'Psycho Co' Adriaanse back in the Dutch big time

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

After a six-year absence, the man they call “Psycho Co” is on his way back to the Eredivisie and ready to ruffle more feathers like he did before.

For 20 years Co Adriaanse has been one of the most sought-after Dutch coaches alongside Louis van Gaal and Guus Hiddink; like both, he’s his own man and tends to get results, and as with Van Gaal, often clashes with his superiors.

Now, Adriaanse is back with FC Twente. It’s something of a gamble by the club’s chairman Joop Munsterman following the surprise departure of Michel Preud'homme after just one season, the Belgian seemingly deciding the riches that await him at Al-Shabab Riyadh in Saudi Arabia were too good to turn down.

“There's not much to say about it right now," Munsterman said. “We have agreed a deal in principle. Next week he will come to FC Twente and then things will become clearer."

This will be the third consecutive season the Tukkers have had a different coach at the helm, but unlike Steve McClaren and Preud'homme, Adriaanse arrives with a wealth of experience in the Dutch league – as Munsterman noted after Preud’homme’s exit when speaking about the search for his successor.

Instantly names were thrown into the hat, every day bringing a new favourite to land the job: names touted included Frank Rijkaard, Ronald Koeman, Marco van Basten and even Van Gaal (surprising, given he’s on a self-imposed one-year sabbatical from the game). For Munsterman, Adriaanse must have ticked all the boxes.

Since his departure in 2005 from AZ, with whom he won the annual Rinus Michels Award for best Dutch coach, he’s been on a journey that’s taken him from Portugal to Qatar via Ukraine and Austria – and aside from at Porto (where he followed Jose Mourinho) and Red Bull Salzburg, success was far from easy, unusually for Adriaanse.

After an unfashionable playing career he eventually turned his hand to coaching, first at FC Zwolle and then Den Haag, spending four seasons at each before joining Van Gaal’s Ajax as youth team coach. Five years in Amsterdam followed before he embarked on what would become one of his greatest achievements.

Today, Willem II find themselves in the second tier of Dutch football, but under Adriaanse they played in the Champions League. In his first season in charge (1997/98) he guided the club to a fifth-place finish after the previous year they had just about stayed up.

Last century, at Willem (that's not a goalpost)

If the story sounds familiar, perhaps that's because you've read an earlier Half-Time Oranje  about ADO Den Haag coach John van den Brom, another former Ajax youth-team coach who left to take up a managerial role at a club that had finished a place above the relegation zone and then guided them to fifth.

HALF-TIME ORANJE 25 May: Fairy tales ready to be written

That’s not to stay Den Haag will finish second next season, like Willem II did though. Then again...

Adriaanse resigned at the end of the 1999/2000 season after Willem II failed to secure another season in Europe; how the Tilburg side would love such troubles now.

His next job saw him take the hot seat at Ajax, a position he had craved since his days with the youth team when he must have hoped he’d succeed Van Gaal (Ajax instead hired former Denmark coach Morten Olsen).

However, his tenure wasn't successful. Clashes with the media and others in the Netherlands n– most notably saying of suggested coaching new-boy Marco van Basten that "a good horse doesn't make a good rider" and calling PSV Eindhoven’s chairman Harry van Raaij a “talking lampshade” – and a string of bad results saw him released. To add insult to injury, his immediate successor Ronald Koeman went on to secure a league and cup double.

After a year out he regrouped to take over at AZ. Success didn’t follow, but he made headlines anyway with his now infamous training methods. On one occasion, he ordered the entire squad to hunt for Easter eggs; after an hour with not a single player managing to find one, Adriaanse returned to inform the squad there were in fact none at all.

These bizarre methods weren’t new; during his time at Willem II he ordered the team to follow him in their cars on a drive from the club’s training base. At a remote spot 13km later he instructed them to surrender their keys and run back. They did, although upon their arrival the players had them returned and were told to go and get their vehicles again. 

You wonder what he has in store for FC Twente.

You can't say "Pyscho" without saying "Co"u…

One thing’s for sure, his brand of attacking football will remain and if there’s any added motivation to reclaim the championship he just has to note who’s returned to the reigning champions.

With a resurgent Ajax hopeful of retaining their star names this summer, a new supervisory board will be sworn in next month featuring Edgar Davids as well as Johan Cruyff, who often clashed with Adriaanse, notably during his ill-fated Ajax tenure.

The two are since rumoured to have reconciled, but that determination to get one over Cruyff still lingers – and without an Eredivisie title to his name, this added desire could be the catalyst FC Twente need to propel them back to the top spot.