Peter Boz’s PSV Eindhoven are perfect. Eight Eredivisie games, eight wins. Twenty-seven goals were scored and only two were scored. The return to Dutch football was as successful as Boaz had hoped.
Sunday got better. PSV beat Sparta Rotterdam 4-0. After a goalless first half, in the second period they played with speed and style and cut their home team. Boz and PSV head into the international break not only leading the table by two points, but also playing some of the best football in Europe.
Will it last? As usual with Bosz, this is a tough question to answer.
Coach’s origin story is Dutch. He was a defensive midfielder who was good enough to represent the Netherlands and told tales of how he would run back to his hotel room after the national team’s training session with Reuss Michels to take notes on meetings. He also idolized Johan Cruyff – not just for his football but also for his steel-clad beliefs and single-mindedness.
One half, four goals 😍😍#SPAPSV pic.twitter.com/3SoEjdHMYI
— PSV (@PSV) October 8, 2023
Cruyff’s successor, Pep Guardiola, provides more contemporary inspiration. Bose used to gather his coaching staff around Barcelona games. Unsurprisingly, he also counts Pep’s Secret, Marti Perana’s account of his time at Bayern Munich, among his favorite books.
That list of influences is powerful and seductive. Dangerous, even. Needless to say, Boz, 59, believes in attacking football, the press and the 4-3-3 formation. Or he is unbendingly loyal to his own vision.
There are many verses that describe what that vision is. He believes the ball should go forward. He thinks that the game should inspire the soul. Peter Bose, a football player, once contradicted himself and said that he is not good enough to play the football that the coach wants to see. But perhaps his romanticism and flaws are best captured after the 2017 Europa League final. Boz Ajax won hearts and minds that season, but little else. They fell short in the league and were beaten by Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in that Stockholm final.
“It was difficult to put pressure on Manchester United because they only played long balls, they didn’t show any threat and they only played second balls,” Bose said at full time. “I think it was a boring game.”
Bose is not a pragmatist.
In the year “Playing wide, playing back, just playing long passes – that’s not my favorite football,” he told Deutsche Welle in 2019. It should be fun to watch. That’s why I try to make my team play the way the fan likes.”
Mourinho is a man you can derogatorily call a “poet”. idealistic. And accusations of naivety have checked the past.
First at Borussia Dortmund, immediately after that 2017 final, which lasted just six months. He was accused of being too faithful to the 4-3-3 and not being able to keep Dortmund exposed on the counter-attack. He coached the infamous game against Schalke when Dortmund led 4-0, but he gave up in the second half and ended in a 4-4 draw. For a while, that became who he was.
In the year Between 2018 and 2021, he partially regained that name at Bayern Munich, he was successful for two and a half years, but he still could not arrest a major slump at the beginning of 2021 and, once again, he was given the sack. . Most recently he spent 18 months in Lyon. He finished the entire season in eighth place and was parted ways with the team in October 2022 in ninth place.
Exactly one year later, PSV is proving to be the right team for his legacy.
His predecessor, Ruud van Nistelrooy, won the KNVB Cup in one season and finished second in the Eredivisie as the division’s top scorer. Van Nistelrooy resigned suddenly in May 2023 due to a lack of internal support, but left an attacking side familiar with the 4-3-3. Instead of changing Bosz PSV, they increased their strength.
Passes Per Defense (PPDA) measures the number of possessions a team allows outside of its own third of the field. The lower the number, the more powerful the press. In 2022-23 under Van Nistelrooy, PSV allowed 11.7 PPDA, fourth lowest in the league. So far this season, under Bosz, PSV are now allowing just 8.3, comfortably the lowest in the division. Prior to the weekend, they created the most shooting opportunities (14) due to turnovers within 40 yards of their opponent’s goal.
Van Nistelrooy’s team were active. The Bosz PSV are relentless.
His work had obstacles. PSV sold Cody Gakpon to Liverpool before his arrival, while Xavi Simon and Ibrahim Sangare were let go in the summer. All three were starters. Impressively, Simmons and Gakpo contributed 28 goals and 20 assists.
However, the top seven scorers in the Eredivisie this season are four PSV players. One is veteran forward Luc de Jong, the other is new signing Noah Lang, and two others – Johan Bakayoko and Ismael Saibari – have boosted their squad in response to those sales. De Jong is the only one in the group to be over 24.
Young players have often succeeded under Bosz. At Ajax, at Leverkusen, at Lyon as well. It’s happening again. Lang (24) and Bakayoko (20) are talented wide forwards who carry and create. Both are playing well. Lang had already been sidelined with an injury against Sparta Rotterdam, but Bakayoko put in a superb performance to score one of his goals at the weekend. Saibari (22) was only a substitute but he resembles junior Nabil Fekir and is a big-play talent and keeper.
Underneath these headlines, Malik Tillman has only played a handful of games on loan from Bayern Munich, but is playing with the freedom he showed Boaz’s youth teams. On Sunday, he scored his first goal and completed a one-two tie to finish the field and his current team was typical.
Sergino Dest has also been renewed. Bose gets value from the full-backs and again, 22-year-old Dest, plays inverted from the left and comes off the touchline to drive and create. Bose believes Dest can play as a midfielder. Whether he can turn it into Philipp Lahm is another matter, but the goal shows the local optimism.
why not? Football is fantastic. De Jong is the center of the attack, but he is surrounded by outfield movements and support from the midfielders or full-backs behind him. As PSV move the ball vertically and accurately, they are also countering quickly. There is a balletic rhythm to them but they are scoring more than three goals a game.
This, surely, is the kind of football that Peter Boas wants to see.
Elsewhere in Europe
(Top photo: Jeff Pacaud/AFP via Getty Images)