Tag: Ten Cate

Where are the Dutch top coaches?

It’s been another eventful week for the Dutch football fans. We are smashing the coefficiency ratios with our tremendous results in Europe (Ajax, Feyenoord, AZ, Vitesse, PSV) and we might see all teams surviving the usually devastating winter break!

Ajax got a bit lucky, Feyenoord was able to adapt to the muddy pitch best, PSV had to do without creative influx from Gotze, Propper and Gakpo while Vitesse was close to getting another result vs Spurs. AZ has found their mojo again and has been playing some excellent football (again). This weekend, it’s Arne Slot vs his old club…

And our master coach Louis van Gaal announced his definitive squad for this last World Cup qualification block, leaving Krul out (wouldn’t it be better to get an experienced goalie in, alongside young Bijlow and Drommel? Cillesen even?). Owen Wijndal loses out against Malacia and Luuk de Jong is not longer needed as pinch hitter as Louis has decided on Memphis as #9, knowing that Gakpo, Malen, Danjuma, Lang are excellent options on the left. Berghuis is still the only real right winger, (“real”) with Bergwijn also dropping out.

When van Gaal was announced as the new NT manager, his third stint, he said the following during a press conference: “Who else would there be to take this job?”. Telling words. And add to that the oft heard criticism here, by the Dutch Bleeders: “Why always a Dutch coach??” , “Blind and De Boer are useless, headless chickens who don’t deserve to be alive” and more of that :-).

Stam quit his job at Feyenoord when he realised he couldn’t play how he wanted…

This is inspired by a VI article by Pieter Zwart about the lack of Dutch coaches breaking through to the absolute top.

We used to have Beenhakker (Ajax, Feyenoord, Real Madrid), Hiddink (PSV, Valencia, Real Madrid), Advocaat (PSV, Zenit), Van Gaal (Barca, Bayern, Man U), Van Marwijk (Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund), Ten Cate (Ajax, Chelsea, Barca) to name a few, while Cruyff and Van Hanegem and Wim Jansen at a certain point felt “enough was enough”.

I think it is fair enough to have a critical look at the Dutch trainers course. Very expensive, and very ineffective. The vision of this course by the KNVB has shifted through time and it has been further tainted by privileges for ex players.

Jaap Stam had enough. The class room lessons didn’t work for Jaap. He started to complain in interviews and the media pressure was such that the KNVB decided to offer him and other ex-players a custom course. And it’s probably “typically Dutch” to feel above and beyond these courses. When Van Hanegem was asked what he had picked up from the course, his typical sardonic response was “my cigarette butts after the course”. Cruyff even completely refused to take any course, saying that spending 20 years in a dressing room is worth more thn 2,000 diplomas. He was Ajax’ head coach but decided to call himself Technical Director so he could bypass the Dutch KNVB regulations.

Based on that feedback, the KNVB decided to offer short track courses to ex players, with 50 caps or more. Marco van Basten retired from football at 29. He took many years off and when he returned in 2002, he wanted to become a coach. The KNVB offered him a short course and within the year he had the highest diploma in Dutch coaching. After one season as coach of Ajax 2, with friend Van ‘t Schip, the KNVB appointed them both as NT managers.

Two national team managers

Now, Van Basten says: “And there I was. Boom. National Team manager. I wasn’t ready for that. I simply lacked the experience to be comfortable as a head coach.” In his autobiography he admits he missed hours and hours of sleep, purely from stress. In Sweden 2004, when he made his debut, he had completely forgotten to bring his analysis notes of the opponent. He was not particularly strong in communications with his players and decided in 2014 that coaching was really not his thing.

Frank Rijkaard won the Champions League with Barca, but got relegated with Sparta. Ronald Koeman had good (Ajax, Feyenoord, Southampton, Oranje) and bad spells (Valencia, Barcelona, Everton, AZ) while Cocu and Frank de Boer saw their reputations tarnished abroad. Jan Wouters, Ruud Gullit, Ruud Krol, Johan Neeskens, Clarence Seedorf, Jaap Stam and Edgar Davids all took blows in their careers. As Co Adriaanse said: “A good horse doesn’t make a good jockey!”

