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The coaches getting Dutch pulses racing

Published: Friday 8 August 2014, 8.33CET
"Could I become the Sir Alex Ferguson of Ajax?" mused Frank de Boer. "That is a beautiful dream." UEFA.com focuses on the coaches who will shape the new Dutch season.
by Berend Scholten
The coaches getting Dutch pulses racing
Frank De Boer kicked off his Ajax reign with an unpredented four straight titles ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 8 August 2014, 8.33CET

The coaches getting Dutch pulses racing

"Could I become the Sir Alex Ferguson of Ajax?" mused Frank de Boer. "That is a beautiful dream." UEFA.com focuses on the coaches who will shape the new Dutch season.

Exciting young talent is not the sole stock-in-trade of the Dutch First Division, which kicks off this weekend; UEFA.com's Berend Scholten picks out the league's most interesting coaches.

Frank de Boer (AFC Ajax)
The former AFC Ajax, FC Barcelona and Netherlands defender has led Ajax to four straight Dutch Eredivisie titles since he took over from Martin Jol on 6 December 2010. That is an unprecedented achievement, though Rinus Michels, Louis van Gaal (both with Ajax) and Guus Hiddink (PSV Eindhoven) managed three successive wins. Despite rumours linking him with moves abroad, the 44-year-old is in line to lift a fifth crown in 2014/15.

"Could I become the Sir Alex Ferguson of Ajax? You can dream, and that is a beautiful dream," he said. "If you stick with a club for over ten years and the results are still good, then you have done well."

Phillip Cocu (PSV Eindhoven)
Like his former Barcelona and Netherlands team-mate De Boer, Cocu earned over 100 caps for the Oranje, and served as an assistant to Bert van Marwijk as the national team finished runners-up at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Cocu took temporary charge at PSV on 12 March 2012, replacing Fred Rutten, and guided his side to Dutch Cup success just 27 days later. After a year as a youth coach, he came in for Dick Advocaat with the seniors once more in July 2013, and after recovering from the removal of a tumour from his back, the 43-year-old is angling to guide PSV to their first championship since 2008.

"Last year we laid a foundation which we want to build on further this year," he said. "We want to challenge for the title and get as far as we can in Europe."

Fred Rutten (Feyenoord)
Capped once by the Netherlands, the former FC Twente stalwart accepted a tough task when he assumed command at Feyenoord this summer, with his predecessor Ronald Koeman having helped the underperforming Rotterdam outfit to two silver-medal finishes and a bronze in the last three campaigns. The summer departures of Bruno Martins Indi, Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat and Graziano Pellè have made things tough for the 2008 Dutch coach of the year, but the 51-year-old shrugged off those setbacks.

"With the four players we had last year, it would all be a lot easier, yes," he said. "But there is a nice challenge here for me to make it a good season."

Ron Jans (PEC Zwolle)
A forward for FC Groningen and Roda JC as well as Zwolle, Jans has coached Groningen, sc Heerenveen and R. Standard de Liège – as well as being the bête noire of all-conquering Ajax coach De Boer. On 20 April, his Zwolle team claimed their first trophy by beating Ajax 5-1 in the Dutch Cup final. On 3 August, his side downed the same opponents 1-0 at the Amsterdam ArenA to add the Dutch Super Cup to his haul. A title push might be a stretch for Zwolle, but Jans knows his men can cause the big clubs trouble.

"We still have the same team, and that is a team in which everyone knows exactly what they are doing," the 55-year-old explained. "We beat Ajax twice, and in our 104 years as a club we have now won the cup and Super Cup. That is just beautiful."

Marco van Basten (AZ Alkmaar)
No need for introductions: Van Basten was a legend as a player, the former Ajax and AC Milan striker winning championships at national and European level, and scoring one of the most celebrated goals of all time as the Netherlands felled the Soviet Union 2-0 in the final of the 1988 UEFA European Championship. As Oranje coach, his charges lost out to Dick Advocaat's Russia in the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2008, with the 49-year-old now boasting a solid grasp of club football following stints at the Ajax and Heerenveen helms.

"The start of my coaching career was a bit weird, beginning as national team coach and then going to Ajax," he said. "Now things are a bit calmer and that suits me better. We want to bring AZ back where they belong – to the top in the Netherlands. We want to make the top clubs nervous."

Last updated: 08/08/14 12.00CET

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