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Dick Schreuder On PEC Zwolle, Coaching In Europe, MLS And Learning From Sir Bobby Robson

Dick Schreuder

An interview with Dick Schreuder, by Callum McFadden for WFi.

You are currently the manager of PEC Zwolle having taken the job in November 2021. How would you reflect on your time at the club so far?

“My time so far has been good despite the fact that we suffered relegation from the Eredivisie last season.

“When I arrived at the club, we only had four points in the league and it was always going to be an uphill task to keep the club up.

“So, even though our form after my arrival improved, it was not enough for us to stay up in the end.

“Thankfully, the club were aware of the likelihood of us going down when they appointed me and they explained to me that I would be given two seasons to bring the club back to the Eredivisie. That was the objective.

“As we are speaking today (in February 2023) we are currently top of the Eerste Divisie by six points and are currently on course to return to the Eredivisie within one season.

“Of course, I take nothing for granted and neither do the group of players that I have so we fully understand that there is a long way to go in the season yet but we are in a good place.

“Establishing this club back in the Eredivisie is my aim but first of all, we have to make sure that we get there so our feet are on the ground.”

How would you describe your tactical approach as a manager?

”I want to play high-energy, attacking football. Pressing with intensity is at the heart of what I want my team to do.

”Attacking football is what I was brought up around as a player and that is the way I want to be as a manager.

“Our team creates many chances per game and we always look to play on the front foot.

”At the end of the day, if you want to win titles you need to attack opposition teams which is what my team at PEC Zwolle are doing when we approach every game.”

You worked alongside your brother Alfred at Hoffenheim when he was manager, as his assistant. How much did you learn from your experiences with him in the Bundesliga?

“I have learned a lot from my brother and he has also learned a lot from me.

“We are very close and always talked about football together from being young kids.

“Then, as young players, we went to PSV Eindhoven at the same time and lived together when we were there.

“We also played together at RKC Waalwijk.

“Then, when we went into coaching, it made sense for us to work together if such an opportunity was to arise where we felt it would work.

“We have some similarities when it comes to our view of coaching and how the game should be played but we also have some differences too which is healthy.

”I have learned a lot from him but I have also learned from all of the coaches and staff members that I have worked with over the years in football. It is important that you try and learn from those around you.

“Working together made sense when Alfred was in charge of Hoffenheim.

“Our time in the Bundesliga was a really good season considering the club sold a few key players in the summer of us arriving.

“We bought younger players and our aim was to development which we did with a strong top-half finish in the league.”

You also coached in MLS at Philadelphia Union as an assistant manager prior to moving to Hoffenheim. What did you learn from your time in MLS?

“MLS was a great experience. I had a slightly sceptical view of the quality of the league prior to going there. I think that is the case for many Europeans.

“However, when I got there, my opinion completely changed. I was impressed by the standards straight away.

“I learned a lot about the psychological side of the game in MLS because of the ever-changing conditions that you play in.

“Such is the size of the US, you are playing in 45C then the next week you are playing in close to freezing conditions such is the scale and different climates within the country.

“Time difference is also a factor that comes into play, which is another intriguing aspect for a coach to consider when making preparations.

“I loved my time in MLS and I would love to have the opportunity to return there one day as a manager. That is one of my future ambitions.”

You referenced your playing career which you started at PSV Eindhoven. While you were at the club, Sir Bobby Robson was the manager. What was he like to work with? 

“He was a man for whom I have the utmost respect. He was a great man and you could understand why he became a Sir. One of life’s good people.

“He was different as a coach for us Dutch players because we had not worked with a coach from the UK before. He was impressive in his man management and how much time he had for the younger players coming through at the club.

“He taught me that as well as football, you need to be happy in life. He had a lasting impact on me and I remember him vividly now even though it is 30 years since I worked with him. He was a wonderful man.”

You also played alongside Brazilian legend Romario while at PSV. How good was he?

“He was different level. One of the very best players that I have worked with. His work ethic and eye for goal were world-class.

“Although, I was fortunate that I was at PSV during a strong era for the club when we had many top players who were of a high level.

“Players from the generation of the 1988 Dutch European Championship winning team were at the club at the time so it was great to learn from them too.”

In addition to PSV, you also represented clubs such as Sparta Rotterdam, Groningen, RKC Waalwijk and Go Ahead Eagles. How would you sum up your playing career?

“I was a highly-rated footballer when I was coming through and many thought I would go on to have a career at the highest levels of the game.

“Unfortunately, I suffered a serious knee injury that kept me out of the game for a number of years while I was at PSV Eindhoven.

“This impacted my career in many ways and as such, I played most of my career in the Netherlands bar a short spell with Stoke City in England.

“Sparta Rotterdam was a good experience for me on a short-term deal. Groningen and RKC Waalwijk were also positive experiences but my knee issues worsened at Stoke. That is why I only stayed in England for one season.

“That meant when I returned to the Netherlands with Helmond Sport and Go Ahead Eagles that I was no longer the same player. My head told me to keep playing but my body was telling me otherwise.

“I knew it was time to finish my career while at Go Ahead Eagles at the age of 29 and look to a future in coaching.”

Last but not least, Dick, what are your ambitions going forward as a manager? 

“In the medium term, I want to return PEC Zwolle to the Eredivisie and establish the club in the top flight.

”However, as I said earlier, I would love to work in MLS again one day. That would be a great experience to have in the future.

“Similarly, working in the Premier League is something that appeals to coaches all over the world. That would be another ambition of mine but I need to remain focused on where I am now and work as hard as I can in order to make those ambitions come true one day.”

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