Only 4 days to go and Oranje will have to play their first WC qualification game for 2014’s World Cup, under LVG’s reign.
The Big Test.
After losing a series of games and the dismal Euros, it seems another loss in this new series might trigger knee-jerk responses no one needs…
LVG needs to renew his team, while at the same time some of the old hands are struggling to find their form (or worse: minutes) at club level. While others who do perform wonderfully at club level (Robin, you know who you are!) disappoint in Orange.
Sturdy and ballsy Louis van Gaal doesn’t seem to be phased. He leaves Nigel, Rafael, Ibi and Greg at their new homes ( in Milan, Hamburg, Gelsenkirchen and Paris) and decides to use some untested group of players (Fer, Clasie).
If it works: good on Louis. If it doesn’t…then what?
Robin van Persie decided to not talk to the press at the Euros (allegedly because of consistent questions about his future) and has grudgingly decided to pick up the pieces in the prep towards Turkey. “You have to ask the trainer” or “I can’t comment” is still his most popular statement though. What happened to the cocky and open lad he used to be?
He did have some good quotes too, though. “I am still honoured to be invited to play for Oranje, of course! Even if I don’t play. The coach makes the decisions and I will do whatever he wants me to do and I’ll play where ever he thinks I should play.”
He smiled generously when asked if he indeed had a good talk with Van Gaal, as the latter suggested. “Yes, we did. Was a very good talk.” Leaving the press to figure out if he was using irony or not…
Van Gaal in the meantime, repeated his mantra: “Robin didn’t bring as much in Oranje as Klaas Jan. So I have picked Klaas Jan for the role, over Robin. Simple.”
John Heitinga was surprised to be part of the squad and unknowingly fueled the first discussion around Van Gaal’s decisions. “I was really fearful of losing my spot. At Everton, I was left on the bench for the first game and we did very well against Man United, so the coach left the winning team intact. I only played a couple of minutes, which doesn’t really count.”
Other players were left out of the squad because of their late moves, like Raf van der Vaart to HSV. “Raf moved last week already and the Turkey game is coming Wednesday. I’m sure Raf would be ready for that,” mused Heitinga.
Bas Dost had to leave the preparation with a lingering injury. Van Gaal called upon Luuk de Jong, as a replacement.
Arjen Robben didn’t train with the group, as he is recovering from a flu attack. He didn’t play with Bayern last weekend because of that, but he expects to be able to play coming Friday.
Darryl Janmaat is one of the newcomers in the squad. The offensive Feyenoord right back received a welcoming text from captain Wes Sneijder. “I thought that was really cool! I never met Wesley and don’t know his mobile number, so I had to check from who it was, haha. I think the staff gave my number to him, but I truly appreciated it.”
Vice captain Kuyt send an sms too and this is part of the strategy to make sure the youngsters feel at home at Oranje. Martins Indi, the big Rijkaard like defender who can play left back and center back spent the first day analysing his game against Belgium with the help of video analysis. “Really helpful. I do this at Feyenoord too. The analyst showed me some situations where I made the wrong choice. Very helpful indeed.”