Ten Hag next: The 8 Dutch Premier League managers – & how they fared
The Premier League is a melting pot of different footballing ideas from different countries, and one of the nationalities that has had one of the biggest impacts is none other than the Dutch.
That’s not surprising. The Netherlands are a truly influential footballing nation and have given the world ideas like total football.
But everyone seems to be in agreement that next up on the list of influential, footballing Dutchmen is Ajax manager Erik ten Hag. Praised for his tactical style of play and emphasis on young players, it’s easy to see why he’s landed one of the biggest jobs in world football – Manchester United’s next boss.
He’s led Ajax to a Champions League semi-final, won numerous titles and, even more impressively, rebuilt successive squads despite seeing his best players poached from other European clubs.
But what can he learn about the Premier League from his fellow countrymen who have gone before him?
We’ve had a look at how every Dutch manager in the Premier League has fared and listed them in order of least points earned to the most.
Frank de Boer – Crystal Palace
Just four matches, zero points, and labelled the “worst manager in the history of the Premier League” by Jose Mourinho; De Boer’s time in England was not a good one.
Usually, one to be over the top, Mourinho probably got this one right. De Boer wasn’t a temporary manager either, he seriously just had four games in charge of Crystal Palace before the board had had enough in September 2017..
During an interview for The Independent, he later claimed that Palace simply didn’t have the quality of players he was used to managing.
“A lot of times when you go to a club, the chemistry is not really there,” he said. “That’s why I played five in the back, 5-4-1, very defensive, not my kind of idea, but necessary with the players that I had at that moment.”
He went on to explain that there were toxic players the club wouldn’t get rid of before criticising the English system of developing youth players. Yet try as you might, all you can hear in the back of your head as you read it is the voice of Mourinho.
🗣"If Marcus was coached by Frank he would learn how to lose because he lost every game."
Never forget when Jose Mourinho called Frank de Boer the worst manager in the history of the Premier League 😳 pic.twitter.com/YiKdAw1Ats
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) November 17, 2021
Rene Meulensteen – Fulham
Meulensteen is better known as a coach than as a manager, having spent a notable amount of time as a coach and reserves manager at Manchester United, where he formed a close friendship with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The two discussed coaching ideas and tactics. Soon Solskjaer was off to Molde to try them out himself and by 2013, Meulensteen also got his big break when Fulham appointed him to replace the sacked Martin Jol.
Hired in November, he earned 10 points from 13 games before being sacked on Valentine’s Day in 2014 as Fulham felt that Felix Magath would keep them up.
He didn’t and Fulham were relegated at the end of the season, finishing 19th. Meulensteen probably felt rightly aggrieved.
Dick Advocaat – Sunderland
Advocaat had an incredible 41-year career in football management. For context, that’s longer than Sir Alex Ferguson’s 39 years and Arsene Wenger’s comparatively amateur 34 years.
That included three stints as Netherlands boss, a successful time with Rangers and three years with Zenit which saw him made the first honorary citizen of St Petersburg since 1866.
His 13 games as Sunderland in 2015, however, did not see him quite earn the title of honorary Mackem. It might have if he had left when he was meant to, originally joining towards the end of the 2014-15 season to keep the Black Cats up.
He managed to do so but then opted to sign a contract extension for a season which proved to be a mistake. He only made it to October before resigning with the club in the relegation zone.
Guus Hiddink – Chelsea
Hiddink has the best points per game ratio out of anyone on this list, his two periods in the Chelsea dugout as interim manager yielding 1.94 points per match.
He is also the first on this list to have won a trophy in England, lifting the 2009 FA Cup with Chelsea during his first reign which saw him replace Felipe Scolari. He lost just once during that time, and reached the Champions League semi-finals before returning to his post as manager of Russia.
“If you can get this silverware, it’s one of those things which you can dream of as a manager,” Hiddink has since said. “I think the FA Cup is, with capitals, the one that everybody likes to have.”
A statement definitely not influenced by the fact he won it.
