Is the Dutch football philosophy dying out?


The Dutch have invented many footballing systems based on great technique and working towards the idea of total football. The fluid and roaming ideology encourages players to move into all positions on the pitch and feel comfortable. It became famous after the 1974 world cup in West Germany. The Netherlands finished runners up to the hosts but it was the Dutch team that caught the imagination. Since then Holland have been a force in the world of football and football management. Eight managers have come to the Premier League from Holland, which is the fourth highest behind; England (114), Scotland (34) and Italy (11).

Has the time come that the philosophies proposed by the Dutch and the quest for total football has began to fade? The influence that they have had on the game will always be present but it may be time for Dutch football to make changes. Football moves fast and the Premier League is the most competitive in the world. We look back at some of the recent issues surrounding the Dutch contingent in Premier League management.

National Side


After an impressive 2014 World Cup under the control of Louis Van Gaal the Netherlands have undergone a horrific period. Van Gaal got the Dutch to a third place finish at the event beating the hosts Brazil in the third place play off. Van Gaal left for Manchester United and the Premier League and it appears so did the hopes of the national side.

A terrible qualification campaign for the European Championships in France in 2016 saw them miss the tournament. In a group the Dutch would have felt confident in progressing through they only finished above Latvia and Kazakhstan. The three teams who finished above them were Turkey, Iceland and the Czech Republic showing just how poorly the nation performed.

Pressure grew on manager Danny Blind and when the qualification process for the World Cup in Russia was struggling, they sat fourth halfway through the group, he was dismissed. In came Dick Advocaat to try and steady the ship. Holland as it stands are still outsiders for World Cup qualification. Two games to go they sit behind Sweden by three points and group leaders France by four. If they miss two major tournaments in a row it will be a disaster for the country.

Louis Van Gaal

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League

The man who took Holland to the 2014 World Cup immediately left the job to take over Manchester United after the competition. Initial signs were good and excitement from the Old Trafford faithful was back.

However, it did not last long. A lack of dynamic wide players and slow build up ultimately saw Van Gaal sacked after his second season in charge. Manchester United were described as boring during his time at the club. Van Gaal had a respectable 51.3% win rate in the Premier League but it was the lack of ambition that meant he was replaced by Jose Mourinho.

Frank De Boer


Described as a strange individual by certain people at Crystal Palace after his departure De Boer only lasted five games. His 77 day stint in the Premier League was even shorter than his stay in his previous managerial role at Inter Milan, he lasted 85 days in Italy.

His efforts to bring total football to England were undermined by the recruitments that happened during the summer. Palace were a solid restricted team last season as Sam Allardyce saved them from the drop. De Boer tried to change the football to slick and expressive which was never going to happen over one summer. When things were going wrong De Boer reverted to a more basic style of football where Palace looked better. This undermined his ideas and it was only a matter of time before the Dutchman was sacked.

Ronald Koeman


Koeman had a great couple of seasons at Southampton. How much of that was down to the Dutchman or down to the brilliance of outgoing man Mauricio Pochettino who had set the foundations is up for discussion. Everton have started this season poorly and that has is largely down to their manager.

The loss of Romelu Lukaku was unfortunate for the Dutch manager and Merseyside club. But the signing of Wayne Rooney is a positive and his class and experience could save them this year. The rest of the money he has spent (mainly brought in from the Lukaku sale) should be enough to make Everton a top half team but recent results seem them slip into the relegation zone. He is still in a job, for now. The pressure is growing and the fans at Everton are getting frustrated. A real lack of pace in any department of the pitch is hurting the clubs progress.


In a sport that is increasingly favourable to quick players the Dutch search for supremely technical players is out dated. Players with pace are vital to modern football, whether you are a counter attacking team, possession based or just out and out attack speed is essential. Having the ball and moving it slowly will not work today and was a huge factor in Van Gaal’s failure at United. Koeman needs to look at adding some pace to his side to keep his job. Until the focus of Dutch football is adjusted slightly the national team and managers coming to the Premier League from the country will struggle. It is not the end of the Dutch idea of total football, it is time to bring it up to speed with modern football.

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Published by

Alan Brown

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