De Boer takes over Netherlands team with point to prove

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Netherlands coach Frank de Boer paid tribute to his predecessor Ronald Koeman on Friday and said he wants to use his time in charge of the national team to prove his doubters wrong.

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De Boer was appointed this week on a contract through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, succeeding Koeman who quit after two years in charge of the national team to coach Barcelona.

“I believe we have a beautiful future," the 50-year-old De Boer said at his official presentation, as he sat flanked by leaders of the Royal Netherlands Soccer Association at its headquarters.

“Ronald Koeman and the men next to me started that a few years ago,” he added. "We have a good squad, good staff. I was always a player who demanded the maximum at training and to try to finish as high as possible. I have that as coach, too.”

Those high aspirations have not always been borne out on the field by teams De Boer has coached.

The former Netherlands defender's management career got off to a flying start when he led Ajax to four straight Eredivisie league titles from 2011-14, but went downhill when he moved overseas.

He was fired in 2016 after only 85 days in charge of Inter Milan and lasted just 10 weeks at Crystal Palace in 2017 before being ousted after the team lost its first four Premier League games without scoring a goal.

De Boer had a successful first season with MLS team Atlanta United, but parted company with the team two months ago after a poor re-start to the coronavirus-hit season. Atlanta lost all three of its group games at the MLS is Back tournament in Florida and, under De Boer, faced criticism for lacking creativity.

De Boer said he would be looking for stylish victories with the current crop of young Dutch players.

“We want results and, of course, in the most beautiful way if possible,” De Boer said. “At the moment, it looks good. I think we have players with the quality to do that.”

After his experiences at Inter, Palace and Atlanta, De Boer has a point to prove.

"I'm convinced I can be a good coach,” he said.

After the Dutch team missed out on qualification for Euro 2016 in France and the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Koeman was appointed coach and turned around the team's fortunes. He led it to qualification for the 2020 European Championships — pushed back to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic — and the final of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, losing to Portugal.

De Boer now will lead the Dutch to next year's European Championships and into qualification for the World Cup a year later.

He said he shares much of Koeman's footballing philosophy.

“I have my own style and identity and I will always keep doing that," he said. "I’m not a copy of somebody but I share the same line that Ronald started.”

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