The Dutch have often led the way when it comes to innovating new ideas into global Football; they are often credited as the founding fathers of the 4-3-3 formation that we see today, and also the term ‘total football’ is said to be infamous with the 1974 Netherlands team that reached the World Cup Final.
As a result, it should come as no surprise that the country, which 17.5 million people call home, is attempting to lead the way in youth Football. What are domestic clubs doing to ensure a sustainable long-term plan to maintain competitiveness at the highest level? How are these clubs using small margins to gain significant advantages?
AZ Alkmaar have historically never been considered one of the big clubs in the Netherlands. Whilst prior to 1989 AZ were a top-flight Dutch outfit, they had to battle it out in the Eerste Divisie until 1996 when winning the title and earning promotion – but only to fall back down one year later – albeit it took a measly twelve months after that to earn an instant return to Eredivisie in 1998. Since then, the club located in the province of North Holland, have established their significance within Dutch Football with one Eredivisie title to their name and getting to three KNVB Cup finals in the last 8 years – winning one.