Van ‘t Schip heeds Cruyff’s Chivas call


Outgoing Melbourne Heart FC head coach John van ‘t Schip has never been one afraid of exploring pastures anew.

Outgoing Melbourne Heart FC head coach John van ‘t Schip has never been one afraid of exploring pastures anew.

Indeed, in departing AFC Ajax for the Hyundai A-League in 2009, van ‘t Schip demonstrated his clear penchant for adventure, trekking across the globe to play a pivotal role with football club yet to kick a ball in anger.

It is with the same spirit van ‘t Schip now heeds the call of Mexican powerhouse C.D Guadalajara, with the former Dutch international handpicked by mentor and club advisor Johan Cruyff to lead the Central American outfit.

“It-s something that I was looking for. I wanted something new, a new challenge and try to get back into a big football environment, which could be in Europe, but also could have been anywhere else,” he said.

“Chivas is the biggest club in Mexico, and I was really honoured to be appointed. I had some good talks, and decided to sign up and go over to the Mexican league.”

Tasked with implementing Cruyff-s vision, van ‘t Schip-s managerial role will see him head the Club-s bid to recapture former glories and rescale the heights which saw Chivas claim 11 first division titles and finish runner-up at the 2010 Copa Libertadores.

The duo however won-t simply seek to replicate AFC Ajax-s development blueprint, with a model closely reflecting that established by Cruyff at FC Barcelona set to guide Chivas as it embarks through a period of reinvention.

“The model Johan has is not even the Ajax model, it-s the model Johan believes in,” he said.

“It-s a philosophy of how to train, how to develop players, not only on the pitch, but off the pitch, to teach them the values of life and of course on the pitch, the way of playing where Barcelona is the best example.

“I think that-s the way he has always thought, how to play, how to dominate, playing a lot of possession games but also developing the individual player.”

With Chivas currently struggling in 15th place in the Primera Division-s Clausura standings, van ‘t Schip and Cruyff-s team face a tough challenge in reviving the side-s fortunes, particularly given Guadalajara-s policy of fielding a Mexican-only squad.

However, renowned for its emphasis on developing from within, Chivas could scarcely find two individuals more apt at nurturing burgeoning talent and transforming them into elite performers.

The architect of FC Barcelona-s famed La Masia, Cruyff is renowned as one of football-s foremost philosophers, while van ‘t Schip has demonstrated his nous developing the likes of Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder at AFC Ajax before leaving his indelible mark at Melbourne Heart FC.

“They are having a difficult time at this moment, and Cruyff stepped in,” he said.

“I-m the one who has been appointed to take charge of the first team but I will certainly also be involved in looking at the youth games, looking at the young players as Chivas is also known for bringing through a lot of home grown players to the first team.

“It-s important we keep on developing that in the right way that we think we should play.”