AZ coach Jansen guards locker room and seeks inspiration from Michael Jordan

AZ coach Jansen guards locker room and seeks inspiration from Michael Jordan

NOS Soccer

Jansen sought ‘healthy locker room’: ‘Need proper balance and hierarchy’

Pascal Jansen, the trainer of AZ, keeps a booklet. In it he describes his own development as a trainer and philosophizes about the steps he still needs to take to arrive at what for him is the holy grail of being a trainer: the English Premier League.

On my way to becoming a Premier League manager, he has called the booklet. Jansen, born in England, has made giant leaps toward his ultimate goal in recent years.

In the winter of 2020, he succeeded Arne Slot, when he left for Feyenoord. Meanwhile, Jansen has made his mark on AZ. The Alkmaarers are running with good soccer at the top of the premier league and impressing in Europe, where they have reached the quarterfinals of the Conference League.

Healthy dressing room

Crucial to that success is “the healthy locker room,” Jansen says. That means the selection must be balanced. “We want to have a healthy hierarchy in our group. That includes a good division with youngsters and older ones.”

Jordy Clasie and Bruno Martins Indi play an important role in the locker room as mentors of the young talent that moves on in large numbers from the Alkmaar youth academy to the first team.

Those experienced forces command respect through their performances, Jansen says. “Martins Indi is injured now and so cannot enforce that inside the lines. But everyone, on the contrary, looks with admiration at how hard he is working to come back.”

“Some guys need to grow and be taken by the hand. That can only happen in a place where there are also a few guys who tell them how it works and who help them or just tackle them once.”

AZ’s success: Jansen explains it through three moments

Jansen has been forging that healthy locker room and the game AZ is playing for two and a half years now. It is his first job as head coach, while the 50-year-old has been in the coaching profession for years.

“You can’t completely map out your path toward being a head coach. I knew at eighteen that I wanted to get a trainer’s license, because I wanted to be independent and with that license I wanted to remove practical obstacles.”

Inspirational source Michael Jordan

That license was the first step in the trainer’s dream, which should eventually lead him back to native England. Michael Jordan, the American basketball great, is a great inspiration.

“I have a picture of him as my profile picture and always wear his brand sneakers during matches. His drive to get better and to be a winner inspires.”

Jansen inspired by Michael Jordan: ‘An absolute winner’

Now follow the crucial final weeks of the season for Jansen and AZ. Above all, the European dream is still very much alive. The first hurdle toward Alkmaar glory in the Conference League is Anderlecht.

“Before the previous round against Lazio, everyone was convinced we would fly out. Now the sentiment is exactly the opposite. We can win the Conference League, but we have to show it against Anderlecht first.”

Watch the regular features in Studio Voetbal below: Final Signal about Johan Neeskens (by Frank Heinen) and the Wall Layer by Hugo Borst.

Kayleigh Williams