June 26, 2017 / 5:15 PM / 7 months ago

Soccer-New Palace boss De Boer aims to show quality after Italian failure

LONDON, June 26 (Reuters) - The word ‘failure’ is not associated with Frank De Boer’s name very often which is why Crystal Palace’s new manager took over on Monday determined to ensure an ill-fated Italian job will swiftly be seen as an aberration in his glittering career.

De Boer’s short, calamitous spell as Inter Milan manager last year was a shocking setback on the Dutchman’s hitherto gilded footballing path, be it as a Rolls Royce of an international defender or as a thoughtful, go-ahead young coach.

Yet the overwhelming belief in football remains that De Boer’s route to international coaching success has only suffered the briefest of interruptions and that Premier League Palace have pulled off a genuine coup by hiring him.

After all, bigger English clubs than the south Londoners, like Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, courted him while he was making a dramatic impact as a young manager at Ajax Amsterdam, leading them to four straight Dutch titles.

Rather than breaking his confidence, De Boer’s torrid 85-day reign at Italian giants Inter, which ended last November, may actually have been an important part of the 47-year-old’s managerial education, only hardening his resolve.

“I learned a lot from it,” De Boer told reporters on Monday as he was unveiled as the man to build on the work of Sam Allardyce, who quit Palace last month after helping them win their relegation battle. “I can bring that experience here.”

Ronald De Boer, the other half of arguably the best partnership of twins ever to play the game, is, as might be expected, convinced his younger sibling Frank -- by 10 minutes -- will be better for having tasted life in the Serie A furnace.

“Falling down on your face sometimes helps you to move forward,” Ronald told the BBC. “He is more than capable of doing well with any team.”


It now seems clear De Boer should never have moved to the San Siro where he took over a mammoth job two weeks before the start of the season after Inter sacked Roberto Mancini.

It meant he had no time to properly introduce his methods to a squad who had been jet-setting around the world playing summer friendlies and were evidently not as fit as they should have been at the start of the Serie A campaign.

De Boer warned it would take four months to get Inter playing with the Ajax-inspired, possession-based philosophy he favoured. When the team laboured, apparently not enamoured with his approach, it became clear he would not be given that long.

“He learned he needs a good pre-season to get a proper idea of what his squad is about,” said Ronald.

That is what he will get at Palace as he seeks to embed the ideas he embraced as an accomplished defender at Ajax and Barcelona.

“Frank has always stood for his football to be attractive,” said Ronald. “He likes teams to be pressing high up and make sure that the ball most of the time stays on the ground, to hopefully have the ball quickly in possession to try to score.”

He has had his critics, though, including one of the best Dutch players ever to grace the Premier League.

Arsenal great Dennis Bergkamp, once his assistant at Ajax, noted after De Boer’s Inter sacking:

“At times, it seems like he would play a positional game just because he liked positioning, as if the whole aim was to obtain the highest possible percentage of possession.”

Like some of the teething difficulties encountered by his former Barca team mate Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, there is a danger De Boer’s first season could prove a trying one. Yet the Dutchman is adamant that he is in England for the long haul.

“The only thing I‘m concerned with is making Crystal Palace a very solid Premier League club,” De Boer said on Monday. “I’ve signed for three years so I want to stay for three years. It’s a club that can still can grow further and further.”

His message will be music to the ears of the club’s chairman Steve Parish, who fancies that De Boer, with his track record of expertly bringing through young talent, is going to be the king of his Palace for many years to come. (Reporting by Ian Chadband; editing by Ken Ferris)

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