Can the ‘artist’ Ronald Koeman bring a new golden age to Dutch football?
The Netherlands appoint ex-Everton boss as their seventh coach in eight years
It’s been a horrible two years for Holland but the appointment of Ronald Koeman as the country’s new manager is seen as a fresh start for the Netherlands.
Having reached the final of the 2010 World Cup, and finished third four years later, Holland failed to qualify for this summer’s tournament, a humiliation to go with their absence from the 2016 European Championship.
Dutch football has never been so low and in appointing the 54-year-old Koeman the national federation hope he can lift them out of their trough of despondency. Capped 78 times by Holland, Koeman was part of the squad that won the 1988 European Championship and he was known for his artistry as a player.
Artistry has been missing from Holland for a few years now but Koeman was upbeat in his assessment of the national side.
“I’m really positive about the future of the team as we have enough talent but we have to change some things, which I will talk about at a later stage,” he said at a news conference. “I think the Netherlands should and must be qualifying for major finals and I see a bright future in that regard. That’s why I’ve taken the job.”
It’s a measure of the instability that has undermined Dutch football in recent seasons that Koeman is their seventh coach in eight years, and he replaces Dick Advocaat, who resigned after failing to lead them to the World Cup.
Koeman’s first test will be the friendly against England at the Amsterdam Arena on 23 March, a match that he will relish on a personal level as it was an English club, Everton, who sacked him from his last managerial job, in October last year.
Revenge would be sweet but it will be sweeter still if he can guide Holland to their first major tournament in six years in 2020. “Happy to be here and serve the country in our road to Uefa Euro 2020!” he tweeted.
Asked if he would continue the Dutch tradition of playing a 4-3-3 system, Koeman said: “We need a system to get the best out of our players and to get an advantage over our opponents. The 4-3-3 system is the base in my head but it does not mean we will be playing like that against England.”
Koeman has some happy memories of playing England. It was his free-kick that sent Holland on their way to a 2-0 victory over Graham Taylor’s Three Lions in a World Cup qualifying match, a defeat that effectively ended England’s hopes of reaching the 1994 tournament.