As the footballing community prepares for the last international break of the season, we assess the situations of the three Dutch coaches in the English Premier League as they prepare for the end of season run in.

  • By Andy Booth
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koeavangOn 17th March 2015 Dick Advocaat was appointed as the head coach of Sunderland, making him just the seventh Dutchman to manage in the Premier League. Prior to this season no two Dutchmen had held Premier League jobs at the same time, now there are three currently active. But will the season end well for the trio?

advocaat kdkDick Advocaat

Sunderland have been woeful this season. They are tied with bottom placed Leicester on lowest number of wins (4) and only Aston Villa (19) have scored fewer than Sunderland’s 23. To counter this, new coach Dick Advocaat played 4-3-3 in his first fixture at the helm against West Ham on Saturday. Nevertheless the Black Cats again failed to hit the target, with Jermaine Defoe missing a fantastic opportunity to stop the rot and a late West Ham winner (which should not have stood due to a foul in the build-up) compounded the misery of the travelling fans. Despite the defeat, The Little General was upbeat, praising the effort shown by his players against a physical West Ham side.

The Dutchman now has a fortnight to prepare for his sides next match, the small matter of a Tyne-Wear derby. With Newcastle’s league status all but secure, they have been accused of being on the beach already and although a resurgent second half display against Arsenal showed some desire to compete, this could well be the perfect fixture for Sunderland who have won the last four encounters with their North East rivals. A string of fixtures with mid-table opposition follow, which present winnable opportunities before an all-important home clash with Leicester.

Whilst 67 year old Advocaat arrives on Wearside with bags experience, a Premier League relegation dog-fight represents a new challenge. The disciplinarian will be hoping to mirror the form shown by his predecessor, Gus Poyet, at this stage last season as the Uruguayan led his side to 4 wins and a draw after losing to West Ham in Gameweek 30.

Securing that first win could resuscitate the side who have seemed bereft of confidence all season and a similar run would surely be enough for Sunderland to survive. They will not want to rely on needing anything from their last two matches though; due to fixture re-scheduling they are one of two sides who have 3 fixtures in the final week of the season, and their last two are against Arsenal and Chelsea in London. Securing points before then is vital.

Predicted league finish: 17th

koeman soaiRonald Koeman

Tipped by many to struggle this season, Ronald Koeman deserves an enormous amount of credit for the work he has done at Southampton. Whilst a Champions League spot now looks beyond them, the fact that it had seemed possible at all this season is remarkable. A large scale reconstruction of last season’s squad following a summer exodus has seen players settle into the demands of the Premier League with apparent ease and Koeman seems to have struck a fine balance between grinding out results in an aesthetically pleasing style.

The key to that success has been a solid defensive core; the Saint’s hold the tightest defence in the division, having conceded just 21 goals in their 30 outings so far. Fortunes at the other end of the pitch have been less consistent. Graziano Pelle couldn’t buy a goal at the moment and has scored just once this year, whilst Saturday’s goal scorer Shane Long’s overall tally of 3 goals in 24 league appearances this season is a poor return.

Regardless, they have stayed in the mix for a European spot. Southampton go into the last 8 matches knowing that a top 7 finish is all but secure (8th place Swansea are 10 points behind) and the pressure is off for Koeman’s men. Breaking into the top 6 would be a bonus, but failure to do so should not be seen as a disappointment.

Predicted league finish: 7th

Manchester United v Everton - Premier LeagueLouis van Gaal

Louis van Gaal has not been able to escape the critics this season, even when his Manchester United team win. But back to back victories over Tottenham and Liverpool has opened a five point gap between 4th place United and 5th place Liverpool and eased the omnipresent pressure on the Dutchman.

There was a greater intensity to the Manchester United midfield in those past two games and van Gaal will surely drill the importance of maintaining this into his players when they return to action in a fortnight.

Some intriguing fixtures await with a visit of stuttering Man City preceding a trip to champions elect Chelsea. Their penultimate match of the campaign will see the visit of Arsenal to Old Trafford in a potentially crucial match; whilst trips to Everton and Crystal Palace should not be taken for granted. With United now just 2 points behind their 2nd placed city rivals, they know it is in their hands to finish above them. A top four finish remains the minimum expected of van Gaal this term but he is on course to fulfil that.

Predicted league finish: 4th

Andy Booth (27 Posts)