Ex-Newcastle flop Patrick Kluivert wins as manager

Patrick Kluivert, who recently turned down the chance to work under Louis van Gaal at Manchester United, has made a winning start as Curaçao manager.

He may have flopped as a player at Newcastle United but former Ajax and Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert could yet make a return to St James’ Park in a managerial capacity some day if his recent exploits are anything to go by.

The former Dutch international scored 13 goals in 37 outings for the Magpies during a troubled single-season stay in the north east before moving on to Valencia, PSV Eindhoven and finally Lille.

Since hanging up his boots back in 2008, Kluivert has actively pursued a career in coaching, working in a variety of roles with Dutch sides AZ Alkmaar, N.E.C. and FC Twente.

In 2012, Kluivert was reunited with former Ajax and Barcelona manager Louis van Gaal, working as part of Netherlands national team coaching staff.

Having helped the team claim a third place finish at the World Cup in Brazil two years later, the 38-year-old had the opportunity to join Van Gaal at Manchester United.

Speaking in an interview with the Guardian this week, Kluivert revealed that it was the words of his former manager that convinced him to look elsewhere for opportunities:

"He [Van Gaal] also said to me: 'Patrick, it's now time for you to stand on your own feet,' and that's why I didn't join Manchester United. So I have made a different step towards the top and I see it as a perfect one towards being head coach of a good club team."

Installed as the new manager of the Curaçao national football team on March 5th, things have started well for Kluivert, with his new team progressing through the first round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Underdogs going into their two-legged play-off against Montserrat, with Curaçao ranked 182 in the world compared with their opponents’ 165 placing, Kluivert’s team upset the odds to progress 4-3 on aggregate.

Despite Curaçao winning the home leg 2-1, Montserrat were still expected to advance after claiming an away goal in the initial fixture.

But things did not go the hosts' way with Curaçao scoring the opening goal before half-time.

Montserrat fought back to lead 2-1 in the second period but with just three minutes of normal time remaining before extra-time and potentially penalties, Curaçao levelled through Charlton Vicento.

A winger by trade, currently playing for Willem II in the Eredivisie, Vicento’s strike saw Kluivert celebrate his first major success as a manager.

Cuba await in the next round – another win there and Kluivert could take another step closer to making that Premier League return.

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