Bergkamp, Cocu and Kluivert with their diplomas

The KNVB created a kartel. Ex players were short tracked through the course while non-players had an extremely difficult time trying to get through to the course. Someone like Julian Nagelsmann or Jose Mourinho would have struggled to get their diploma in The Netherlands. Even Arne Slot and Danny Buijs struggled to get in, in 2017! In that year, the rules were re-considered, which als gave Sjors Ultee (Fortuna Sittard coach) the opportunity to snug in.

Our last biggest club success in the highest competition was Ajax’ Van Gaal in 1995. Now we look back and know that a change in rules in 1992 was key to Ajax’ success. The goalie was no longer allowed to pick up a back pass. Ajax was known to press high and that tactics resulted in a high number of goal keeper kicking errors, which Ajax could use to turn around possession. But that benefit has long dissipated into thin air.

The first coaching course, with Rijsbergen, Stafleu and Willem van Hanegem

Van Gaal was the last Dutch coach to be in a Champions League final, and to win a foreign title with Bayern. After Mark van Bommel and Ronald Koeman’s sacking, Peter Bosz is the only Dutch coach abroad, in a major competition.

Today’s Dutch School flag bearers are non Dutch. Like Pep Guardiola. Where his Dutch colleagues were short-tracked, Pep took the long way. He went to play in Mexico, to get a chance to work with Juanma Lillo, a Spanish coach with particular views on football. He also visiting football professor Bielsa in Argentina, to take his lessons. Bielsa was so obsessed with Van Gaal’s Ajax, that he would watch the games and he would stop the match when Van Gaal would make changes. And he would then try to second guess what the Ajax coach would do, assisted by his wife.

According to the Dutch coaching candidates, we have four issues with our coaching program. Firstly, the cost. A Dutch diploma costs twice as much as the equivalent in other European countries. These high rates are a stumbling block for many ex players to have a go. Secondly, the contents of the course is outdated. It’s talk, show, do. The coaching objective must be articulated in 5 Ws: What do we want? Where on the pitch? Who are the key players? When do we execute? What is the role of the opponent? Situational coaching, it is called. The Dutch coaches first explain the situation, then show it and then go and practice it, with the Dutch coach constantly stopping the play to go through the solution and practice that, almost in slow motion.

Rijkaard, Neeskens, Hiddink (NT coach in 1998), Gullit and Koeman (who received their diplomas)

This method doesn’t work in combination with the current standard of international football. Dutch coaches stop the play when a ball is turned over. Those are the moments to get the players attention in order to work on the situation. But subconsciously, that “stopping” at turn overs becomes part of the players’ behaviour!

Thirdly, the teachers at the coaching course. There has not been any new fresh blood. The coaches are theoretically strong but lack any real world consciousness around coaching and managing. The fourth issues, is that every student will graduate. You cannot fail. You pay, you get the diploma.

Marcel Lucassen is the new director football development at the KNVB and he will take his experience with the German DFB, Al-Nasr and Arsenal and inject his ideas into our coaching curriculum.

With the successful exploits of young coaches like Arne Slot, Danny Buijs (Groningen), Sjors Ultee, Kees van Wonderen (Go Ahead), Rogier Meijer (NEC), Johnny Jansen (Heerenveen), Pascal Jansen (AZ), Erik ten Hag, Wim Jonk (Volendam), Reinier Robbemond (De Graafschap), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Young PSV), John Heitinga (Young Ajax), we might see a new generation of “top coaches” emerge.

Success coach Sjors Ultee would not have been admitted in the old regime

Bookmark and Share

Wanted: brave, strong coach for Oranje

Belgium actually had an open vacancy call for coaches, and Roberto Martinez wrote a nice letter. And got the job.

Why not find out if there is someone out there, with a soft spot for the Dutch? Wenger, Klopp, Martinez, Zidane, they all have expressed their huge admiration for the Dutch school of football. I know we can’t pay the salary Zidane would get with France or any club, but he might enjoy it. Why not try.

