Author: Jan

Naive Oranje humiliated in France

The number of times I had to write “boys v men” on this blog in the past decade is simply not funny anymore. Rafael van der Vaart compared our game v France with youth football.

This virus plagued Oranje got hammered by a lethal France and only have themselves to blame. Debutant Geertruida and youngster Xavi Simons are two of the players who scored a decent rating. Most of the others disappointed gravely in an avalanche of errors.

When Daley Blind is the cause for the only positive aspect of this game, you know we’re in trouble. Daley got his 100th cap for Oranje and joins the Oranje elite (behind Sneijder, Van der Sar, De Boer, Van der Vaart, Van Bronckhorst, Kuyt, Van Persie and Cocu and just in front of Robben).

In the 21st minute, when we’re trailing 3-0 against Les Blues, the stats tell the story: Holland has close to 70% possession of the ball. France has 3 shots on goal. Holland has 4 shots on goal. France has 3 goals. Oranje zero, nada, zilch.

We dominated the ball but France scored the goals. Deschamps gets the game he dreamed of, with The Netherlands gifting Coman, Kolo Muani and Mbappe all options to counter attack with their speed.

Koeman’s line up surprised a bit. Berghuis as winger/midfielder was a surprise to me, I expected Xavi Simons there. And I expected Malen, with his speed as well. I hoped for Wieffer but he wasn’t 100%, so Koeman decided against him and picked Taylor. Gravenberch was added to the squad late, after Veerman had to depart due to the gastro virus, but Taylor had more games at Ajax. De Roon was an obvious choice. But to play Geertruida and Timber “against type” was another surprise.

Oranje’s 70% possession didn’t do much for us. Why, because the French coach had a good idea which Dutch player to allow the ball. Griezmann covers Taylor (like he used to do on Frenkie) and De Roon is the man in midfield allowed to build up. Not his strength.

Another remarkable aspect: Koeman wants his full backs to remain wide and hugging the line. Ake on the left and Timber on the right usually play more inside as full backs (like Malacia at Man U and Geertruida at Feyenoord). Playing so wide means that the centre backs Geertruida and Van Dijk have difficulties reaching the wide man and regularly only see De Roon as their outlet. Again, not the man where you want the build up to start.

And this happened under Koeman I as well: the moment De Roon is played in, the French midfielders pounce hoping for a mistake. And this is exactly what happens in the first 90 seconds when Holland is patiently kicking the ball around.

The ball is on the right flank. Taylor omits to look over his shoulder, he only sees the ball. He is played in and is totally obliviousto Griezmann making a go for the ball. He passes square to De Roon who is hijacked by Rabiot and two passes later it’s 1-0. Also check the video to see how Taylor jogs back instead of busting a lung to mark Griezmann who ended up scoring their first goal.

The second goal is also the result of an error. It’s Cillesen this time who should be able to just collect the ball from a free kick from the right. But the NEC goalie misjudges the ball and the leather bounces from his arm onto the oncoming Upamecano: 2-0. An error yes, but at least one that you can sympathise with. A number of attackers and defenders were jumping in front of Cillesen, obstructing his views. A mistake like this is easily made. But … not nice to be 2-0 down after 9 minutes.

The free kick, from where this goal came, was the result of another positional error by the team. As you can see below.

Van Dijk is trying to play the offside- Liverpool style. But Timber and Geertruida have other ideas, probably due to the speed of MBappe and Coman. The pass is good, towards Coman and Geertruida makes the foul.

This miscommunication is typical for a team that doesn’t show any unity in thinking and doing. The players are too busy with their own individual role and don’t seem to see the bigger picture.

The third goal is after we see a variant used by Koeman in his first period, with a holding mid (normally Frenkie) dropping deep next to the central defenders to start the build up. This used to work, with powerhouse Dumfries high up the right channel. With Timber, it’s less logical. The Ajax central defender is best in the axis of the field. Why Koeman switched Geertruida and Timber is anyone’s guess.

