a row last term, the likelihood of a fifth appears far removed. Fifth in the table as the Eredivisie season approaches the home straight, 15 points adrift of leaders AZ Alkmaar, there is a new man at the helm after Lodeweges replaced Huub Stevens last week. Now Cocu, who has been combining roles in PSV's youth department and as assistant to Bert van Marwijk with the Dutch national team with attending a coaching course, has stepped up to become his second in command.
"It is good to combine these posts with my education, good for my development," said the 38-year-old. "My coaching certificate will help me become a head coach one day. Despite the experience and knowledge of the game I gained as a player, there are a lot more things involved in coaching. So I want to take the time to develop myself further. Having a close involvement in football at the highest level is the best school one can have. I will try to tap into my experience and vision and get it across to the players while assisting the head coach." Cocu's ability to speak Spanish, developed in six years at FC Barcelona, will certainly be useful with the likes of Carlos Salcido, Francisco Rodríguez and Edison Méndez on PSV's books.
Cocu has been earmarked as a future PSV coach though the former midfielder dismisses speculation linking him with the top job next season. "I have to be completely ready for that first," he said. "After this season I want to focus on the Dutch national team preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals, if we qualify." Until then the focus will be on helping PSV grab a UEFA Champions League berth, an ambition aided by a 3-0 victory against De Graafschap on Sunday – another win at home to ADO Den Haag on Thursday would bring the side within four points of second-placed AFC Ajax. "Our aim is to finish as high as possible, with European football a must," said Cocu. "We have to look at it game by game, and build from one result to the next. We have to raise confidence and see where it takes us."
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