One of them, Philip Coco, has been looking for a club for some time after unsuccessful adventures abroad. The other, Vitesse, was looking for a coach after a disappointing start to the season and the sudden departure of Thomas Leach. At the intersection of rehabilitation and hope for better times, the two found each other.
Vitesse announced the arrival of Coco on Monday evening, succeeding German Lech, who left for German VFL Bochum after two years in the service of Arnhem, which is the last number in the German League. The international player signed 101 times until mid-2024 with the club, where he was under contract as a player for five years in the early 1990s.
At the time, his time at Vitesse was the impetus for a successful career in Eindhoven and Barcelona, among others. Now the 51-year-old is hoping to breathe new life into his coaching career, which has fallen into stagnation after a promising start, in the current 14th place in the Eredivisie. Following his dismissal from County Derby, the Eindhoven resident has been unemployed for nearly two years.
On Tuesday he led his first training session at the Modern Training Complex in Pappendale. Vitesse is a warm club with sporting ambitions, where I have fond memories as a player. Being back here as a coach fills me with pride,” Coco said on the Vitesse website. “It’s the right club for me at the right time.”
The years that followed were as successful as the start of his coaching career. As a junior coach in Eindhoven, he has accumulated successes from 2013 onwards. Within five years, he became a three-time national champion. With the help of Guus Hiddink, the former midfielder has turned into a thoughtful teacher who has managed to do well with realistic – and sometimes conservative – football.
However, on the outside, he couldn’t live up to his rushing fame. Koko was then one of the intended crown princes of the Dutch Coaches Guild, and was at the helm of Fenerbahce for only 123 days. The contrast between the pleasant calm of the De Herdgang training complex and the chaos and nervousness of Istanbul turned out to be quite significant.
polish your face
And also at Derby County, where he became the first-ever foreign coach, failed to give his career the hoped-for motivation. After a season and a half, the club from the English second tier, Coco gave a wait. Closer to home, he now hopes to improve his reputation as a coach. Of course you have to deal with different laws and cultures abroad. But it’s not that I wanted to do everything the Dutch way there. I love well-prepared football, but with creativity and look to the future. I tried to find a balance in that.
As a player, Coco became a national champion several times with PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona: he played for six years in both clubs. Coco became an international and was a key player during the 1998 World Cup, with the orange reaching the semi-finals. Since 2008, he worked for four years as an assistant to the national coach Bert van Marwijk with the Dutch national team.
Just like Cocu, Jaap Stam, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Wim Jonk and Frank de Boer also entered the 1998 class of coaching career. With varying degrees of success. De Boer started the hope like Coco, with four league titles at Ajax, but was then sacked four times in a row – at Inter Milan, Crystal Palace, Atlanta United and the Dutch national team.
Van Bronckhorst is currently the only coach of the team that finished fourth in the 1998 World Cup and is active in the European First Division. With Rangers, he eliminated PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League qualifiers, although the big defeats against Ajax and Celtic weakened his position significantly. Stam was without a club for a while, while Jonk had the task of keeping Volendam in the Eredivisie.
no bed cover
At Vitesse, Cocu doesn’t end up in a spread bed. The club has seen a handful of key players leave for free this summer and has been in limbo for a long time in search of a new owner. At the beginning of this month, it was announced that American Common Group would be the new director at Gelredome. “The club has gone through a difficult period, but fortunately there is more clarity now,” Coco said.
Vitesse won only one of the first seven matches and collected only five points. “It was a difficult start to the competition, but I believe in the quality of the players and look forward to working with the team and the technical staff.” The first tough test awaits Coco on Saturday: Twente is out.
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