This is just before the goal. Geertruida carries the ball. De Roon takes Timber’s spot. No one in midfield is open, so Geertruida is looking for Timber who is free. But the pass lacks pace, Hernandez read it well and sprints full swing to intercept the ball. In terms of numbers, this should not be a problem, as we have De Roon, Geertruida, Van Dijk and Ake in the defensive organisation while Taylor is also behind the ball. But still we get in trouble, as the players are not ideally positioned and Taylor does not coach his team mates like for instance De Roon or De Jong do in Oranje, or Kokcu at Feyenoord. So no one puts pressure on Tchouameni, the task of Wijnaldum. And when MBappe is at full speed, it’s De Roon who needs to track back, not something he does well. De Roon also lacks the speed needed. Muani lets the ball run and Mbappe gobbles it up: 3-0.

Koeman then switches Timber and Geertruida back to their usual positions and brings Weghorst for the disappointing Taylor, to spice things up a bit. It’s a bit too little too late, as France knows the match is won and they do take their foot off the gas. Therefore, it’s hard to judge the eleven that play the remainder of the game for us.

The game ends with another amateuristic error: a risky pass forward by Van Dijk, miscontrol by Memphis and he seems to pay the perfect assist to his friend MBappe who scores a superb 4-0.

Memphis missing a late penalty for Oranje is typical for the teams performance, on a night when everything we do fails.

Holland doesn’t have the calibre players that France have. As the saying goes: the better team will win against the better individuals. Sadly, Holland also doesn’t have the better team…

 

Bookmark and Share

Ronald Koeman interview

As per our customs, we like to present a new team manager via a “Big Interview”. In this case, the manager isn’t new. The interview is still big.

Ronald Koeman, the new team manager for Oranje. Welcome…

Koeman: “I am so blessed, happy and priviliged to be the….

Yes, you can stop the cliches and the asskissing Ronald, we know your drill by now, ladidadida I am so proud, yadda yadda… is there another clause in your agreement? Will you forsake Oranje again?? Maybe when Spurs come calling?

“Oops, no. I get what you’re saying. No clause this time.”

Yes, because you were so keen to coach Oranje but you left at a key time and you left us with Frank de Boer and Louis van Gaal. Two major tournaments wasted opportunities. What do you have to say for yourself?

“Like I said, there is no clause now and I am happy and blessed and….”

Enough! What can we expect?

“Well, like I said before. I am a 4-3-3 man. I will not proceed with the LVG style of 5 at the back, whatever Louis called it. We’re going back to the system with which I had success, before I …”

Yes, shut up. How did you enjoy the World Cup?

“I think it was an exciting World Cup. The Qatar location wasn’t a success, neither was the winter time, for me at least, but we saw some exciting games. The Dutch could and should have done better, I feel, but I think everyone feels this way.”

What was the reason? Van Gaal?

“It’s tempting to say yes to that. But in all fairness, our top forwards were not in good shape. Gakpo did ok, but Memphis and Bergwijn were the go-to guys for Louis and I think he betted on the wrong horses. Overall, we didn’t have the quality we needed to have.”

How do you think you can overcome this?

“I hope I will make better decisions. But I won’t go back into the World Cup or stuff that happened before me. It’s not fair on Louis and not fair on the lads. I wasn’t there. I want to focus on the games ahead and the tournaments where I can have an impact. I do believe 4-3-3 will be a better option for us. Playing three at the back because you have top defenders is not good enough for me. I mean, we won’t play 5 strikers when we have 5 top goal scorers, would we?”

You came up with the definitive squad for these two Euro Qualification matches. It seemed the goalies and the strikers were a problem but now that is overshadowed by the loss of Frenkie de Jong. Can we cope without him?

“Of course! We will field 11 players, don’t worry. And we do not have a “second Frenkie” in the sense that Frenkie is quite unique. But even with Koopmeiners injured we have alternatives. They will play their part in a different way, but they can definitely play in that role. Wijnaldum played there, De Roon did, Berghuis even, Taylor plays in his role at Ajax and Blind played there a couple of games as well. And I have Wieffer and also Joey Veerman in the squad. Geertruida can play there even!”

Daley Blind? People will wonder why he is even in the squad?

“Really? He played 99 matches for Oranje! A player like him will always get his exit through the front door! He has been a good and loyal soldier of orange and although I did tell him that he shouldn’t count on a starting spot at LB, he can still be very important for us. He can play on 3 different spots and he brings a lot of know how and experience in the dressing room. I want to be able to give him his 100st international game, he deserves it. But whether I will keep on selecting him will hinge on his game time, moving forward.”

