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Gullit: Big clubs biting off more than they can chew

- ‘Baan and Koevermans will take Indian football forward’
Dutch legend Ruud Gullit, who was the chief guest at Mohun Bagan’s Foundation Day, is flanked by PK Banerjee (left) and Chuni Goswami, at the Netaji Indoor Stadium, on Sunday. Gullit, who unveiled the new Bagan jersey, was also felicitated by the club. Picture by Gautam Bose

Calcutta: Dutch legend Ruud Gullit criticised the big European clubs and said their splurging is polarizing the game. He feels because of their big-spending ways clubs like Ajax and PSV Eindhoven are finding it increasingly difficult to hold on to talented players.

Gullit also feels that the Dutch duo of Rob Baan and Wim Koevermans will take the Indian football forward. “Indian football is in good hands,” the former Dutch captain said at a press conference, here, on Sunday

The following are excerpts

On India appointing Dutch duo — coach Wim Koevermans and technical director Rob Baan — to head football affairs

Indian football is in good hands. It is a great opportunity for Indian football to improve. Both are exponents of youth football… I hope that India adapt to our style of football fast…

On ways to improve Indian football

You have to first think of building proper pitches… I think you need to build artificial pitches because of the weather. Then you can move on to other things such as developing talent through various youth programmes.

On the football culture in Holland…

The football culture is different in Holland… In our culture, everything has to have a purpose, a reason. Even when a coach asks you to do a particular job, you always ask the rationale behind his decision. The idea is that you try to understand the coach’s views and implement them in your game. It is not the same in other countries. I think it helps if we have a dialogue or a discussion during practice sessions rather than in the dressing rooms. Our philosophy has always been the 4-3-3 formation, with two wingers… It is easy to adapt…

In our community, the local amateurs clubs have three to four pitches. They have all the amenities… During the weekends, there is a huge gathering where the members discuss how to develop the culture of football among youth… Through football, we try to educate the youth. I think this culture exists only in select countries like Germany, Belgium…

On his advice to youngsters

Whenever I’m doing a clinic with the kids, they tell me that they know various football tricks... They show me their talent by dribbling and juggling… But I tell them that the greatest trick is to score goals… All other tricks are immaterial.

(Lionel) Messi has perfected the trick of scoring goals, so he has become such a great player… Scoring goals makes Messi a great player…

On racism in football

It is a social problem… I think people look for a scapegoat when the economy of their country is in dire straits… So they point fingers at the minority…

On whether money is polarising the game…

I think it is… With a lot of money at their disposal, the clubs are poaching talented players at a very early age… This is creating a vacuum in the clubs where they belong to…

On why clubs like PSV Eindhoven are no more producing quality players…

It’s certainly a concern. The matter is only getting worse as the clubs are biting off more than they can chew. In Spain too, most of the clubs are going through a serious crisis. To avoid this, clubs must have their books right and clear all debts. A club like PSV Eindhoven can’t compete with a Chelsea or a Real Madrid simply because they don’t have enough money. For instance, a talented 16-year-old from a Dutch club is easily lured by the glamour of EPL and La Liga. It makes easier for the rich clubs to acquire him. I feel there has to be an agreement between countries where the mercenaries are not allowed to poach young minds.

On getting rid of those iconic dreadlocks…

I decided to have a new hairstyle because I was having an identity crisis… Those dreadlocks had become my identity… I wanted to change it… I wanted my life back … Thankfully, fans have liked my new hairstyle.