Dutch NT Managers – pt.1

As requested by some, a look at the different National Team coaches the Dutch enjoyed over the years.

I am giving you my personal opinion. You can add yours below :-).

World Cup 1974 – Rinus Michels

Rinus Michels already made a name for himself with Ajax and Barcelona and was considered a European top coach. The Dutch barely qualified for the tournament under Cech coach Fadrhonc, who had a career previously in Holland as coach of mid-tier clubs (as we discussed many times: the NT wasn’t considered that important in those early days). He originally was a fysio but managed a team in the Czechoslovakian competition to a win and after fleeing to the west, became head coach. And pretty successful too, in Holland. But the Dutch federation found him to weak to manage the team of big personalities (Cruyff, Van Hanegem, Krol, Keizer, Israel, Jansen) and decided to bring in a “supervisor” to manage the whole WC process in West Germany: Rinus Michels, who at that stage was coach at Barcelona.

Michels – a former limited Ajax defender – was a stickler for discipline but tactically limited. The Total Football tactics he was credited with, was actually developed by Ernst Happel at Feyenoord and implemented in the Dutch squad in 1974 by Cruyff, Van Hanegem and Wim Jansen. The team had an amazing impact on football, moving forward, but Michels was not as instrumental as people back then though, and as Michels himself would let on.

He returned to Ajax for a spell, then back to Barcelona for 2 seasons before embarking on an adventure to the US (LA Aztecs). He had some lesser successful attempts in the Bundesliga before returning to the Dutch FA where he would win the Euros in 1988 and reach the semis in the 1992 Euros.

He famously clashed with Johan Cruyff, Van Basten and Ruud Gullit, amongst others and was considered to be a prickly character. Stories abound how he blocked the appointment of Cruyff as NT manager many times in his role as Federation bonzo and he clashed with Gullit in 1990, when the players were forbidden to talk to the media, while Michels had a “tell-all” column in the Dutch media, undermining the team process. Gullit was the squad’s mouthpiece in a scathing response via competitive media. In 1988, Michels initially ignored Van Basten and had to make an about-face after losing his first tournament match vs the USSR.

As an NT coach, despite the WC1974 silver and 1988 gold medal, I don’t rate him high. The players were instrumental in the performances (Cruyff in 1974, Van Basten in 1988) no matter who sat on the bench.

European Championships 1976 – George Knobel

Heini Otto (middle) dropped an NT player of at the Oranje camp, and when Knobel heard he was a left footer, he said: you can stay. Otto actually made his debut in Oranje but wouldn’t be called up ever again…

A sad story for a highly respected coach. The Dutch were not mentally ready for this tournament. All the big guns were present (Cruyff, Neeskens, Rep, Rensenbrink, Van Hanegem, Krol) but the first game ended with two red cards for Neeskens and Van Hanegem, and Oranje lost dramatically. In the Third Place play off, Knobel used a number of new names trying to re-invigorate the team (Jan Peters, Peter Arntz, Ruud Geels, Adrie van Kraay) which got us bronze, beating Yugoslavia after extra time.

Knobel will always be linked to MVV Maastricht where he had his most succcesses. He also managed Ajax for a brief spell. A footnote in Dutch football history.

World Cup 1978 – Ernst Happel

Where Michels was considered a “hollow barrel” making a lot of noise, but lacking substance, Happel was the complete opposite. A quiet man, no using much words at all but tactically very astute. The Austrian had a tremendous career as a player ( Rapid Wien, RC Paris, Austrian NT) before becoming a coach at Den Haag and then Feyenoord where he won the European Cup with players like Moulijn, Van Hanegem, Jansen and Kindvall. He moved on to Sevilla and Club Brugge before being asked to manage the NT to the 1978 Argentina World Cup.

