Former Feyenoord manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has recently been linked with the vacant New York City FC job, which likely left plenty of stateside fans wondering about his coaching profile.
We're here to help acquaint everyone with the Dutchman. And as with any good story, we'll start at the beginning.
How he got here
Local boy Van Bronckhorst joined the Feyenoord academy at the age of seven, and worked his way up through the ranks until making his first-team debut as a midfielder in 1993. Five years later, he followed manager Dick Advocaat to Glasgow Rangers, where he teamed up with US national team legend Claudio Reyna for plenty of trophy-raising success.
Following three seasons in Scotland, Van Bronckhorst picked up sticks to join Arsenal. He helped the Gunners claim the Premier League crown in his first season at Highbury, and then celebrated an FA Cup title the following year.
After spending a year on loan at Barcelona, during which he made the transition to left back, Van Bronckhorst completed a full transfer to the Nou Camp. He helped the Blaugrana capture consecutive La Liga titles, the second of which combined with a Champions League triumph to give the club a glorious double. In the summer of 2007, he returned to Feyenoord, where he'd spend his final three seasons as a player.
Van Bronckhorst was also a Netherlands national team mainstay for over a decade. He was a part of the squads that reached the semifinals of Euro 2000 and Euro 2004 and those that achieved more limited success at World Cup 2006 and Euro 2008. His crowning glory on the international stage, though, came in his final appearances in the famous shirt of the Oranje in the 2010 World Cup.
Just weeks after announcing he would retire from playing after the tournament, Van Bronckhorst captained the Dutch team to the final in South Africa. His personal highlight came when scoring a famous long-range cracker to open a wild 3-2 semifinal victory over Uruguay before bowing out with a loss to Spain in the World Cup final.
After a year spent assisting the Under-21 team coach, Van Bronckhorst joined the Feyenoord technical staff under Ronald Koeman. Near the end of the 2014-15 season, he was promoted to the manager job, and led the De Kuip crew to the KNVB Cup crown in his first full term as boss. In his second, the Rotterdam native guided the club to a surprise league title, ending an 18-year Eredivisie drought.
This past summer, he resigned his Feyenoord post, leaving with a 109-43-24 record (1.99 points per game) across all competitions. Van Bronckhorst was reportedly a candidate to take over at Premier League club Newcastle United, but instead accepted a behind the scenes role with Manchester City. He has been working with the club's academy, learning both the coaching and business sides of Pep Guardiola's defending EPL champs.
His coaching style
It will come as no surprise that Van Bronckhorst tends to favor the 4-3-3 attacking set that has become synonymous with Dutch soccer. Having played for the likes of Advocaat, Guus Hiddink, Arsene Wenger and Frank Rijkaard, it also stands to reason he has adopted some of their ideas into his management style.
"They all had their own ways and different styles," he once told reporters. "I've tried hard to form my own identity and philosophies as a coach, while never forgetting the positives I took from all of them."
During his six years on the Feyenoord staff, Van Bronckhorst proved to be very popular with the players. He played a large part in grooming young players (including Seattle right back Kelvin Leerdam, Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi, Renato Tapia and Tonny Vilhena) while also relating on a personal level with the veterans.
Van Bronckhorst leading a Feyenoord training session in 2017. | Reuters/Action Images
"I have had an open relationship with trainers before, but never in this way," Robin van Persie told Voetbal Flitsen back in 2018. "Many trainers still have a kind of wall around them, but not Giovanni."
How would he fit in at NYCFC?
Considering the way the Cityzens liked to operate under departed boss Dome Torrent, it's unlikely there would be any jarring changes if Van Bronckhorst took the job. With the club's nucleus expected back next season, he would seem a smart choice to take the NYCFC reins.
One could safely assume they would still try to win the center of the park, would still have defensive midfielder Alex Ring push high to support possession and would still place a high priority on attacking from the flanks. On the other hand, Van Bronckhorst would probably institute a much sterner high press against opponents with a clear talent disadvantage, as he often did at Feyenoord. In theory, this would give the pesky ball-hound types such as Ring, Alexandru Mitrita and star man Maxi Moralez even more opportunities to create offense.