Ranking the Netherlands' 10 Greatest Managers

Elko BornContributor IMay 9, 2014

Ranking the Netherlands' 10 Greatest Managers

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    From Johan Cruyff to Marco van Basten and Dennis Bergkamp, Dutch football has always been applauded for producing some of the best footballers the world has ever seen.

    But arguably, the Netherlands' are of equal pedigree when it comes to managerial legends. Shortly before Louis van Gaal—possibly Manchester United's new manager—takes the Dutch to the World Cup in Brazil, we rank Holland's greatest 10 football managers of all times. 

10. Jan Zwartkruis

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    Jan Zwartkruis—probably one of the least known managers featured in this article—managed and coached the Netherlands between 1976 and 1981. That period of time includes 1978, when the Netherlands reached the final of the World Cup in Argentina. 

    Although he had been head coach of the Netherlands before, he was assistant to manager Ernst Happel in 1978. Nonetheless, the role Zwartkruis played in reaching the final shouldn't be underestimated. In that regard, the fact that Zwartkruis was reinstated as head coach after Happel's departure in 1980 should tell you enough.

    Regrettably, the Netherlands had a disastrous EURO 1980. After that, they failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1982. Consequently, Zwartkruis resigned. Despite this, however, Zwartkruis deserves applause for the role he played in keeping the Netherlands on top after the famous World Cup of 1974—without the help of Rinus Michels or Johan Cruyff. 

9. Leo Beenhakker

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    Leo Beenhakker managed the Netherlands not once, but twice. The first time was in the mid-1980s, when the Netherlands failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1986. Beenhakker's second stint was in 1990, when the Netherlands' World Cup run ended in disaster after losing to West Germany. 

    It's safe to say that Beenhakker failed as manager of the Netherlands. But apart from that, he remains somewhat a Dutch managerial legend. Highlights of his career include stints at Ajax and Real Madrid. in 2006, he took Trinidad and Tobago to the World Cup. Serving as a technical director at Ajax in 2001, he brought Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Amsterdam, giving the Swedish striker his first taste of high-level football. 

    Things never worked out for Beenhakker at the Dutch national team, but nonetheless, he's one of the greatest Dutch managers out there. 

8. Frank Rijkaard

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    Before winning the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006, Frank Rijkaard managed Dutch side Sparta and the Dutch national team. In 2000, he guided Oranje to the semi-final of EURO 2000, a match the Dutch lost after missing a total of five penalties.

    After a failed spell at Galatasaray, Rijkaard left to become manager of Saudi Arabia. He was released in early 2013. Ever since then, the Dutchman seems to have fallen off the radar a little bit. 

    As of yet, Rijkaard's plans for the future are unknown. He has proven he's an excellent manager: But will he ever return to top-level football?


7. Ernst Happel

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    Ernst Happel was the Netherlands' manager in 1978, when the Dutch reached the final of the World Cup in Argentina. Jan Zwartkruis, who was manager of the Netherlands before and after Happel, was his assistant. 

    In Vienna, the Ernst-Happel Stadium is named after this Austrian legend. In the Netherlands he's most known for maintaining Oranje's success without the help of Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff—who introduced "Total Football" to the world in 1974.

6. Marco Van Basten

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    Some managers are expected to have years and years of experience before they get taken seriously. Other managers are offered a big job when they're still relatively new to the trade. Pep Guardiola, for example, had only managed Barcelona B before he was promoted to become first-team manager. 

    Without a doubt, Marco van Basten belongs to the second category of managers. Much like Guardiola, his first job was a big job. In 2004, when Van Basten had only managed the Ajax reserves, he was appointed manager of the Netherlands. 

    During the World Cup in 2006, the Netherlands were eliminated by Portugal in the round of 16. During EURO 2008, the Netherlands were eliminated by Russia in the quarter-final, but not after some stunning performances against Italy and France in the group stages.

    In July 2008, Van Basten became Ajax manager. He resigned a year later. After managing Dutch side Heerenveen for two seasons, he will become AZ Alkmaar's new manager next year. 

5. Bert Van Marwijk

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    He might have been responsible for implementing a style of football markedly different from the famous Dutch school of "Total Football," but it's clear to most fans of Oranje that Bert van Marwijk deserves to be applauded for his time as manager of the Netherlands. 

    Van Marwijk was manager of the Netherlands when they came close to winning the World Cup in 2010, losing the final only after an extra-time goal by Spain's Andres Iniesta. The World Cup in 2010 was the Netherlands' most successful World Cup since 1978. 

    EURO 2012, however, ended in disaster, and Van Marwijk was replaced by current Holland boss Louis van Gaal.

4. Dick Advocaat

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    It is said Dick Advocaat learned the managerial trade from Rinus Michels when he was the famous Dutch boss' assistant manager at the Dutch team. While Michel's nickname has always been "The General," then, Advocaat's nickname consequently became "The Little General."

    Advocaat would become Holland manager himself during two different stints. The first one was in 1992, after an unsatisfactory EURO 1992. Advocaat took the Dutch to the World Cup in 1994, but they were eliminated after a riveting quarter-final against Brazil.

    Advocaat's second stint came in 2002. Advocaat led the Dutch to the semi-final of EURO 2004, but they were eliminated against hosts Portugal. 

3. Louis Van Gaal

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    Although his first spell as Holland manager was unsuccessful—the Dutch failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2002 under Van Gaal's reign—and the current Dutch boss is yet to prove his worth as manager of the Netherlands, it's undeniable Louis van Gaal is the most successful Dutch club manager of all times. 

    Van Gaal's success started in 1995, when he won the Champions League with Ajax. He became manager of Barcelona in 1997, and again in 2002. After winning the Dutch league unexpectedly with AZ Alkmaar in 2009, he went to Bayern Munich, where he won the title and reached the final of the Champions League. 

    After the World Cup, Van Gaal seems poised to become the new Manchester United manager. 

2. Guus Hiddink

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    Guus Hiddink achieved some amazing things in his career. He won the European Cup with PSV, for example. What's more, he managed the Dutch team that reached the semi-final of the World Cup in 1998.

    Then you can talk about all of his achievements that came after that: Hiddink reached the semi-final of the World Cup with South Korea in 2002 and the semi-final of EURO 2008 with Russia. 

    To the delight of most fans, Hiddink will take over from Louis van Gaal as manager of the Dutch team after the World Cup in Brazil. 

1. Rinus Michels

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    The best Dutch manager of all times is undoubtedly Rinus Michels.

    In the early 1970s, "The General" created "Total Football" together with Johan Cruyff. After winning the European Cup with Ajax three times in a row, Michels and Cruyff brought this philosophy to the biggest stage in world football during the World Cup 1974.

    Eventually, the Netherlands lost the final to West Germany. But "Total Football" would forever leave its mark on the sport. To this day, its influence is palpable in the tactics employed by some of Europe's biggest clubs.