Well, Ronald Koeman doesn’t need a lot of introduction here. FG Groningen, rocket shots (mostly over the goal), Ajax, PSV, Barcelona, Feyenoord… Thon’s jersey. Wembley. Assistant to Van Gaal and colleague of Mourinho. Vitesse. Ajax. PSV. AZ. Feyenoord. England. Highs. Lows.

He selected two assistants, along with Patrick Lodewijks, the former goalie and current keepers trainer he met at Feyenoord and took along to England.

Kees van Wonderen was part of Bert van Marwijk’s EUFA Cup winning side in 2002. An elegant, football playing centre back (originally a midfielder) developed according to the philosophy of Wiel Coerver.

Dwight Lodeweges, most recently assistant to John van ‘t Schip at the surprise of the Eredivisie season PEC Zwolle, is maybe not so well known.

PEC Zwolle assistant Dwight Lodeweges with Van ‘t Schip

Lodeweges was the former head coach at NEC, Heerenveen and SC Cambuur. His current management really endorse this big step up for the assistant, but also emphasise he is key in Zwolle’s current success. He’s not just an assistant. He started as high performance coach at Zwolle in 2015. The Canadian born was also responsible for the development of the Zwolle talents. When Ron Jans decided to move on from PEC Zwolle last year, the Zwolle board immediately asked Dwight to step up as head coach, but the 61 year old declined. He didn’t feel like a role as the figure head and scape goat. So Zwolle went on to look for the new coach, with Dwight Lodeweges as a committee member. He was in the interview with John van ‘t Schip and every candidate coach was told: you will have Dwight as your right hand man. Van ‘t Schip as the manager, Dwight as the field coach, like they do it in England.

Dwight on the right, playing in the US (or is it Canada?)

Lodeweges loves working in the shade, in the background. Working with talents, moulding new systems and game plans. The kudos for PEC all go to Schippie, and Dwight is totally ok with that.

In 2016, Lodeweges took a second job, as the Under20 coach of Oranje, at the KNVB. He worked actually, with young talents like Van de Beek, Guus Til (AZ) and Fosu-Mensah (Man United), which is more than Koeman can say. At the KNVB, they were impressed with his skills and know-how and were disappointed when he decided to leave after one year. He couldn’t combine the role he had with the KNVB with the job assisting Van ‘t Schip. The former Go Ahead player is known to be a workaholic, working 70 hours a week easily and his big ambition was always to work with the top team of the Netherlands: Oranje. With PEC Zwolle on course to play the play-offs in the Eredivisie, it is fair to expect him to perform the two jobs simultaneously until the end of the season.

For the job of Director Top Sports (Technical Director), the KNVB originally wanted Louis van Gaal, but he declined. Fred Rutten was the next on the list. In every way, Rutten was the ideal guy. In terms of age, experience (as a player and top coach) and with a background in football development. Rutten is known to be a walking encyclopedia on football and a work-aholic. But he demanded a coaching role with a rep team, as Rutten is keen to remain in touch with grass. The KNVB didn’t see this, so Rutten declined and accepted a good paying job with Maccabi Haifa, as head coach. So Nico-Jan Hoogma was next up in line.

Koeman and Hoogma some years back

Adding Nico-Jan Hoogma to the list of new faces and it is clear we will have a no-nonsense management team in Zeist (with Koeman the master pragmatist). So, what does it say when Justin Hoogma, a talent at Heracles Almelo, gets an offer for 4 years from Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, and dad Hoogma tells his son to take the offer. “You’ll learn more in Germany than you will here”, were his words. And Hoogma knows. He was there, playing for HSV Hamburg and exactly in the period when the German federation decided to overturn the whole German youth development system. Hoogma will take the Dutch development and training books and re-write them. As Wijnaldum and Hateboer recently explained, players from the Netherlands starting abroad are all confronted with much tougher training-regimes. Hoogma can confirm. When he left Holland for Germany, he experienced the exact same.

Famously, Hoogma already introduced longer days and more training intensity when still at Heracles some years back. The defensive rock also found that heading a ball was not a normal skill anymore, so he organised the so-called heading gallows (used in the 1960s for heading training) to the club. Hoogma also widened the field of interest for the players, by keeping them longer at the club and work on their nutrition, video analysis, mental coaching and individual training. It’s no wonder that Heracles selected coaches like Verbeek, Peter Bosz and John Stegeman, people who are highly interested in the “total human being”, as Van Gaal calls it.

