Rinus Michels


Perhaps the most famous team associated with the beautiful game was the Ajax team of 1995. The team was managed by Rinus Michels and led by the attacking midfield player, Johan Cruyff.

The football played was based on ―always dominating, always based on their own strength and never adapting to the opponent.‖ With one commentator noting ―If you play great football people for-give failure, If your boring people don‘t.

According to Cruyff; ―victory is not enough, there also needs to be beautiful football. The Dutch way of playing even when they play horribly they still play in a Dutch style, ball pos-session and trying to attack.
The style is more important than the result and with younger players only this type of style fully develops players creativity, decision making and skill.

5 Coaching Points from Rinus

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Rinus Michels was the manager of Ajax from 1965 - 1971. At Ajax he was credited with the invention of total football, the idea that players can play in all positions if required. In the article  The 1970‘s Ajax Revolution - Tactics That Enthralled the World‘ (Champions Magazine) he states: 

What I developed at Ajax was baptized total football but I don‘t think they had any idea what it mean, I certainly didn‘t. Whatever it was it wasn‘t easy to develop. It was based on perfect-ing team play without restricting individual ability, I wanted to put Ajax on their planet their po-sitional sense and ways of using space. To build that sort of side you need to stay with them for years, repeating the same instructions and training routines.
I developed a team with a strong sense of positioning and capacity for creating and using space. We looked for long passes, through balls and opportunist attacking play and aimed to dominate midfield.

My goal was to mix a direct approach into our combination play because more recently we have seen Ajax sides concentrating almost exclusively on retaining possession and passing the ball around until any chance of surprising the opposition is lost.  

The Independent, 17 February 2002
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The whole team needs to have excellent technique. Each player needs to be able to play in all positions and adapt to the flow of the game.

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The team Michels worked with had all grown up together and came through the Ajax youth sys-tem. They understood each other games.

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The Dutch base their youth system on a number of factors. One such factor is looking at players according to the their 'TIC‘: Technique, Insight (game intelligence) and Communication (on the pitch to other players, the referee, etc). Player awareness is considered the most important fac-tor.

Rinus Michels, who previously led the Dutch National Team to the World Cup Final in 1974, helped develop the Dutch Model of development. For Rinus, the concept that the more enthusi-astic the kids are, the more they learn is at the heart of everything.

The Dutch system for development uses 4 v 4 on a 20 X 40 pitch with a goal 3 metres wide in order to prevent a single player simply blocking the goal. The 4 v 4 model offers length and width without players getting in each others way. This situation is closest to that of a game. Michels points out that a square pass followed by a forward pass encourages players to switch the ball in order to find space. The game re-starts with a kick-in. Players learn soccer by playing a lot of soccer.

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Spain won the Euros they were the smallest side, Argentina won the Olympics and they were the smallest side. Spain played a passing movement based game they had only one player whose instincts were as a dribbler- David Silva. England have Walcott from Arsenal who is a good dribbler.