The national team manager’s role is a fun one, I can imagine. You don’t have the daily pressure and stress. Hell, you can sleep in most days. You get to watch all these games on the credit card of the KNVB. Travel to Paris, to Barcelona, Milan, Torino, Liverpool, Moscow, Amsterdam… What’s not to like?

Arsene Wenger and Andries Jonker

You can’t fail worse than de Boer. That is also a tick! And then around World Cup time, you enter the pressure cooker which must also be good fun when you love football!

The debate is raging in The Netherlands, and some people come up with some interesting names and combinations.

Below my comments. But before I start, let me know your ideas.

Also, the debate Dutch vs Foreign… I used to be very firm on this: only Dutch coaches please! And why? Communication (I can’t see a coach like Bielsa inspire our lads, mainly due to his weak skills in English (and Dutch). But also understanding of the football culture. But, by now, we can safely say that the long list of Dutch options is really not that long a list… Let’s face it. Koeman, Bosz and Ten Hag (ideal candidates) are stuck with their (new) clubs and happy to be in that situation.

Then there are the Van Gaal’s, Advocaats, the Van Marwijks and Ten Cates… They are getting old a bit. You don’t want them push a walking trolly onto the pitch, in 1,5 years. But, I do have a weak spot for Ten Cate. I will explain why below.

Yes, I would go for Ten Cate. Because he has demonstrated in his illustrious career to follow the rule book on Dutch attacking football. Ten Cate has balls, swagger and authority. An Amsterdam street kid, who put the fear of the football Gods in a guy like Wesley Sneijder. That says something! He would be the perfect figure head. He’s smart, he won’t get bullied by the media and he’s not afraid to tell Memphis to shape up or ship out. In combination with Gullit and field trainer Marcel Keizer, it will be a solid combi.

I would not mind a foreign coach, but it needs to be a big name and a guy who has expressed admiration for the Dutch school of football. So, in other words: NOT MOURINHO.

I personally like Zidane, the Danish coach Hjulmand, Rudy Garcia and Wenger.

I’m not a fan of Joachim Low and also not a big fan of Martinez.

The KNVB have put themselves in further turmoil. Nico Jan Hoogma was a good defender (many years in the Bundesliga) and a decent technical director at Heracles Almelo (!!). But he is way too light for the KNVB role.

Henk “The Don” Ten Cate

He was happy with Koeman. Then, when Koeman left, he went after “Koeman 2.0”. That is never a smart thing! Frank de Boer felt it as a yoke and obviously, De Boer is NOT Koeman. I mean, even Erwin Koeman is not Ronald Koeman. Koeman is history, move on man!

And now, with De Boer gone, Hoogma again stumbles and stutters in his first interview post De Boer: “eh… yes….we now will eh… dust off the requirements and…eh… have a good think…because eh… we need a strong man. Like Koeman, Koeman was the chef. The boss. That is needed…”

The interviewer: “So you want another type Koeman?”

Hoogma: “Well… I guess now, if I have to say this, my feeling now, is…yes I am leaning that way.”

WTF. Weaklings.

Time for these bozos to go too.

Kasper Hjulmand

Van Gaal will probably smile and lick his lips. When Koeman left, the nation suggested Van Gaal. But some of the players (Memphis? Van Dijk?) voted against him and the KNVB themselves were happy with that, as Van Gaal bulldozers into any organisation and demands wholesale changes. Of the trainings grounds, the media people, the assistant coaches, the medical staff, etc etc.

The KNVB wanted a weak coach who would be happy with the current staff. And they got what they wanted.

If they now do come to decide for Van Gaal again, he will probably blast Hoogma and Co away and dominate proceedings as per usual.

For the record: I would not pick Van Gaal yet again. I think his tricks have worked in the past (with the aforementioned Memphis) but most players are sick of him now.

Lets open up de debate!

Bookmark and Share

The New Oranje Coach

No no! It won’t be Advocaat or Blind :-).

