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Ronald Koeman is the fifth Dutch coach in FC Barcelona’s history, and follows in some illustrious footsteps. He is a club legend thanks to his role in the ‘Dream Team’ and historic performance at Wembley in the European Cup final, and now he returns to the club to occupy a spot in the dugout. His fellow countryman have set a high standard, which Koeman will look to continue.
The Barça model itself has roots in Dutch football, and the coaching connection stretches back almost fifty years.
1. Rinus Michels
In 1971, Rinus Michels left Ajax to join FC Barcelona. Although he immediately got the team playing attractive football, it would not be until 1973/4 that the team enjoyed success in terms of results. The arrival of an excellent footballer, Johan Cruyff, was the final piece of the puzzle for Michels' ideas, and Barça earned a first LaLiga title in fourteen years.
The coach was also put in charge of the Dutch national team for the 1974 World Cup, which they would fail to win. After a year without trophies for Barça in 1974/75, Michels departed the club.
He returned for a second spell in 1976/77, and by the time he left in 1977/8, he had led FC Barcelona to the Copa del Rey.
2. Johan Cruyff
Barça's association with Johan Cruyff was synonymous with success. As good as he was as a player, as a coach he was perhaps even more influential. Spearheading a renaissance for the club, he brought them 4 LaLiga titles, a European Cup, a Copa del Rey, 3 Spanish Super Cups, a European Super Cup and a European Cup Winners Cup in the eight years from 1988/89 to 1995/96.
Beyond the trophies, he left an indelible mark on FC Barcelona. His side were christened the ‘Dream Team.’ The Catalan club boasted a squad of fantastic players, including Koeman, Guardiola, Stoichkov, Eusebio and more, who produced breath-taking football. A style of play instilled in the youth system by Cruyff ensured success for years to come.
3. Louis Van Gaal
Louis Van Gaal would become FC Barcelona’s third Dutch coach, and in his first campaign -1997/98- he won a league and cup double. His side would go on to win the European Super Cup for the first time in 39 years, whilst in his sophomore campaign he led the team to LaLiga glory once again. However, a third season was not so successful: Barça placed second in the league, and were losing semi-finalists in the Champions League and Copa del Rey.
Van Gaal would come back to the Camp Nou for a brief second spell, but it would last just 19 matchdays of the 2002/03 season. In that time, however, he provided a debut to future legend Andrés Iniesta. He had previously done likewise with Víctor Valdés, Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernández.
4. Frank Rijkaard
A fan of attacking football and the Dutch philosophy of play, Frank Rijkaard was the next coach from the Netherlands to take charge at Barça. Joining in 2003/04, his coaching style -coupled with the talent of players such as Ronaldinho- made the team one of the most positive, enjoyable sides to watch. He helped FC Barcelona to two LaLiga titles (the first after a 5-year drought), as well as the club’s second Champions League crown.
After a further Spanish Super Cup win in 2006/07, Rijkaard left at the end of the 2007/08 campaign. He was the most recent Dutch coach at the club, until Koeman’s return this week.
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