James Rowe was invited to De Koel stadium in Venlo this week to speak with VVV Venlo manager Maurice Steijn. 

  • Follow James on Twitter

James and Maurice spoke about winning the Jupiler League last season. His hopes upon VVV-Venlo’s return to the Eredivisie a4-year 4 year absence, his time as manager of ADO Den Haag and his internship at Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho.

Below is a transcript of the interview.

JR: “VVV Venlo are back in the Eredivisie after a 4 year absence and you won your first game back against Sparta Rotterdam last Saturday. Can I ask for your reaction to the game and how you feel it went?”

MS: “Considering that it was a surprise that we managed to get promoted last season with the 10th biggest budget in the Jupiler League and we did it by becoming champions. That meant that we started our Eredivisie campaign with the lowest budget and the least amount of experience. My squad has not even played 100 games at Eredivisie level so naturally people view us a the number 1 relegation candidate. We had to win our opening game against Sparta Rotterdam when we have upcoming fixtures against FC Twente, Ajax, FC Groningen and Vitesse Arnhem. We fought as a team against Sparta Rotterdam which is what I demand of my players. I always look to sign great characters and we can look back on a great start last weekend.”

JR: “That brings me to my next question. You face FC Twente away in Enschede on Saturday. Will you be using the same approach as against Sparta Rotterdam?”

MS: “Yes we play the same way and that is what we have been doing since I arrived here 3 years ago. We always try to play the same way regardless of opponent and look to impose our way of playing upon the opponent like we managed to do against Sparta Rotterdam. I hope we can manage to do the same against FC Twente.”

JR:  You have often emphasized team spirit and how important it is to you that your team projects that. What qualities do you look for in players to be able to mould a team spirit within your squad?”

MS: “When I arrived at VVV-Venlo 3 years ago the club was in financial difficulty. But also I felt that there was not a lot of potential in the squad and I did not like the characters we had. The last 3 years we have managed with less money every year to attract good players and characters such as players that live like a professional in the way they train and their attitude. I want my players to have fun but also to be able to take criticism because I am very direct if I see things that I do not like. I do not want players in my squad that complain if they do not play or if things do not go their way. When I look for new players I always emphasize the need for good characters who are prepared to work hard and improve every day. I am delighted that after 3 years what I told the squad after I first arrived that we have gone on to realize our ambition to become champions and achieve promotion to the Eredivisie.”

JR: “You have managed in the Eredivisie and the Jupiler League. Do you see a clear difference between the divisions?”

MS: “I believe that the difference between the top of the Jupiler League and the for example teams 12 to 18 in the Eredivisie is not that big. The biggest difference is the individual quality of the players in the Eredivisie meaning that they can directly punish you if you make an error. Last season when we were careless in possession in the Jupiler League, we did not necessarily concede a goal whereas now in the Eredivisie if you are not alert and paying attention you can concede a goal.”

JR: ” Can I ask you about your time as manager of ADO Den Haag. How do you look back at your time there?”

MS: “Of course. I look back in a positive way at my time with ADO Den Haag. Many managers fall into the trap of criticizing a club after they have left. But I do not do that. To be sacked from any club is difficult and in my case being a fan of ADO Den Haag and having worked there with limited resources and having to sell our best players every year. Players that have gone on to be worth a lot of money, or now work at the top end of the Eredivisie or with the national team. We finished 9th and only missed the European play-offs by a few points and then the following season as soon as we were 18th and bottom of the Eredivisie I was sacked and that hurts at that moment in time. I have fond memories of my time with ADO Den Haag. I was able to develop as a manager and as a person there. I am delighted to have helped develop the club and the players during my 2 and a half years there and I want ADO Den Haag to do well in future.”

JR ” During the summer you were linked with a move to Ipswich Town in England. Would you like to work abroad one day in England or another foreign League?”

MS: “Yes that would be fantastic. There appears to have always been the feeling that I could only work at ADO Den Haag or only here in the Netherlands. I have shown the last 3 years here leaving my family behind in The Hague and commuting everyday to Venlo and sacrificing a lot achieving a 7th place in the first season, The following season finishing 2nd and to become champions last year and to also win the title of best coach in the Jupiler League last season the ‘Gouden Stier’ (Golden Bull) award and also the Rinus Michels award for best manager (Jupiler League 2016 / 2017 ) that it was all worthwhile. I am not fixed to just a certain club in a certain country. The moment that a new challenge presents itself I will be open to it and VVV Venlo are aware of this. I am intrigued about other countries and cultures. I would look at the size of a club and the possibilities it offers and also the chance to project my vision there of giving young players a chance and helping players to develop and the club to grow.”

JR: “Sitting in your office, I see your framed newspaper cutting about your internship with José Mourinho at Real Madrid. Can you tell me more about that. Did you enjoy it? ”

MS: “When studying for my coaching badges to become a professional manager, I was able to do my one week internship with José Mourinho at Real Madrid 7 years ago. It was a fantastic experience to get up close and see how he works on the training pitch and also experience his team meetings. I learnt an awful lot especially in terms of learning how he treated players. He was very friendly but also showed times when he was the boss. It was very impressive to see how he did that when working with world stars on the training pitch. When you study for your coaching badges you must do an internship and I managed to do mine at Real Madrid under José Mourinho due to my friendship with Ruud van Nistelrooy.”

JR: “I wanted to ask you about your career. You played for ADO Den Haag and NAC Breda. How do you look back at your career?”

MS: “I only played for two clubs during my career. I played 7 years at ADO Den Haag and 3 years at NAC Breda. That shows that I like to stay at a club for a long time and not just hop from job to job. I had chances to leave during my career and also here at VVV Venlo to other clubs both in the Netherlands and abroad. But I fully believe in this project and I was vindicated in my reasons for staying with us becoming champions. My career ended prematurely due to injury. I was only 27 when I played my last game for NAC Breda. Shortly after that my management career started. I missed the chance to move abroad as a player and I would love to do it as a manager. The best player I ever played with was Archil Arverladze, the twin brother of Shota Arverladze who played for Ajax & AZ Alkmaar. The best manager I ever had was Henk Ten Cate at NAC Breda. I notice that I have picked up a lot of things from him on how he deals with players and sets out his team and also his motivational skills where he treats everyone the same whether you have squad number 20 or whether you are the captain. I have observed that managers like Henk Ten Cate and others where never fantastic well known footballers but he is an example of how you can work your way up by making your players better and therefore every club you manage.”

JR ” Also in your office, there are a lot of books and football autobiographies such as Alex Ferguson and Jan Boskamp. Is there a manager that you wish to emulate during your career?”

MS: “The football autobiographies are a source of inspiration. I like to read not just football books but also about other subjects, such as sports and psychology. I speak a lot to other football managers such as Martin Jol, Co Adriaanse and Henk Ten Cate. They are examples for me and if I could emulate them by having such a career as they had then I would be really happy.”

James Rowe (696 Posts)