PSV: Holland Horror Story

We all love train wrecks. There is a whole category of movies in that vein: disaster movies! We can’t get our eyes to turn away. Or when there is a crash on the highway, we all slow down to watch…

What happened at PSV in the past months is exactly like that. Like a burning high rise crashing down, despite the efforts of Paul Newman or Steve McQueen…

Us Feyenoord fans thought we had it tough… But what’s playing out in Eindhoven is highly Shakespearian in magnitude and pathos.

Here are your main characters:

Toon Gerbrands – former Volley ball coach and author of motivational books. Prides himself of keeping calm in a crisis and keeping the peace. Won the title with AZ as a managing director, with Louis van Gaal as coach.

Gerbrands, John de Jong and Van Bommel in happier (?) times…

Marcel Brands – lauded and experienced technical director. Produced miracles at AZ Alkmaar and gave the likes of Dick Advocaat and Phillip Cocu players they could work with. He pushed his assistant John de Jong forward as his replacement.

Mark van Bommel -former top player for PSV, Oranje, AC Milan, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Leadership in spades, like he has experience and football smarts. But also a tough cookie to deal with: arrogant, manipulative, headstrong. Son-in-law and best mate of Bert van Marwijk.

Bert van Marwijk – former top player and top coach (Feyenoord, Oranje, Borussia Dortmund). Currently taking well paid jobs in secondary football nations. Father in law of Mark and his best mate. Enjoys mentoring Van Bommel.

John de Jong – former player for FC Utrecht and PSV. Saw his career cut short by injuries. Introverted, humble and kind man. Thrown in the deep end as technical manager without any real experience.

Steven Bergwijn – top talent for PSV and Oranje. Headstrong and outspoken. Symbol for the PSV youth coming through (Gakpo, Sadilek, Ihattaren, Malen, Doan). Left PSV via backdoor to play for Spurs, partly due to Van Bommel exit.

Van Bommel and John de Jong in happier times…

Some supporting characters:

Mino Raiola, Ernest Faber, Ronald Waterreus, Huub Stevens….

In the Beginning

The first seed was planted back when Cocu was still coach at PSV and Mark van Bommel was knocking on the door, loudly. Marcel Brands was in strong command of the club, he could find players that could raise the level (Angelino, Dumfries, Lozano) and kept everyone in check. Even the board of directors (with among others: Hans van Breukelen!). But it was time for Brands to move on after so many successful years. And the EPL lured him to the big money side of the game, at Everton.

Mark coached Young PSV and did so very well. The young talents there had a great rapport with their coach and Toon Gerbrands felt he couldn’t really ignore Mark, a club icon.

Immediately it was clear to all that it wouldn’t be an easy ride. Yes, Van Bommel is a starting inexperienced coach, but humility is not in his dictionary. He started out demanding to fill his own backroom staff, against the will of Gerbrands, and eventually Mark van Bommel won the argument. And he picked inexperienced Yes Men Jurgen Dirckx and Reinier Robbemond as his right hand men.

Mart van den Heuvel, Ruud Hesp, Reinier Robbemond, Jurgen Dirckx and Mark

Early on in Mark’s first season, more issues came to the fore. Debutant John de Jong, technically Mark’s boss, was not capable of standing up to the former Bayern skipper. When Lozano was in the spotlight for a big money move to Italy, Mark simply benched the Mexican forward, as he “wasn’t with his head at PSV and didn’t train well”. De Jong begged for Mark to use him as his value would diminish if he was benched for too long. Mark: “That is not my problem. I’m responsible for the results and I want to play my best eleven.”

Internally, more problems arose. Mark didn’t like the old-fashioned methods of the medical staff and waged war with the older medical pros in the club, with slamming doors and voices raised. Bert van Marwijk wasn’t so much Mark’s mentor, willing and able to tone him down, but more his biggest cheerleader and consiglieri.

He also had eyebrows frowned when he declared injured and veteran player Ibi Afellay as his skipper. Even if the former Barca star hadn’t played for two years!

As Mark almost got the title last season and reached into the CL with his young team, Gerbrands wasn’t in a position to put a mouth guard onto Van Bommel. He had to bide his time.

