Friday, June 20, 2008

Blaise Kufo for FC Twente (v Ajax), 10 May 2008

After some weeks of negotiation, it was today announced that hapless ex-England manager Steve McLaren has agreed to be the new manager of Dutch top-flight side FC Twente. An interesting career decision it is, but a good one, I think. Twente are a nice side, have just qualified for the Champions League and are in a league where the dominance of the top three sides is not as strong as it has been in previous eras.
It has been a bizarre managerial season in the Eredivisie in so much as the top six sides from last season will start the new campaign with a different manager. Ajax have replaced (temporary) manager Adrie Koster with the current national coach Marco van Basten. Bert van Marwijk quit Feyenoord to be the new national coach and Gertjan Verbeek left Heerenveen to replace him at the de Kuip. Norwegian Trond Sollied has joined Heerenveen and PSV appointed well-respected coach Huub Stevens to replace temporary coach Sef Vergoosen. McLaren has jointe FC Twente after previous manager Fred Rutten left to take up the Schalke job.
The oddest managerial change though came at NAC Breda. After finishing third in the Eredivisie - their highest ever league position - the club decided not to renew coach Ernie Brandt's contract. To say the fans weren't happy was something of an understatement after he fashioned a side including journeymen like Anthony Lurling and Joonas Kolkka that at one stage were challenging for the title.
I think McLaren might do an OK job in Holland. Twente played well last season and knocked Ajax out of the Champions League qualifying play-offs. In Orlando Engelaar they have one of the stars of Euro 2008 so far, and prolific Swiss striker Blaise Kufo extended his contract in April. It will be interesting to see whether McLaren turns to England for new signings (ex-Boro player Luke Wikshire already plies his trade at the Grolsch Veste) or whether his knowledge of the Dutch game is good enough that he can buy from rival clubs.
From my point of view, it just adds (yet another) reason to watch the Setanta coverage and I might even add Twente to my next Dutch excursion. Oh, and Steve - the Dutch for "umbrella" is "paraplu".....

1 comment:

Shane said...

But isn't part of the attraction of the Dutch game that it's got an oddly low profile, given that it's as you've enthused before? I will resist the Setanta coverage, though I feel the need for an overdue but lovely lovely return to Holland.