Hiddink returned in 2015 with Chelsea once again in crisis, taking over following the fallout from Mourinho’s second period in charge of the Blues that saw them in 16th place.
The Dutch coach led them to 10th but couldn’t repeat his success of winning the FA Cup.
Louis van Gaal – Manchester United
Van Gaal’s time at Manchester United is legendary. Not for trophies, although he did win the FA Cup in his final game in charge, but for his effortless ability to be funny.
What’s better is he wasn’t probably trying to be funny in the first place. Whether it was falling to the floor in front of the fourth official, his drunken speech at the club award ceremony or better yet his analysis of sado-masochism to an unexpecting reporter, Van Gaal was truly box office.
His time at United did not go as well as was hoped and he’s not had much good to say about the club since, recently warning Ten Hag to stay away from the job.
“Erik ten Hag is a great coach and that is always good for Manchester United,” the now-Netherlands manager said. “But Manchester United are a commercial club, so it’s a difficult choice for a coach. He would be better going to a football club.”
A damning statement, and one probably most United fans will begrudgingly agree with.
Marouane Fellaini-Guendouzi gate brought back memories. When Robert Huth Fellaini’s hair, the gift Louis van Gaal delivered: “Only in sex masochism it is allowed.” #mufc #afc pic.twitter.com/hfL3ez4nKh
— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) December 6, 2018
Ruud Gullit – Chelsea and Newcastle
Gullit was one of the greatest Dutch players to ever grace the pitch, and that’s saying something when you consider the sheer quality of players that have come out of the country.
His management career began when Glenn Hoddle left Chelsea in 1996 and he became player-manager. That season he led Chelsea to the FA Cup, becoming the first black manager ever to win a major trophy in British football.
But he found himself sacked the following year and then took over at Newcastle in 1998. Gullit reached another FA Cup final in 1999, only to lose to the Manchester United side that were on their way to treble glory.
His time on Tyneside was notable for his feud with Alan Shearer, and he resigned five games into the 1999-2000 season.
“Ruud Gullit did not have the experience to deal with the personalities in the dressing room at the time,” ex-Magpie Nobby Solano has since said.
“He was judging it with a player’s mentality. Of course, he was one of the biggest players in the world but he was not thinking about it like a manager, he wanted to join in training and show off.”
You can see it now, Gullit in a Newcastle training tracksuit juggling the ball. Not quite what you want from your manager.
Ronald Koeman – Southampton and Everton
Koeman was one of the finest midfielders of his generation, and as a manager he’s had plenty of success, winning several trophies.
But his three years in England first with Southampton and then Everton were a roller-coaster.
With Southampton he was brilliant, leading them to sixth in the Premier League in 2015-16 and helping them qualify for the Europa League group stages for the first time in the club’s history.
But he never took them into Europe himself. He left in the summer of 2016 and replaced Roberto Martinez as Everton manager.
That started well, and Everton secured Europa League qualification in his first season. Yet Koeman spent £150million across his two transfer winfows and in October 2017 they were in the relegation zone.
Koeman was unsurprisingly sacked, and Everton went on to bigger and better things… right?
Martin Jol – Tottenham and Fulham
With 276 points, Jol has notched up the most points of any other Dutchman in Premier League history.
That’s perhaps not surprising considering he’s managed the most Premier League matches of anyone on this list, overseeing 201 between his time at Spurs and Fulham.
He had a good time with Spurs but struggled to turn them into anything more than ‘nearly men’ and couldn’t quite help them break into the Champions League places.
“We had a great team, a young team. six or seven young internationals,” Martin Jol has since said on his time at White Hart Lane.
“Spurs, to me, and I always felt it, is a special club. I was a Spurs fan from the start. If you see a story about me, you will see, for example, I went to Spurs as manager, but I tell people when I was younger, I was always a Spurs fan.
“I didn’t make that up – it’s true. I was a big fan of Jimmy Greaves.”
His time at Fulham was similarly fine. Joining in 2011, he kept them in the Premier League in both his full seasons but was sacked midway through his third after a poor run of form.