Twente chairman plays down expectations

The new-look Eredivisie champions prepare to get the defence of

their title under way at Roda JC this weekend. The Enschede outfit

pipped Ajax by a point last term to clinch the first league crown

in the club’s history, but Munsterman is not expecting a similar

success this term following a summer of upheaval. Michel

Preud’homme has taken over as coach from Steve McClaren, who left

for Wolfsburg, while veteran forward Blaise NKufo has moved to the

Seattle Sounders and defender Ronnie Stam departed to Wigan. “I

want the team not to have to put up with unnecessarily high

pressures,” Munsterman told Voetbal International. “We have a new

coaching staff in and major players have left. “With all the

changes it is naive to think that everything will be working

correctly within two or three months. “I’ll be glad if we directly

qualify for the Europa League this season.” Ajax will be looking to

reclaim the title and will do so under the guidance of Martin Jol

after the former Tottenham manager decided to stay in Amsterdam

despite interest from Fulham. Jol’s side start their season at FC

Groningen on Sunday, and will make the trip buoyed by their

progression this week to the Champions League play-offs on away

goals after last night’s 3-3 draw at PAOK Salonika secured a 4-4

overall result in the third qualifying round. “For the neutral

spectator it was a great match. Over the two games I thought we

were the better team,” Jol told Dutch television programme NOS

Journaal. “It would be good for the club financially and for the

development of our boys to be playing Champions League matches.”

PSV Eindhoven, who finished third last season, also begin the

campaign away from home at Heerenveen on Saturday. Holland

midfielder Ibrahim Afellay could be involved despite much

speculation this summer linking him with a move away from the

Philips Stadion. “My contract is still in progress. I am looking

forward with PSV and I am happy,” he said. “My focus is on PSV. I

have not spoken with PSV and there is nothing concrete to take me

away from here.” In other games on Saturday, NEC Nijmegen play VVV

Venlo, Heracles Almelo host Willem II and De Graafschap face fellow

top-flight new boys Excelsior. Feyenoord summer signing Ruben

Schaken will watch his team’s opener against FC Utrecht from the

stands at De Kuip on Sunday as he serves a suspension imposed last

season while at VVV Venlo, but the 28-year-old forward cannot wait

to get started at Excelsior on August 15. “At some point

preparations start to become a little tedious,” he told

www.feyenoord.nl. “We want the team to show what we are capable of,

something that applies to me personally too. I think we will have a

good year at Feyenoord. Most of the boys are still very young, but

they are good players.” Also on Sunday, 2009 champions AZ Alkmaar

visit NAC Breda and Vitesse Arnhem tackle ADO Den Haag.