Mon. Feb 18th, 2019

Ronald Koeman has got his zest back as Holland manager


Ronald Koeman has got his zest back as Orange leader: 'I'm about Everton and ready to revive Holland'

  • Ronald Koeman was sacked as Everton boss following a 5-2 defeat to Arsenal
  • That was on October 22 but now in charge of Holland, Koeman is re-energized
  • The Dutchman wants to take the national side back to a major tournament
  • His new players missed out on both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup

Dominic King for the Daily Mail

The last time we saw him, the painful end was coming. He knew it, we knew it. It was October 22 and Everton had just been pummeled by Arsenal. Ronald Koeman was waiting for the sack.

As Koeman marched out of Goodison Park's press room, he remarked witheringly, "Write what you like". It was the clearest sign that Everton's disastrous start to the season, following a £ 140million summer outlay, had caused his patience to snap.

Five months on, the figure standing in front of us at Dutch football's headquarters in leafy Zeist – a small town 25 miles from Amsterdam – cuts a very different figure in terms of how he looks and speaks.

Ronald Koeman has been revived in charge of Holland

His last game at Goodison Park on October 22 for a 5-2 hammering by Arsenal

His last game at Goodison Park on October 22 for a 5-2 hammering by Arsenal

New Holland boss Koeman, 54, is making jokes, holding court and the audience are hanging on his every word. He is ready for the challenge of restoring a proud football nation's reputation and can not wait to get started against England on Friday.

'When you last saw me, I was a little bit nervous and under pressure – I know that,' he tells Sportsmail after his main media duties are over.

'After Everton, where everyone knew it was really difficult towards the end, I needed time to focus again. I needed to recover. I have had a good time to relax. I work because I want to work. Just after that decision (his sacking), I was still crazy about football.

'I wanted to be involved as a coach, I wanted to be with the national team and this was the right time to try the challenge for me and the national team.'

Koeman wants to revive Holland after being missed out on Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup

Koeman wants to revive Holland after being missed out on Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup

It will not be easy. Holland failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and they will not be at this summer's World Cup, either. The country that gift us Total Football should be in the thick of the conversation, not peering in from the outside.

Koeman is picking from a shallow pool of talent, by the manager attempting to lure Arjen Robben out of international retirement at the age of 34. The Bayern Munich winger declined.

Another old warrior – Feyenoord striker Robin van Persie, also 34 – will be considered for duty when he is fit.

An attempt to lure winger Arjen Robben out of international retirement proved unsuccessful

An attempt to lure winger Arjen Robben out of international retirement proved unsuccessful

But for all the potential problems, the Holland job was Koeman's calling. He is plotting and preparing such talents such as Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk – who is almost certain to be captain – and Ajax's precocious 18-year-old Justin Kluivert to make the future Orange.

'I am thrilled,' said Kluivert, to whom Koeman had a first senior call-up. 'It was a good feeling. I know my father (Patrick) scored after seven minutes of his international debut and I want to do that, too! I hope it is against England. We shall see. Let's hope so. " And that is exactly what Koeman feels – hope.

The misery of those desperate final two months on Merseyside, when results and performances spiralled miserably down, has been banished. He is ready to push himself again.

But Koeman views talents such as Justin Kluivert as the future leaders for a new-look Orange

But Koeman views talents such as Justin Kluivert as the future leaders for a new-look Orange

"We are here," Koeman said. 'It is a new challenge. It is one I could not say no to. It is an honor to be the coach and I am looking forward to moving forward again.

I want to take the next big tournament in 2020. That is the aim.

'It is a big and difficult challenge. Everybody knows this. We are not qualified for the last two big tournaments and, OK, it is going to take time.

"We start against England. It's going to be a great game. "

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