Ok, so no LB role for him anymore?

“No, listen when we play 4 at the back, Nathan Ake and Malacia are two excellent candidates and we have the likes of Bakker and Hartman coming through too. Daley is vulnerable defensively, that is no secret, but he can definitely play in the central midfield role, when we play with two pivots.”

Exactly what Van Basten and Gullit said in the Rondo talkshow.

“Yes but I don’t need them to tell me. Everyone knows this. But I have options. I can play De Roon if I want to build in more defensive strength. Or Berghuis, Taylor or even Wieffer if I want to play more offensive.”

Would you risk it with Wieffer in his debut match? Against France?

“Sure, why not? When you’re part of the squad, you’re part of the squad. He will have to show me, of course, during practice here, but I saw him play against Ajax, and Shaktar and those are games at a high level and he was great. I also added Veerman to the mix, we’re not in bad shape at all and Frenkie is a player who – like any player – can get injured or suspended so we need to find ways to cope.”

How bad was the news for you, that Luuk de Jong and Vincent Janssen withdrew from international football?

“Bad bad…. it was a surprise. I would never expect a player to say thanks to Oranje but hey, times change. I mean, Luuk is getting on and his body might need the rest at times. I respect that. He’s 32 and started his pro life at 17 or so? 15 years of knocks and pushes and battles. It’s a shame because he is definitely one of the best headers in the game in Europe, but like Janssen, he wouldn’t be a starter. Vincent has a young family and I think the pace of today’s game forces him to slow down. I think we demand too much of our players. All these matches, it’s nuts.”

Do we now have a strikers problem?

“Nah. I don’t think so. Gakpo plays striker for Liverpool. Memphis at Atleti. We have Danjuma who will hope that Kane moves on, we have Brobbey, Dallinga, Malen, Lang and even Simons can play there. Oh and Weghorst. I think we will manage.”

And the goalies?

“I understand there was a highly scientific approach re: the goalies. I’m a simple man and the father of a goalkeeper and I think a goalie needs to stop balls from going into the net. With Cillesen, Flekken, Bijlow and now also Verbruggen we have good goalies. Cillesen has years in him still, and the others obviously too. Noppert is top as well, but injured now and I can see more good goalies in the Eredivisie, like Olij and Vaessen. We – again – should be ok.”

There was some surprise re: Frimpong versus Geertruida and Tete?

“I can understand this, but I have a simple answer. Geertruida can play RB in a 4-3-3, he can also play central defender really well, and he can play also in the defensive mid role in midfield. Frimpong for me is more a wingback or even a right winger! He is excellent in Van Gaal’s system, so to speak. I think Geertruida is a better defender, Frimpong excellent in attack. But defenders need to be able to defend.”

Dumfries is suspended of course, for the France game. Tete was quite annoyed with the snub, he made some public comments about it. It felt like you were playing with his balls?

“I didn’t hear him say it, and he might have used this as a metaphor. I’m not impressed but I will call him after these matches and suss him out. I don’t think he has anything to complain. I got him into the squad again and I have gotten him into this prelim squad. I think Geertruida has been impressing way longer than Tete, who is only back at full form since this season. But I will call him up and see how he is.”

So Geertruida versus Mbappe? 

“Yes why not. Or Timber.”

How do you see this qualifications group?

“I think we’ll need to be at our best versus all opponents. The onus is onus is on us and France. Two nations qualify and that should be us. But you can easily get into trouble against one of the others. Maybe not Gibraltar but even that match will not be an easy one. They never are. But if we don’t qualify, I will have failed.”

Are you positive about our future? Talent development?

“I am very positive. Look at the level of the Dutch clubs these days. Sure, Feyenoord is top, Ajax is always top, PSV will be there, but now AZ and FC Twente are joining in, Sparta, NEC and RKC are performing ever so well, our overall level is going up. And there is excellent talent, all over the place. Xavi Simons, Summerville at Leeds, Struijk at Leeds, Huissen at Juventus, we have Wieffer now, I still believe in Rensch and Teze, I can see talent at Ajax and Feyenoord, like Hartman. And it’s great to see a player like Malen getting back into shape, Lang and Danjuma are still young. We develop some great central defenders too, there is Botman, Struijk, Schuurs and Micky van de Ven, Bjorn Meijer, I mean truly… The future is bright.”

