Erik ten Hag has arrived at Manchester United, the latest in a long line of managers trying to bring the Red Devils back to the top.
He will also be the last Dutchman to try his hand at managing in the Premier League – the ninth in fact – and so far it’s a real mixed bag.
So, based on points per game, we’ve ranked former Dutch managers in the Premier League and looked at what Ten Hag needs to produce to be considered a success at United.
Frank de Boer
Won : 0
Goals scored: 0
Goals conceded: seven
When you sit down to do a Planet Sport football feature, you usually know that a calculator will be needed at some point. Frank de Boer, however, assured that we were not there yet.
De Boer arrived at Crystal Palace with a big name and a good record. He had won the Eredivisie four times with Ajax and had a spell, admittedly a bit “meh”, at Inter Milan.
He just appeared completely overwhelmed by the Premier League, however. I couldn’t win, I couldn’t draw, I couldn’t even score.
His only saving grace was that he got out of the way quickly enough that it didn’t cause serious trouble for Crystal Palace.
Won : 3
Goals scored: 15
Goals conceded: 34
René Meulensteen was one of those names that we always seemed to hear in glowing terms without ever really knowing who he was.
“He is the brains of Manchester United’s success,” it was said. “Alex Ferguson wouldn’t be the same without him”, etc.
While he was undoubtedly a coach with a fine pedigree, there was no indication that he would be a good manager. In 2013, Meulensteen was made assistant to Martin Jol at Fulham. Three weeks later, he was in charge. Three months later he was sacked and two months later Fulham were relegated.
Goals scored: 16
Goals conceded: 28
‘Little General’ Dick Advocaat joined Sunderland in 2015 during their annual Premier League spring panics. His mandate, both from club and home, was simple: keep Sunderland on their feet, leave in the summer, retire.
It was quite reasonable. Advocaat was 68 at the time and had dragged his family all over the world. His wife insisted they had a retirement together and Sunderland wanted a fresh start this summer.
However, only one of these things happened. He kept Sunderland on their feet. He also tried to leave in the summer, but Sunderland fans organized a tour to buy his wife flowers to persuade her to release him from his retirement promise. Several dozen bouquets later she relented, probably just to stop the madness, and Advocaat returned to Sunderland that summer. He didn’t last long into the following season, however.
As for retirement and quitting jobs all over the world? Since leaving Sunderland, Advocaat has taken six other jobs in three different countries, including Iraq.
Won : 75
Goals scored: 277
Goals conceded: 281
No Dutchman has managed more Premier League games than Martin Jol, and he’s always done a pretty solid job in truth.
Jol was brought to the Premier League by Jacques Santini, who made him a Tottenham assistant. Things quickly escalated from there with the Frenchman lasting just 13 games and Jol being promoted to his position.
He made Spurs compete in the top six of the Premier League, which was real progress for them at the time, but he was ultimately seen as a manager who could take them to the precipice but not take that final step. He was sacked after three years in office.
After solid spells at Hamburg and Ajax, Jol resumed his Premier League career with Fulham, but it never really clicked for him in west London.
Won : 41
Goals scored: 164
Goals conceded: 148
Ruud Gullit brought a real touch of glamor to the Premier League as a player and he went on to make it his mission to bring ‘sexy football’ to England fans as a manager too.
He won an FA Cup with Chelsea – the only managerial honor of his career – and, at times, they also played outstanding football. He also took them to sixth in the table, which was a good result for Chelsea at the time. He was sacked after just a few years in charge, however, with chairman Ken Bates saying, “I didn’t like his arrogance – in fact, I never did.”
This is probably a sentiment shared by Alan Shearer. Gullit’s other Premier League job was at Newcastle, where he tried to assert himself by dropping Shearer for a home derby against Sunderland.
Sunderland won, and Gullit left three days later, taking his very average record with him.
Won : 55
Goals scored: 182
Goals conceded: 136
Ronald Koeman is one of those managers you associate, rightly or wrongly, with being good at taking over someone else’s good work but unable to create anything himself.
That’s how it was in England, certainly. Koeman took over a fine Southampton side left to him by Mauricio Pochettino and he was able to carry on. It earned them a sixth place finish, which shouldn’t be underestimated, but it never really seemed his crew.
This landed him a job at Everton where he received the biggest transfer budget of any manager in the club’s history. Remarkably, he splashed out £150m – but forgot to replace top scorer Romelu Lukaku, whose sale had provided the bulk of that money.
Naturally, he didn’t last long at Everton after that.
Louis van Gaal
Won : 39
Goals scored: 111
Goals conceded: 72
Ever since Louis van Gaal led a brilliant young Ajax side to the Champions League title in 1995, he’s been a manager shrouded in mystique.
Its track record is odd, in the sense that it has always roughly achieved what is expected, but never in a particularly convincing way. He won Eredivisie titles with Ajax, he won a few La Liga titles with Barcelona and he won a Bundesliga with Bayern Munich.
An Eredivisie title with AZ was the outlier, although Steve McClaren did the same with Twente the following season, you wonder how difficult it was to win that particular competition at the time.
Van Gaal repeated this pattern in the Premier League. He arrived at Manchester United, won a trophy (the FA Cup), was never really convinced and somehow left with his reputation as a top manager despite the total absence of anything noteworthy at distance.
Won : 18
Goals scored: 62
Goals conceded: 35
Guus Hiddink has never been
really here, was he? And yet, at the same time, he is the most successful Dutch manager in terms of points per game the Premier League has ever seen.
Hiddink was appointed as Chelsea interim manager twice in personal favor of Roman Abramovich at the time. In the first of those spells, Hiddink was doing the job while coaching Russia. It was back in the 2008/09 season and he delivered an FA Cup at the end of it. He left with a whopping 73% winning percentage.
Maybe he should have left it there. Chelsea and Hiddink tried to repeat the trick in 2015/16, but it was far less successful. In fact, his win percentage was barely half of what it was in his first spell.
Hiddink remains the benchmark for Ten Hag to beat when he finally cuts his teeth in the United role.
But even becoming the most successful Dutch manager in Premier League history won’t be enough.
Averaging 1.94 points per game might sound like a lot, but that’ll only get you 73 points in a top-flight campaign and hasn’t delivered anyone a Premier League title yet. For context, this is a nearly identical record to Chelsea last season, who finished third, 19 points behind champions Manchester City.
READ MORE: Frank Lampard already favorite to be first Premier League manager out in 2022/23