In a week in which I had some pleasant Dutch football surprises and some Dutch football shocks, I think it is time to look at the future of Dutch football. Yet again :-).
But this time from the coaching angle.
But lets first pick up the little tidbits of the week.
In which Alexander Buttner impressed (last week), Arjen Robben started in the 9-2 HSV whipping and came on quick against Juve for Kroos. And Wes Sneijder underwhelmed vs Real Madrid and got subbed. While Van der Wiel didn’t even play (for PSG vs Barca).
Alex Buttner is seen as a “fresh” player, by Sir Alex, in the business end of the season. And the way he played last week makes it clear that Evra can rest assured he can be missed. Strong in defence, working hard, and always a factor going forward. Buttner even showed he had a good right foot as well.
A high. And Arjen Robben was impressive too. Although not always for the right reasons. He works hard, he is keen to show Heynckes he belongs in the starting line up and against HSV he clearly did.
Against Juve though, he could have two goals in the first half of the game, but the CL curse keeps on bugging the former PSV winger, as he two shots were not well placed. With Kroos injured, Robben might see more action this season but one does wonder whether he needs to use that to play himself in the picture for a lesser team (Galatasaray? Inter Milan?).
Wes Sneijder looked forward to meeting his old chums in the Bernabeu but was sadly subbed after a mediocre first half.
Truth be told, I don’t think Sneijder played that bad. I watched him intensely and he does a lot of good without the ball. He is constantly available for the quick pass. Which would allow him to turn and find space for the forwards. But the rest of the team isn’t equipped to play like that. The Altintops of Gala are all keen to run with the ball themselves, till the cows come home and then they look up. Leaving a sad sack figure – Sneijder – in midfield. Chance gone.
I am not sure if it is just the team or also the coach who don’t see how to utilise Sneijder. I do know that if Galatasaray wants some yield from the former Ajax midfielder, they will need to play the ball to him early and they need runners who will explore the space for the through ball.
I have yet to watch Benfica play Newcastle so I will refrain from commenting on John and Anita (if they played), but I did see Feyenoord this morning with their clumsy and doubtful win over a fresh VVV.
Koeman used some harsh words after the game (Pelle wasn’t working hard enough and Boetius was subbed “because he was rubbish”… When the interviewer asked him what Boetius said about it, Koeman bit: “Nothing of course! An 18 year old is supposed to keep his mouth shut against the coach…”…. Well, well, well….
So lets look at our coaches. We do know by now that in terms of playing talent, we need not worry.
But in terms of coaches, we do have a category of top coaches, but they are all getting on age-wise.
Cruyff and Van Hanegem don’t coach anymore. Co Adriaanse is also in semi-retirement. I can’t see him moving down the Austrian mountain for just any club. Guus Hiddink is most likely working on his last gig, while Louis van Gaal might have the ambition for one more big gig after the Dutch team.
I don’t rate Dick Advocaat, as you might know, but he does belong in some list of coaches, but he will not be active too much longer either. Martin Jol doesn’t “have” it either, while Henk ten Cate is also back at the Jupiler level of Sparta Rotterdam.
The 1988 generation has a couple of active coaches left. Van Tiggelen, Muhren, Witschge, Vanenburg all seem to work at youth level and enjoying it.
Van ‘t Schip had his adventures in Australia and Mexico and is currently in between jobs.
We won’t mention Ruud Gullit, I guess…
Marco van Basten is impressing with Heerenveen, this second season half, but the jury is still out on him, I guess. He had a good spell with Oranje – despite some personnel issues with RVN and MVB – but a not so good experience at Ajax.
Frank Rijkaard won the CL with Barca but is now relatively anonymous in the Middle East.
It leaves Jan Wouters (Utrecht), Ronald Koeman (Feyenoord) and non-1988 Oranje player Fred Rutten (FC Twente) at the (sub)top of the Eredivisie.
Rutten was an exciting up and coming coach at Twente, but he didn’t deliver at Schalke 04 and didn’t win big trophies at PSV either. He is making an impression as Vitesse coach though.
Jan Wouters, a similar trajectory. Was hailed as the next big thing. Took on Ajax in a dreadful period. His demise there was documented in the Ajax documentary “Daar hoorden zij Engelen zingen…” ( “And hark the angels sang…” ). He left Holland for a spell and went to work for Glasgow Rangers, as the assistant coach. And the players and staff at Rangers couldn’t say enough great things about him, just like his mentors Cruyff and Van Hanegem did. After 5 years in Scotland, he returned to work as assistant coach at PSV, before returning to his first club FC Utrecht. First as assistant, and from 2011 onwards as head coach.
And Wouters is doing exceptionally well at the moment.
Ronald Koeman likes to see himself as the crown prince of coaches, but after somewhat questionable tenures at Ajax (clash with Van Gaal), PSV (exit during the season to hop on the Valencia train), Valencia (fired after abysmal results and clashes with key players) and an explicable early exit at AZ (“I still don’t know what happened…”) he is back in the limelight.
Koeman is leading a young Feyenoord potentially to the first title in 14 years. And as he likes to say “One day Oranje, one day Barcelona…”.
But, in all honesty, Feyenoord is waivering the last weeks. Playing with fear. Playing slow. No confidence and certainly not enough goals…
In this stage of the competition, it is key to see how the coach is able to keep the team together, motivate and take pressure off players and make sure they keep playing football.
After the VVV win, yesterday, he said “I don’t get it. They play as if they afraid.”
Well Ronald, this is the problem. This is something you should get. It’s your job. In this particular stage, to take your team by the hand. To keep the pressure away. To talk to them. To understand what is going on… Saying “I don’t get it” sums it for me. Koeman is not of the same level as Van Gaal or Hiddink.
Then there is the 1998 generation.
The man who shines brighter than anyone else, is currently Frank de Boer. Cool, calm and collected. Passionate on the byline, like he was on the pitch. Always in control. Always there for his team. And non withstanding the pressure of an Ajax organisation out of control, he won the title twice now, and is likely to be the first Ajax coach to win it three times in a row!
Young coaches to watch, are Jaap Stam (assistant at Zwolle, but joining the Ajax staff next season), Phillip Cocu (most likely taking the reigns at PSV next season), Alex Pastoor ( now at NEC, most likely the new man at AZ next season), Patrick Kluivert (asisstant coach to Louis van Gaal), Ajax youth coach Alphons Groenendijk and John van de Brom (Anderlecht).
Alfred Schreuder has been named as potential top coach but he has yet to prove at Twente that he is actually better than the man he replaced ( McLaren).
Another name that comes up is Nebo Gudelj, the Bosnian ex-NAC player who currently is guiding NAC out of the danger zone.
Enough options for the Dutch, I suppose. With JP van Gastel at Feyenoord even, ready to take control once Koeman moves to Barcelona.