Frank de Boer was one of the most respected Dutch players of his generation – which is saying a lot.
After a glittering career at Ajax and Barcelona, he moved into management and won a roomful of silverware.
His next job, at Inter Milan, lasted only 85 days. He does not seem to be feeling the same level of pressure in his first job at Crystal Palace – a club which is not in its country’s top five names.
The composed 47-year-old’s ambition, though, would be to copy two fellow countrymen.
He has two managers whose records he would like to emulate. He has already spoken about Louis van Gaal, who he said has already given him a crash course in Premier League survival.
“They called me the son of van Gaal when I was playing at Barcelona,” said De Boer.
But he also admires Guus Hiddink, another highly influential Dutch manager.
“I am not sure about anything he does with the press – why he puts so much energy into that. You can’t control that, so why not put energy into other things? Otherwise, it’s like a red rag to a bull.
“But he is one of the best managers I ever met. At half-time, he would say two or three things, to change a bit, and the whole game would change in our favour.
“That is quality. His preparation was always good and he was very demanding. In training, you were always afraid if you did not give 100 per cent because he would notice everything.
“Hiddink was the total opposite. I always say there is more than one way to get to Rome.
“I am more on the side of Van Gaal, but also Hiddink because of the things he has done. Somehow he triggers players also. Hiddink is more of a manager – the right moment to say something. Van Gaal is more of a coach.
“We trained hard so they are fit for the first game of the season. I am a manager who always expects you to show what you have got.
“If you want to get better, you have to show it here.
“As a player I was always a leader because I was always captain. I was always talking. I am doing that now. Constantly coaching. Sometimes I have to stop myself doing it, because the players have to do it and take responsibility. Sometimes that is quite hard for me to shut my mouth.”
The 47-year-old still likes to wear kit at the training ground. He said: “I still love the game. Every player of former player, whenever they see something round they just want to touch it!
“I will always have that. That is the problem – in my head I still think I can do everything. When you come to bigger spaces, it is not what it used to be. Technically I can still cope with a lot.
“Sometimes I do passing drills. When I think ‘OK, I can really show them what I think’. I always give example. That is the best thing to do of course. It is always better to see it than to say it.”
De Boer’s last management job was at Inter, where he lasted just 85 days and said he was not given enough time.
“You have to focus on the short-term,” he said. “We wanted to change a lot in the beginning. You have to go into the job believing the owners will give you time to start the process.
“But at Inter, they always expect to win. I believe that if I had managed to get four more points, I would still be there. But sometimes the coins throws up the other side. Twice, we lost in the last five minutes or drew games we were winning.
“That’s the four points.
“So the biggest lesson was that you have such a small timeline to get it right.
“When you are winning, it is much easier to make the changes you want. The ambience is different. If you are not winning, people ask why you want to change things. That’s why it’s important to have a good start.”
De Boer signed Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan from Chelsea and also completed a season-long loan for Timothy Fosu-Mensah from Manchester United. That is different from his previous clubs, where players were going out rather than being loaned from bigger sides.
“There are a lot of talented players at big teams in the Premier League and they normally need minutes,” he said. “Here they will get it.
“Last year, we were fighting against relegation. Okay, we survived. But if you come in for the new season after that kind of campaign, and you see all the same players again, do you think it is going to change?
“Sir Alex Ferguson was always very good at that. He would get rid of players who were still really good. But you want fresh air – a new vibe in the dressing room. That is important. Palace want new players to get excited about again.”
The manager was cagey about whether he will sign a new keeper, with Julian Speroni and Wayne Hennessey vying for the gloves today against Huddersfield Town.
“It might be very hard for me because Speroni showed fantastic quality in the last game. And Wayne Hennessey is a very good keeper.
“It depends on who is available. It could be a young and promising one or maybe a number one. I don’t know. We need one, that’s for sure.
“We are training with just two and that is not enough.”
De Boer wants to encourage talent from the youth set-up.
“It is very important that if you spend money in your academy, and Crystal Palace do, you have to give young guys an opportunity so they know they will get an opportunity to perform well,” he said.
“There are really talented players. Like Jason Lokilo, I never heard of him. But he trained one time with us and we said ‘hey, who is that little boy!’
“Okay, he is just 18 but has qualities. The fans love when players come through the youth team, like Wilf. There are other doing well as well.”