Every morning, either in the cafeteria or in the corridors of the Barcelona sports center, Alfred Schreuder (Barneveld, Netherlands, 48 years old) stops each time he crosses paths with someone – no matter who is from the team, from the coaching staff or a simple club worker – to wish you good morning and ask about your family or your health. He does it with a badass Castilian Spanish, the subject is still pending, but with a smile from ear to ear. “We did not know what it would be like to work with a staff foreigner because the coach had been from here for many years ”, says an employee of the sports city; “But these people are amazing for their education, for their punctuality, for their professionalism… Alfred is the example. They have fitted in wonderfully ”. Among other things because Schreuder has the will to learn and the ball is between the eyebrows, although if it is close to the opponent’s goal, the better. “And because it is cruyffista since he was a child ”, remarks his brother Dick from the Volendam facilities [Segunda holandesa], where the coach’s license is being obtained.
Koeman realized all this very soon, who met him by chance in Ibiza two summers ago during the holidays, as he related to the Dutch magazine Helden. They chatted and went around football and the ball until, convinced of its virtues, he proposed that when he had an offer he would require him as a travel companion. So it was. What they did not know, however, is that a few months later it would be Barça. “He asked me if I saw myself living in Barcelona … I didn’t think twice!”, Schreuder acknowledged for the newspaper Bild. And he got down to work, now an offensive key for Koeman’s Barça. “Alfred is Dutch and as such he will always bet on an offensive game,” agrees Koeman.
Trained in the Feyenoord quarry and with more than 300 games as a midfielder in the Eredivisie -between RKC Waalwijk, NAC Breda, Feyenoord and Vitesse with technicians such as Bert Van Maarwijk, Leo Benhakker, Ten Cate and Koeman’s brother, Erwin-, Alfred decided to hang up his boots at the age of 36 at the Vitesse, which provided him immediately enter the coaching staff of Theo Bos. A few months earlier, however, barely able to play due to a bad knee, he decided to hire Ruben Jongkind as a personal trainer to rehabilitate the joint and, above all, learn tactical concepts with the idea of improving his football. He was marked by coach Wim Jansen, world runner-up with the Netherlands in ’74 and ’78 who led him at Feyenoord. “We used to play position soccer. We should never stop at the wings but move between the lines so that the space was wider to play and have more options to participate ”, says Schreuder. But the fact that he wanted to improve his game late in his career is proof of the anxiety he had to learn. He’s obsessed with tactics, ”says Jongkind, who eventually became the director of talent development at Ajax Academy and is now a strategic advisor to Volendam. Although it somewhat dismantles the view that Schreuder is purely cruyffista: “Like all Dutch people who like attractive play, he has a part of cruyffista. And it shows in many tactical concepts. But I think that he rather likes the attack because he has acquired very important influences with other coaches with whom he has worked ”.
After Vitesse, he decided to accept Steve McClaren’s offer from Twente, where he continued when the manager was traded for Michel Preud’homme. “They set a trend for me in the sense that a coach should lead the team well, deal with the media and consolidate in the club,” explains Schreuder, who later took over the position, even though he was not very successful. Thus, in 2105 he went to the Bundesliga as second to Huub Stevens at Hoffenheim. Although his successor on the bench, the young Julian Nagelsmann, would change his vision. “I didn’t know him, but within two weeks I realized that Julian was extremely good because he has developed a completely different form of training,” says Schreuder, while admitting to using exercises at Ajax. [y a buen seguro que también en el Barcelona] devised by the German technician. This is how Koeman clarifies: “He learned a lot from Nagelsmann and was in Ajax with Ten Hag, where he has very similar ideas to those here. All this puts it at our service and for him staff it is better to have other ideas and in the end we decide the idea that we are going to take ”.
“Is very good. But much. He is one of those people who makes you see things that are not easily appreciated. And yes, he is very demanding and very methodical, but it is appreciated that he cares that things go well, ”says an authoritative voice from the dressing room; “And you like to talk about football, huh?” Koeman knows that, because it is not uncommon for them to squeeze the afternoon in the club’s offices, that they continue to spin around the games on the plane – Ronald always in the front row and he in the second row – and that during meals the football debates are extended and tactical for hours. “It is that tactically it is a phenomenon”, they describe him from the sports area; “really good”. And offensive. That is why the Barça coach, in a wink, always remembers that Barça is the team that creates the most chances. He will have to repeat it against Villarreal with Koeman on the bench and with Schreuder at his side.