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Is Frank de Boer the right man for the job at Crystal Palace?

Crystal Palace

Is Frank de Boer the right man for the job at Crystal Palace?

The Guardian are reporting that Crystal Palace are set to appoint Frank de Boer as the new manager at Selhurst Park, with the club confident that a deal can be agreed by early next week.

The Eagles have been without a manager since the resignation and apparent retirement of Sam Allardyce at the start of the summer after the 62-year-old succeeded in guiding the club to safety. However, despite signing a two-and-a-half-year deal in December 2016 the former England boss stepped down at the end of the season and declared that he had “no ambition to take another job in football”.

Crystal Palace chairman, Steve Parish, has conducted a month-long search to identify Allardyce’s successor and is reported to have hand-picked former Ajax and Inter Milan manager Frank de Boer as his first choice. The Eagles’ hierarchy have been impressed by the Dutchman’s rejuvenation of Ajax between 2010 and 2016, where he secured four Eredivisie titles and returned the club to the peak of domestic football in Holland, and are willing to overlook a tumultuous and unsuccessful three-month spell in Italy in 2017.

De Boer is keen to experience the excitement and rigour of the Premier League and has been linked with a move to English football in the past. He will become Crystal Palace’s fifth permanent manager is four years, with a deal expected to be confirmed by the time the senior squad return for pre-season training on 2 July. The Dutchman is yet to determine the makeup of his backroom team, with the club reportedly willing to provide him with significant backing in the transfer market, despite being big-spenders in January when their Premier League status was under threat.

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Success at Ajax

Frank de Boer spent over a decade playing for Ajax between 1988 and 1999, developing a reputation as one of the most effective technical defenders in European football. He won five Eredivisie titles, two KNVB cups, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Champions League title during his spell in Holland, making over 300 appearances, before joining Barcelona in 1999, where he added one La Liga title to his extensive list of accomplishments. The latter years of his playing career were spent in Turkey, Scotland and the middle-east before retiring in 2006 as the most capped outfield player in the history of the Dutch national team.

De Boer’s move into coaching came in 2007 when he returned to Ajax as a youth team coach before being handed opportunity to manage the first team in 2010, following the resignation of Martin Jol. At the time the club were in crisis, with their failure to win the Dutch league since 2004 characterised by overspending in the transfer market and inability to mould an effective team. Ajax were in debt and a seemingly falling behind their rivals – they were no longer considered to be Holland’s leading club.


However, De Boer succeeded in turning the club’s fortunes around. He placed his faith in young players and worked tirelessly to improve the team through meticulous coaching on the training field. The club rediscovered their ability to develop their own talent to create success on the pitch, before cashing in on players for big-money to ensure financial stability behind the scenes. Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen, Daley Blind and Toby Alderweireld are just four examples of individuals that De Boer was able to develop, improve and sell on for significant profits.

The club’s faith in youth and coaching paid dividends. In five-and-a-half years with the Ajax, De Boer won four consecutive Eredivisie titles, the first manager in Dutch football to do so, returning the club to the summit of Dutch football. Off the pitch, the conveyor belt of talent being sold to so-called big teams around Europe resulted in spiralling debt being tuned into surplus.

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Failure in Italy but success in England?

Frank De Boer’s success at Ajax attracted the attention of a host of clubs across Europe, including Liverpool and Tottenham Hoptspur, as the Independent report, eventually opting to join Internazionale at the start of last season. However, the Dutchman was unable to replicate his success in Italy and experiences a tumultuous and shambolic time at the San Siro. He arrived just three days before the start of the campaign, had to operate with an intrusive Chinese ownership and was sacked after just 85 days after winning five of his first 14 games in charge.

Internazionale was the wrong club at the wrong time – a desert on which nothing could be grown – and the Crystal Palace hierarchy would appear to have come to the same conclusion. De Boer’s success at Ajax, based on the concept of building and developing a youthful team, is appealing for a club that have struggled to create their own identity following a high turnover of managers in the last four years. The Eagles require a more long-term vision for the future, rather than stumbling from one relegation battle to the next.

Frank De Boer could well be the right man at the right time for Crystal Palace.

Featured image all rights reserved Mario2061

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