And you also seem to be keen to bring Wijnaldum back?

“For me, Wijnaldum always needs to be part of Oranje, as long as he’s fit. He always delivered under me. I am not saying it was Van Gaal’s problem, as Gini could indeed have a lesser period, it happens, but I can only refer to his many goals, his partnership with Memphis, his work ethics, I mean… Gini is top class. It’s not for nothing that the Liverpool midfield struggled without him.”

How do you rate Xavi Simons?

“He is a tremendous talent. From a footballing perspective, he’s a top class and his mentality is even better. He is not here to do tricks or to make pannas, he wants to win matches. Whenever he plays, something happens. That is really good to see.”

What do you expect from France?

“I think they will play their usual compact game. They want to create space for MBappe and they won’t press high. The pitch will be small when we have the ball and we need to be neat in possession and create options for triangles. And our rest defence needs to be top notch. We will need some training sessions for this, still.”

My eleven for the France game:

Cillesen

Geertruida  –  Timber – Van Dijk – Ake

Marten de Roon – Daley Blind – Wijnaldum

Xavi Simons – Weghorst – Memphis

Result: 2-2 (goals Memphis and Wijnaldum and two own goals by Daley)

Bookmark and Share

Ricardo de Burgos will referee the game between Union Berlin and Ajax

UEFA has appointed a referee commission from Spain for the clash between 1.FC Union Berlin and AFC Ajax in Germany. The duel that will take place at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, will be whistled by the young Spanish referee, Ricardo de Burgos. He will have the help of assistants Diego Barbero and Guadalupe Porras Ayuso. At VAR, Xavier Estrada Fernandez and Cesar Soto Grado will be responsible for technology. Miguel Ángel Ortiz Arias is the fourth referee for that match.

This will be the second time that Ricardo de Burgos will referee a game for a Dutch club. The first time was this season, when he refereed Feyenoord’s 4-2 loss to SS Lazio in Italy.

It will also be the second time that he referees a match for a club in Germany. The first time this happened was when 1. FC Köln lost to Partizan in that season’s UEFA Europa Conference League.

Bookmark and Share

Daniele Orsato will referee the match between PSV and Sevilla

UEFA has selected experienced Italian referee Daniele Orsato. He will be assisted by assistants Ciro Carbone and Alessandro Giallatini. VAR will have Marco Di Bello and Daniele Chiffi commanding technology. The fourth official will be Simone Sozza. The entire refereeing commission for this match will be from Italy.

This will be the sixth time that Daniele Orsato will referee a match for a Dutch club and the 27th time that he will referee a match for a club in Spain.

This season, Daniele Orsato refereed PSV’s 2-2 draw in Scotland against Rangers FC in the UEFA Champions League Play-Offs. He also officiated in the 2015/16 season, the tie in Eindhoven between PSV and Atlético de Madrid in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Daniele Orsato refereed four games for Sevilla, with two wins for the Spaniards and two defeats. The last match in which Daniele Orsato refereed for Sevilla was in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League 2019/20 on 11 August 2020.

Bookmark and Share

Olivier Aertsen renews with Ajax until 2025

Ajax announced the contractual renewal of Olivier Aertsen. The 18 -year -old defender will be in Amsterdam by the end of the 2024/25 season and in his contract, there is still an option for automatic renewal for another season.

Born in Northern Braban province, more precisely in the city of Veldhoven, Olivier Aertsen arrived at Ajax in July 2019. He was linked to Sparta Rotterdam, where he was an athlete of the base categories of the Rotterdam Club. Since then, Olivier Aertsen has been at Ajax and every season, he can gain space in the larger Ajax teams. At Jong Ajax, he has played in 27 matches. In the godnzonen’s main team, Olivier Aertsen played only 21 minutes at the Netherlands Cup, when Ajax won FC Dench under the command of Alfred Schreuder.

Bookmark and Share

Ajax travels to Germany with Edson Álvarez

On Wednesday, AFC Ajax traveled to Germany to Berlin, where he will play with 1.FC Union Berlin by UEFA Europa League. In the Dutch delegation, twenty -two players were taken to Germany.