When PSV allowed some of their key players to leave the club (Lozano, Luuk de Jong, Angelin0), Van Bommel didn’t get the replacements he desperately needed. Sam Lammers was Luuk’s replacement and due to no one’s fault, the talented striker got heavily injured in the first games of the new season.

Lozana was to be replaced by Doynell Malen who also got some injury woes… And Angelino, well for him, John de Jong got two new players in: Boscagli and Neto. Neither of whom managed to convince the coach, who used midfielder Sadilek on the LB spot, maybe just to spite Gerbrands and John de Jong.

When Malen and Bergwijn had injuries and Lammers’ replacement (some older Greek fella) couldn’t fill their boots, PSV started to drop points. When Ihattaren also had to skip games due to the illness and death of his dead, all creativity was seeped out of the team and more games were lost. PSV didn’t make it into the European competition post the winter break and dropped to a disappointing third place in the league.

Van Bommel didn’t think a crisis was looming. He analysed the games they lost and his conclusions were simple: we don’t play bad, but we don’t finish our chances. And that has everything to do with the absence of his key goal scorers. He also pointed out that he still was waiting for a proper left back (John de Jong!) and was adamant his team would finish second this season if he got the players he asked for.

But the crisis was there. The build up of irritation around Van Bommel’s attitude and management style resulted in Gerbrand’s sharpening the knives. On top of that, some board member spotted the squad having lunch together at some stage and he saw – allegedly – fatty chips and kebabs and pizzas on the table!

According to some insiders, this was the final straw for Gerbrands to fire Van Bommel and his staff (and his father in law). Not a loss on the pitch. But a so-called hairdress-salon (the nickname of the most unhealthy dish in Holland- see photo).

What Gebrands and Co didn’t realise, was the tremendous support Van Bommel has amongst the players. Not unimportant. Some players didn’t like Mark due to his biting cynicism and toughness, but the youngsters all adored him. Gaston Pereiro, Gutierez and the likes of Boscagli and Neto probably hated him and it’s no surprise that these guys never played. But Malen, Ihattaren, Gakpo, Bergwijn, Rosario, Dumfries, Viergever… they wanted to stick with Bommeltje.

And the support of the fans. Mark is a club icon. Symbol of invincibility. The fans wanted to keep Van Bommel and oust John de Jong, blaming him for the mediocre squad Mark had to work with.

And then there are the pundits, analysts, coaches and ex-football players. They all concur that Mark can be difficult, but they also believe he has a reason to be difficult, like Van Gaal (also difficult) and Mourinho (also difficult) rub many people the wrong way, but they do deliver too.

Van Bommel – Van Gaal bust up

And no one understands how this weird season for PSV started with them staying on Ajax’ tail but at Christmas time, the club is in disarray, the coach is sacked and the riot police was called in to keep the crowd quiet.

When Van Bommel was kicked out, Gerbrands didn’t have the ideal candidate to take over ready and waiting and turned to Ernest Faber. A seasoned coach in the mid tier of the Dutch leagues (NEC, FC Groningen). Lacking in charisma, Faber is your typical “come on guys, work work work!”. No real tactical innovation, no special approach… Ten Hag, Slot, Schreuder, Bosz have their tactical approach to fall back on, Advocaat, Hiddink and Van Gaal add their personality to the mix, but Faber is a bit bland and probably at his best as the PSV Academy manager.

Faber reluctantly took the job and saw his team spiral even further down. No desire, no work rate, no joy, no confidence, to sum it all up. They dropped more points and were also kicked out of the national cup competition, meaning that there is nothing to play for this season anymore.

Ernest Faber

Word is, that the players still speak to Van Bommel. They go to him for advice and support and it’s not secret that Bergwijn’s exit has everything to do with Mark’s demise. And who knows, more could follow. Ihattaren can sign anyware, Malen was on the Barca hit list, Dumfries can go to Germany, England and Italy and once these guys leave the club this coming summer, PSV might well drop further down and spiral totally out of control.

