Ronald Koeman made promise to return the Netherlands to attractive, attacking socce. He began his second stint as coach of the national team, which lost in the World Cup quarterfinals to eventual champion Argentina.
He stated that he desired a return to the positive play that characterized his first period as national coach, from 2018 to 2020. When he led a talented young team to qualification for the European Championship and the inaugural Nations League final.
He looked back not only on those achievements, “but the way we did it. We really want to get back to that,” he said. “That’s something we really want to get back to,” he said.
His remarks came after some sections of the Dutch sports media chastised Koeman’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, for what they saw as a defensive style of play during the World Cup in November and December.
Ronald Koeman statement
“There were moments in matches when I thought. This can be different, this must be different,'” Koeman said of his time watching the Netherlands in Qatar.
“In the Netherlands, we try to play good, attractive, attacking socce. And that is often the most difficult path,” he said.
But he said, “I think it can be done differently, and I want to do it differently.” He is referring to Van Gaal’s impressive undefeated run to the World Cup quarterfinals.
“I think we can do differently,” he added, “and I want to do it differently for sure.”
Koeman was appointed national coach for the first time after the Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup. He led the team to second place in the inaugural Nations League and was set to coach the team at the 2020 European Championship, which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Koeman lost his job from Barcelona after less than two seasons as the club faced struggle in the Spanish league. As well as they were struggling in the Champions League.
In his second stint with the Netherlands, he says he has something to prove.
“I have to show that I can be a successful coach at a major tournament,” he said. “The first step is to qualify for the European Championship, which starts in March.”
Koeman’s first match in the qualification round is against losing World Cup finalist France on March 24 in Paris. Ireland, Greece, and Gibraltar are also in the qualification group.