Ruud Gullit says young players being brought to big clubs too soon

‘The honeymoon is over’ at Manchester United for fellow Dutchman van Gaal

His former club, Chelsea, says Ruud Gullit, are the ones to beat in this year's Premier League title race, but Louis van Gaal will be under far more pressure to deliver at Manchester United now that, as he says, "the honeymoon is over" for his fellow countryman.

“It’s going to be tough but he has to get something out of the season,” says the former Dutch international who was in Dublin yesterday as part of a Carlsberg-backed Premier League trophy tour.

“The crowds want trophies as they are used to it and therefore he needs to provide them with something: a trophy.

“He did it before, but every time it is a new challenge. We said before that with Holland [In 2001] we didn’t qualify so there are no guarantees just because you have done it before, therefore it’s going to be interesting to see how they are going to do and if they are still going to buy some [more] players [to help them do it].”

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Among those already recruited is Memphis Depay, the 21-year-old who starred in PSV's title-winning campaign last season but who is already being played out of position by van Gaal, Gullit reckons.

“He plays his best football from the left,” observes the former Milan star, “and now he’s behind the striker. If you want to get the best out of him, play him in his best position, but we have to see.”

Pressure

A bigger problem, Gullit feels, is the pressure on young players such as Depay, and some much younger than him, who are leaving the

Netherlands

for big clubs abroad where they often struggle to get games.

Gullit himself was 24 before he moved to Italy, by which time he had won three league titles and two Dutch Player of the Year awards.

“Now,” he says, “I see a lot of kids at 15 or 16 who don’t play any first team football who maybe later on go on loan somewhere, but that is not what you expected. It’s too early to go out of your country – so young – but I understand because sometimes the train comes along and stops for you and you ask ‘is there going to be another train?’.”

Gullit has a bit of history with Ireland having, amongst other things, played in the October 1983 Netherlands win at Dalymount Park which, he says, was an important game for some of the then new stars of his generation.

Fifa payment

He clearly takes at least a passing interest in Irish affairs, speaking knowledgeably about Manchester city midfielder Jack Byrne, currently on loan to Dutch club Cambuur, and events off the field, too, such as the curious case of the FAI, the Fifa €5 million and the frustration expressed by the players about it all.

“Of course they are disappointed, of course you are, you’ve been bought off for five million,” he says.

“Maybe they [the association] thought ‘we can’t change anything about it and maybe we get something out of it, [but] I think he [Sepp Blatter] did well.

“It was not Fifa’s fault, what happened. It was not their fault but they wanted to get it out of the way and he got rid of it.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Industry and Employment Correspondent at The Irish Times