I haven’t slept so well for the past few nights. Thoughts have been swirling around in my head, the last few days have been kind of surreal. I’ve agreed to take my first ever job in management, and I really don’t feel ready. The fact that the club aren’t ready to announce it yet doesn’t help. They say it’s because they’ll have to pay Wim more to buy him out of his contract, rather than let it expire. I’m having a confidence crisis, and wondering why they’re replacing a club legend with… me? I’m ecstatic, but at the same time I keep feeling like my phone will ring any minute and they’ll take the offer back.

I heard this new game was coming out, Football Manager 2022. I’m no gamer, but since I’ve had no part in the football world other than being a fan for 30 years, I figured it couldn’t hurt to get a little boost by dominating a virtual world. That didn’t turn out brilliantly, and now I feel like a fraud. It’s been 6 years since I sat in that pub in Almelo, thinking for the first time that I could help to turn our nation’s fortunes around, even in just a small way. Now that time is here, and I guess I’m just panicking. I can do this, I have a plan.

I’ve gone back and re-watched loads of Germany’s matches, from the World Cup in 1998 all the way through to Euro 2004. This was a time before the Germans were the huge threat they are now, even when they reached the World Cup Final in 2002 they weren’t hugely convincing. Sure, you don’t fluke your way to a World Cup final, but dropping points against Ireland in the groups and then 1-0 wins against Paraguay, USA and South Korea isn’t a dominant run. They’ve basically rebuilt all of the youth training in the country since, and have done a lot of good work to produce players to get them to where they are now. This is what makes me believe that the Dutch will recover, and come back stronger than we’ve ever been.

We’ve always been good at developing players, Dutch players have won 7 Ballon d’Or awards in the past, including the legendary Cruyff who won three of them. This year though, not a single Dutch player was even nominated. If we, as a nation, can get our existing talents to kick on a step and truly break through at the elite clubs, and then also produce some of the next generational talents, Holland will be in a great position once again.

When It runs through my brain like that, it sounds so simple. Just develop better players and the Dutch will win a World Cup, right? Then it hits me, like a brick… I’m going to be the manager of an Eerste Divisie side, with no contact to any of the national coaches.

Jesus, who am I kidding?


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