IN FOCUS: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s managerial career so far

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink enjoyed a very successful spell at Burton Albion
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink enjoyed a very successful spell at Burton Albion

Irrespective of your age, background or which club your support, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is a name that resonates with pretty much anyone wherever you are in the world of football.

He played among the best and for the best during a stellar career that spanned 18 years and took him to 10 clubs across four different countries, but now it’s in the world of management where he’s trying to make a name for himself.

Following stints in Belgium, Staffordshire and London, his latest assignment is perhaps his toughest yet having been tasked with kick-starting Northampton’s dismal season into life, with the Cobblers still winless six games into the new campaign and sat bottom of Sky Bet League One.

But while fans will be hoping he brings a dash of Dutch flair to Sixfields, it seems Hasselbaink’s coaching philosophy does not necessarily align with how he was as a player.

His beliefs centre around hard work, organisation and being hard to break down - and the 21 clean sheets in 50 league games as Burton boss is testament to those principles.

For the Cobblers, that may be no bad thing.

The Cobblers have a man in charge who can re-energise the side from their early-season struggles into a ruthlessly efficient and hard-working outfit

Burton Mail football writer Joshua Murray

Attractive, attacking football will only ever be possible when confidence is high and players are in form, and ultimately that comes from winning, something which has eluded Town so far.

Winning games has rarely been a major issue for Hasselbaink, either as a player or a manager.

After leading Royal Antwerp to seventh place in the Belgian second division in his first managerial role three years ago, Hasselbaink was appointed Burton Albion manager in November 2014 when the club was fifth in Sky Bet League Two and on a run of five defeats in eight games under previous manager Gary Rowett.

But 50 games, 32 wins and only eight defeats later, Burton not only clinched the league two title but also found themselves sitting pretty at the top of the division above, which inevitably attracted the attention of bigger clubs.

“In Hasselbaink’s 50 league games as Burton Albion manager, he saw his side beaten on only eight occasions,” says Burton Mail reporter Joshua Murray.

“It was that unwillingness to accept defeat that saw them charge to the league two title within six months of the Dutchman arriving at the Pirelli Stadium, before he oversaw an unlikely rise to the top of league one ahead of his departure to Queens Park Rangers in December 2015.”

Given his flamboyant, attacking style as a player, Hasselbaink’s simple yet effective approach to management may be a surprise to some.

“Hasselbaink’s Burton were a stellar example of organisation, fitness and work rate coming together in tandem and in harmony,” adds Murray.

“That was the reason for sides struggling so much to break them down and beat them.

“A tally of 21 clean sheets from those 50 league games in charge is undeniably impressive, and is testament to the way his Brewers side worked without the ball, primarily on getting it back as high up the pitch as possible and hitting their opponents at their most vulnerable.

“Burton’s football under Hasselbaink was not always the most open and expansive, but it was hugely effective.

“On more than one occasion, the former Chelsea and Leeds United forward, a prolific goalscorer in his day, reiterated that he would much rather win a game 1-0 than edge a seven-goal thriller.

“Words like ‘shape’ and ‘discipline’ were regular buzzwords for Hasselbaink, a vocal presence on the touchline who lives every second of every game.

“His attention to detail on the training ground was visible in games, and something his players have highlighted as crucial to their success.”

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink lost hos job at Queens Park Rangers after less than a year in charge

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink lost hos job at Queens Park Rangers after less than a year in charge

Burton fans still hold fond memories of the former Cardiff City striker, and it appears the feeling is mutual.

Murray continues: “Hasselbaink was back at the Pirelli Stadium recently to watch his former club beat Birmingham City in the Championship.

“He will have received the warmest of welcomes at a place where he is still held in such high regard.

“It was clear speaking to him after that game that the respect for Burton is still very much reciprocated - and that he was focused on getting back into a dugout very soon.”

And how does Murray predict he’ll go at Sixfields?

“That return to football will be with Northampton - and the Cobblers have a man in charge who can re-energise the side from their early-season struggles into a ruthlessly efficient and hard-working outfit.

“It is good to see Hasselbaink back in management, and it is likely that Northampton fans will feel just that in the weeks and months to come too.”

Fast forward 12 months following his rip-roaring Burton success and Hasselbaink’s stock was not quite so high after a far more difficult period in charge at Loftus Road.

After leading Queens Park Rangers to 12th place in a steady first season, the 45-year-old was sacked on November 5 last year, just 16 games into the 2016/17 Championship campaign when his side were languishing down in 17th with just 20 points and question marks over his style of play.

“Hasselbaink asked for more time, but he has all the time in the world to reflect after a 30.23 per cent win record in his time at Loftus Road,” wrote Paul Warburton from GetWestLondon on Hasselbaink’s dismissal, which came on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Brentford and 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest.

“Actually, he won 14, drew 18, and lost 15 in his 47 games in charge.

“In all fairness to the Rangers boss, he admitted his side were ‘second best’ in the 2-0 defeat to Brentford.

“What he didn’t say was how they looked a yard off the pace all night.

“What hurt Rs fans was a lack of urgency and apparent motivation apart from a brief period after the break when presumably with a rocket in a painful place from the gaffer, they gave it a bit of a go in front of millions watching on TV.”

Those difficulties at QPR will be of some understandable concern to Cobblers fans but, that aside, he has enjoyed an impressive start to what is still a relatively short managerial career so far.

His mere arrival has already lifted spirited at Sixfields and now his job is to harness the undoubted quality in this squad and turn Town’s fortunes around.

Will he succeed? Only time will tell.