THE HAGUE, Netherlands ( Associated Press) — Ronald Koeman vowed Monday to bring flashy soccer back to the Netherlands as coach of the national team that lost to eventual champions Argentina in the quarterfinals of the last World Cup.
Koeman, 59, is looking to recover the offensive business of his first cycle at the helm of the Oranje between 2018-20, taking them to the final of the European Championship and the first edition of the Nations League.
He recalled those accomplishments by insisting on “the way we do things and we really want to get back to that.”
His statements echoed the criticism that some sectors of the sports press had launched at his predecessor, Louis van Gaal, of a severe style at the World Cup, to be held in November and December.
“There were moments in the game when I thought it could have been done differently, that it could have been different,” Koeman said, describing his experience playing the Netherlands in Qatar.
“In the Netherlands we try to offer – and this is the most difficult thing to do – colourful, attractive, attacking football,” he said.
Pointing to Van Gaal’s unbeaten march to the World Cup quarter-finals, Koeman said: “20 games without defeat – it would be amazing if I could do that.”
But he added: “I think I can do it differently and I want to do it differently.”
Koeman took over as coach of the Netherlands for the first time after the team failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. He finished them runners-up in the First Nations League and was getting ready to lead them into Euro 2020. The tournament was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But when Barcelona fired Quique Setien and had the opportunity to take over as coach, the job he had dreamed of, Koeman agreed to return to the club, where he made his mark as a combative defender. and the city where he lives.
Koeman was unable to complete both seasons at Barcelona and was sacked after mishaps in the Spanish league and Champions League.
His first game in charge of the Netherlands will be against recent World Cup runners-up France on March 24 in Paris for the Euro 2024 qualifiers. Ireland, Greece and Gibraltar complete the group.