It’s not a surprise that Dick Advocaat is expected to step down from the Dutch job following their official exit from the 2018 World Cup before it has even begun.
Their absence at Euro 2016 was strange, and the lack of orange in Russia will be an odd sight as well. There is nothing quite like a Netherlands game for atmosphere and excitement, but once again we will have to spend a summer without them.
The inevitable search for a new manager has already brought up the name of the embattled Everton manager Ronald Koeman.
The Dutch hero
In his playing days Koeman was something of a hero. He won the Eredivisie four times between Ajax and PSV Eindhoven before moving to Barcelona and making his mark on a bigger stage. He won La Liga four times and scored the winning free-kick for Barca’s first European Cup triumph in 1992. He was part of the only Dutch side to win a major tournament, in 1988, being named in UEFA’s Team of the Tournament as well.
As a manager, he won Eredivisie twice with Ajax and later once with PSV and with AZ Alkmaar. He found success outside of the Netherlands as well, winning the Copa del Rey with Valencia before coming to England in 2014 to build Southampton up and eventually moving to Everton.
There is no doubt that Koeman has the CV worthy of managing his national side, especially in a time of crisis when they need someone who can build with young players and adjust his style.
Would he leave Everton?
It might not be a choice for him. After a successful first season with the Toffees that included a comfortable seventh place in the Premier League, there were some lofty expectations this year, but the summer transfer window saw the departure of Romelu Lukaku and with it a lot of goals.
Despite the additions of Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson, Everton have struggled mightily this year. They came into the international break sitting 16th, with just two wins, seven points, and a minus-eight goal difference.
Koeman’s seat has already begun to heat up, with calls for his sacking coming from a lot of places. Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has publicly backed him, but that is usually the kiss of death for a manager, so it could might not be long before the doors of Goodison Park are closed to him.
Is he the right man for the job?
Almost certainly yes. Koeman knows what it takes to win at the international level, he has intimate experience with the Dutch league as both a player and manager, and he is well-regarded too.
He’s only 54, young compared to the great trio of Dutch football Guus Hiddink, Louis van Gaal, and Dick Advocaat. He can still connect with players and his experience around Europe will help him link Dutch ideals of ‘Total Football’ with more pragmatic styles.
This is good timing for Koeman too, leaving to manage your national side is a great way to save face in a job that seems destined to fail this year. If the call comes, he should say yes.
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