Wouters calls on Utrecht fans
FC Utrecht manager Jan Wouters has called on the club's supporters to help his side record a victory over struggling Excelsior when the two meet in Friday's Eredivisie clash.
Excelsior sit 17th having lost four of their last five league games, with a 2-1 win over Roda JC their only points during that period.
That run means John Lammers' side are now 11 points adrift of ADO Den Haag in 15th place but Utrecht are only a point further ahead in 13th.
Wouters saw his side beaten 3-1 at Heracles Almelo last time out and wants a win against Excelsior to help keep his side from being dragged into a potential relegation battle.
"A win is all that counts against Excelsior,'' he said. "That's why the motto is 'win against Excelsior'. That's the only thing to do.
"Given our position in the rankings, we must win. That means we must start the game full of effort and put a lot of pressure on the ball.''
Wouters then issued a rallying cry to the Utrecht fans ahead of the match. He said: "I therefore call on the public in the Galgenwaard to stand behind us. That way, we can really use the home advantage.
"At this stage of the competition we must see the public and players whip each other up. "The match against Excelsior is perhaps the most significant match so far.''
In the race for the title, Ajax will be looking to build on their 2-0 victory over fellow challengers PSV Eindhoven last weekend as they aim to overtake AZ Alkmaar at the Eredivisie summit.
But midfielder Theo Janssen believes they face a stern test from Heracles, who halted a run of four league defeats with the win over Utrecht.
"Heracles are a team that can and want to play football,'' he said. "I have seen a lot of them in action at home and there they play fantastic football. They always play combination football with few long balls and lots of movement.''
PSV are now five points behind the leaders following their defeat at Ajax and former Holland international Wim van Hanegem reckons the Eindhoven club are not showing enough desire.
"PSV played exactly like they did under previous coach Fred Rutten. They lacked the hunger to win (against Ajax),'' he said.
"It's a real shame and a missed opportunity for PSV. It's fair to say they are out of the title race now. They simply lack the true desire to win the league title. They only have themselves to blame.''
Everyone involved with PSV will clearly feel differently about their title prospects and will be hoping to close the gap with a win over relegation-threatened VVV-Venlo on Saturday.
Third-placed FC Twente also play on Saturday as they entertain Roda JC with Heerenveen and NAC Breda travelling to FC Groningen and Feyenoord respectively.
League-leaders AZ Alkmaar are in action on Sunday away to seventh-placed Vitesse Arnhem while NEC Breda host bottom of the table De Graafschap.