Developments in Dutch coaching and tactics have been far behind their European counterparts as the league has become a safe-haven for the 4-3-3. This season has seen a broader range of new ideas and methods which could set the tone for developments in the future.

The tactical progressions that have ensconced the rest of Europe have been slow to reach Dutch football due to a flawed obsession with the traditional Dutch school. This season has seen a host of new managers with differing methods who could finally breathe life into a stagnating league as they bring the possibilities of different philosophies and tactical concepts. The new managers range from the younger ‘laptop’ trainers taking their first steps in professional football to much older and more experienced minds. This brings the prospect for more intense and faster paced football with a plethora of styles and training methods which could shape the future of Dutch football coaching going forward.

One would be naïve to call Mark Van Bommel ill-prepared to coach PSV Eindhoven as he spent the last season coaching their U19 team to their first league title in decades while also assisting Bert Van Marwijk with the Australian National Team. It would’ve been simple for the former midfielder to continue with Phillip Cocu’s more conservative style which made PSV champions last season, but he decided to implement a more dominant and progressive style. He arrived a few days after Australia’s elimination from the World Cup with renewed focus and energy by promoting youngsters Cody Gakpo and Donyell Malen to the first team, introducing more intense double sessions and small-sided games geared at simulating match situations in order to prepare his team for the season.

He would frequently stop training sessions to get his point across while he spoke of using a drone to monitor the team’s shape in a similar fashion to Maurizio Sarri at Napoli and Julian Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim. The 41-year-old’s continental approach gained through visiting various training grounds across Europe has led to a more continental style as he also seeks to implement a zonal 4-4-2 defensive shape akin to Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. Although, the KNVB Cup loss to Feyenoord and PSV’s failure to break through their rigid defensive shape provides a blip, Van Bommel’s pre-season was mostly a successful one. Fatih Terim approached the manager to praise him on his style after PSV beat Galatasary while many PSV players have praised Van Bommel for how clear and understandable that he has made his new style through his training sessions.

“Under the new trainer (Van Bommel) we get new forms of training and that variety is pleasant. You also notice the pleasure during the exercises. We train long and heavy, but also very much with the ball. Small, short, fierce exercises, everyone likes that. Those matches against each other are great, then you see how fanatical everyone is. Winning is everything, the trainer constantly presses this,” exclaimed Steven Bergwijn to Voetbal International during pre-season.

Danny Buijs is one of the first Dutch iterations of a ‘laptop’ trainer as this is the first time that the former Groningen midfielder will coach professionally. At 37-years-old, Buijs seeks to implement a hard-working style that will captivate fans at the Euroborg stadium as Ernst Faber was thought of as a conservative coach. His experiences with Kozakken Boys while he also met with Groningen technical director, Ron Jans who he impressed on the Dutch coaching course and in a subsequent job interview led to him landing the Groningen job. Buijs seeks to press high for turnovers with his centre-backs playing closer to the half-way line while he has also spoke of implementing a zonal defending system akin to Atletico Madrid’s like Van Bommel as Groningen fans can be optimistic for the new season.

“I got great information from everyone at Kozakken Boys. We also sent someone to a Kozakken Boys training session. I could not do that myself, that would be too obvious. He also came back with positive stories. Then we made an appointment with Danny. He thinks he is not a laptop trainer, but he nevertheless opened the laptop during the conversation and talked about his vision and way of training. He also showed images of FC Groningen and said how he would do certain situations. Danny is demanding and is really open to new developments,” said Groningen Technical Director, Ron Jans to Voetbal International.

Frank Wormuth has been leading the German coaching course at a time when youthful managers and tactical advances have breathed new life into the Bundesliga and German football. Domenico Tedesco and Julian Nagelsmann whose teams made up two of the Bundesliga’s top three last season were his students as the new Heracles manager has admitted to learning more from his students than they learned from him. He has identified 14 ways to build-up from the back and wants his team to master every one of them. The 57-year-old has brought more intense tactical sessions as his process will be more gradual than his countryman Peter Hyballa’s NEC Nijmegen experiment.

Vitesse Arnhem acquiring the services of Leonid Slutsky is a massive coup for the club and can be attributed to their relationship with Roman Abramovich and Chelsea. Slutsky has intimated that he has a desire to play beautiful football with the Gelderlanders but has placed a focus on winning above all. Slutsky’s experience in European football with CSKA Moscow will put him in a better position to navigate the Eredivisie. Slutsky will have a different team to work with due to nine new arrivals in the summer as he seeks to challenge the traditional top three and AZ Alkmaar.

Jan Olde Riekerink has not worked in the Netherlands since 2011 and has not worked as a Head Coach in his home country since 2005. The well-traveled 55-year-old has worked all over the continent and the world as he has mostly worked with younger players throughout his career. He will work with a young squad at Heerenveen as they seek to mount a better challenge with the teams behind the top three as his experiences with Ronald Koeman, Co Adriaanse and Louis Van Gaal could shape his management style. Of all the newer managers, his style will be closest to the traditional Dutch style as it will be interesting to see how he modernises it.

PSV have expanded the video analysis sector of their club since Van Bommel’s appointment while he can use his father-in-law Bert Van Marwijk as a great resource for information. PSV, Groningen and Heracles players have been inundated with information and more intense tactical sessions as they will hope that this can lead to more success this season. The variety in managerial appointments this season will bring an intriguing storyline to the Eredivisie while Buijs’ success could set a trend for more appointments of young Dutch managers in the lower leagues. AZ hired Arne Slot as their assistant coach last season who already has a lot of responsibilities with the team as there are young coaching prospects in the country. These types of appointments could help with a country in dire need of fresh ideas and tactical concepts.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)