The New Oranje Coach…

KNVB General Manager Gudde, coach “inbetween jobs” Koeman and Feyenoord TD Martin van Geel

While Feyenoord got the maximum result out of the Champions League (getting on the score-sheet), we will keep our focus on the National Team.

Names. It seems the problem of Oranje will be fixed by yelling out names. “Van Gaal!” “Koeman!” “De Boer!” “Advocaat!”

Luckily, the new board of directors (chaired by Jan Smit) has made it clear. “We won’t start by appointing a coach. We will first introduce the new Technical Director”. And that new role will be key. That man will come up with the strategy for the KNVB in football development and support. And he will appoint the new coach.

As it is supposed to be.

We have had to deal with a KNVB without a technical director for too long and most of our issues are the result of this. Our coaching training, our youth system structure, the scouting and development programs, the selection and guidance of the Oranje coach, you name it. I don’t even count Hans van Breukelen as TD, he was a joke.

Rutten Fred

Fred Rutten

So, people without any real football insights or network just picked the popular name from the hat and basically said: “Play Dutch school football and get us to the tournaments”. That was all.

And these same people then went out and assessed the work of the coach. Bert van Marwijk, Guus Hiddink, they all had to suffer those morons. Danny Blind even had to deal with Hans van Breukelen…

The new general manager, Eric Gudde, has worked extensively in football. He knows club football inside out. He has a network. And he has the experience.

The Technical Director will need to be the man for the long term. This is why I think Van Gaal and Adriaanse will not be the right choice. Yes, if they would have been in their 50s. But Co is 70 years old. Van Gaal is also getting on in life, but for him I have more reasons why I think he’s not the right man. Too dictatorial. No real experience in this role. Tends to look too closely over the shoulders of the coach. Etc etc…

Time for new blood. Time for people with a long-term vision, with knowledge of coaching and player development. Good communication skills. Good management skills.


Jordi Cruyff

There are some excellent options around. Fred Rutten could be the man. He’s heavy on the football content and less charismatic and communicative maybe than other candidates, but he would be perfect for the role. He is highly respected, breathes football, has experience in different roles, hardly has any enemies. A real pro.

Martin van Geel and Marcel Brands are two good candidates as well. Both have a history as player, they have managed the technical affairs of big clubs (AZ, Feyenoord, Ajax, PSV) and have authority.

Jordi Cruyff could be a candidate too. Ex-player, son-of, coaching and management experience. Great network.

I hope it will be one of those. Van Geel and Gudde worked well as a team for Feyenoord for 10+ years. An outsider could be Robert Eenhoorn. He does not have a player background (but he did play for the Dutch baseball team for years) and he’s the man behind the tremendous success of the AZ Alkmaar academy. A good communicator, highly respected and a strong personality.

I hope that, whoever it will be, the new man will include people like Rene Meulensteen and / or Gert jan Verbeek in his team. Meulensteen should take the role as Innovation and Performance Manager (now taken by ex Volleyball coach/icon Peter Blange) and Verbeek could be awesome in coaching training development. Verbeek is always on the bleeding edge of coaching development. But sadly, he went to work for his boyhood dream club FC Twente.


Rene Meulensteen

Once that team is settled and the new direction of our football becomes clear, the new coach will need to be appointed (before March 2018), based on a clear profile description. Not just based on yelling a popular name.

The generation of the 1970s is done. Advocaat, Van Hanegem, Ten Cate, Jol, Adriaanse, Van Gaal… Forget about them. The gap with the current generation is too big. Some are too anal (Van Gaal, Adriaanse), some are too old-fashioned… “Go out there and enjoy yourself”. “No bullshit, just play football!” These are Happelesque and Michelsian statements that won’t cut it today.

The generation of the 1980s did not deliver too many great coaches. Rijkaard and Van Basten are out of the game. Gullit had a hit and mostly miss coaching career. Wouters decided early in his career that he is more an assistant than a head coach. Muhren prefers to be youth coach. Kieft is analyst on tv. Van Tiggelen is assistant coach. Only John van ‘t Schip has progressed his career relatively well. Success at Ajax 2. Less so at Twente. Relatively good with San Marco at Oranje. Successful with Melbourne Heart/City. Less successfull in Mexico. And now successful with PEC Zwolle.Peter Bosz might well the ideal candidate but I can’t see him depart Dortmund and this stage.


John van ‘t Schip

And there’s Ronald and Erwin Koeman, of course. They are the obvious choice for many. I can see that. Experience, the right age group, authority, discipline, huge careers as players, and Ronald worked only recently with some key Oranje players.

