Ahead of his first Premier League game in-charge of Crystal Palace, Frank de Boer has set out the aim for the season, with a mid-table finish being exactly that with the Netherlands-born boss picking that position over trophies.
The 47-year-old joined the Eagles this summer after the resignation of Sam Allardyce after the end of last season, who is now enjoying a break away from football.
He guided Ajax to four league title wins between 2011 & 2014, after leaving the Holland international set-up as an Assistant Manager in 2010. His spell at his childhood club ended in 2016 where he moved on to Inter Milan but was dismissed after just three months.
Now he is at Selhurst Park where a new challenge has been put ahead of him and after signing a few players so far this transfer window and a few more to go – he is setting his targets for the season.
Speaking ahead of the game against Huddersfield, de Boer said: “The motivation is to make the team better and to make every individual a better player.
“For every manager that’s something fantastic. You work hard with everyone and at the end you say, ‘This is what we achieved with the team’.
“Ok, there is no trophy if you finish 12th or 10th or something, but at that moment it’s also a fantastic achievement for the club because they expected it from the manager when they started.
“Of course, managing another club you have another perspective on that, to be in the first four or to play [in the] European Cup or for the championship, but we are not in that situation.
“We want to make a solid club and if we achieve that, I’m as happy as when I lifted a trophy. It’s completely the same.”
de Boer has given time to a number of youth players during the pre-season campaign with one in particular, Jason Lokilo, impressing throughout. The former Anderlecht academy player could potentially feature at some point this season, with a good mixture of experience and youth key for the new boss.
“It’s important that you see the long-term [prospects] of the player, where his career could be at 26 or 28,” he added.
“We did it a lot with Davy Klaassen, who’s now at Everton, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen, because they get a chance.
“Young players, they are not as consistent as the experienced players but when you have a good mixture then that’s the best you can have.
“The experienced players really teach how it works to be really professional, they’re helping, but also they see that if they do well they can make a difference for the team.”
Speaking about the 18-year-old midfielder particularly after the pre-season campaign, he was impressed with the qualities shown by Lokilo, with hints of other players doing well in the academy.
“There are really talented players. Like Jason Lokilo, I never heard of him. But he trained one time with us and we said ‘hey, who is that little boy?’,” he said.
“He did not lose the ball and knows his surroundings. Ok, he is just 18 but he has specific qualities. The fans love when players come through the youth team, like Wilf [Zaha]. There are others doing well as well.”