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Underrated managerial gem

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With the football season coming to an end, clubs all around the world will start focusing on the transfer market, looking to sign the best players. However, the summer will also see some clubs looking to recruit managers for their football clubs. While a manager can be appointed or dismissed at any time in the season, it is the summer when the football goes on a break that the major changes are taken regarding the man in the dugout. Under these circumstances, Ruud van Nistelrooy will be a wanted man.

The Dutch legend left PSV Eindhoven after citing a ‘lack of support from the club’. Van Nistelrooy performed brilliantly in just one season, helping the club win the KNVB Cup and the Johan Cruyff Shield. And with one game remaining, PSV only need one point to cement second place and finish over Ajax.

His exit comes just days before the club, and the manager were set to sign a new deal that would substantially increase his pay and keep him at the club for an extended period of time. So, how has Ruud van Nistelrooy fared in his coaching career? We explain.

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Who is Ruud van Nistelrooy

Ruud van Nistelrooy is one of the best players ever for the Netherlands. In an incredible career, the prolific forward played for PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United and Real Madrid while representing his nation 70 times. Van Nistelrooy won numerous honours, including league titles in the Netherlands, England and Spain.

Van Nistelrooy would call time on his career at the end of the 2011-12 season before venturing straight into coaching. After retiring from football, Van Nistelrooy returned to his former club PSV to take charge of their under-17 team in June 2013.

However, a year later, a bigger opportunity arrived, and he left his job to join Guus Hiddink, the newly appointed manager of the Netherlands as an assistant. He would spend two years in this role before returning to PSV as the coach for the under-18s.

Van Nistelrooy would also be part of the backroom staff for the Netherlands team when Ronald Koeman was the manager. However, his first managerial stint at the senior level would only come in March 2022, when he was appointed as the PSV manager to replace the outgoing Roger Schmidt.

Ruud van Nistelrooy’s tactics and style of play 

In his first season at PSV, Ruud van Nistelrooy altered between a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formation depending on the position and has also used the 4-4-2 formation on a few occasions. After taking charge of the team, van Nistelrooy opted for a team with a stable defence that used pace and trickery to devour the opposition.

And it is here that his tactical brilliance came to play. With the ball, the team attempts two ways to move the ball forward, either through gaps between the defence and midfield or using the wings. They ended up doing the latter, so they had 122 successful crosses, the second-most in the league. The manager also knew that in Xavi, Simons was his best player. So rather than confining him to a specific position, van Nistelrooy gave him full freedom to explore the gaps in the attacking third. His heatmap from Sofascore proves that.

Without the ball, though, van Nistelrooy sets up his defence in such a way that avoids the same weaknesses of the opposition that he exploits, the gaps between the lines. Instead, his tactics forced the opponent to go on the wings, where the only opportunity was to cross the ball. And it is where the impressive centre-back duo of Andre Ramalho and Jarrad Branthwaite come to play. Branthwaite, in particular, uses his 1.95-metre frame to good use.

The team also relies on quick passing to move the ball forward, with dribbling responsibilities more often than not left on the shoulders of Xavi Simmons. This change was also implemented to a large extent because of Cody Gakpo’s departure to Liverpool, who is still the league’s second-highest player in terms of assists despite playing less than half a season with the club.

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Why Ruud van Nistelrooy may be a good fit for Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham are looking not just for a manager but an entire top hierarchy. The English team have already tried to entice Brentford’s technical director to the team. Nevertheless, the biggest priority remains the manager for now. However, The club is failing to attract big names, and under such circumstances, Ruud van Nistelrooy could emerge as the perfect choice.

The Dutchman prefers an attacking philosophy, something Tottenham exceeded under Mauricio Pochettino when they reached the final of the Champions League. His tactics also play to the advantage of Tottenham’s squad, which has two brilliant attackers in Harry Kane and Son Heung Min. The club also doesn’t boast the quality of top league sides and will immensely benefit from his defensive tactics against far superior sides.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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