However, it would be terribly opportunistic to go and pick the ex Everton coach, just like that. I am all for a proper profile description matched to a job description. And a thorough assessment of the fit.

Maybe there are elements in Koeman’s approach or vision that won’t work with Oranje? Maybe there are better candidates? Maybe the new Technical Director has reasons not to want Koeman? Let’s do it properly.

There definitely is a new emerging generation of coaches. One could call them “laptop coaches”. Who – like Verbeek and Guardiola – use modern tools and techniques and have a fresh tactical outlook on coaching.

Koeman’s transfer summer and resulting season start were not too great and he was responsible… Being a club coach is totally different than being an NT manager so I would definitely tread carefully with appointing Koeman.

The new generation has names like Cocu, Frank de Boer, Gio van Bronckhorst, Erik ten Hag, Alex Pastoor, Fons Groenendijk, Jaap Stam. All these coaches have demonstrated to work well with the current generation of players. Erik ten Hag in particular – protege of Pep Guardiola – has demonstrated to work really well with “difficult characters”. Quincy Promes, Labayad, Haps, many disgruntled players were taken in by Ten Hag and turned around. He confronts them, stimulates them, “reaches” them and like Peter Bosz and Pep has a very thorough tactical approach and vision.


Erik ten Hag

I have never been open to a foreign coach. For obvious reasons… football culture, know-how of Dutch players, language… But these days, I think why not? We have had many foreign NT managers in the past, and nowadays, coaches from Argentina, Germany, Spain and Portugal have taken over our role as go-to innovators. Wagner, Klopp, Conte, Silva, Pochetino, Preud’homme, you can’t say these guys are struggling…

But here’s the problem. For the foreign big names and for the likes of Koeman and Bosz… The KNVB will not pay the fee that coaches get paid in other nations or at clubs. Koeman was on 6 million. Bosz is on 4,5 million. The KNVB will pay 800,000 max per annum for their NT manager. Maybe 1 million tops.

Based on the fact that we need to build for at least 4 years, using the utility talent of Wijnaldum, Blind and Strootman, and allow the young talents to shine, Koeman might well be not the right man for the job. Koeman, like Advocaat, is a result driven short-term thinking coach. I think he is good at club level (not great) but potentially not the man for the national team.

Like Italy did years ago and Germany with Low, maybe we should forget about the big name club coach and appoint a guy who can build. Who can instill a new Dutch football vision into the KNVB and the club academies and inspire a new style NT towards trophies.


Alfons Groenendijk

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  1. Great post Jan,

    I am very happy that Jan Smith said they will appoint the technical Director first, and then, he will appoint the coach.

    I like a lot the idea of having Jordi Cruyff, but I don´t know if he will be strong enough to confront or manage all the enemies, egos and critics that will be around this job.

    My main concern is the eternal fight between Van Gaal and Cruyff schools.

    Van Gaal focus mainly in the team system, excluding any individualism, while Cruyff (as we can read in the previos post) focus more in the player development and in his skills.

    Well, i just wish for once this new team make the thinks right.

    I would love to see people like Win Jonk, Jordi Cruyff and a new coach, getting involve!!!

    1. I don’t think shrinking the league down to 16 clubs is the solution.
      Maybe the Eredivisie should merge with the Belgian league (I am not saying this is the solution. The idea should be explored seriously) If the details such as power sharing, finances, etc could be worked out, it would increase the level of competition. The top 10 teams from both countries will make up a new league ( or 12 from Holland and 8 from Belgium)

      Another option is for the top Eredivisie teams to find new sponsors with deep pockets. Whether you like it or not, success is now determined by financial capacity. There maybe exceptions here and there (like Ajax making it to the UEFA final) but football at the club level has fundamentally changed.

      Unless a salary cap or major clamp down from UEFA to strictly enforce a level playing field is implemented, football is going to be dominated by the ultra rich clubs for the foreseeable future.

      The bottom line is that, whatever is happening now is not working!
      So the question is: Are we going to sit there and cry about the unfair conditions while continuing on the current path or explore new ideas and take bold steps?

    1. I think with Bosz you also need depth in the team and as well as player quality.if I remember correctly when he took over vitesse from Fred Rutten. he couldnt replicate what his compariot managed to do in the previous season especially with the depatures of high profile players in the team that time. Van Ginkel,Bony and Buttner. in contrast we all know what he did at Ajax with bunch of young and talented group.

      again around 2026 is when Bosz should be considered for the NT job. this is when some of the elites young players coming up will be stepping up to the next level.

  2. Marvelous piece, Jan. Seeing your thoughtful analysis of an array of technical and coaching talent gives me hope and (provisional) excitement for the years to come.

