It’s official. We knew this was going to happen for weeks of course, but in typical Louis style, he took the reins of this negotiations period and stamped his authority on the matter.
He wanted the KNVB management to come to him (in Portugal) and he needed a lot of conditions signed off. His team of people, of course. Rumour has it, that should he qualify for Qatar, he’ll have a staff larger than the squad, to give you one example. But another cause of delay was the whole financial situation.
You see, Louis has gathered around 25Mio euros on his account, from all his activities as a coach. And as he lives in Portugal, officially, he is seen as a foreigner for tax purposes. Once he starts to work in Holland, for a Dutch organisation, the Dutch tax department slaps him with a bill for wealth-tax. And that could well be a bill that goes into the millions. So they needed to find a solution for this.
In the deliberations with the Dutch tax office, it was established that if Louis can cap his working days in Holland under a certain number of days (I believe it’s 80 days), this rule will not apply.
Some serious calculations resulted in good news: with all the work he needs to do for Oranje in other countries (away games in Norway, etc) and with the option to use a country like Portugal or Austria as a base for pre-tournament training camps, it will be possible for Louis to limit his days actually working/being in Holland. Pfff….
With that out of the way, Louis presented his dream team: no more place for Dwight Lodeweges (who signed as assistant coach at PEC Zwolle) and Pat Lodewijks. In come Danny Blind (Louis’ longstanding right hand man), Frans Hoek (the trusted keeper trainer) and … Henk Fraser, the current Sparta coach. The players have stressed that they preferred to have one coach on the staff who shared the cultural background of the coloured lads. Ruud Gullit was an option, Seedorf was mentioned, and many other names came by, but for good reason, the KNVB picked Henk Fraser.
Gullit and Seedorf probably didn’t want to play third fiddle anyway.
Either way, Fraser should be considered the first assistant, despite what the media tell you. Danny Blind is not so much a field trainer, Danny is simply the best analyst and scout Louis has and they have trusted relationship. A bit like Dick Advocaat and Cor Pot. There is a trust relationship, they only need half a glance. Danny and Louis go back all the way to the 1980s when they played together at Sparta.
Henk Fraser also started at Sparta and had a short spell with both Van Gaal and Blind. He was a striker, originally, but at FC Utrecht they transformed him into a defender. He reached his peak at Feyenoord where he won the title alongside John de Wolf, now assistant coach at Feyenoord.
Fraser became a sought after coach. Initially as youth coach at Feyenoord and PSV. Players like Memphis and Wijnaldum worked with him there. He would have his successes at ADO Den Haag and Vitesse, where he won the only prize Vitesse ever won: the National Cup. People expected him to move to Feyenoord as a coach, but he decided on Sparta. His first club, where one of his close friends is currently technical director, Henk van Stee.
Fraser is indeed considered to be one of the best coaches working in Holland at the moment. Very balanced guy, excellent communicator, disciplined and tough when need be and a fan of attacking and attractive, technical football.
You won’t be surprised if the KNVB has decided that should we qualify for the World Cup AND if we do ok (whatever that is), Henk will be the successor to Louis van Gaal and will be NT manager post the World Cup. I think it’s an excellent choice. Initially, Henk will combine his assistant role with his role as Sparta Head Coach.
The courting of Van Gaal resulted in some spicy news items. There is this rumour that when Koeman left Oranje, the players pleaded with the KNVB not to hire Van Gaal. The rumour has it that Virgil van Dijk, Memphis and Wijnaldum in particular didn’t want to work with him. Van Dijk has slammed an English reporter recently, who brought this item to the fore again, with a fierce “shame on you!” message on Insta.
Memphis is usually not so diplomatic. The Barca forward worked with Van Gaal at the 2014 World Cup and was signed by Louis for Man United as well. The former PSV star: “I see this as a positive step. I worked with him at Man United as he signed me on my 20st. He also took me in with Oranje for the World Cup. I have had amazing moments with him and learned a lot. When I went to Man United, I entered a new phase in my career and I had good and less good experiences with him, but that was also me, I was young and still had to learn a lot. Overall, I’m positive. I know he will have a positive impact on the squad and he can build a successful team, I’m convinced of that. This is what we need.”
Marco van Basten: “If you want to get a guy in who will get the best results, he’s probably the best option. He has proven that he can do that. The way he does it, his methods, you can question but he is an allround coach and maybe the disciplinarian that the group needs now.”
Rafa van der Vaart doesn’t think his age and the fact he was retired already are a problem. “That is not an issue, I don’t think. His age as well, he probably has many more good years in him. He is simply the best we have. The football in 2014 might not have been the best, but he does make something happen. His staff is also quite active still, with Fraser and Danny Blind, so they’ll be in good hands.”
Ex Ajax coach Aad de Mos: “It’s a law in football. After a relaxed coach, squads need a more disciplined coach. From democracy to authoritarian and then it’s logical you end up with Louis. He is a very strong tactician. No one can do what he can, in terms of analysing what he needs for a successful tournament. I saw his presentation to the KNVB back in 2014, where he predicted literally everything that would happen. That was powerful. You need international experience, having played European matches and understand the international football trends. He ticks all the boxes.