Palace Fans Should Be Excited To See What De Boer Can Do
With the arrival of Frank de Boer in South London, TEB asked Total Dutch Football writer Jake Jackman to give us his views on the Dutchman and what Palace fans can expect.
The list of Palace managers since promotion to the Premier League does not make for exciting reading.
Ian Holloway, Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce. They have all had successes during their careers, with a couple of them earning reputations as good top flight bosses that do not get relegated. However, none of them are exciting names in the modern game.
During an age of tactical revolution in the Premier League, it was important that Palace changed their outlook on managerial hires this summer and they have done just that.
Frank de Boer has been given the job and becomes the second manager from outside of the United Kingdom to manage at Selhurst Park. There were rumours that Roy Hodgson was being considered, but it was the right call to choose a foreign boss, as the Premier League is going to have the best managerial line-up in its history for the 2017/18 campaign.
It has been seen as major coup, the Dutchman has been a prolific winner during his footballing career that started with successful spells at Ajax and Barcelona as a player. In addition to this, he played over 100 times for the Netherlands and is regarded as one of the best defenders of all time. For Palace, this represents a huge appointment and one that could define the next few years in the Premier League.
That said, there are reasons to be cautious regarding his ability as a coach. To start with, his reign as Ajax manager was successful, as he won the title in his first four seasons. After taking over from Martin Jol, he immediately implemented his own style of play, which centred on pressing from the front and dominating possession. There was a fluidity to his teams, as players moved positions when necessary. This reading of the game will have to be drilled into the Palace players if he is going to be successful.
The results were incredible for the first four seasons, as he became the first coach in the club’s history to win four successive league titles and this led to him being linked with big jobs. However, it was during his final two years at the club that he struggled and that is when his reputation suffered. His style of play became stale and his team was too predictable. De Boer was stubborn and continued to stick to his principles, despite there being evidence that a change was needed. Towards the end of his reign, Ajax were lifeless in possession and struggled to create clear-cut opportunities.
In terms of his style, De Boer is closer to Louis van Gaal than Johan Cruyff and the success that Ajax have enjoyed these last twelve months underline that. Peter Bosz came in under the radar and did a superb job that resulted in him earning the Borussia Dortmund manager’s post. He took the team back to the Cruyff era as he played a version of total football and placed the faith in the young players at the club. The Amsterdam side reached the final of the Europa League, beating Schalke and Lyon on the way, a run that bettered anything that de Boer had done in Europe during his spell as manager.
After being linked to Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona amongst other jobs, de Boer ended up taking over at Inter Milan and it was a period that he will want to forget. He was sacked after only 85 days in charge, but in truth it was always likely to be an impossible job.
The Italian club had new owners and they were expecting their new coach to deliver straight away, without a real pre-season. De Boer’s methods take time to learn and the players at Inter failed to adapt. One criticism that can be directed at the Dutchman is that he was too stubborn as he refused to move away from his ideals, but he will have learnt a lot from his short stint in Italy.
At Palace, de Boer will look to coach a team that attacks and defends as a unit, with every player needing to understand the tactical side of the game. It will be a culture change from Sam Allardyce, but it is one that is required given the direction that the Premier League is headed.
The Dutch coach needs to be given time to get his ideals across to the players and to begin with, it may be dull to watch, with a lot of sideways passing and little end product, similar to Van Gaal’s Manchester United. However, de Boer has shown that with the right players, he can coach an exciting team.
He will have learned from his time at both Ajax and Inter Milan, but it will be at Palace that he shows how good of a coach he really is.
Although he isn’t the finished article, Palace fans should be excited to see what happens over the next season. De Boer has the potential to be a Champions League calibre manager if he learns from his mistakes.