  3. Echoing the other posters, this an excellent piece, Jan. Good insights, detailed. Lots to think about.

    I am curious; of the people you’ve mentioned, is there anyone’s name floating in the wind that seems to be the favorite for the TD job?

    Re Van Gaal as TD. I agree that it would be difficult for him in the upstairs role. He is too hands on. My feeling is that if he were selected, he’d probably end up coaching the team. Not at first, but eventually—guys like LVG always want to talk about removing themselves from the day-to-day coaching turbulence, taking an upper management role to put their vision in place, building and leaving a coaching tree, etc. And I’m sure they believe these things when they say it. But guys like him are coaches first, last and always.

  4. Jan, great article with one small comment. Earnie Stewart is a father of AZ Alkmaar’s Football Academy. Eenhorn inherited everything that Earnie created and established.

  5. U21 squad:

    The full squad is as follows:

    Goalkeepers: Yanick van Osch (PSV), Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Joel Drommel (Twente)

    Defenders: Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Crystal Palace), Justin Hoogma (Hoffenheim), Rick van Drongelen (Hamburg), Thomas Ouwejan (AZ), Denzel Dumfries (Heerenveen), Jerry St Juste (Feyenoord)

    Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax), Pablo Rosario (PSV), Guus Til (AZ), Riechedly Bazoer (Wolfsburg), Bart Ramselaar (PSV)

    Attackers: Justin Kluivert (Ajax), Gervane Kastaneer (Kaiserslautern), Sam Lammers (PSV), Oussama Idrissi (Groningen), Steven Bergwijn (PSV)

    Any comments on

    Strikers: Kastaneer, Idrissi and Lammers?

    Midfielders: Pablo Rosario (PSV), Guus Til (AZ)

  6. Keepers: Jasper Cillessen (Barcelona), Michel Vorm (Tottenham Hotspur), Jeroen Zoet (PSV)

    Defenders: Nathan Aké (AFC Bournemouth), Virgil van Dijk (Southampton), Wesley Hoedt (Southampton), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax) Karim Rekik (Hertha BSC), Kenny Tete (Olympique Lyon), Joël Veltman (Ajax)

    Midfielders: Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Daley Blind (Manchester United), Marco van Ginkel (PSV), Davy Pröpper (Brighton & Hove Albion ), Wesley Sneijder (OGC Nice), Kevin Strootman (AS Roma), Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

    Attackers: Ryan Babel (Besiktas), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Memphis Depay (Olympique Lyon), Bas Dost (Sporting Lisbon), Vincent Janssen (Fenerbahçe), Jürgen Locadia (PSV), Quincy Promes (Spartak Moscow)

    is Dick having a problem with De Vrij? he’s having a great form lately, captaining Lazio to win 1-0 vs Nice.

  7. I don’t think the great coaches need player experience. Look at Mike Babcock. He’s the greatest coach in the history of the NHL and he wasn’t a pro player. I definitely would choose de Boer as the next coach though

    1. Yes, great coaches do not need player experiences but they need to show a track record of success and career progression working their way up the ranks before being named national team coach.

      Players in general prefer former players because they can connect with them and earn the respect in the locker room. The players understand that the coach has paid his dues and know how it feels to be in their position.

      De Boer’s career was very promising when he was at Ajax. After the Inter and Crystal Palace debacles, I wouldn’t place him as my automatic top choice. I don’t have anything against him, it just that I would like to see more from him before he takes over Oranje.

        1. He won 4 league titles but you should take a look who he won against!! A bankrupt Feyenoord team, a PSV who was bailed out from the city of Eindhoven due to debt while De Boer was coaching players like Eriksesn, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Van der Wiel, Blind, Stekelemburg, De Jong etc. Why don’t tell me how he did in the European competitions with Ajax in the 6 years he was with the club……how about embarrassment after embarrassment making this great team invisible in the European map, getting eliminated from teams like Spartak Moskow, Steaua Bucuresti, Salzburg, Dnipro, Rapid Wien and almost the mighty Jablonec.

  8. Have you watched them play during that period? That is when we became the world champions of lateral and back passing. Not modern football. Yes we won 4 titles (not 5 by the way), but its was truly awful football except for 2 or 3 matches in 6 years. Terrible. I am with Tomy14, De Boer should never coach again.

  9. Bosz is also under pressure now at Dortmund after going down to Bayern 3-1 following the mid week draw in CL to Apoel which further ended their chances of qualifying to next round.don’t think he will last either if the results dont start changing in his win in last five games.