It would be typical for Van Bommel to direct this disaster movie remotely, with the connections he still has in the club (sponsors) and with his seasoned father in law. Raiola, the master agent, who has a number of PSV players in his portfolio is also a good friend and the agent of Van Bommel. I’m sure games are being played and I’m also sure that Mark is out for revenge. He probably won’t rest until John de Jong and Toon Gerbrands are out as well.

John de Jong already alluded to his potential exit, saying he wanted to stay until deadline day weekend and then he’ll see what he wants to do.

In the meantime, PSV old hands like Waterreus and Huub Stevens all seem to have a open account to kick Van Bommel in the gut, as they went on national tv with support for the current management and words of criticism towards Van Bommel and Van Marwijk. The game is on.

But some will do well, out of all this. Super Agent Raiola has managed to further expand his influence. He has Van Bommel in his portfolio, Rosario, Malen and now Dumfries, as well.

Latest in: Marco van Ginkel might return to PSV

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  1. The part about Marcel brands is so true. He was such a influential figure around the negotiating table and is continuing where he left of at everton behind the scenes. Ancelloti inherited a good squad and alot of good work was done prior to his arrival by those like brands who were responsible for the major re haul even before marcos Silva came in as coach.

  2. Thank you, Jan. It was very eye-opening article. I am not following PSV and do not know all those backstage games but I truly enjoyed the article. What a boy Mark! I like the guys who know how to take a revenge! However, one person whom I put on the same line as Antichrist is Mino Raiola. People like him can destroy clubs. He is like a spider who got everybody on his web and can manipulate all of them when it is necessary. Mino is like a black realtor who makes money on the misery of others…Both Calvin and Myron are also linked with him..

  3. Brilliant start for bergwijn scoring the first goal against Man City

    You can see that it wasn’t easy for him and he has so much room for improvement

    I hope this debut goal can get him all the confidence and he can keep improving .

  4. Bergwijn score for tottenham
    Also de light score tonight for juventus.
    EItting was one was best ajax player on the field also gravenberg has another good game.
    Lammere back for psv but ihatteren has very poor game.

  5. Yes, that was a sharp finish by Bergweijn. Then, less than 10 minutes later, he pulled up after a long sprint, something going on with his calf. Hope it was just a cramp…calf injuries can take awhile to heal.

    Re: PSV. Thanks Jan for the inside info. Seems like they need a strong man like Brands to do a little house cleaning and put things in order. The behind the scenes activity aside, just watching them play, it looked to me like they had a very good attacking group, but no creativity in the mf, and the back 4 was mediocre at best. There was no linkage to the attackers, and so the best part of the team was left stranded and cut off. If Van Ginkel (and still retains his skills after all of his injuries) were to return that could go a long way towards solving that problem.

    @Faraz, thanks for the comments on Eiting and Gravenberch. Saw they were playing and wondered how they fared.

    1. I did. Ajax dominating first half. Many opportunities. Three players subbed for injuries: Veltman – knee, Babel a knock on his glutes and Promes hamstring.

  6. Watched the replay of Ajax and PSV. Boy they (PSV) are in a mess. If not for lars Unnerstall it would have been a thrashing.

    Apart from Dest who was arguably the best player on the pitch, I liked what I saw of eiting. He has really pushed hard after his injury return. Ajax were on the brink of shipping him out but he has quickly shut that door with his on going performances. not only him but other youngesters are also pushing for minutes.

    Koeman was also in the stands and his reaction on his face said it all. Again I cant see Babel starting at the euros.his body or legs look too heavy and its a sin Ajax overlooked lang for him and loaned him out to twente.

    Overall good weekend for dutch players home anf abroad.

    1. Cant write him off at this moment when he is only 18. His only draw back or limiting factor is his speed when he is tracking back especially during counters. On full stride if you watch him its like he is strolling in the park. Cant blame him for that as that comes with the physic if you tall and lanky. Offensively he is good, defensively he needs to improve on this aspect of his game. If not it will come to haunt him.

    1. None. Things are changing under Quique Setien. He is now being deployed more as BTB on the right which imo is big development/learning curve for him. I said this before it better to have a complete midfield rather than revolving it around just one player and making him the focal point. Arthur as expected is also back from a long injury layoff and should ignite a good competition overall. This is where you expect things to hit up and the who ever tops takes the lolli pop. I cant see Busquets dropping to bench and plus also remember Coutinho is also on loan at bayern. This is what we might see in the aftermath of Vidal and Rakitic depature.