As we discussed earlier, Koeman is not to be denied at Barcelona. How different will it be for his successor at the KNVB. With Malen and Memphis fit and ready, as we hope, when the Euros 2021 start (or IF), there will be known issues for the new coach.

Koeman did an excellent job revitalising Oranje, getting the fans to love the team again and bring new talent to the fore. Hiddink, Blind and Advocaat might not have had the results we craved but during that time, some incredible talents broke through and our new coach will be salivating by the thought.

The biggest problem our new coach will have, is to find the best team out of the talents we have or to find a way to start a game with 15 players, instead of 11.

With Stekelenburg back at Ajax, it’s fair to say we will not have a keeper problem either!

So you have the key players from the past couple of seasons (Memphis, Blind, Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, De Ligt, Frenkie) and now the coach can pencil in some new names like Schuurs, Ihatarren, Gakpo, Gravenberch, Malen, Stengs, Wijndal, etc etc…

There is a debate going on in the country, as to who should be the new coach, of course. The KNVB will give Dwight Lodeweges – Ronald’s assistant – the nod for the coming games but will most likely name a bigger name coach for the job sometime soon.

The first question is: does it need to be a Dutchie, or should we go for a foreign coach?

The answer, as far as I am concerned, is: A Dutch Coach. Always.

I know it’s conservative, but I also think you don’t experiment with these things.

We did have foreign coaches before and they were quite the success too (well, Ernst Happel is the only one that comes to mind… Georg Kessler was less successful and part Dutch). But Happel worked in The Netherlands (ADO Den Haag and Feyenoord) and knew the Dutch football culture well. Even more so: Happel was more responsible for our Total Football than Michels… (see a couple of blog post earlier).

But with the typical Dutch style, the typical Dutch culture (direct in communications) and the need to finally get success at a big tournament, I would want a coach who understands all these things well… This shouldn’t be a “job” for some foreign coach to take just to up his image. This should be a mission, a real purpose of a job for a Dutch coach, who shares the football vision, gets the subtleties and dynamics of the language and customs and who can pick up on Koeman’s work and progress it.

Dwight Lodeweges

Unless, we really don’t have a single candidate who could do it. But I doubt that.

So, for me, no Klinsmann, or Rangnick, or Jardem or whoever. For starters, do we know these guys can play national team manager? Being a club coach is completely different. Pochettino is a good club coach, but does that make him a good national team manager? Who knows?

It will be easier for us Dutchies to assess this with coaches / ex-players we know. I think it’s fair to say that a guy like Cocu could do the job. He’s assisted Van Marwijk, he played for Oranje and he would know what it takes. This can be said of Henk ten Cate as well. Frank de Boer, another name mentioned, is maybe less fit for the job. He seems to need time with his players, make his hands dirty and use a highly disciplined management style (which cost him some jobs already, of course). I think Frank might fail in the football vision department (at Ajax he was criticised for playing negative, boring football) and he seems to miss the flair and people management style to make Oranje a nice place to be at… It’s my way or the high way with Frank.

Cocu won’t come back from England now, for the job, I don’t think. He might be a candidate later.

Louis van Gaal is mentioned too. I really don’t think that is wise. He got the best of the team in 2014. When we were the massive underdog. Since then, his relationship with the likes of Van Persie and Memphis deteriorated. I think the Van Gaal effect is gone now and the players matured and won’t fall for the Van Gaal antics this time around, I don’t think.

We saw this with his players in 2000, when his methods were considered “been there, done that” by the experienced players and the magic was gone.

Peter Bosz could be a good candidate, but he won’t be leaving Leverkusen now, I don’t think. Again, a candidate for later?

At this point, I would go for an experienced Dutch coach. Keep Lodeweges for the friendlies, if you must. And get a coach like Henk ten Cate in for the tournament.

Henk has worked at the top level of (international) football, with Barca, Chelsea, Ajax. He is financially independent. He is great with young talents and knows everything there is to know about football and about Dutch players. He will not get overwhelmed in a big occasion and he will have the discipline and management style that is befitting a Dutch group of players.

