Children of the revolution: how Frank de Boer is changing football

Ben Mountain

Frank de Boer is teetering on the brink of a rather shocking move. From the canals of Amsterdam and the cathedral of Milan, to the off licences of South Norwood, de Boer is set to make quite the transition.

But this will come as no great upheaval for the Dutchman, who has been the grand architect of change for the last five years.

Crystal Palace, following the departure of the former England gaffer, Sam Allardyce, are set to announce the signing of de Boer as taking over the reigns at Selhurst Park. After a month-long process of exhaustive research and analysis, it looks like they’re finally plumping for the right man.

With a playing career that includes Ajax, Barcelona and Galatasary, de Boer entered management young but with more than adequate credentials.

Since then, the fella has masterminded the resurgence of the Dutch giants, Ajax. No small feat at all. When he took charge in 2010, the the Lancers hadn’t won the Eredivisie title for six years. For a club with their history, it simply wasn’t good enough.

So, step forward Mr de Boer; four league titles in four consecutive seasons were the stunning result of this man’s turn around. Ajax were thrust back onto the world stage; back where they belong.

In 2013, de Boer won the Rinus Michels Award for the best manager in the Netherlands and can now boast a claim to being the most successful Ajax star ever.

Nine league titles over a combined player/manager career pips even Johan Cruyff to the record. And that takes some serious doing.

So, just what is it that makes the fella such a world-class manager?

The trick, it seems, is among the youth.

Alan Hansen once famously declared that “you can’t win anything with kids”. Fortunately for the rest of the world, he was wrong. And Frank de Boer wasn’t listening anyway.

Placing a massive emphasis on developing young players, the 47-year-old has nurtured and later sold the likes of Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Daley Blind. Outside the Premier League, he has crafted careers for player such as Arkadiusz Milik and Jasper Cillessen.

At Ajax, having previously had the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Wesley Sneijder at their disposal, de Boer had to rekindle a dying old squad who’d had far too much money wasted on them.

With the aforementioned pros having left the club, the Dutch giants had spent the best part of six years pouring money down the drain. It was to no avail. When a fresh-faced Frank stepped onto the scene, things had become almost desperate.

Seeing that money and big name stars were doing little to reinvigorate the glory days, de Boer set about signing lesser-known, fresh, young talent. Famed for his meticulous coaching and football methodology, de Boer and the rising hoard of promising young stars was a perfect combination.

Under his guidance and perfectionist training, de Boer’s signings fast went from teenage nobodies to some of the continent’s greatest stars; bizarrely with a penchant for heading to Tottenham Hotspur.

And now, excluding any major balls-up from the Crystal Palace board, this exciting approach to football is coming to the Premier League.

For far too long now have we been witness to the giants of English football whipping up any promising young talent and, essentially, ruining their careers. The country’s biggest clubs have the money and thus the power to snatch up whoever they want from wherever they choose, and this can have quite devastating effects on the development the country’s youth.

Just look at Adnan Januzaj, Scott Sinclair and John Bostock, who were all promising young stars, snapped up by a top club and now languishing in rather uninspiring locations.

That is the precise reason Frank de Boer will prove to be a fresh breath of revolutionary air in the Premier League. No more wasted talent. No more missing young names.

He, as an individual, is unquestionably beneficial for young development. And it’s refreshing to see this ability in one man, rather than an entire academy set up; which usually runs for the financial sake.

And with an astonishing collection of promising young stars at Palace – headed by Wilfried Zaha, of course – could we be about to see a roaring new generation of young footballers ready to break onto the scene?

If de Boer can work his magic with the Eagles as he did with Ajax, not only will the South Londoners enjoy a nose-bleed inducing rise up the table, but the rest of us will be able to enjoy a fresh new crop of talent.

Not just youngsters from abroad who’ve been snapped up and thrust into stardom, but current young faces who, like so many in this country, are just awaiting the right gaffer to push them over the edge into establishing a decent career.

With Palace no doubt later looking to make a profit from these developments, this talent will spread across the country and each of us can enjoy watching the development of solid youngsters like never before.

So, fingers crossed we’ll be seeing de Boer enjoying the pleasures of Croydon as soon as possible.

Brace yourselves, the children of the revolution are coming.

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