Last month Dick Advocaat was appointed as the Netherlands new coach in a bid to save the country’s World Cup dreams. The Hague born manager has had an illustrious career including managing the national side twice before. With the Netherlands looking to miss their second international tournament in a row Advocaat is going to need to draw on his extensive experience to get the team to Russia 2018.
The Netherlands team’s problems started after Louis van Gaal left the national side after leading them to the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup. Since his departure the Netherlands have found themselves in a rut. Despite his international experience van Gaal’s replacement Guus Hiddink couldn’t lift the team and he was fired in 2015 to be replaced by his assistant Danny Blind.
The run of bad formed continued with the Netherlands failing to qualify for the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament. Sports Net revealed that Blind was fired after a disastrous start to their World Cup 2018 qualifying group with his final match being the 2-0 defeat to Bulgaria. The team are currently lying in fourth place six points behind the leaders France, three points behind second place Sweden, and two points behind third place Bulgaria.
News site Reuters reported that Advocaat had told journalists that he was only interested in results and not worried about playing attractive football. “We are purely playing for results. The points are the most important. We will look at the situation match by match but the result is holiest.”
His assistant manger is Dutch footballing legend Ruud Gullit. Advocaat told reporters that he believed the former Netherlands captain could inspire the players.
The relationship between Advocaat and Ruud Gullit will be under scrutiny for personal reasons as well as the results. During Advocaat’s first stint as Netherlands manger the two fell out over tactics leading Gullit to retire from international football and miss the 1994 World Cup. Advocaat led the team to the quarter finals of that tournament before returning to domestic football.
Advocaat’s second turn as the Netherlands manager (2002 -2004) resulted in the team reaching the semi-finals of the Euros. Despite taking the team far into the tournament, Advocaat wasn’t popular with the fans or media and was hounded out of his job.
This time the Dutch fans will be relying on Advocaat’s experience of dealing with difficult situations to get them to Russia. In 2015 Advocaat was brought in to save Premiership side Sunderland from relegation. He managed to turn the team’s fortunes around and led them to safety.
Writing for British sports site Betfair Football, seasoned journalist Leanne Daddia reported that Advocaat was going to stay at Sunderland despite promising his wife he would retire. Unlike the Dutch fans in 2004, the Sunderland fans were hugely appreciative and sent his wife one thousand pounds worth of flowers.
Dick Advocaat’s first game will be the qualifying match against bottom place Luxembourg and he will be hoping to get an easy three points. Despite his differences over the years with the national team he has had great success in international tournaments. Many fans will be hoping that his pragmatism will take them to Russia.