What will Frank de Boer offer as Manager of Crystal Palace?
The list of Premier League managers ahead of the 2017/18 season has finally taken shape. The penultimate appointment on the list was new Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino, and rounding off the final 20 is a Dutch footballing icon, Frank de Boer, who has been confirmed as Crystal Palace’s manager, just 4 days short of the transfer window opening. We provided the low-down on Pellegrino’s arrival to the Premier League, and now The Hype Train will look at de Boer ahead of his maiden season in English football.
Who is Frank de Boer?
Age: 47 (15/05/1970)
International Appearances: 112 international caps for the Netherlands, with 13 goals
Is de Boer a former player?: Yes
What were his former playing clubs?: Ajax, Barcelona, Galatasaray, Rangers, Al-Rayyan, Al-Shamal
2007-2010: Ajax (youth)
2008-2010: Netherlands (assistant manager)
2016: Inter Milan
2017-Current: Crystal Palace
Born and bred into the world of football, Frank de Boer is one of a lineage of Dutch players to help captivate world football, the type of player that you'd associate with shaping modern football as we know it with an inventive style of play. Following on in the footsteps of greats such as Johan Cruyff, de Boer started as a product of the famed Ajax youth academy, finding success in home soil and on the biggest stages of the Champions League. A five time winner of the Eredivisie, a Champions League winner with Barcelona, and a UEFA Cup winner, to name but a few playing achievements, de Boer begun his managerial career as he started his playing career.
Winning four domestic Eredivisie shields with Ajax (2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, and 2013/14), these feats all followed on from a spell as the Assistant Manager of the Netherlands national team that reached the 2010 World Cup final. Heartbreak would continue to follow Dutch nationals across the world, which was the case when de Boer took on his next managerial appointment at Inter Milan, which ended in turmoil after just 85 days in charge of the Serie A giant.
Now, after years of being linked with a move to the Premier League, the move has finally happened and of all clubs it is Crystal Palace, that have finally enticed a national footballing icon to their hotseat, a position of power that up until now was previously only seated with British managers.
Do we think de Boer is the right appointment?
The announcement for football fans and avid FPL players has got a lot of people talking about the potential de Boer could bring to Palace, with talk of Europe on the horizon in the future, but right now we're a million miles away from classifying Palace as a European force to be reckoned with. Stepping into a team deeply thrawt of confidence, Crystal Palace lacks any form of stability, with Big Sam's touch proving a major influence last season against top six sides at the tail end of the season. We're looking at a Crystal Palace side that were also rolled over by Sunderland and majorly dip in and out of form throughout the season.
When evaluating the arrival of Pellegrino at Southampton, we think that there is a great scale of balance to be had between the sides. On one side you have a product of Ajax, who values bringing through youth players, taking over a team that yearns for Premier League stability after flirting with disaster for the past few season. On the other end you have a Manager who is drilled at consolidating a decent league position with a team that greatly overachieved. The fine point here is that it would have made more sense on paper for de Boer and Pellegrino to be in each other's shoes.
De Boer in his initial press conference made some very polar points about how Crystal Palace will be taken forward in the future. On one hand the former Dutch international claimed that youth players will get a chance to train with the first team, but in the next statement cited his desire to get the cheque book out with marquee signings that could ultimately go against the former point. Of course the intent is for both points to mingle, for the money to be spent, and for young players to get a a chance, but with exception to Southampton who have a system in place of playing youngster's and nurturing their wealth before eventual moves to the likes of Liverpool and Man United, Crystal Palace are not in clear water yet, and in the Premier League that translates to playing experienced footballers who can ensure safety.
Without reigning on the parade there is a sense that the task at hand isn't going to be an easy one for de Boer. If we argue the point that de Boer lacks experience in our league, then that is true. If we were to argue that managers such as Marco Silva made an instant impact in the Premier League, that would also be true. The difference with de Boer is that he has previously walked into privileged positions that are usually a precursor for success. Ajax dominated the early 2010's without sizeable opposition from league rivals Twente, PSV, Feyenoord, or AZ, to stop a quadruple of titles to land at de Boer's feet.
Inter Milan followed, with an 85 day reign that in truth is not a fair reflection of de Boer's managerial capability. Walking into a job that wanted a figurehead, and not a visionary, Inter dictated transfer policy during de Boer's short lived reign, which greatly aided to a lack of trust and confidence from both parties in achieving a solid season for a club that is desperate to restore its image as a European powerhouse. João Mário and Gabriel Barbosa were among high profile signings at Inter during de Boer's reign, both commissioned by board approval. The board then mockingly supported de Boer after losing 1-0 in a league match to Sampdoria, de Boer's last league game in charge of Inter, before firing him the same day. Inter have hired a managerial list that now spans into double digits since Jose Mourinho won the treble in 2010, which of course included the Champions League following a 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich.