Last Thursday, the two clubs met in Amsterdam and the duel ended up drawing 0-0. To move forward, Ajax will need to win by any. If the match is tied again, for whatever the score, the vacancy will be decided on penalty charges.

The big doubt was around Edson Álvarez. The Mexican athlete felt a blow to his left shoulder last Sunday, when Ajax beat Sparta Rotterdam in Amsterdam. He was replaced by Calvin Bassey in the second half.

🥊 Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg, Gerónimo Rulli e Remko Pasveer

🗿/🌪 Defenders: Jurriën Timber, Calvin Bassey, Owen Wijndal, Devyne Rensch, Jorrel Hato, Jorge Sánchez e Edson Álvarez.

🧠/🚧 Midfielder: Davy Klaassen, Kenneth Taylor, Mohammed Kudus, Florian Grillitsch, Youri Regeer e Kian Fitz-Jim.

🎯 Forward: Steven Bergwijn, Brian Brobbey, Dušan Tadić, Lorenzo Lucca, Steven Berghuis e Francisco Conceiçao.

Bookmark and Share

King Kenny finds his balance

Kenneth Tete came into Ajax 1 at a young age. What is good, comes quick they say in Holland. And Ajax has the tendency of using their talented players from a young age (Cruyff, Van Basten, Bergkamp, Van der Vaart). But for any of those, there are also Riedenwalds, Bazoers and El Ghazis, who take a longer road to success (if any).

He made a name for himself as a young and un-Ajax like player: no frills, no circus skills but dogged defensive work. I remember a typical game of Tete (at Olympique Lyonnais) against Neymar of PSG. “Keep looking at the ball and take it from him.” He didn’t display the attacking prowess of his rivals (Karsdorp, Veltman, Janmaat) and was considered a top defender but lacking in the attacking department.

This season, at Fulham, he made his way back to the EPL with a debut match vs Liverpool. An assist on his striker Mitrovic displayed a Kenny Tete who had developed into a rebel rousing wingback.

And it didn’t stop there. The 27 year old had assists versus Spurs, Nottingham Forest and Southampton and is one of the first on the Fulham team sheet.

“i want to be a modern full back. I worked hard to get there. I was always the only real defender at Ajax and it gave me a status, if you like. They didn’t have many players like me, until Tagliafico came along. At Lyon, under Bosz, I was forced to add more to the attack as Bosz wants his teams to defend and attack as a unit. My move to Fulham made that even more important. In England, the game is also way more physical so I had to work even harder, both on my physical strength and on my football skills. I could have had more than four assists. I mean, you’re depending on the guy who gets the ball to score. If they would have scored, I would have had more assists.”

In this heat map, you can see how Tete indeed covers the whole flank, but also assists his central defenders where needed.

More and more forwards realise they’ll have a tough day in the office, versus Tete. He played new Chelsea signing Mudryk from the pitch. “I tell you, I never heard of this guy before. But I did hear he cost Chelsea 100 million euros. So then I thought, hmmm, he’s probably pretty good and that motivates me even more!” Mudryk didn’t get any thing going against King Kenny and remained in the dressing room at half time.

“My first big encounter against a super star was my game against Neymar. I was super nervous, but I decided: just do what you normally do but stay 100% focused and don’t start to think “oh my , I am facing Neymar”. And ever since that match, I feel secure and confident. And yes, when a guy like Mudryk gets hooked, it feels good but at the same time: at Chelsea they’ll put another top player opposite you and you have to go again. You know, Sterling or Mount or Havertz, they’re all top players.”

Tete ended the match vs Chelsea with the Man of the Match trophy.

Football players are never “safe”. Coaches want at least two players for any spot so Tete got competition from a new signing, Swiss international Mbabu. The talented defender hasn’t had a peak, so far. Tete: “I used to overthink things, you know. What if this, what if that. And I made myself anxious and lost confidence, by not controlling my mind. I’m different now. I take things step by step. I am not thinking about the matches in April, or next season, or the new signing. I am working hard on training and go from match to match. It serves me.”

“When I was at Ajax, playing in the first team at 19 years old, there were rumours of Real Madrid having an interest. And that screws with your mind a bit. You start with fantasies and with dreams and you play with the idea in your head that the next game might get you that transfer. I mean, many players made big moves in those days, and I too wanted to reach high. I ended up with Fulham and got relegated! But I stayed, I love this club and now we’re number 7 in the league! I am focusing fully on Fulham as I love it here, I love living in London and my family loves it here too. If I have to finish my playing career here, I wouldn’t not mind a single bit.”

