Phillip Cocu is the “perfect” man to take PSV forward despite their Champions League last-16 elimination, according to former midfielder Jason Culina.
The Dutch champions forced Atletico Madrid to extra time and then penalties after two goalless draws, eventually losing 8-7 in the shoot-out at the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday.
But Culina insists PSV are in safe hands with his old team-mate Cocu, whose side sit a point clear of Ajax at the Eredivisie summit.
“When he came back to PSV [as a player in 2004], he had been captain of Barcelona and was captain of the Dutch national team, so he had a presence about him,” ex-Australia international Culina told Omnisport.
“When you’re the captain of both those teams, you must have something about you and the thing that always struck me about him when I was playing with him was he was very calm and collected.
“He’s very precise in everything he does. He has that real leadership. I think he always had [coaching] in him. He’s a perfect fit for PSV.”
Culina feels PSV, with whom he won the Dutch top flight on three occasions, should take heart from their European run – their best since reaching the last eight with Culina and Cocu in the team in 2006-07.
“It was a great effort from a young team,” he added.
“Most clubs in the Champions League have huge budgets, so for clubs like PSV, coming from what would be considered smaller leagues, it’s a great achievement to push Atletico all the way like they did.
“It goes to show, with good coaching and good recruitment, that these teams can compete against the very best.”
Having lost Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum to the Premier League during the close-season, some have questioned whether PSV can hold on to their brightest young talents.
But Culina is confident a good run in the Champions League will help address that issue.
“They are on the right track,” he commented. “If a Manchester United or Atletico came along and wanted a player, it’s hard to say no, especially if the player wants to go.
“But they’ve assembled a good, young squad, who might stay together for the next two or three years – and if they can get good value from them in that time, they can entice more good young players come in and kick on.”
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