With all the comments on the site recently about Blind needing to do this, and do that, and try him and try her, I’d like to write a post about what can be expected and why.
It seems to there are quite some aspects to this game not so well understood by some.
A wise man once said: to know your future you must know your past….
Danny Blind’s job is to get results and a certain level of performance. The end result of this all is: happy supporters.
Happy supporters means: more kids playing football > more kids registering at clubs > more membership fees going to clubs > more supporters in the stadiums > more money for pro clubs > more investment in players and academies > better results > more sponsorship deals….
Tiju at an Oranje match
Results in the case is defined as: reaching the World Cup > reaching as far as possible.
Level of performance means: goals, attractive play, attacks, excitement.
The so-called “Dutch School of Total Football” has slowly been put to bed. Most people wouldn’t know what it means anyway. Is it 4-3-3? Is it possession?
The Modern Game today is Total Football mostly, anyway. The way Barca plays, Arsenal, Man City, Bayern Munich, PSG, Ajax… The way Germany plays, Spain, France… it takes a good debater to explain to me how what we think we’re doing is unique. It simply isn’t.
Danny Blind is the perfect man to design the way we want to play. He was a typical wing back at Sparta and Ajax, until he became a modern centre back, moving into midfield whenever he could.
He skippered the most attractive club team of the past 25 years.
Danny and Daley (some will joke that Daley still comes onto the pitch holding hands with dad… I’ll make the joke for you guys 🙂 )
He worked alongside the architect of that team for decades and worked for the club that is the role model of attractive football and talent development for decades. His only other job was at Sparta, which also has a longstanding reputation of developing tremendous talents. Think Kevin Strootman. Rene van der Gijp. Winston Bogarde. Jetro Willems. Memphis Depay. De Roon. Ruud Geels. Jan van Beveren. Theo Laseroms. El Ghazi.
People claim Blind doesn’t have a lot of club coach experience? Well, this is a totally different job. Coaches at club have “buying players” as their crucial tool. An NT manager doesn’t have that. Coaches are responsible for allowing young talents to enter the senior team. An NT manager doesn’t have that. Key differences.
I think an NT manager and a club coach are as different as a haute cuisine caterer vs a hamburger chef.
So Danny Blind made mistakes? So what! Hiddink did too. Van Basten, Advocaat… it’s likely any coach we put in that role will get some things wrong.
All three at Sparta
Is Danny Blind to blame for missing the Euros? I don’t think so. We started badly under Hiddink, the post WC trauma, loss of key players, lack of quality overall. Sure, Blind contributed to that a bit, but who is to say his alternative (Advocaat? Jans? De Mos? Gullit? ) wouldn’t have….?
As for the choice of players, the names of Kongolo, Diks, Brenet, Vilhena, Toornstra and Ramselaar are suggested.
I’m not sure why.
I’d like to make a point that is under estimated by people who might lack experience in sports.
The step up from a youth team to the senior team is huge. Going from an under 17 to an under 19 team is much less impactful as the step up from – say – Ajax 2 to the senior team. Resistance is high. Pace is much higher. Pressure is much higher. Youth players are normally encouraged to play intuitively. In senior teams, tactics become much more important.
Normally, a player is fully focused on his own performance until he turns 23 or 24 years old. The experience and maturity sinks in for the players – not all – to enlarge their vision and circle of influence. Some 24 year olds get to “see” the game a bit more wider, others will see the full pitch. Some players have it very early. Cruyff, Van Hanegem, Fabregas, Sneijder, Kroos had it when they were young already. Others, like Robben, Rooney, Iniesta, develop it at a later age. And some will never get it…
Fabregas debut for Arsenal
The step up from a mid-tier team in the Eredivisie (Utrecht, PEC Zwolle, Sparta, Groningen) to a top 3 team is huge too. Again, at Utrecht winning is allowed, losing is ok. At Ajax/PSV/Feyenoord, losing is a sin. Winning is a must.