And don’t forget: he was team manager before. For 1 day. When Hans van Breukelen really screwed up the process of hiring a new manager. He told Henk in his interview, he was the man for the job (witnesses present). Only to go to Dick Advocaat and being pressured into signing Dick. What a mess. Henk was fuming. I hope he’ll do it now.

For me, Henk it is.


Bookmark and Share

Another KNVB/Breukelen screw up!

Will it ever end. When will someone step up and deal with this. And don’t forget: the KNVB is not owned by the clowns in management, or even the non-existing board… It’s the members! It’s a association and the club – amateurs and pro clubs – are the final authority. So even if we have this part time marketing guy formally now as the main man, and Technical Director Hans van Breukelen being able to keep on screwing things up and blundering like an elephant through the crystal shop (Dutch expression I think).

So here is the story.

Hans van Breukelen as the main man in technical areas took it upon himself to find the new team manager. Their profile for it is non-existent. They talked about making a profile but based on the people he spoke with, there doesn’t seem to be any consistency. He went from Frank de Boer to Louis van Gaal. He also went to talk to the key Oranje players (Strootman, Robben, Sneijder) and discussed names with them. Unsure which ones, but one name in particular was NOT discussed. Not by Hans and not by the players. The name of Dick Advocaat.

breuk suf

Henk ten Cate was discussed and most if not all people with anything to say about it (players, ex-coaches, ex-captains, analysts, media) were positive about Henk. He’s got experience. He loves attacking football. He’s a tough task master. He worked internationally. He has a lot of experience.

Henk was happy to go with Ruud Gullit and Fred Rutten as his assistants.

So, Hans van Breukelen flew to Dubai (where Henk lives now) and discuss the situation with Henk. They didn’t really have a relationship and didn’t know each other too well. But Henk and Hans hit it off. Their 1,5 meeting went to 4 hours, in the daytime. Discussing football, tactics, vision, short term needs, assistants, etc etc. Hans was very positive and said to Henk: “I have not had an intense and good discussion with someone I really don’t know well for a long time!”. So Henk invited Hans for dinner that evening in a top notch restaurant. They spend another 4 hours. But this time, they discussed more than football. It was about life, love, family and probably good wines. They fell in love with each other. They hugged when they went their separate ways.

Hans said: “I have a very good feeling about this. I will call you tomorrow for next steps.”

The next day, Hans called Ten Cate. “Congratulations! You’re the team manager. We’ll make it work. I’ll go and talk to Fred Rutten and we’ll go for it.”


Van Breukelen even sent a number of text messages to confirm the appointment and more.

Hans called Fred Rutten to let him know he was in. And that he wanted Fred to come in. Fred would wait for Hans’ call. Ruud Gullit’s appointment would be harder. Ruud and Hans had a major falling out and Ruud pinpointed some lies and untruths and told the media Hans van Breukelen was “a liar and untrustworthy”.

So, it might well be Van Breukelen’s ego keeping Gullit out of the team now. Which in itself would be terrible. Gullit, one of the most recognisable Dutch sports heroes (probably second behind Cruyff). Two times European player of the year, one time world player of the year.

Apparently, Louis van Gaal plays a part in the background as well. He does not have any official role within the KNVB and has said NO to the coaching job, but is the power behind the throne. Apparently, Van Breukelen and the marketing dude (don’t even remember his name) seem to turn to Louis at every single turn for advice. Also, very strange indeed. Not that Louis is a fool. He’d make a very good technical director, probably. But now, the KNVB is not doing the transparant thing, letting their ear hang to someone who might decide not to get involved.

louis zonnekoning

Louis The Sunking?

Anyway, back to Henk and Hans.

Hans informed his family and some of the players were given word that Henk would be their new coach.

The next day, however. Henk received another call from Hans. “Henk, I’m sorry. I am going to need some more time”. Because Fred Rutten apparently decided not to go for the assistant role. And that was the strange reason Hans gave Henk, why they wanted to re-consider.

