Q & A with Marc Overmars

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by Samindra Kunti – Amsterdam Arena – Ajax’s director of football Marc Overmars has said that the time might be right for Arsene Wenger to become the new England manager.

In an exclusive interview with Football Qatar at the Aspire4Sport Global Summit on Football Performance & Science in Amsterdam the former Arsenal and Barcelona player also discussed the struggles of Dutch football.

Dutch football has become a feeder industry, an education for the next level, does that somewhat sum up the problem?

It does a bit, yes. When players improve, get better and better, they won’t play in the Netherlands anymore. I was 24, and Ronald de Boer 28, when we went abroad. That way, staying longer at a club, you keep players together in a team long enough and you get a tight and mature squad. You can possibly achieve the results you want, but, in today’s climate, that is not possible. That is a problem for football.

Can you remedy this in any way?

No, we can’t. If you play three years in the first team of Ajax, for example from the age of 18 until 21, you will want to go to the Premier League. Everyone wants to go to the Premier League, or Spain. Those leagues have surged.

The economic imbalances between leagues have become detrimental?

The Netherlands has become a development country. The financial world has passed us by and overtaken us. That influences our approach completely. We can’t compete, so, occasionally we can aim higher, but, structurally, no. In 1995 and 1996 Ajax played the final of the Champions League, in 1997 the semi-finales, but that is not going to happen again.

Overall Dutch football is still in rude health, but that’s not the case with ‘Oranje?’

Yes, Dutch football is going through a tough period. That is a well-known. But, in two or three years time, the Netherlands will play a role again. Yes, it’s difficult right now, but the Netherlands finished third at the 2014 World Cup. But now we have to show that we are good.

Your neighbors Belgium are doing well.

Belgium is the reverse situation. They have fantastic players, who play at the best clubs across Europe, but they still have to perform at a European Championship or a World Cup. That hasn’t happened yet. They have the top players and the role of favorites, in particularly in the last two years, but they haven’t delivered so far.

Last question, Wenger has just celebrated 20 years at your former club Arsenal. 

Wenger has turned Arsenal, a club that was low key and middle of the pack twenty years ago, into an English top club. He has always adhered to the principle of not spending too crazily – we can’t spend too big. Arsenal hasn’t always spent big, but they have always finished in the top four. They have always participated in the Champions League.

But you implied in your ‘stars chat’ that it would be the right time for Wenger to move on to the England job.

You need to know England. You need to know English football. You have to understand the country and what goes around. He has known England for 20 years. He is the best choice, but you need the energy to do it.

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