We'd argue that this is de Boer's first job that doesn't come with a safety net, which is why it is the perfect position to find out whether or not he has the ability to thrive in a cut-throat division that is not afraid of axing manager's if they do not live up to the crazy hype and expectations at boardroom level. Football opinion is definitely divided on de Boer, but we're sure that Palace are just happy that somebody has finally stepped in. Indeed, Steve Parish will give de Boer time, and a hefty war chest, to build on Crystal Palace's survival, but we'd just like to throw caution out there and suggest that a big name doesn't always guarantee immediate success or stability in the Premier League.
Crystal Palace are crippled with Pardew-fever, an illness that results in a club of quality and capable players, severely under-performing due to years of neglect on the training ground, which is the area which de Boer will have to focus on if Palace are to have a chance of living out the board's vision of a place at Europe's elite in the near future.
How does de Boer like to play his football?
As an Ajax graduate it comes as no surprise that de Boer is a fan of the attacking side of football, though de Boer is known to tinker his team on occasion. In Serie A, the home of the 3-at-the-back system, not even the Dutchman could avoid playing the system that aided Chelsea to a second Premier League crown in three years. De Boer though was criticised for deploying 3 defensive centre halves as they lost to Chievo at home with the system.
De Boer has always favoured the conventional 4-3-3 system, and by conventional we are of course referencing the Dutch preference. Players that thrived under these systems through de Boer at Ajax were the likes of Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld, who now at Spurs are among the best in the division in their respective positions. Hinting at playing the Ajax way was even confirmed during de Boer's first appearance as Crystal Palace manager, which indicated that widemen and a central striker are gonigto be pivotal next season.
When announced, this is what De Boer stated in his press conference with Palace Chairman, Steve Parish.
"I have my own type of coaching and style of playing. We want to be dominant when we can, but also dominate when we don't have the ball," de Boer said. "Also, for the fans, we must try to be attractive. Palace has a very enthusiastic and passionate fanbase, so they will want to see that."
Crystal Palace in the Fantasy Premier League
There is no better start to the season on paper for any team in the Premier League than by playing the Championship play-off winners at home. Palace have that wish, entertaining Huddersfield on the opening day. Pre-season is yet to start but with a lot of expectation regarding de Boer's line-up, we'd not be surprised to see an attacking 4-3-3 (and a defensive 4-5-1) formation deployed hen the season kicks off.
Who might be valuable FPL options?
Unlike with Pellegrino at Southampton, whose history suggests that defensive players will be the norm when the 2017/18 FPL season opens, at Palace it appears that assets higher up the pitch are where the points will be. Naturally Palace's best player, and FPL hero Wilfried Zaha, is at the summit of player's attention. De Boer will unleash Zaha's creativity at every given turn, meaning an elevated role for the Ivorian is almost certain.
On the opposite flank, should Andros Townsend be in the picture, a lot of attention will rise as the English winger as a differential option, will no doubt be asked. Further in attack the play-time of Christian Benteke may come into question, with Palace already reportedly in the market for additional striking options such as Kelechi Iheanacho heavily linked.
With pre-season still a few weeks away, and a number of player signings still to come to shake and rattle our perspective, perhaps it's better to look at what we know, Palace's fixtures, and our take on how we think stack up when compared to the rest of the Premier League.
CRYSTAL PALACE'S FIRST 10 PL FIXTURES
GW1 - Crystal Palace vs. Huddersfield
GW2 - Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace
GW3 - Crystal Palace vs. Swansea
GW4 - Burnley vs. Crystal Palace
GW5 - Crystal Palace vs. Southampton
GW6 - Man City vs. Crystal Palace
GW7 - Man United vs. Crystal Palace
GW8 - Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea
GW9 - Newcastle vs. Crystal Palace
GW10 - Crystal Palace vs. West Ham
Crystal Palace Overall: 5 home fixtures, 5 away
Encounters with last season's top 6: Palace travel to Liverpool for GW2, before playing Man City (GW6), Man United (GW7), and Chelsea (GW8) consecutively
Promoted clubs: Crystal Palace entertain Huddersfield on the opening day, and travel to Newcastle for GW9.
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