We’ll look at the Euros a bit. But first this: Henk Fraser to coach Vitesse. Zjelko Petrovic to coach ADO Den Haag.
And Tonny Vilhena said no to offers from Italy (Inter), Greece, Turkey, Spain and England to stay two more years at Feyenoord! Yay!
Which probably means he’ll go next summer for a limited fee, but at least Feyenoord will get some money + one more season of his game.
While Albania, Slovenia, Wales and Iceland dazzle Europe, while Belgium feels the pressure and Italy surprises, while Zlatan will exit the Euros sans glory and Germany, Spain or France will snatch the title….our focus is on life beyond the Euros.
And this is the cool thing… Now, every Dutch fan will feel frustrated on a daily basis not being part of this tournament. But in three weeks time, this Euros is history and Holland will be able to start sharp and solid with the WC2018 preparation.
Forget about Bert van Oostveen’s 2026 plan. It’s a disgrace. Let’s just get to the WC2018 and like Van Marwijk and Van Gaal before, let’s just play our way into the top 4. Why not?
Brows are frowned in Holland with the appointment of Hans van Breukelen as the KNVB’s new technical director (and boss of Danny Blind, San Marco and Dickie). The man does communicate well, presents well and was a popular keeper… But that’s all one can say about him. Goalies traditionally are not too successful as coaches (Dino Zoff is the only one that comes to mind for me) and De Breuk has not had any significant accomplishments in football since he retired. Sure, he helped FC Utrecht and PSV in non executive board roles but what exactly did he do?
Blind and Co. couldn’t care less I’m sure.
For me the focus should be on the following 7 items:
1. Set the goal for 2018
Van Marwijk and Van Gaal made it clear to the players once they started their WC campaigns: We are going to the World Cup! So goal 1: qualification. And when we are at the World Cup, we will go for gold. Goal 2: try and win it.
Blind needs to clearly articulate what this means for the players, in terms of conduct and focus. For instance: nutritional plans, updates on fitness levels and programs (in conjunction with clubs)… but also…the rules. If you don’t play for your club, forget about being selected. Codes of conduct are part of this as well. If you’re part of the squad, you will talk to the press and represent your nation. No mobile phones in the dressing rooms and no Xboxes in the rooms, only PS4s. Van Marwijk said in his first speech to the squad: I want to win the World Cup! Blind will need to make his ambitions clear and maybe come up with a slogan. “The March to Moscow” or something….
2. Use the negatives!
The fact that we are not at the Euros is currently viewed as a terrible thing. But, in true Johan Cruyff style: Every disadvantage has an advantage. Take Sweden. They’ll go home soon, pretty deflated I’m sure. Zlatan will say his goodbyes as will many other players from the squad, including their coach. They’ll have one week to prepare for the Holland game. New coach, new players, maybe some Euro hangover. We need to use this to our advantage. So that in September, after the game, everyone will say: “Wow, a good thing we didn’t go to the Euros!”
3. No more world class players? How about a team?
World class players don’t win you the trophies. Look at C Ronaldo. Lionel Messi. Gareth Bale. Arjen Robben. None of these lads have won a Euros or a World Cup. But in terms of quality, they could have. But they didn’t… In 2004, a mediocre Greece did. In 1996, a mediocre Germany did. Leicester won the EPL. Atletico has done alright in the last years. What is the common denominator? Yes… TEAM!
Spain has used the core of the Barcelona team to good effect. Germany falls back on Bayern and Dortmund. In Holland, PSV is the most solid team, with players like Bruma, Zoet, Van Ginkel, Willems and Propper. Add Wijnaldum, Memphis, Daley Blind, Janssen and some others and we might be able to use PSV’s core as the foundation for Oranje. Should Robben and Sneijder show up next season, great! The ingredients are there. Use the communication and automatisms that are developed at PSV and bring some additional talent and intelligence from afore mentioned players and we could be well on our way.
4. Solid defence
One key element that stuck out in our Euro qualification games was the fact that we conceded first. In most games, we needed to fight ourselves back into it. Meaning we got more and more exposed at the back. Under Van Marwijk, we were solid (mainly due to two holding mids). Whatever system Blind wants to use, the focus should be on a solid defence. With players like Janmaat and Willems, Van Aanholt or Veltman being considered for full back spots, this means we need a cracking holding mid to shield the defence. Strootman seems to be the logical choice, although I really like to see him as the box to box man, personally… Clasie might be the man? Or will Fosu Mensah be ready for this already? Probably not, but he will definitely get himself on the radar in the coming years…
5. A new hierarchy
For years, Van Bommel, De Jong, Van Persie, Sneijder, Van der Vaart, Van der Sar and Robben were the core players of Oranje. Of those, only Sneijder and Robben seem to have clout and respect in the current squad. Van Persie will need to regain this if he ever comes back. The way Blind used Huntelaar says enough to him as well, I’m sure. We need a new hierarchy. Whatever Sneijder and Robben can add, is a bonus. We need players to step up and assume this role. Danny Blind can’t just appoint them. That is not how it works… Of the new crew, Strootman surely has “it”. I don’t see any of our goalies at this stage as leaders, but Tim Krul comes close. Virgil van Dijk and Ron Vlaar as defenders, for sure. Clasie had it at Feyenoord, but at Southampton I don’t see it as yet. Van Ginkel, Fer, Wijnaldum, Klaassen, Propper… all devoid of that charisma. Maybe Bazoer? Very early days… Luuk de Jong has it at PSV, but too lightweight for Oranje. Vincent Janssen might have it. Daley Blind is developing nicely, but Wijnaldum isn’t so much.
6. The Manifest
Louis van Gaal loves discipline. He introduced a strict regime and Sneijder felt it most. He pushed the player to total commitment and Sneijder did well for us in Brazil. Hiddink used it to great success in 1998, after the Euro England drama. But this time around, Hiddink allowed things to loosen up. Danny Blind claims to want to get back to a more rigid approach, which works well with a man like Advocaat in the staff. Using younger players, it will be more easy for Blind to use his authority. A player like Memphis might want to watch his steps.
7. Technical Staff
With young Van Nistelrooy making way for old hand Advocaat, it seems the staff is stacked nicely. San Marco for the details. Dick for the mental aspect and Blind for tactics. These three games / 10 days in Portugal will have set the foundation for Oranje New Style.
We will need to live through these next weeks to shake off the hangover of this Euros.
Then, after July 7, it’s a clean sheet for everyone.
And we will support our Oranje Lions on their next journey!