Hi all, apologies for late post. This Covid-19 thing is putting a lot of pressure on. I’m sure you all feel it. I had to deal with work pressures and technical issues with the back-end of this blog… Thanks for sticking with us.
So… Frank de Boer! The Politically Correct Choice.
Ronald Koeman left. One would expect that the KNVB had Plan B ready and waiting, as Barcelona had asked Ronald twice (2!) before to come to the rescue. But no, the KNVB did not plan for this. At all.
So when Ronald left, the KNVB hastily spoke to the players about the new man. Never a good idea. Players should play. Once you start listening to them, you are lost. This is what they said: “We don’t want Van Gaal. We want someone like Henk ten Cate. We want to keep on doing what we did under Koeman. Oh, and we want this coaching staff to be kept together.”
So, there was the big stumbling block. When the KNVB decides to oppose what the players wanted, the players would be disappointed (hint: 1990! When players wanted JC but got Leo Beenhakker).
Any new coach the KNVB would bring in, would want to form his own staff. Louis van Gaal, God love him, called the KNVB himself and said he was willing and able to take the team and he had plans already for his staff. The KNVB had to tell him: “Sorry bro, but the players rather not….”
The KNVB decided, as was expected, to bypass Henk ten Cate. Reasons? He is arrogant and difficult to work with (for the KNVB! Players love him). And he would always want to form his own staff.
Plus, there was this episode with Hans van Breukelen. Short recap: Hans van Breukelen was Technical Director at the KNVB and offered Henk the NT job, before Advocaat was signed. Henk accepted. Hans actually was told by the KNVB that Henk wasn’t acceptable and they preferred Dick. So Hans called Henk, lied through his teeth and even told Henk “no one will believe you, it’s my word against yours and I am KNVB.” Well, silly Hans didn’t know Henk recorded all those conversations!
That put egg on the KNVB’s faces but it also meant the KNVB would never ever consider Henk ten Cate after this. Now he is called “untrustworthy” whereas he only protected himself. A bit like Julian Assange being charged with crimes! That is actually way way way worse of course, but yeah.
So now what? The KNVB quickly made everyone believe they were scouting the market for a new coach. And they did ever so blatantly amateurishly fake it.
They first called Frank Rijkaard. Who you say? Frank who? Oh…that ex-coach who quit football 10 or so years ago? He was clear: “Forget about it!”.
Then they called Peter Bosz. Knowing full well that he makes 3 times in Germany what he can get at the KNVB and Bosz isn’t ready yet with Leverkusen. Peter Bosz later declared that the call he received was very vague. “They didn’t ask me if I wanted to be the coach. They didn’t offer me anything. They asked me about my contract. I told them, I have another 2 years, so technically I am not available. And than they said: ok thanks and they hung up.” They never really wanted to go with Bosz.
Ruud Gullit would have been an option, at least for part of the role, maybe in combination with Henk ten Cate but the KNVB didn’t even talk to him.
Bert van Marwijk wasn’t asked. Phillip Cocu wasn’t asked. Van Bronckhorst wasn’t asked. It seems clear that the available option was Frank de Boer and the federation wanted him from the start. Because he was the easy choice.
He’s Dutch. He’s available. He has legend status as a player. He is malleable. Because Frank needs success. If his next job is also a disappointment, he will be washed out. No one would sign him anymore.
Four titles with Ajax is impressive, but as someone posted here: two of these four seasons were utterly boring and in a time when Feyenoord and PSV were having issues. I am certain there were mitigating circumstances at Inter and Palace, but still…. you can’t hide behind naive comments such as “the board asked me to play offensive”. Yes, but they also asked you to win games. He didn’t have the protection he needed at these clubs, while he did at Ajax. Now, at the KNVB, he will have this again.
And Frank was told: you have to take Lodeweges and Lodewijks as assistants and Frank will have said “eh….ok.” Because what else was he going to say? He can bring one assistant himself and that is it.
The main issue with the KNVB is that all the key people there are people who never ever worked at top level. Technical director Nico Jan Hoogma was TD of Heracles. And signed Heracles coaches. Managing director Gudde was managing director at Feyenoord and was far removed from any technical decisions. In the board: Jan Smit, former chair of Heracles. Again. Han Berger, former coach of Groningen and Utrecht and most recently a board role with the Australian football federation. Not top. The director football development is Art Langeler, former PEC Zwolle coach and head development at PSV.
The KNVB has become the level of Heracles Almelo and PEC Zwolle. Also the coaching staffs of representation youth teams are nobodies. Coaches with experience at amateur level.
The players now have the responsibility. Virgil van Dijk led the players’ movement. They didn’t want a domineering personality (Louis van Gaal) and they asked for as least change as possible. Yes, we had a good spell under Koeman but the Italy game showed that we are not top. Yet.
The onus is on them now to perform.
In closing, there are more than enough positives re: Frank de Boer’s appointment. He has his past as a player. He was Bert van Marwijk’s assistant at the 2010 World Cup and the players then appreciated his work a lot. His biggest issue: communication. But with the Dutch NT he won’t have any language issues, and his cynical and direct approach will not be frowned upon by Dutch people / players. The question “Is Frank de Boer the ideal coach for Oranje” will need to be answered by the players….