To be up front, I have never really considered myself to be a Monday morning quarterback or THAT guy who thinks he knows more than a coach does.
But, there are some things are just telling.
Frank De Boer comes to mind.
Here’s a guy with a pretty storied playing career winning the UEFA Cup once, the UEFA Champions League once, five Eredivisie titles and two KNVB Cups with AFC Ajax and a La Liga title with FC Barcelona under fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal.
Oh, let us not forget the 112 international caps he earned playing for the Netherlands.
But, when it comes to coaching, De Boer hasn’t seen much success outside of his home country.
Since his release from the south London club, reports have surfaced that the Dutchman was “difficult to get along with” and “bit of a wierdo” … whatever that means.
Some of that is to be expected as players attempt to learn the style of the new boss, but coming in and setting that kind of a tone early on is not the mark of a great manager.
Getting just three points in Europa League play and falling to 12th in the Serie A table led to his demise at the San Siro.
De Boer said he needed more time and more trust at both clubs.
That may not have been the problem.
The fact of the matter is De Boer was wildly successful when he took the helm at Ajax. He won 158 games of the 262 he managed and led the team to four Eredivisie titles in his six-season ride with the Dutch team.
At Ajax, Martin Jol left a pretty full cupboard with Demy de Zeeuw and Toby Alderweireld still on the roster when De Boer took over. So, time really wasn’t a factor at Ajax.
At Crystal Palace, the squad has struggled in the Premier League despite signing Mamadou Sakho and Christian Benteke from Liverpool this year. Needless to say, Sam Allardyce didn’t leave much for De Boer to work with.
At Internazionale, De Boer started his tenure a little rough after the board of directors brought on Gabriel Barbosa — who was rarely used in league play — and Joao Mario — who has just now started to show the form he was originally signed for. De Boer sent away Caner Erkin to Turkey just before the transfer window closed and the team, nor De Boer, really recovered after that.
De Boer has a style that includes … heck I really don’t even know what his style is. At Ajax, his teams attacked with precision and grace, but he had the pieces to make that happen and not leave the defense bare — he tried to install a 3-4-3 formation at Palace. That was not the case at Inter or a Palace.
The thing here is the pressure to win and win immediately is much more prominent in the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga. Those pressure-packed situations take a special kind of manager to navigate through and De Boer didn’t have that secret sauce.
De Boer needs time for his system to work, which is fine, but England and Italy are no places to seek out that time. Even in the Championship or Serie B, that kind of time is not likely to be given.
Also, take into account De Boer’s personality. It is said he is “quiet” and “pensive” which aren’t personalities you see in a lot of managers in the Premier League or Serie A.
Managers are flamboyant and some are even flashy. There is no way the personality of De Boer will come close to that of Jose Mourinho or Jurgen Klopp. Heck, it wouldn’t hold a torch to Luciano Spalletti for that matter.
Does it mean De Boer won’t manage again? No, I think he will get a shot somewhere, but it has to be with a team with nothing to lose and owners willing to give him the time he says he needs to make the pieces come together.
A good place … Ajax. The problem, Ajax hasn’t been known for shuffling their managers off in a hurry (hence why that would be a great place for De Boer to go back to) and they have one their last three in the league. Granted their European play has been lackluster.
Whatever the case happens to be, I would not expect to see De Boer on an Italian or English sideline anytime soon.