What Frank De Boer Could Bring to Tottenham Hotspur and the Premier League

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2014

Ajax's manager Frank de Boer is interviewed before his team's  Champions League Group D soccer match against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

The summer is often a time of change for clubs in the Premier League and around Europe, with managerial switches a familiar sight as teams look to progress with a new plan, a new direction, a new set of hopes.

Tottenham Hotspur dispensed with Andre Villas-Boas' services midway through the current season, replacing him with Tim Sherwood, but it looks as if the former Norwich and Spurs midfielder's time is almost up too, with BBC Sport amongst others in reporting that the club is talking to Frank de Boer.

The Dutch head coach is currently at Ajax, but after four successful years it looks as though he may now opt to move on to a new challenge.

For their part, Spurs have denied talking to any club over managerial targets.


Time to Go

For De Boer himself, he has already turned down the opportunity to work in the Premier League, with both Liverpool in 2012 and Spurs, last winter, offering him the chance to make the switch from Ajax. On both occasions the manager turned down the opportunities, citing unfinished work with his current club.

He had wanted not only to restore Ajax to the top of Dutch football but also to make an impression on the continental stage once more, leaving a legacy at the club such as Johan Cruyff and Louis van Gaal did, as spoken about by Mohamed Moallim in FourFourTwo.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 26:  Ajax players celebrate victory after the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Ajax Amsterdam and FC Barcelona at Amsterdam Arena on November 26, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/G
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Frank de Boer hardly leaves Ajax without a legacy now.

Under his leadership and for the first time ever they've won four consecutive Eredivisie titles, talented youngsters Davy Klaassen and Joel Veltman have signed new long-term contracts within the last month and Champions League wins over the likes of Barcelona, Manchester City and AC Milan over the course of De Boer's reign will live long in the memory.


De Boer's Mind and Matter

Frank de Boer has been a success on the field in Holland, and Dutch football writer Babette van Haaren tells us he's respected off it too.

He's very realistic and doesn't twist things, he talks straight. He's honest. We admire how he's dealing with the media. de Boer doesn't see himself as an innovator and often pays tribute to the influence both Cruyff and van Gaal have had on him. His philosophy is to create danger by way of having a numerical advantage in central areas of the pitch, with wingers cutting infield to make space for overlapping full-backs.

A quick look at his side will tell you that possession and pressing are key tenets to his style of play, with Ajax dominating on the ball and looking to get as many people involved in the final third as possible rather than relying on any particular star.

Daley Blind plays the controlling role this season.
Daley Blind plays the controlling role this season.Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The typical modern 4-3-3 is implemented at Ajax, with a controlling midfielder picking the ball up deep, two more advanced players in the centre and movement required from everybody when looking to receive the ball.

As per Benefoot, De Boer asks his entire team to contribute to quickly winning the ball back: "Defending starts with the forwards. When we lose the ball, we don’t stop playing. We start to press the opponent in order to get the ball back as quickly as possible. Press left, right, from in front, from behind, all over. That’s what I say to my players."


Spurs' Misfits

Tottenham splashed out huge sums last summer after reinvesting the Gareth Bale money—well, before receiving it, technically—but few of those recruits have impressed.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07:  Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland at White Hart Lane on April 7, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Christian Eriksen has been largely excellent over the second half of the season and of course played a pivotal role at Ajax under De Boer, often from the left side of the front line with licence to come infield and create.

Erik Lamela's season has been a wreck, but as a wide forward in a three-man front line where he is expected to attack directly, score goals and contribute to buildup play, he would stand far more chance of excelling. This is far more similar to the role he played at Roma, rather than wide right in Sherwood's 4-4-2 or as a creative outlet in Villas-Boas' 4-2-3-1.

As a target forward, Emmanuel Adebayor would presumably continue his renaissance, while De Boer would surely find some way of incorporating the likes of Etienne Capoue as his deepest midfielder, Nacer Chadli as a possession-based midfielder and the runs from deeper lines from Paulinho.

In truth, much of this Spurs squad seems perfectly set up for an attacking 4-3-3.

De Boer could well be the manager to unlock it, though regardless of where he ends up in the Premier League, he looks to have all the tools to be a complete success.