Over in Holland, Geordie exile Paul Benneworth has kept us regularly informed when Newcastle have had Dutch links to a running story and now Frank De Boer is the name in the frame for United.
Paul has put together this particular piece with Martin Stienstra, looking at the potential of De Boer coming to St. James’ Park in the summer, but especially what Dutch talent United should be looking to attract with the help of the potential new Newcastle Head Coach.
It’s clearly vital that the new Head Coach buys into the Newcastle model of a minimum of outlay on players, with an eye to either cash in on them or move them, on depending on how well they do.
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It’s hard to say how much the reported £2.5m that the club got from the release of Pardew has changed that model, but it now is possible that his 8 year contract was part of a deliberate strategy to make sure that he would leave on terms beneficial to the club. So it’s entirely possible that NUFC are also considering finding a manager who’s got their own point to make at Newcastle, who can use it as a platform for bigger and better things.
One candidate that almost entirely fits this bill is Frank de Boer, currently the Head Coach of Ajax, and used to being responsible to a Technical Direction team that set everything from the team’s style and philosophy down to transfer dealings.
This season’s slide into the comfort zone after dominating the Dutch Eredivisie for three seasons, also hints that the time might have come for him to rejuvenate himself with a significant challenge overseas.
And although he’s said he has no aspirations to manage Newcastle, he must be looking at the way Ronald Koeman’s (his fellow countryman) stock has risen after taking over at the unfashionable and unlovely Southampton and steering them into the Champion’s League places. He’d be forgiven for idly wondering whether a couple of seasons on Tyneside could propel him to the Barcelona post you have to assume he feels would be his birthright.
One of De Boer’s assets would be his network. It’s easy to forget after the underwhelming overseas adventures of Leroy Fer, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and our own Luuk de Jong, but there’s a strong pool of young Dutch Eredivisie talent looking to earn their fortunes abroad, and rather a short KLM hop home than a day’s travelling from beyond the Urals.
Dutch success in Brazil has highlighted that even if the Dutch domestic competition is weak their strength comes from those playing overseas. And with De Boer being well trained in the Dutch school that served so well in last year’s world cup, Newcastle might be a perfect catapult for those with ambitions to play for Oranje.
So if De Boer does change his mind and set his course towards SJP, which players should we be hoping he can target? Who seems ready to take the next step in Newcastle, fits with our model and would benefit from a period learning under a Dutch Master?
At 21 and with a half century of first team appearances under his belt, midfielder Davy Klaassen would have to be at the top of my shopping list. A strong defender with pinpoint passing technique and an aggressive playing style that drives his team forward, his absence from the Classic (Ajax v Feyenoord) last week saw only the second goalless draw in the fixture’s history.
As the moves of Bony to Swansea/Man City and Tadic to the Saints show, it’s not just homegrown Dutch that can take the next step up. Jak Alnwick’s escapades point to the urgency of a new keeper, and we need someone prepared both to patiently sit on the bench but who we can trust enough to take some of the pressure of Krul and allow him to save his efforts for the top games.
The Swede Kristoffer Nordfeldt plays currently for SC Heerenveen, and his saves have been a key element in the way the team avoided implosion following Van Basten’s departure southward. The low-scoring Frisians have been kept afloat by their excellent goals against tally that sees them sitting safely in the play-off places. His contract expires at the season’s end, and at 25 he’s at the upper age end for the Newcastle model, but he’s a patient hard worker who’d have a lot to gain at Newcastle.
Lasse Schöne (28 years old) doesn’t fit with the Newcastle age profile, but the Danish international is like a slowly maturing wine. He’s gradually ascended the Dutch football pyramid from the deserts of the First Division via De Graafschap, Nijmegen and now plays for Ajax, and with the Eredivisie increasingly a young man’s game, he knows its time to move on. He’s a deadball specialist that forms strong partnerships upfront, and with an aggression that helps Ajax out of the occasional funk, he might take a cut-price contract in search of the as-yet elusive big money deal.
With babyface looks and a thickset build it’s easy to think that Jordi Clasie is smaller than his 5ft 8. But he’s compensated for an average size with incredible physical power and presence on the pitch, and he’s been part of a rejuvenated Feyenoord that have kept the renaissance going under Fred Rutten that Koeman masterminded last season.
He’s fast in attack, and could fill the gap still felt in Newcastle’s midfield left by Yohan Cabaye’s departure. He’d most naturally choose to be reunited with Koeman at Southampton but he’d be a great addition to the Newcastle side.
A final outside chance is Anwar El Ghazi, currently also wearing the Ajax colours but after a well-taken late goal against Barcelona in the Champions League in his debut season in the first team, he’s looking to cash in. At 19, he’d definitely fit with our financial framework, although he’s got a reputation for arrogance and disciplinary problems that De Boer might not wish to bring to his putative Newcastle squad.
There’s a few other wild cards you might see, and I’d not be disappointed if Vejenovic, Boëtius, Wijnaldum or Narsingh took the short step over the North Sea and turned up in Black and White. In any case, hopefully whoever’s being lined up for the Newcastle job has good contact with our scouting teams to bring some more of Holland’s best to SJP.