Marco van Basten

77

Marco van Basten : biography

31 October 1964 –

Managing career

Ajax B

Van Basten while manager of the Netherlands. Van Basten officially left Milan in 1995 and retired from football, stating he would never try management. However, he changed his mind and took a course with the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB). His first stint as a manager was as an assistant to his former teammate John van ‘t Schip with the second team of Ajax in 2003–04.

Netherlands

On 29 July 2004, Van Basten was named the new manager of the Dutch national team, with van ‘t Schip as his assistant.

As a manager, he soon established himself as a man of strong principles. Van Basten famously dropped regulars like Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and Roy Makaay and benched Mark van Bommel, because he believed that they were either past their prime or constantly underachieving.

There were also calls for Van Basten to call up Dennis Bergkamp, who had retired from the national team six years earlier for a final "hurrah" as he was retiring that season. Van Basten then revealed to the media that he never intended to do so despite Bergkamp’s own willingness.

For probably the first time in decades, none of the "Big Three" Clubs (Ajax, PSV, and Feyenoord) provided the backbone for the national team. Instead, newcomer AZ led the way with players such as Denny Landzaat, Barry Opdam, Barry van Galen, Ron Vlaar, Jan Kromkamp and Joris Mathijsen. Other unheralded choices were Khalid Boulahrouz, Hedwiges Maduro, Ryan Babel and Romeo Castelen selected. Van Basten had also wanted to include Ivorian forward Salomon Kalou, but was thwarted when Kalou was denied Dutch citizenship by the immigration authorities headed by Rita Verdonk. Kalou eventually accepted a call-up to play for Côte d’Ivoire.

Van Basten (left) with [[Klaas-Jan Huntelaar during training prior to Euro 2008.]] Under his guidance, the team were unbeaten in their World Cup qualification group and made it through the group stages at the FIFA World Cup 2006, but were eliminated in a frenzied 1–0 loss to Portugal in the Round of 16. Van Basten was heavily criticised for dropping Ruud van Nistelrooy (who had scored 28 goals for the Netherlands) before this game, in favour of Dirk Kuyt, who did not score throughout the entire tournament.

In November 2006, Van Basten recalled exiled Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf for a friendly against England at the Amsterdam ArenA. In May 2007, Van Basten announced the end of his long-running dispute with Real Madrid forward Ruud van Nistelrooy, who had previously declared never to play for a Dutch national squad with Van Basten as its manager. Other players, such as Roy Makaay, Mark van Bommel, Boudewijn Zenden, and Edgar Davids, however, remained out of favour.

Van Basten had a contract with the KNVB for managing the Dutch national side until 2008. The KNVB had expressed its wishes to extend his contract to include the World Cup qualification route to 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. On 22 February 2008, Van Basten signed a four-year contract with Ajax, starting from 1 July. His last tournament thus was the UEFA Euro 2008, where the Netherlands surprised with a strong round 1 performance. They beat World Champions Italy 3–0 in their first match, followed by a 4–1 win over World Cup runners-up France. In their third game, already qualified for the next round, Van Basten selected non-regulars such as Maarten Stekelenburg, Wilfred Bouma and Ibrahim Afellay for the starting lineup against Romania, a match the ‘Oranje’ won 2–0. In the quarter finals, Van Basten faced fellow Dutchman Guus Hiddink’s Russia. With the score at 1–1 after 90 minutes, Hiddink and Russia went on to win the match 3–1.

AFC Ajax

Van Basten became trainer of Ajax after Euro 2008 but resigned on 6 May 2009 after his team failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. Van Basten started the season well, having spent millions on players such as Miralem Sulejmani, Ismaïl Aissati, Darío Cvitanich, Evander Sno, Eyong Enoh and Oleguer Presas Renom. However, in the second half of the season striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar left for Real Madrid, and Van Basten started switching around his lineups. When Ajax lost eleven points in four games, the Eredivisie title was out of sight. Ajax could, however, still get second place, which would have ensured a place in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League. But after two big losses against PSV (6–2) and Sparta Rotterdam (4–0) Van Basten’s Ajax could only make it to number three. Van Basten decided to resign as Ajax manager at the end of the 2008–09 season. After this, Van Basten became a pundit for Sport1, but was still planning to return as a manager.