More relevant aspects: Hoogma and current KNVB chairman Jan Smit were responsible for the promotion of Heracles to the Eredivisie and the fact that the club is one of the most healthy, financially. Every week, 11,000 fans in the new stadium… the only negative is that Heracles, under Smit and Hoogma opted to go for an artificial turf. Interesting aspect: PEC Zwolle recently announced they will stop playing on artificial and will move back to playing on grass (albeit hybrid) within a couple of years.

Nico-Jan Hoogma at HSV

Hoogma is also an outspoken opponent of the current KNVB football pyramid as they call it, the overall competition, from amateurs to semi pros all the way to the Eredivisie. The licensing model, in other words. Hoogma wants to make the Eredivisie and the Jupiler league smaller, less clubs, and wants to introduce a specific competition for the youth teams of the Eredivisie clubs.

Hoogma will also appoint the new Football Development manager, someone Hoogma will work closely together with, to further innovate the coaching training. Hoogma, born in Friesland, is known to be a hard worker, a pragmatist, someone happy with a role in the background, but also known to call a spade a spade…

Ronald Koeman, another pragmatist, is known to dabble with different systems. At Ajax, where 4-3-3 is sacred, he butted heads with the 5th column about this and at Feyenoord the winning streak started with a 5-3-2 away against PSV Eindhoven (and winning).

Koeman is happy to let go of sacred cows as long as it brings results. King Karim El Ahmadi remembers it well. The first Ajax-Feyenoord under Ronald Koeman. The Feyenoord players didn’t like going away to Ajax. Only months before they conceded 10 goals against PSV, a huge humiliation. When the Johan Cruyff Arena came into view, the Feyenoord players got more silent. The bus stopped on the big parking deck with camera teams and reporters ready to cover the arrival of the Rotterdam team. The players looked at one another: who will go first? Ronald Koeman got up, flung his jacked over his shoulder, puts his chest out and with a confident smile stepped out of the bus. El Ahmadi: “We saw him do it, and it took the fear away. We got confidence from that. We ended up playing 1-1 while we were the better team. That sums up Koeman.”

With Koeman, the KNVB has the perfect ambassador. He’s been around, winning trophies in Spain, at Wembley, in Germany with Oranje and of course in Holland. A cosmopolitan, a man who opens doors and has the respect from the players. At Feyenoord, Graziano Pelle and John Guidetti were club cult heroes, but they only had one question after their games – despite the number of goals they scored: “What did Koeman say?”. Guidetti: “He’s a tough task master, he only needed a couple of words to get you sharp… My first four goals were all penalties. I was proud of my stats. But he said: how’ bout you score a field goal or two as well at some stage? That sort of stimuli, you know?”

El Ahmadi: “I think there is a pre and post Koeman era at Feyenoord. Winning the title started with Koeman. The vibe just changed when he came in. Under Mario Been, the vibe was loose. Mario was happy for us to call him Mario. When Koeman came he was quite adamant: you call me coach. We all looked up to him. He said: my door is always open. If you don’t like something or wanna talk about things, come on in. Well, I don’t think anyone ever went in to do that… He taught us to win.”

A week before his exit at Everton, he was already pondering how he would go about things with Oranje. “I hear people talking about things we lack. The Robben factor. Sneijder’s class. Etc… but hey… look at what we do have. We have amazing attacking full backs, we have good central defenders, and I did see Promes score a couple of goals in the Champions League, right? And Depay is above average and when you have players like Wijnaldum and Daley Blind at top clubs in England, you can’t complain. And then we see those young talents coming through at Ajax and AZ? There is more than enough to hold on to.”

De Roon and Hateboer

Everton played Atalanta Bergamo for the EL and Koeman witnessed how Dutchies De Roon and Hateboer were excellent. Koeman: “If you can hold your own in the Serie A, you can hold your own in Oranje.” Hateboer and Koeman even chatted before the EL match. Hateboer: “Well, we’re both from Groningen, so yeah… My friends and family are most occupied with the Oranje topic than me. I mean, there’ a couple of others who are not too bad right? Tete, Karsdorp, Janmaat, Fosu-Mensah, Veltman. That’s five players, so I guess I might be a candidate when Koeman wants to play five at the back? We’ll see.”

