Being a youngstar as coach, 20 years old I was inspired by Louis van Gaal and his Ajax in the 1993-95. I remembered Ajax being a club with one vision, a hunger to dominate the game in possession. Inspired by Rinus Michels and Johan Cruijff with the total football and the technical flair to cut open organised defense. Louis van Gaal took this vision to a new level, by using his background that created the structure and methodology which brought the succesfull next generation. This structure was accepted and embedded in the club, lived trough and presented by all coaches/employees/boardmembers and players, The Ajax DNA. I remember personalities like Michael van Praag as president, Louis van Gaal as headcoach, Gerard van der Lem as assistant and Frans Hoek as goalkeepercoach. But also Co Adriaanse and Jan Olde Riekerink and their staff implementing the same philosophy everyday with no day to give less then 100%

It was Johan Cruijff with Barcelona, creating football of a different planet. Bringing Catalunya their pride back in their historical games against Real Madrid. Barcelona played the Dutch style of soccer with Joseph Guardiola being the captain of Johan Cruijff his mindset, with the support of Nunez as strong president giving Cruijff the podia to perform in his strengths and building a complete new team. Youngstars as Ferrer,Sergi and Amor. But also Stoitsjkov,Laudrup and Koeman. I loved watching the dreamteam with not having the best individuals (Real had) but being an unstoppable team.

gaal-cruyff2-1321621497The same Nunez hired Louis van Gaal, with Louis van Gaal working with the 1-4-3-3 system switching the triangle (same philosophy Cruijff) making sure spaces were covered against 2 strikers where the midfielder stayed central. The true captain of Barcelona, Guardiola was the translator in the field of both Cruijff as van Gaals vision. Where Cruijff debuted Guardiola as youngstar it was van Gaal giving debuts to young Xavi, Iniesta but also personalities like Luis Enrique and Rivaldo.  At the same time Ronald Koeman and Jose Mourinho where intensively coached by Louis van Gaal in their first steps in their coachescareers.

Both Cruijff and van Gaal showed that coaching was so much more then having the best drill. They created a new philosophy where players were able to dominate the ball with such an pace, it looked like they had at least 12 players.They have always given youth a chance when no one would even have considered them. Remember Muller, Alaba and Boateng now.They had the eye to look at the potential, seeing not only what they were now but what they could be when given the chance! It was eye for talent and the balls to play them.

When I look at the teams van Gaal and Cruijff have influenced,it has been both of these 2 personalities that created a dynasty of Ajax and Barcelona. If you look at Co Adriaanse, Jose Mourinho,Ronald Koeman,Luis Enrique and  Guardiola, but also the new generation with Frank de Boer and Phillip Cocu and van Bronckhorst.. Coaches that are demanding the most out of their players everyday. Knowing there is no excuse to create maximum progression in every drill in every pass.  It can’t be a surprise to you that each one of them has learned and adapted the best of Cruijff and van Gaal…Not choosing a side,choosing vision.

New coaches with the personality to be independent, strong believers in their philosophy. They can win titles for the clubs but have the potential to create dynasties. Only when they have a strong president with vision on the right process(Gerbrands,Nunez van Praag,Laporta,Rummenige) All bringing the succes with a combination of homegrown players (which needs strong head academy) and mature winners.

This time is dominated with Bayern Munich and Barcelona, 2 of the headcoaches being influenced by van Gaal AND Cruijff. We are fighting everyday to choose a corner, van Gaal or Cruijff. Meanwhile we are looking desperately to refind our Dutch Football 2.0 The whole soccerworld holds its breath hoping we fly over the world to find new ideas.  I believe our new success is not to be found internationally. Our future lies in our history.

By knowing they are the best Holland will ever have. We need to learn how to accept 2 numbers 9 to become a 10. If we choose one number 9 we are the only ones to fell ourselves short.   I don’t want to choose for a 9 if I can be a 10. So why still accepting to choose. Find that leader that combines both and surround this person with strong personalities with own responsbilities, no excuses.

Individually strong, together unstoppable.

Read more