Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is looking to progress Royal Antwerp

Last Updated: 23/12/13 5:14pm

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink told Goals on Sunday that he hopes an influx of young players and an aesthetic playing style can transform Royal Antwerp's fortunes.

Former Leeds and Chelsea striker Hasselbaink took charge of the Belgian outfit in May and has guided them into fifth place in the country's second division, a league 'The Great Old' have resided in for a decade.

The Dutchman says he has had to fulfil a demanding number of jobs since taking his first role in management, but says Antwerp - who have won Belgium's First Division on four occasions, most recently in 1957 - are a team on the up.

"Royal Antwerp is a big club in Belgium but they have been in the second tier for 10 years now, so it is time to get them back up," said Hasselbaink, who cut his coaching cloth on the staff at Nottingham Forest.

"I had opportunities in England but it's about the chairman, the challenge and the talent, and Antwerp came about at the right time and was the best choice for me.

"He came from a different planet to entertain us and make us enjoy football even more."

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"I wanted to be part of things in Belgium with all the talent coming through, but it is a big job as when I took over the club was 12 per cent over budget, so I have had to bring that down.

"I have also had to change the playing style and play more attractive football, whilke I have had to let a lot of players go and had to speak to my contacts in Holland and England to try to get players in.

"I have got Davide Petrucci on loan from Man United - and hopefully he is not the last one from there - as well as Tomislav Gomelt from Tottenham, and I have had to ask players to play for a little bit less and believe in the project."


Hasselbaink - who also played in the Premier League for Middlesbrough and Charlton and in the Championship with Cardiff - has snapped up former Tottenham youngster John Bostock, too.

The Londoner joined Spurs from Crystal Palace as a 16-year-old in 2008 but struggled to impose himself at White Hart Lane and failed to register a league appearance before being released last summer.

However, Bostock has become a key figure under Hasselbaink and his manager says the midfielder is prospering after being given a sustained run of first-team action.

The ex-Atletico Madrid, AZ Alkmaar and Boavista hitman also revealed why a winter break - which the Belgian sides are currently experiencing - would significantly aid the English game.

On Bostock, Hasselbaink added: "He is doing well but as he is only a young boy and hadn't played 10 consecutive matches before so he is up and down.

"However, he has so much ability and I am giving him a platform to show what he can do and the crowd love him because he is our star."

On why a mid-season sabbatical would help the English top flight, Hasselbaink added: "It would give managers time to plan recruitment, while it will aid the England squad, especially ahead of World Cups and European Championships.

"Christmas is the most exciting time in the Premier League for the supporters so it might be difficult to strike a balance - but I think it is necessary."