Dutch influence heavy at the Mariners

Patrick Zwaasnwjik can see the influence of Guus Hiddink on Graham Arnold and he hopes to continue the Dutch influence on the club in a future coaching role.

Patrick Zwaanswijk might joke that he-s losing his touch and that his career is going as he put it ‘downhill-, but the affable Dutchman is still among the best central defenders in the Hyundai A-League and has plenty to offer.

A new one-year deal with the Mariners is what he covets most, but if he doesn-t get that done then the door to coaching is wide open and he credits Graham Arnold with giving him a great foundation for it.

“The way I am feeling at the moment, with all the medication I take I feel pretty good,” Zwaanswijk said.

“If I can play another year under the same circumstances as now; train every day and play the games week-in-week-out, if I can be part of that, then yes I-d like to go another year.

“It needs to be both ways though. The club and I need to be on the same page, it-s not just to extend my career, it needs to be beneficial to both the club and I.

“That-s why I did the (coaching) A-License here; to take the next step into coaching, if the club still likes me there is nothing to stand in my way to do that, my family and I love the Australian lifestyle and the Mariners. If the club wants me I-ll stay.”

A star for the Mariners for the last three seasons since arriving from the Dutch Eredivisie and NAC Breda, Zwaanswijk or ‘King Zwanny- to his teammates has a leadership role to play and admits he has learned as much from Arnold in his time at the Mariners as he has from any other coach.

And while the style of football played in Australia may be different to that played in Europe, and more specifically Holland he is sure that the Dutch influence is heavy in Mariners- football thanks to what Arnold learned from coaching legend Guus Hiddink.

“Arnie gives you the time to develop your game,” Zwaanswijk said.

“From every coach you learn different things and Arnie doesn-t let anything slip, there is one way and it-s his way. He is really a very professional coach, and expects everyone to be on top of their game even in training and it all benefits the game.

“Working with Guus Hiddink he learned a lot off of him to help his coaching career get better and he is growing from year to year in regards to tactics and team standards.

“It-s not easy if you work with one of the best coaches in the world not to learn anything. I think there is a lot of Guus Hiddink in what Arnie does, but whatever Guus taught him he is trying to work it into his own game and uses it in his own way at the Mariners.

“Guus worked with a lot of great teams with the national teams of Holland, Russia and all clubs everywhere up to Real Madrid, and it-s not easy to compare Real with the Mariners and have the boys do the same thing, because technically the level isn-t there, but every player in the Mariners that has been here has learned so much from Arnie and maybe get more possibility to go into Europe.

“You look at Tommy Rogic and where he went to in under a years- time. Technically he was a great player but tactically he had to learn so much and that-s what Arnie tries to do, make everyone a better player. He gives them the tools to develop.”

Zwaanswijk might have hit the nail on the head with the comment about giving the players the tools to develop, Arnold certainly does that and the Mariners have become a production line for some of Australia-s best and brightest young stars in recent times.

Zwaanswijk is quite happy to play a role in that development and you only have to watch the ever-maturing Trent Sainsbury and to a lesser extent Zac Anderson to see his influence on the youngsters.

“Arnie makes it more important for me to step up during the game and in training, he gives me all the possibilities to explore myself as a player but also as a young upcoming coach,” Zwaanswijk said.

“I try and give them (the young defenders) all the benefits I had when I was a young player.

“You know they have the physical ability but the young guys they need to learn when to play the right ball in the right circumstances and to learn how to see the game from the back of the field.

“If we make a mistake it-s one-on-one with the goalkeeper, if a striker does it there are still ten players behind him. All those things I am trying to give them my experience and make them better players.

“The guys really want to learn they are eager and if they do that then it will benefit their game.

“Look at Trent he has done an amazing job of improving his game 20-30 per cent up to now and Zac is the same, when he gets his chance he is the next central defender for the Mariners.”

It-s true the Mariners defence holds up and it will receive a serious threat from Adelaide this weekend. Zwaanswijk is wary of the Reds and while it-s a top of the table clash now, he is less concerned with where the Mariners are now than where they will be in ten weeks- time.

“We know it-s a top of the table clash but we don-t try to look at that there are another ten rounds to go, it doesn-t matter where you are at the moment, it only matters where you are at the end of Round 27,” he said

“We can maybe go clear of them if we play at our top standard, we have been training well and everybody knows what they have got to do in the game.

“We will try and prove a point, the last two games were below out normal level we need to show we are back on track.”