Spearheaded by two familiar faces, PSV Eindhoven have high hopes going into the new Eredivisie campaign as they seek to deny AFC Ajax their third straight Dutch title.
PSV have not been crowned champions since 2008, the end of their remarkable run of seven titles in nine years. To return to those glories, PSV have turned to two club heroes: coach Dick Advocaat and captain Mark van Bommel. The thinking is that such experience will be the perfect complement to the talent already in the ranks, which has been bolstered by the summer arrival of winger Luciano Narsingh from sc Heerenveen.
"PSV have always been in my heart since leaving," said Van Bommel, 35, who won four championships at the PSV Stadion before moving to FC Barcelona in 2005. "I left here seven years ago with the promise to return and that is a promise I have kept. At the moment I can still add something to the team.
"This is a young team with a lot of quality but to take that next step you have to realise you have to do it every match. That sounds simple but it is not. It has to be a way of life – not only to become champions but also to become a top player."
PSV have already served warning of their title credentials with last weekend's 4-2 win against AFC Ajax in the Dutch Super Cup. It was a comfortable result achieved with the likes of Tim Matavž and Georginio Wijnaldum starting on the bench – proof of the depth of Advocaat's squad. Indeed, even Ajax's Frank de Boer had labelled them Eredivisie favourites prior to Sunday's reverse.
"He is right in that," said Advocaat, the former Netherlands, South Korea, Belgium and Russia coach, now restored to the PSV helm after a 14-year absence. "Frank has been a champion twice with Ajax, which means you must have done an excellent job as coach. We have an eager squad and everyone wants to work together for success.
"Van Bommel is very important for this team as he gives them a kind of invincible attitude.
We are going for the championship, there can be no doubt about that."
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