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Why do Dutch managers struggle in the Premier League?

Published at :May 4, 2024 at 6:22 PM
Modified at :May 4, 2024 at 6:22 PM
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Rohit Sarkar

Erik ten Hag’s recent struggles at Manchester United have been the talk of the town

We have the topic in hand: the Premier League Dutch managers. Have they not been igniting a great deal of discussion? Let us explore the precise reasons for their seeming difficulties in the English football scene. Let us talk about it in detail. Dutch football is known for its own philosophy and style of playing. It’s popularly known as Total Football.

Fluidity, suppleness, and technique are the prime aspects of the league. On the other hand, the Premier League is a different ball game. Physical, quick-witted, and often chaotic. Getting their approach to work with the English game is one of the biggest challenges Dutch managers have.

We can take the example of Louis van Gaal, for instance. He attempted to implement his possession-based style when he became manager of Manchester United. But nothing really clicked. The English game requires greater aggressiveness and directness. He thus found it difficult to change course when things didn’t go according to plan.

A roadblock may also be communication. There is a great variety of languages and cultures around English football. Dutch managers must have skills in communicating with players worldwide. Remembering the media as well. The English press can be unrelenting in its examination of every action and choice. It will take skill for Dutch managers to negotiate this minefield.

Next comes the matter of strategy. You have to be tactically clever to play in the Premier League. You have to be able to change with the times and with various opponents. Sometimes this area finds Dutch managers outmanoeuvred. Though they may have a system and a style of play, you have to be able to think quickly in the Premier League.

Talk about player recruiting now. The budgets are limited in the Dutch Eredivisie. Clubs that want to compete depend on smart scouting and young growth. But in the Premier League, cash speaks. In terms of putting up a team that can compete at the top level, Dutch managers could be at a disadvantage. They must have greater transfer market judgement to see value where others would not.

Temperament is another matter. Strong personalities and a fiery manner are hallmarks of Dutch managers. You have to maintain your composure in the Premier League nonetheless. There is constant strain and big stakes. If they want to succeed, Dutch managers must strike the ideal mix of enthusiasm and coolness.

Not that we should overlook the cultural variations. Though neighbours, England and the Netherlands are quite different from one another in many aspects. Dutch managers have to get used to a new setting and method of working. To succeed in English football, players must grasp its peculiarities and subtleties.

Dutch coaches can have trouble in the Premier League for a number of reasons. The difficulties are many and range from changing their approach to communicating clearly to negotiating the tactical minefield. More details and pertinent instances will help us to better understand why Dutch managers find the Premier League to be a difficult nut to crack.

Dutch managers have had a tough time in the Premier League

The Premier League’s ferocity is one big problem Dutch managers have. It might take people by surprise how quickly, physically, and competitively things are moving. Let us know about the little time Frank de Boer spent at Crystal Palace. Renowned for his time at Ajax, De Boer found it difficult to adjust to the hectic pace of English football. He lost his job after only four league games when his possession-based approach was swiftly cracked.

A further problem is the player’s mindset. In the Netherlands, intellect and technical skills are highly prized. Often, Dutch coaches give playing out from the back and deft passing moves top priority. But players in the Premier League are used to taking a more direct and forceful approach. Dutch coaches may find it difficult to impose their preferred approach when players are more used to a different way of thinking.

Ronald Koeman’s time at Everton serves as a perfect illustration. In the Eredivisie and LaLiga, Koeman was successful, but at Everton, he found it difficult to implement his tactical plan. Even with major acquisitions like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen, he was unable to produce consistent success. His adamance on a possession-based style ran counter to the realistic approach that many Premier League sides preferred.

Then there is the issue of tactical adaptability. Many times, Dutch managers are linked to certain systems, like the 4-3-3 shape that Johan Cruyff made famous. This approach is predictable, even though it may be very successful, particularly when the appropriate people are involved.

Teams in the Premier League are skilled at taking advantage of flaws and countering the advantages of their rivals. Dutch managers have to show they can change their strategy to match the competitors’ often changing plans.

Marcel Brands, who joined Everton in 2018, was formerly Director of Football at PSV Eindhoven and provides a fascinating case study. The way that Brands recruited players at PSV was praised for emphasising young, gifted players with strong resale potential. But in the Premier League, where the focus is often on instant effect rather than long-term potential, his strategy was questioned. Finding players who would flourish in the tough English football climate was a problem for brands.

To take into account is also the cultural element. Players and staff members unfamiliar with Dutch management techniques might oppose them. Misunderstandings and irritation may result from communication problems made worse by language obstacles.

For example, during his short tenure at Chelsea, Guus Hiddink—despite his wealth of management experience—came under fire for alleged communication issues and conflicts with key players. Even Erik Ten Hag, while managing Manchester United, suffered after being flawless on his time with Ajax

The particular demands of the Premier League, player attitude, tactical rigidity, difficulties in recruiting, and cultural differences are among the many reasons why Dutch managers struggle in the league. Some have succeeded in getting above these challenges, while others have failed to make a lasting impression on English football. In the end, adjusting to the Premier League calls for a combination of tactical brilliance, player management abilities, and cultural sensitivity.

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