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Battle of the coaches in the Dutch league
Published : 10 Aug 2012 03:46:43
With Marco Van Basten, Dick Advocaat, Frank De Boer and Steve McClaren as coaches, the Dutch championship, which starts on Friday, arguably has more talent on the bench than on the pitch.
But the stellar line-up of experience on the touchline promises to make this season's Eredivisie a fascinating battle of strategies and tactics, even if financial problems have forced clubs to part with their best players.
Advocaat, 64, is the most high-profile of the top-ranking coaches after returning to league title favourites PSV Eindhoven after taking Russia to Euro 2012, only to see them crash out at the group stage.
PSV have managed to keep their key players, like Dries Mertes, Jeremain Lens and Luciano Narsingh and have been strengthened by the return of Dutch captain Marco van Bommel.
Advocaat steered PSV to league success in 1997 and is hoping that their 4-2 victory against Ajax in the Supercup last week will give the side confidence going into the first match away to RKC Waalwijk.
PSV's main rivals for the title will as always be Ajax, who are led for the third season by Oranje legend Frank De Boer.
He managed to oversee the Amsterdam club's back-to-back titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12 with a team regularly plundered for players.
De Boer has once again had to deal with a reworked side after having to let go their best player, defender Jan Vertonghen of Belgium, who has signed for English Premier League side Tottenham.
Challenging the perennial favourites will be AZ Alkmaar, former England manager Steve McClaren's FC Twente and Feyenoord, coached by Ronald Koeman, although the Rotterdamn club crashed out of the Champions League in the preliminary stages.
SC Heerenveen could also push for honours. The club, managed by Marco van Basten, came fifth last year and the former Ajax and AC Milan striker, who scored 58 times for the Netherlands, is looking to see if he can make it as a coach.
"I want to find out for sure whether the job of manager is for me," Van Basten said after his unexpected appointment, following unsuccessful spells in charge of the Dutch national team and Ajax.
Heerenveen do not have the same financial means as their rivals. They have also lost their leading goalscorer Bas Dost to Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg, while their pre-season results have been disappointing.
Willem II v NAC Breda
Roda JC Kerkrade v PEC Zwolle
RKC Waalwijk v PSV Eindhoven
Heracles Almelo v VVV Venlo
Ajax v AZ Alkmaar
FC Twente v FC Groningen
SC Heerenveen v NEC Nijmegen
FC Utrecht v Feyenoord
Vitesse Arnhem v ADO Den Haag