Fred Rutten has been sacked. Not the shocker of the century given that at the end of the season he was due to leave Feyenoord. The big story is the manager to take his thrown, a man known as Gio, Giovanni Van Bronkhorst.
Arsenal fans and genuine football fans alike have a good nostalgic feeling about the former Dutch National left back. Gio, for the last couple of years, has been working up a good reputation at De Kuip, managing at the youth levels and assisting the manager’s first team affairs after retiring in 2010.
In a perfect circle movement in his career, Gio moved from his boyhood team (Feyenoord) to a Champions League team, Rangers, with compatriot at the helm, Dick Advocaat. After making a fairly decent reputation in Scotland, he was signed by Arsenal to fill the void left by Petit, but struggled fairly early on and never flourished.
He later moved to another Dutch managed team in Barcelona under the guidance of Frank Rijkaard in which he moved from his current position of defensive midfielder to a left back, one which suited him, his club and his national side, given the limited supply of full backs.
In the perfect circle motion, he returned to the club who had signed him up at the age of 15 and underwent three seasons, which saw them transform from a mid-table team struggling under financial duress to a headstrong team with deep understandings of youth development.
This brings me on nicely to the development of youth at Feyenoord.
Suffering with financial implications from the mid 2000’s, it was at the end of Gio’s tenure as a player that things started to click for De Kuip. Players coming through such as Wijnaldum and Leroy Fer that started making headway in the league but realised they could ply their trade elsewhere and in turn gain more money.
The turnaround was all down to the hiring of one Ronald Koeman. Whilst heads like Fer and Wijaldum left, other players, such as Clasie, Janmaat and Vlaar, came through the ranks. This spelled a new dawn for not only the Rotterdam team, but the entire Dutch league.
Since then, and whilst Koeman has left and Rutten underwhelmed, the two key backroom staff in Van Bronkhorst and Van-Gastel remain. Hence, when Rutten decided to leave at the end of the season, which was only hastened by Feyenoord’s board, they quickly looked at these two gentlemen and getting them settled in there new role.
Gio may have to undergo another transition as teams are starting to take notice of certain players that are evolving with the club. Players like Kongolo, Clasie and Vilhena are all likely to move on, especially with former managers and players from the Eredivisie in the Premiership already making names for themselves.
Players like Clasie and Kongolo would thrive in the Premiership. Clasie reminds me of a mixture of Carlos Tevez like approach in the frame of Andres Iniesta. His ball keeping abilities are excellent and his passing game is very good, but it’s his dogged approach that makes him stand out in a midfield. Small in stature, but not afraid of a tackle, these kind of attributes could see him make a valuable impact if he chooses the right team of course.
It’s not only at Feyenoord that home grown talent is reaping the rewards. Memphis Depay of PSV will be playing in the famous red of Manchester next season and if Newcastle solve the deep-lying issues, hopefully by expunging Mike Ashley, then you may receive a shock in a full campaign of Siem De Jong.
Jasper Cillessen may move to Man Utd if De Gea decides to up sticks back to his native land in Madrid, while Anwar El Ghazi may just find himself at Stamford Bridge next season.
Now the notion of home grown doesn’t stop the buck at developing youth and promoting within. Van Bronkhorst’s beautiful notion of a full circle isn’t the only one, by contrast, they’re one of the last of the big clubs to take this action.
De Boer at Ajax has been a revelation, especially given the turmoil at the beginning of his tenure (see this incredible article for more) and most recently and to major effect, Cocu at PSV. Cocu’s first season at PSV wasn’t as incredible as the story would like you to believe.
The transition two years ago came around when the board turned to developing youth, stopping large transfers in order to compete. Out stepped Fred Rutten, ironically in this instance, and in stepped Cocu. Players such as Locadia, Depay and Bakkali all shone within the first couple of months, but ran out of steam fairly quickly and trudged the way towards a long campaign.
However, this season it has changed. With the likes of Luuk de Jong, and excellent performances from Maher and Wijnaldum (former Feyenoord), they won the Eredivisie and now look forward to competing in the same manner next season, even without talisman Depay. It’s all looking fairly rosy in the Dutch League at the minute.