Wednesday 23 September 2020

Dutch need a big gun like Van Gaal or Rijkaard as Oranje coach, say experts

Photo: Niels Pluto

As Ronald Koeman awaits his official presentation as the new trainer of FC Barcelona, expected at 6pm on Wednesday, speculation about who is likely to succeed him as coach of the national team is growing.

Ronald de Boer, at a loose end following his tenure at Atlanta United, would be the ‘sensible choice’, football pundit Valentijn Driessen said, adding that coaches of Koeman’s stature are currently not available.

However, some are all for luring big guns like Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard out of retirement or even poaching the likes of Pep Guardiola (Manchester City) or Dick Advocaat (Feyenoord).

Apart from ‘cloning Koeman’ it will be hard to find someone to fill his shoes at Oranje, NOS pundit Arno Vermeulen said. ‘It is not often a national coach has this much support. No one really touches him and the KNVB have a real problem on their hands.’

The Dutch football association will have to act quickly because the national team is scheduled to play two Nations League games in early September – Poland in Amsterdam on September 4 and Italy on September 5.


‘It’s a shame we will never know how Koeman would have done with this team in a major tournament,’ AD sports correspondent Maarten Wijffels said. ‘I understand his decision but he’s taken something away from the players and himself.’

Trouw’s Henk Hoijtink’s choice for a new trainer would be a toss-up between Frank de Boer (available), Philip Cocu (Derby County) or Giovanni van Bronkhorst (Guangzhou R&F), he said. ‘It’s time for a new generation. These are three coaches who are good ambassadors and have a respectable football past. Van Bronckhorst at 45 is young for a national coach but he did really well with Feyenoord.’

But the football association will have to aim higher than that, Wijffels said, and that will be the players’ wish as well. ‘I would see if Louis van Gaal is willing to take this on. He worked with some of these players at the 2014 World Cup.’

Frank Rijkaard would be another great option, Vermeulen added. Both men retired from football but ‘Rijkaard is unpredictable and he would be a great fit.’

Another ambitious choice for the KNVB would be to ask Pep Guardiola, the journalists said, although a foreign national coach will probably not be an option.

A third possibility might be to prise Dick Advocaat away from Feyenoord, Vermeulen said. ‘You need someone who keeps the team together and puts the players where they shine. Nothing too complicated. Advocaat can do that.’

These potential coaches have been mentioned:

  • Mark van Bommel (43). Status: at PSV until 2019, currently unemployed.
  • Giovanni van Bronckhorst (45). Status: coach Guangzhou R&F.
  • Phillip Cocu (49). Status: coach at Derby County.
  • Pep Guardiola (49). Status: coach at Manchester City.
  • Erik ten Hag (50). Status: coach at Ajax.
  • Frank de Boer (50). Status: coach at Atlanta United until 2020. Currently unemployed.
  • Peter Bosz (56). Status: coach at Bayer Leverkusen.
  • Jürgen Klinsmann (56). Status: coach at Hertha BSC until 2020. Currently unemployed.
  • Ruud Gullit (57). Status: assistant coach national team until 2018. Currently unemployed.
  • Frank Rijkaard (57). Status: coach of the Saudi national team until 2013. Retired.
  • Henk ten Cate (65). Status: coach Al-Ittihad until 2020. Currently unemployed.
  • Bert van Marwijk (68). Status: coach of the national United Emirates team until 2019. Currently unemployed.
  • Louis van Gaal (69). Status: coach at Manchester United until 2016. Retired.
  • Arsène Wenger (70). Status: coach at Arsenal until 2018. Currently unemployed.
  • Dick Advocaat (72). Status: coach at Feyenoord.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.