Koeman changed the system at Feyenoord in his last season and managed to secure the 2nd spot behind champions Ajax, with only a 4 point gap. The PSV away game was the game that got Van Gaal intrigued. The then NT manager was in the Eindhoven stadium with skipper Robin van Persie. And seeing Feyenoord in the 5-3-2 got Van Gaal to implement that system for the WC2014. Basically, Koeman was co-responsible for the success of Oranje in Brazil. Not that Van Gaal would give Ronald that credit of course…


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21 responses to “Oranje’s new direction….”

  1. wilson says:

    Exciting staff Jan,Good to hear koeman was into thick of things even when at Everton. Hateboer story is quite interesting and I think he should get a call up. The one thing I like about koeman he is open and straight forward. If I remember correctly he once voiced about Pieters not being selected in the NT.he also voiced about Blinds being a weak link in United’s Defense.
    Keeping all this in mind its pretty much clear what his selection will be all about.

  2. wilson says:

    U21s named by Art langeler

    Pelle van Amersfoort (SC Heerenveen), Steven Bergwijn (PSV), Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Joël Drommel (FC Twente), Denzel Dumfries (SC Heerenveen), Oussama Idrissi (AZ), Frenkie de Jong (Ajax), Gervane Kastaneer (1. FC Kaiserslautern), Justin Kluivert (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (AZ), Bart Nieuwkoop (Feyenoord), Yanick van Osch (PSV), Thomas Ouwejan (AZ), Bart Ramselaar (PSV), Philippe Sandler (PEC Zwolle), Jeremiah St. Juste (Feyenoord), Guus Til (AZ) en Michel Vlap (sc Heerenveen).

    Interesting no established striker and also zivkovic.

  3. Eduardorw says:

    Jan, thanks again for your post.

    You developed here, and in many of your previous post, what I consider the most important issue regarding Dutch Football: their future.

    For me, the most important news is the designation of Hoogma as TD. This guy has a huge responsibility and I wish him the best.

    Please, keep us informed about Hoogma steps. I this sense, do you know i he pretends to include Cruyff or Win Jonk initiatives to the KNVB? How much power does he have in order to change the Eeredivisie format? Or to force the teams to put grass on their field again, or transform? or to transform the clubs training methods (I don´t see how a national TD can force the teams to change that?

    • Jan says:

      Good point. The TD is not capable of doing all this on his own. He will need the backing of the clubs AND the backing of the board. Structurally, it’s messy, with a separate organisation for the amateurs, the pros at KNVB and also the competitions have their own entities (Eredivisie and Jupiler). All the noses need to point in the same direction but with heavy hitters Jan Smit and Louis van Gaal in the background, this might just work out this time. We do not have much time left.

  4. Big_Fan_Of_Holland says:

    Loved your post, very informative about the new staff, so anxious to see Oranje again in March, 2 tough matches but will tell us a lot about the near future when we play Uefa Nations League.

    Greetings from Kuwait

  5. andrew says:

    Excellent article, Jan. Thank you.

    I’m getting excited to see what he’ll put on the field in the upcoming matches. What will separate these games from the ordinary friendlies is that the players will playing for spots; no pro forma displays. I do hope he goes 5-3-2. I think it suits the current group of players. I don’t think DeVrij has ever been as good as he was in that formation at the WC; imho, Blind’s best position is as a left wingback. He’ll find space out there to make use of his passing, and he reads the game so well that he’ll know when to move forward in to the attack, when to drop in as an extra body in the mf,; plus you aren’t wedded to find a CF who fits a “profile” when no one presently seems to fit the bill. Depay doesn’t have to be a winger, he can play as a forward, as can Promes. There are questions of course; who plays the midfield? What gets the best out of Wijnaldum and Strootman? Where do Kluivert, Bergwijn and Frenkie De Jong fit in?

    Exciting times, I think. Watching a new team get built from the ground up can be a real pleasure.

  6. Jan says:

    I think Koeman will play a 3-4-2-1 system, with a player like Promes as striker. We don’t have top class strikers at the moment. Dost being our only option, playing at a good level.

    He will hopefully try out De Vrij – Van Dijk – De Ligt or De Vrij – Blind – Van Dijk.

    Wide, we have good options, with Aanholt, Willems, Tete, Janmaat, etc etc.

