Van Marwijk’s out, who’s next?
Well, the inevitable has happened. Bert Van Marwijk has resigned as Dutch manager. After the atrocious performance at the Euros, most people called for his head and eventually they got it. However, nobody has a clear idea of who his successor should be. Frank de Boer seems settled at Ajax and Ronald Koeman has had a renaissance at Feyenoord after a dreadful few years at Benfica, Valencia and AZ respectively. It leaves the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) with a great question to answer. Who can revive this team of talented individuals?
Looking first of all at the aforementioned potential successors, Koeman and De Boer would be great choices for the vacant positions. The former has steadied the ship at Feyenoord. And that is no mean feat. The Rotterdam-based club is known for its demanding and expectant fan base and with the current financial problems it just might be one of the hardest job in European football. However, the Zaandammer has transformed the whole atmosphere at De Kuip and for the first time in years (ironically following the departure of Bert van Marwijk), the club is gripped with excitement. At first glance therefore, a more than worthy candidate but in light of his spate of prior failures, he prefers to concentrate on the rebuilding of his reputation.
Frank de Boer is another name that will always pop up when a job like this becomes vacant. His managerial career to date resembles the recent revival of Ronald Koeman in that He has brought rest to the always turbulent Amsterdam club. In his eighteen month tenure he has won two league titles and is thus yet to taste failure as a coach. Furthermore, he has gone on record to say that he would like to become the Sir Alex Ferguson of Ajax and so he should not be considered as a serious candidate.
The focus is now on those managers currently without a club. Louis van Gaal, Co Adriaanse and perhaps Fred Rutten are the names that immediately spring to mind. Van Gaal already had his run with the national team. And he managed a squad that all managers would envy nowadays. Van der Sar, Frank de Boer, Jaap Stam, Philip Cocu, Patrick Kluivert, Ruud van Nistelrooij; the Dutch side had never had such throughout the team in the last twenty years. Yet van Gaal was unable to steer Oranje past the likes of Portugal and Ireland. Hardly a good omen for a possible return. Though few would dispute the immense knowledge Adriaanse has about the game, the last few years have hardly been an unqualified success. During his time at FC Twente there were some suspicions surrounding his health. While the truth has never been made known in the public domain, it hardly helps to bolster his chances of succeeding van Marwijk. Fred Rutten is also renowned for his footballing intellect but has found it difficult to cope with the pressure that comes with managing top clubs in both Germany and the Netherlands.
There are also some, less obvious choices. Could a foreign manager be an option? Guardiola has often said he has based his footballing vision on the Dutch. His mentor is also available; Johan Cruijff hasn’t coached a club side for over fifteen years now but he is ’only’ 65 years of age and as others proved, age is nothing but a number. Guus Hiddink is strictly seen occupied at the moment as footballing director of Anzhi Makachkal, but the lure of managing the Dutch once again must appeal to him. Gert-Jan Verbeek, de AZ Alkmaar manager has proven himself with several clubsides in the Eredivsie and due to his intensity seems more suited for club football, but on merit he deserves to be taken in serious consideration aswell.
However, the most obvious choice is perhaps another former Barcelona manager. Frank Rijkaard has done a good job when able to work with elite players. His stints as Netherlands coach and boss of Barcelona can be considered as definite successes, though fans of Sparta Rotterdam, Galatasaray and Saudi Arabia will not remember him too fondly. It can therefore be deduced that he would be ideally suited to a second spell in charge of Oranje as he has mostly been able to manage big egos with consummate ease.
Whoever the new manager will be; it will be considered a surprise. And so a new era will begin for the always controversial Dutch. There is no question that the talent is there, rather a matter of waiting for the right coach who can get the most out of them. The wait has now begun.
Thanks to Marcel Middelbos, who has provided input while constructing this piece (twitter.com/marcelmiddelbos) and thanks to Gary Niblock (twitter.com/goalgary) for reviewing the article.