  7. Guys,

    suddenly Feyenoord is looking very good. With Ajax bogged down by injury problems and AZ being not very convincing, Feyenoord is getting a chance. I am very intrigued by coming Sunday game between AZ and Feyenoord.

    1. To some extent I would say AZ is liverpool of eredivisie. If you look at how both wijndal and svensson are heavily involved down the flanks, it almost the same as how robertson and alexender Arnold are influentual at liverpool in lining up/assisting the forwards. Wijndal and idrissi especially whom seem to be match made in heaven. I think the only department where AZ looks to be out of depth is CBs. They dont have a van Dijk, others wise stengs, boadu idrissi pretty much have the same credentials as mane,frimino and salah.

      For feyenoord I dont know what they were thinking when they appointed Stam. It was a disaster I tell you especially from the youth perspective who were on the brink of making the feyenoord first what we are seeing now at Ajax.

      As far as Dick is concerned, he is a proven coach and comes with an almight experience and tatical awarness. Its no suprise what he did at Utrecht is now on showcase at Feyenoord. He has brought more stability and wholesomness in the team which wasnt there under stam other wise it almost the same set of players which both coaches used or is using.

      1. CBs are a problem for AZ. All CBs that were purchased two years ago never lived up to the expectation. CB bench is almost non-existent to the extend that poor Clasie is being employed when Vlaar or Wuytens are not fit. I wish Wesley Hodt would return but the chances are slim. Plus both Vlaar and Wuytens are above 30. I have never seen Leeuwin in business. Hatzidiakos was getting very well this season but he got season-long injury.

        1. If AZ wins eredivisie or even qualifiers for CL im sure they can lure in CBs like Hoedt,Van Drongelen,Gouweleeuw or even Pierie whose future looks to be stalling at ajax.

  8. Netherland U15 beat Spain U15 by 6:1 and won the 4 country tournament in Spain. Rijkhoff is our next Striker to watch, 3 games, 6 goals 1 assist, he is on a different level at this age group. He is regarded as the Next Ibra, with great body and nice ball control.

  9. Jesus Christ, Nijhuis has been appointed as a referee for AZ-Feyenoord game. He is such a damn ass and made so many obvious mistakes and controversial decisions that he was supposed to be dismissed as a referee long time ago. Plus, he is ugly as hell. KNVB is also very disappointing. Does not make any sense to appoint such an idiot for a game of toppers.

  10. I never like Bert van and i will never be able too..Never was fan of Bommel will never be…PSV will have better days with out both..They are in crisis but someone will come and fix it eventually..Like Koeman did for National team…

    Any one has idea of Geetrudia the Right back of Feynoord??Guy is keeping karsdorp at bay…Is he betetr than Dumfries???
    We cannot go with dumfries,,thats for sure..
    Happy for Winjdal…finally we have reached to him…He is our only option now ..Blind has heart condition,Annholt and Williams are injured..Time for this CONSISTANT YOUNG LAD..His discipline and tactical awareness suites to CHAMPION TEAM..

    If Miracle happens then Depay and Malen would comeback…

    I am looking with optmistic hope, but everything will be derailed when u see Strootman,Dumfries and Blind as LB as starters or on pitch as Sub..
    blind should play where he regularly playing..i mean as LCB..Will koeman consider him since he has heart condition?

    People say Boadu is not that good,Babel is old, i agree…But let me tell you a truth if you put as triker from Davy propper,virgil vandijk,Deligt or Frenkie dejing i mean any one of these players will be better scorrers than below average crap stars..

  11. Have you guys seen the latest IG training footage depay has posted ?

    I mean man …. he is training like nothing happened with him and training like a mad dog!

    Seriously is this Even normal ifs only early Feb

    I thought he supposed not even to walk properly….

    1. If you look closely at the video, you’ll see he gives it 100% when going straight forward. But once he goes off to the left, you can see he is very careful with his step. That is exactly how this injury works. Its not the forward motion, its the turning. Memphis is in very good hands and he’s doing very well

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