    I think we might see Donny van de Beek in the central role with whoever has the form of the day: Wijnaldum or Van Ginkel or Strootman. The two in the Hazard/Willian role might be Memphis/Babel or Memphis/Berghuis.. All will depend on the opponent as well, I guess…

    • Emmanual says:

      Any one of Devrij-Vrijil-Blind,Deligt are capable of playing from back.–i am more worried about agility and speed at back..it be better to Flank the main tank with speedy guys some what like
      —Bruma—-Virgil—-De ligt———–
      —Mensah—Devrij—-Kongolo——on bench
      i wont go for Devrij-Vrigil combination some how i dont feel comfort with thati have same feeling like i had for Strootman-Wijnaldum combination at midfeild which failed miserably..

      • wilson says:

        Agree,with high defense line,you cant have De Vrij and Van Dijk playing together.also attacking fullbacks will really help the current situation especially when playing dost up front.this will create a lot of space in the midfield plus you can have good crosses coming in from both the flanks and as well as options such as Depay cutting inside from the left,but the question remains who starts in the midfield. In terms of work rate if Clasie is 100 percent fit than he should get the nod.you jus can’t throw in VDBeek and frenkie straight away.Clasie and strootman could be a good options.


        Depay- Promes

        Van Annholt- Clasie- Strootman- Hateboer

        Ake- Van Dijk- De Ligt


  7. derekvdberg says:

    Personally I think a 4-3-3 could still work well, but you’d need to convert the middle three into more of a triangle to support the back 4.

    Cillesen would still be our number 1 keeper for me.
    RB- Karsdrop has been injured for a while, but at his best he looked like our best option.
    CB- de Ligt and van Dijk. Obviously de Ligt is still young and inexperienced, but he’s getting there very quickly.
    LB- I like Ake, though he might be a little slow. I considered Blind for this option as well.
    CDM- I’d love for Frenkie de Jong to have this spot, though he might still be a bit too young, so lets give it to Blind for a bit until de Jong is ready.
    LM/RM- Wijnaldum and de Beek to me are the best two options for this position. de Beek still a bit inexperienced, but he’ll be a top Eredivisie player by the end of 2019.
    LW/RW- To me, Depay and Promes still have those spots, but Kluivert is right on their tails. Hopefully Kluivert can break into the squad by 2019.
    CF- In my opinion Huntelaar beats out Dost just based on experience. He may be playing Eredivisie football now, but he’s shown he’s able to score at an international level, whereas Dost hasn’t. Though I’d love for Janssen to have this spot.

  8. Depay9 is the best says:

    Can wiring had a disappointing debut for ajax yesterday. He’s just gonna be another failed hyped young player. Oh well

  9. Paul says:

    Glad to see this place still chugging along, its decreased popularity solely due to the horrendous state of Dutch soccer. Its depressing to see RVP and Robben winding down their careers, im 33 and they were my golden generation. I would say 1995 to 2014 or so was an incredible era for Dutch soccer, so many talents across Europe. One must wonder what the hell happened?!?! How could the mighty have fallen to such a terrible place.

    Very very sad and depressing. Not much else to say.

    • Depay9 is the best says:

      It literally happens in every sport to every team and country. No need to get upset they are just in a slump they will get out of it soon and once again be the best country in the world

  10. wilson says:

    Locadia had a good debut for Brighton. Hopefully he continues that this week. He scored one and rattled one off the wood work.they won 3-0 but to a championship side. Injuries has hampered his NT outings a lot and if he needs to be playing in order to get a call.up.

    I watched PSG and Madrid and one of the reasons why Madrid came out on top was because of some master stroke sub from Zidane.when the left footed wingers came on for Madrid the game totally changed and another thing to note was how the wingers were changing the flanks.this is something that was very evident before in NT and slowly has became a thing of past.still remember when Bolo Zenden,marc overmars use to run riot both flanks. Since Robben moved that right flank,the left flank has been mainly being deputized by right footed wingers who have been easy to predict. when Elia jumped onto the scene in 2010,I thought he would go on to join his compatriots who dazzled the flanks before him but he never quiet lived up to expectation. With Robben out of the picture now,this would be right time to go back back to normal wing system especially with Dost around. Dost was at the fore front with persic and De Bryne at that time. At sporting the formation is slightly different but again Martins and Acuna are heavily involved in his assists.

    Hope to see a revival of this in NT where wingers constantly change flanks and come up with teasing crosses for the strikers.can’t forgot that Kluivert equalizer vs Brazil from RDB breath taking cross.

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