  10. Watching PSV vs. Twente. Twente is playing with high level enthusiasm which is understandable as they just changed their coach and players try to impress GJV. However, what strikes me is how leaders of Eredivisie are not mentally and physically prepared when other teams show resistance. Look how Ajax went down against Utrecht, which historically play well against Amsterdammers as they hate them. Now PSV, they can not find a solution against brave Twente. Big three of Dutch league are so much comfortable when other teams of Eredivisie play submissively against them.

  11. Karim Rekik is having a good outings at Hertha Berlin.another goal for him over the weekend. Might well start in the upcoming friendly.hoedt. Janssen and Vorm have all pulled out due to injuries.

    Depay with another fine performance for Lyon as they crushed st etienne 5-0 to climb to third in overall standing.still not at his very best but is starting to show alot of improvement.

    Clasie also was back on the bench for brugge but didn’t get any minutes. He really needs to come back to eredivisie or simply go to a club where he can get consistent minutes.

  12. Was watching the highlights of sporting Lisbon and Braga and its amazing how effectively they use Bas Dost compared to him in NT where he often anonymous.jus explains the type of players who are around him at Lisbon is better suited to him then at NT.with Robben and Sneijder out of picture now,I would give Dost another chance with new wingers who can deliver timely crosses and CM who can continuously feed him.he is already on 9 goals so far and looks set to hit double figures by the end of this season.

    I also realized that Portuguese have lost a direct CL spot and now will have winners qualifying directly and runner ups going through qualification rounds compared to this season where Benfica and Porto qualified directly and sporting Lisbon pulled through qualification.

    There will be no direct qualification for dutch teams either and in 2018- 2019 season’ both winners and runnerup of eredivisie will have to go through qualifiers.

    1. Which wingers u have in mind???To crossdress Dost???our wingers are jokers at level best..No accuracy,no effective dribling skills,no intelligence…they are low quality..

      1. I thought you would be changed your mind after depays recent form. Clearly you haven’t seen him play. Boetius, kishna, bergwijn, promes all have amazing skill so I don’t know what you’re talking about

  13. I would go for Preudhome. Non dutch but also a little dutch, successful coach so far, good character. Forget current dutch crop of coaches who are shown to be crap the moment they depart Schiphol. Bosz is the latest embarrassing example. I bet he won’t be Dortmund coach by Christmas.

    1. Did you guys completely forget what he did last season at ajax? If they wouldve have fired him after a poor start last year ajax would never have made it to the Europa league final. He just needs time to adjust and gel his players. Honestly everyone is too quick to judge which is why teams don’t have success

  14. It all comes back to square 1. Players at your disposal.bosz is a good tactician but that doesn’t mean everything he touch can turn into gold. You need to have the right players to deploy any system and this has been evident with coaches like Conte,Allgeri,Jorge Jesus, contrast if you look at Pep,he is nothing without top players and also what Tommy14 has said about FDB is true. His triumph at Ajax came on the back of accomplished players he had that time.he started fading when these guy starting moving and he knew it was time to move. He shouldn’t come anywhere near NT.

    1. Vs Bayern Bosz had the midfield sitting deep and Bayern eventually punished them for that.on the other he needs urgent reinforcement in the back line like klopp at Liverpool.also I don’t think he is as bad as FDB was at Inter and Palace respectively.

  15. Hi guys, all great comments!

    It appears some NT players are being friendly for Advocaat, saying in the media how they wouldn’t mind working with him beyond these two friendlies.

    Luuk de Jong scored again after 8 months of drought and he’s called up for Oranje, as Dost and Locadia are out with injuries.

    I think Bosz will be given the chance to go on. Dortmund is a young-ish team. Losing vs Bayern is no drama and they might be better equipped now for the EL and not so much the CL

  16. I agree, it is such a bad decision to call LdJ only because he scored one goal within 8 months. I honestly do not think Weghorst is Oranje material, he is in form now but at Eredivisie level. Our current Oranje does not know how to engage central strikers like Dost or Weghorst. That is why, for the latter it is going to be very disappointing debut. I would agree with Eduardorw, it is time to get away from the classical central striker. However, Dick will follow classical 4-3-3 pattern. I suspect that his goal is get two wins out of these friendlies in order to improve the ranking so that NED will not go down to the third bucket for the Euro 2020 qualification draw. DA will very tactical.

  17. some quick news.

    Eric Gudde the new KNVD director says foreign coach totally “negotiable”. Polls are 50/50 approving/disapproving it.

    In another poll seems like folks want to see Depay as false #9 in the friendlies since Janssen and Dost are not avail.

    Sneijder says not ready to retire from the NT yet.

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