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Cate, Henk Ten (2007-2008)


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Henk Ten Cate (2007-2008)

Written by Loz in October 2007

Henk ten Cate, a born and bred cockney sparra’ if ever there was one. When he isn’t at work he is to be found tucking into jellied eels, reading up on the Krays and singing songs with the lyric ’Ave a banana’ in them. Alternatively he is a Dutchman who was born in Amsterdam on December 9th, 1954 (the same year as UEFA were formed, I wish he did more for Chelsea than they have).

htc%20eagles%20player.jpg Like a lot of people who go onto make a mark in football management (or football assistant management in his case) Henk was not much of a player (I expect great things from Sam Dalla Bona’s management career). He was a fairly swift winger who started his playing career with amateur outfit FC Rheden and made his professional breakthrough when he signed for Dutch team ‘Go Ahead Eagles’ in 1979. When he signed for them they had not won the Dutch title (Eredivisie) since 1933, in a dramatic turnaround never seen again until Iain Dowie took over at Charlton, they carried on not winning it – however all is not lost for the team, the town they are based in (Deventer) makes a rather smashing honey cake.

In his debut season he scored four times in twenty seven appearances and this was deemed good enough to provide him with a major career move – a short term move to Canadian outfit The Edmonton Drillers. He returned to the Eagles in 1980 and two years later the Drillers went out of business (you can’t tell me the two things are not related). Competition for places had heated up and Henk first found himself doing a Shevchenko impression and then was packed off on loan to Telstar who were playing in the second level of Dutch football and still fielding questions about why they had named themselves after a satellite.

At Telstar he established himself as a bit of a star man and before long ‘Go Ahead Eagles’ ordered him back to the nest and he became a regular first team player for three glorious seasons. Divine intervention then played a hand as the son of Zeus ordained that Henk play for his team, and thus he finished his career playing one season for SC Heracles (OK maybe Greek God references are taking it too far but if you are going to name your team after a demigod what do you expect).

htc%20smoking.jpg So we are now at 1985, our hero is only 31 and his boots are hung up like a pig in a butchers. Where does a man go when his career is both unspectacular and over? Where else but back to ‘Go Ahead Eagles’. He was offered the post of assistant manager by then manager Fritz Korback (not to be mistaken for Fritz the Cat) and then he moved into the manager’s chair in 1990 when Korback moved on.

He did alright in the short spell he was there taking them to the play offs where they lost out on goal difference. This success clearly went to his head as he jacked in that job and took on the post of assistant manager with…… wait for it…… yep SC Heracles. The Heracles manager fell ill that year and within no time Henk had moved into his post (take note Avram Grant – the man has history). Two years later his career took another almighty leap forward when he was told there was no new contract for him at Heracles and so he took over the reigns of his old team, and still amateurs, FC Rheden. A year went by and Henk was in demand again. Who was knocking on the door this time? Would you believe it was those ‘ten Cate’ regulars ‘Go Ahead Eagles’? Well you should because it was. He signed for them again in 1993 and in December 1994 he was sacked with the Eagles nicely perched at the foot of the table (remember this is still the second rung of Dutch football).

htc%20flowers2.jpg However then things looked up a bit. For some reason Sparta Rotterdam, at that point a club who had never been out of the top flight, appointed him as their manager (no idea why) and he led them to a respectable 6th place finish in the league and to the KNVB cup final where they were soundly beaten 5-2 by PSV. In the winter of 1997 he switched clubs again, this time moving to Vitesse who he led to a 3rd place finish which was the highest league finish they had ever achieved. However the next season didn’t start so well and he was soon sent on his way (sound familiar?).

To cut a long story slightly shorter he went on to have brief spells managing KFC Uerdingen 05, MTK Hungaria and NAC Breda – all of them teams that QPR scout players from.

side%20show%20bob.jpg Which takes us to the bit I can’t quite understand. After accumulating a CV longer than a dole queue in Toxteth but less impressive than the Scouser ‘Back to Work’ scheme Henk is suddenly offered the assistant manager’s post at Barcelona working under Frank Rijkaard. Hell why not just offer Pauly the job. However things were to pan out quite a bit better at Barca as between them they orchestrated a La Liga title and a Champions League win.

Whilst at Barca he acquired the reputation of being a no-nonsense coach with many thinking it is no coincidence that Ronaldinho played his best football and was in peak physical condition during Henk’s spell in Catalonia. And yes he was involved in the big bust up between Rijkaard and Jose, very involved. In fact there was accusations flying around that he kicked Jose, accusations he denied before stating "To react the way Chelsea have is pathetic."

htc%20with%20ronnie.gif In 2006 Ajax offered him the post of manager which he accepted. He achieved success instantaneously with back to back wins of the Johan Cruijff-schaal (commonly known as the Dutch Super Cup) in 2006 and 2007 and the KNVB Cup (equivalent of the FA Cup) in 2007. In addition Ajax were pipped to the title in 2006 by PSV by the tightest margin possible, just a solitary goal in goal difference. However things then turned a little sour after the Ajax crashed out of the Champions League and UEFA Cup within the space of a few weeks.

Meanwhile, in a city not so far away the strangest thing was happening. The most successful manager in the history of a club was leaving by ‘mutual consent’ and being replaced by a man with a jowl more impressive than his career. Jose Mourinho had his feet up, Avram Grant was at the helm and Chelsea fans were in shock. The only thing they all agreed on was that Avram Grant was short term and that a bigger name was going to be appointed sooner rather than later. Well Henk ten Cate is a bigger name but not significantly bigger, in fact only one letter bigger with the ‘V’ in Avram scoring higher in scrabble. However Henk was not brought in as manager but on October 11th 2007 he was brought in as assistant first team coach sparking much speculation that Chelsea were looking to bring in his former boss Frank Rijkaard.

Speculation that proved to be far from the mark. Ten Cate, like Avram Grant, only lasted until the end of the season when both were rapidly removed from post after Chelsea finished runners up to Manchester Utd in both the league and Champions League.

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