“Reconsider??” Henk ten Cate said? “What do you mean? You congratulated me? You told me I was the man?”. Hans started to mumble something about “some people in the KNVB having second thoughts, and give me a week to sort it out and then I’ll get back to you.” Henk said: “Hans, this is stupid. Unprofessional. You shook my hand, you sent me text messages to confirm. And now this? I won’t do it if people are doubting. If there is no consensus to sign me, forget it. I’m pulling out!”.

And this is where Hans said: “No! Don’t pull out! I can fix it. Give me some time.”

To which Henk got even more irrate and said: “Hans, this is it. It’s done. I’m not doing it. Good luck!”

Which prompted Hans van Breukelen and his ship of fools to immediately try and sign Advocaat.


The Traitor

This in turn got the players all confused? They responded to the messages in the media by asking Van Breukelen how it was possible that Advocaat was never mentioned in any conversation, not by Hans, not by them… And now suddenly, he’s the man!?

Van Breukelen let on to the media now, that he hopes to present Dick on Tuesday coming week!

But Advocaat informally told his close friends, that he’s not sure yet and will discuss more with the KNVB next week Wednesday.


But wait for it!!! It gets even better….

Dick Advocaat will not start – if he starts in the job – before June 1. As Fener has a cup final on the 31st of May.

But Oranje’s new match cycle starts end of May, with a friendly vs Morocco. It would be odd to start this new cycle with the new NT manager coming in after that preparation game. I know, it’s only Luxembourg at home, so it probably wouldn’t matter too much, but it goes to show how unprofessional this federation currently is going about things.

And to top it all of: the KNVB and Hans van Breukelen came out with a press release, denying everything Ten Cate said. They claim Van Breukelen didn’t appoint Ten Cate. That it wasn’t decided at all. Typical.

What the KNVB did not know, was that when Ten Cate was informed by De Breuk that he was Da Man, Ten Cate was driving in his car with a Dutch sports journalist. Van Breukelen was on speaker phone. The reporter got it all. Not only that, Henk still has the text messages on his phone, with Van Breukelen congratulating Ten Cate.

euro 2012

So, again, the KNVB and Hans van Breukelen have been caught lying, outright. To cover their ass!

Ten Cate is livid, coz they are now basically saying Henk is lying. Whereas he has proof that he’s not.

And the reporter has already wrote a very damaging piece in the biggest football magazine in Holland, exposing the lies.

Fred Rutten, even though he will not take the assistant role, has also publicly stated that when he was called by Van Breukelen for the role of assistant, Hans told him flat out: Henk ten Cate is our new coach. Do you want to talk with us re: assistant role? Rutten oozes integrity. He does not have a reason to lie about this.

So the net is closing in on Van Breukelen. He should go. ASAP. He’s a lightweight. A nitwit. Blundering his way through life. He was a decent goalie. Once upon a time.

The big question is also: who within the KNVB doesn’t want to work with Henk ten Cate? And why? The marketing dude (Decossier or whatever his name is) won’t be the one. He always claims to not get involved in football matters. So could it be that Louis van Gaal made it hard for Hans? If so, why didn’t Hans check with Louis beforehand if Louis the boss? Who else could it be?

And why?

So it now seems we get the Money Grabbing Traitor back as NT manager. Stepping up after the first friendly.

Or…if that doesn’t happen… maybe Hans van Breukelen will appoint himself? As long as he doesn’t lie to himself as well and pulls out the next day…


gullit advo94

Interesting pic from 1994. Prior to the US World Cup, Gullit pulled out of the squad over differences of opinion with coach Advocaat. Ruud realised the heat in Florida would impact the matches and had tactical suggestions for Dick to consider. The little Napoleon ignored it and Ruud decided to pull out. He was right. The heat and humidity resulted in a poor group performance of Oranje. We ended up exiting early vs Brazil which prompted Dick to conclude they “had a very successfull campaign and Oranje is in the top 16 of the world!” WTF!!

Bookmark and Share