The step up from Ajax/PSV/Feyenoord to Oranje or a bigger competition is huge yet again! Moving to another country brings its own difficulties: living alone, different language, different culture, different hierarchy.
Take Memphis: went from being the key man at PSV to being just another player at Man United. At PSV, he took every free kick. At Man United, he needed to compete with Rooney, Mata, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, now Pogba.
The pace and pressure in Oranje is much higher. Some players slide in effortlessly: Strootman, Blind, Karsdorp, Sneijder and Robben… Others struggle to find their feet: Promes, Clasie, Makaay, Seedorf, Hasselbaink.
It probably is quite relevant to point out to you that we have had many huge talents in the past, who never made it.
All players like the Kongolos, the Dikses, the Nouris and the El Ghazis of this world.
Answer me below if you have heard of them? Said Boutahar (playmaker in the same youth teams as Robin van Persie at Excelsior and Feyenoord). Cedric van der Gun (striker partner of Sneijder, Van der Vaart, Van der Meijde at Ajax). Frans van Rooy (playmaker at PSV, left for to play for Antwerp). Tarik Oulida, the new Cruyff… (as claimed by Johan Cruyff!… part of the LVG 1995 Ajax squad. Played some CL games in midfield, but ended up playing in Japan). Youssouf Hersi (Mercurial forward of Ajax, ended his career in Australia). Stef Nijland (Groningen talent, left for PSV, plays for PEC now). Ismail Aissati (partner of Afellay at PSV, left distraught to Ajax. Playing for money in Chechnya now). Royston Drenthe? Brutil Hose (Ajax striker…Kluivert said he thought Hose was better than him…).
Remember these guys? Said Boutahar, Riga Mustapha, Jurgen Colin, Jeffrey Leiwakabessy, Ruud Knol, Stekelenburg, Jeffrey de Visser, Romano Denneboom, Melvin Fleur, Leon Hese, Youssouf Hersi in 2002
This lists shows that any player who had a good season in Ajax 2 or at a lower level club in the Eredivisie can have a bright time, only to crash and burn. Is it their mentality? Their physical strength? Their lack of tactical insights? Different for all of them of course.
We also saw how the generation of Young Oranje under Foppe de Haan bagged two trophies some years ago, but from those squads not a lot of players made it into the big team (Ron Vlaar and maybe one or two others?).
This is the answer to the question: “Why not Diks? Why not Kongolo? Why not Brenet?”
An NT coach has a couple of days to gel players into the system he needs for a certain game. It’s not much. Before a tournament, he has three weeks or more. This is how LVG got the team to play 5-3-2 and we didn’t even do that too well, as you can remember.
Cedric van der Gun at Ajax
Blind relies on what we call “automatisms” in Holland. Players who are used to play together. This is why he’d have picked Bruma over De Vrij at this stage. Or why he has Veltman in the squad and not Diks.
Total Football today still exists. Atletico does it nicely. It requires complete understanding of what the parts that make the whole do. And it goes to the level of “distance between players”, “timing of forward pressure”, “squeezing to a certain part of the pitch”, “pacing”, “when does Janssen come into the ball, when does he turn and run deep”, etc etc.
Shifting players all the time because Kongolo or Brenet had a nice game is not helping in this respect.
Like Van Gaal, Blind has a list of “tasks and responsibilities” for every position on the pitch and he uses that to analyse and select the right players for the job.
He sees them more than we do. I believe we are condescending, ignorant and foolish if we try to second guess him (and his staff, and the club coaches feeding him info).
He is on an upward trajectory. I say we let him do his job. As one poster said: we could have had 7 out of 9, but due to some referee mistakes, we only have 4 out of 9. We are on course, as far as I’m concerned, and once we have a fit Robben back, we’ll be adding even more firepower to the team!
Hup Holland Hup!
Tarik Oulida at Ajax