Marco Silva’s team has found the way up and has the best season since a long time. “We didn’t lose too many players and were able to bring in some good new lads and it just clicks now. We are playing with flair, with passion, with joy and it works. And we played Arsenal twice, the number 1 in the league, and we lost to them by goals in the last minute. This does mean we are not 100% there yet, but it also means we’re getting close.”

In the past years, the Dutch National Team was a no fly zone for King Kenny, but it might well be that a mainstay in the Premier League gets another call up. Dumfries doesn’t play a lot at Inter. Rensch doesn’t convince. Karsdorp only just started playing again, Geertruida plays as a central defender… Any thoughts? “Well, I was on the prelim list of De Boer’s squad, but I wasn’t a part of the squad for a long time. I missed the Euros, missed the World Cup so I’m not a go to guy at the moment. And I will not claim I should be. But sure, playing well in the EPL does mean you’re reaching a good level, so if the invite comes, I will be ready.”

Bookmark and Share

FC Groningen should sign with Jetro Willems

After a few weeks conducting training at FC Groningen, Jetro Willems is expected to sign with the green and white army in the coming days. The contract would last until the end of this season and with the option of automatic renewal for another season.

Dennis van der Ree had already been asked about the possible hiring of Jetro Willems. The coach made it clear that he would be very happy to have this athlete in his cast.

FC Groningen has not yet officially announced the signing of Jetro Willems, but it seems that this will happen in the coming days.

With Jetro Willems, FC Groningen adds more quality and cast experience. In the fight against relegation, it may be an athlete who can greatly add to the team’s defensive system.

Bookmark and Share

According to Marco Van Basten, Mohammed Kudus is much better than Antony

Since John Heitinga took command of Ajax, replacing Alfred Schreuder, Mohammed Kudus received a lot of attention within the starting lineup. Throughout his career at Ajax, he had already played as a midfielder and center forward, but under the command of John Heitinga, Mohammed Kudus was tested as a right tip and it seems to be very proud of the new Godenzonen coach.

In the six games that John Heitinga led Ajax, Mohammed Kudus scored four goals and gave assistance.

“Mohammed Kudus is the best Ajax player. I don’t understand how he was a reserve when Alfred Schreuder was the Ajax coach. If he plays for three or four consecutive games, we can see all his quality. This was one of John Heitinga’s first changes when he took over the team, ”said Jan Mulder.

Mohammed Kudus fills an open space by Antony when he left Ajax earlier this season and signed with Manchester United. Since the Brazilian left for England, the right -wing position has been a problem in Amsterdam.

“I even think Mohammed Kudus is much better than Antony. He is a more complete, more objective athlete. It’s more fun to watch a Mohammed Kudus game. Antony had many movements, but at many times, his plays resulted in nothing for the team. Mohammed Kudus has a much more accurate technique and knows where he wants to go with every movement he does, ”said Marco Van Basten.

Bookmark and Share

Zakaria Labyad retorna ao FC Utrecht

FC Utrecht announced the return of Zakaria Labyad. The 29-year-old Moroccan striker signs until the end of next season, with the option of automatic renewal for another season.

Zakaria Labyad suffered a knee injury less than a year ago and has already been doing some work within the FC Utrecht academy in recent weeks.

At FC Utrecht, Zakaria Labyad played 58 games and scored 20 goals for the club. But it was at PSV Eindhoven where he played the most games. At Eindhoven, he made 67 appearances and scored 15 goals. The last club he worked for was AFC Ajax and in Amsterdam he made 54 appearances and scored 13 goals.

In addition to these clubs, he also wore the shirt of Vitesse and Sporting, but in Portugal, he only managed to make 27 appearances and scored just three goals.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. Returning to the club where I found my good football. I feel that by returning to FC Utrecht I am returning to my hometown. I need a few days to improve my physical condition and get ready for our coach” said Zakaria Labyad.

“He wanted to return to our club and we understood that he has all the necessary qualities to stay with us for years to come. The conversations were quick and we reached an understanding in a short time” said FC Utrecht director Jordy Zuidam.

Bookmark and Share