He was an introvert. Didn’t like talking to the press and spent most of his time playing cards. He was a chain smoker – like many players back then – and usually only had one sentence before a game: “Gentlemen, a win please!”. When Van Hanegem once approached him for a tactical conversation, he famously said (in his Dutch/German make believe language) “Kein geloel, Willem. Fussballen!”. Which translates as: “Cut the crap, Willem. Just play football.”

He didn’t do much in terms of tactical talks but he simply picked the right eleven and gave them the freedom to play. The respect he got from his players was partly due to his gifted skills. He would demonstrate that by placing ten balls outside of the box and hitting the cross bar every time with his shots… He famously had to tell his protege and close friend Van Hanegem that he didn’t have any use for him in the 1978 WC squad, which left De Kromme in tears on national tv. With a team lacking Cruyff and Van Hanegem but with young upstarts like Arie Haan, Piet Wildschut and Ernie Brandts, Happel reached the finals and if Rensenbrink was a tad more fortunate would have won gold in 1978.

As a coach, I rate him very high (check his CV, he won 26 trophies as a coach!!!) albeit a tad old-school for today’s game….

European Championship 1980 – Jan Zwartkruis

Former assistant to Ernst Happel at the World Cup in Argentina, Zwartkruis made a name for himself as coach of the Military Team (yes, you read it correctly). That team ended up to be a great feeder team for the National Team (yes you read it correctly, again!). Rob Rensenbrink, Jan Mulder, Jan van Beveren, Barry Hulshoff, they all played for the Military Team during their draft period and played at the the Military World Cup (wow). Which was held in Iraq (double wow). Zwartkruis was supposed to be the NT coach at the WC 1978 but a conflict with his employer (the Ministry of Defence) he wasn’t able to take the reigns (enter Happel). This was resolved after the World Cup and the amicable Zwartkruis – who was great with young talent – was given the main job for the Euros in 1980 in Italy. Again, a very short tournament this time, with only 8 nations.

Zwartkruis with goalies Joop Hiele and Hans van Breukelen

Oranje disappoints and after win vs Greece and a loss v West Germany Holland draws against the Czechs. And Holland was out. Zwartkruis did have some decent players to work with but was never able to gel a successful team. He used debutants at this tournament who never were able to perform at the required level and despite names like Krol, Schrijvers, Van de Korput, Haan, Rep, John Metgod and Rene van de Kerkhof, we never really played to our best level.

Zwartkruis was a good developer of talent and probably a great assistant coach. Lacked the charisma needed for the NT job and never able to gel a successful team. Again, a footnote.

Failed tournament attempts 1982, 1984 – Kees Rijvers

Rijvers was a gifted coach. Much loved and very successful at club level at FC Twente and PSV. Rijvers himself was a gifted technician who played in the famous golden trio (with Faas Wilkes and Abe Lenstra, two legends) for the Dutch. He was tactically strong and warm personality, loved by media and players. He took over from Zwartkruis after the latter lost the first two qualification games for the Spain World Cup 1982. Rijvers immediately planned to bring Cruyff back to the NT, which he agreed to do. However, JC was contractually obliged to wear his own brand jersey (Cruyff Sports) while the NT had a contract with Adidas. No deal, therefore. Rijvers also got other veterans back: Krol, Rep, Willy van de Kerkhof and even Johan Neeskens, in an attempt to turn things around. Still, despite this, he would be the man who allowed 9 players from the 1988 winning team to make their debut in the NT: Vanenburg, Kieft, Rijkaard, Gullit, Wouters, Koeman, Van Basten, Erwin Koeman and Adri van Tiggelen. Michel Valke and Rene van der Gijp also made their debuts under Rijvers. Rijvers missed out on the WC1982 due to a 2-0 loss vs France in a key final match. France scored their second goal (Platini) thanks to a misunderstanding between Van Breukelen and Krol. Rijvers also missed the 1984 Euros as a result of the (bought?) win of Spain over Malta, 12-1.

Little Kees with Kieft, Gullit, Rijkaard and Janssen

In the qualification round for the 1986 Mexico World Cup, Oranje lost at home vs Hungary. Rijvers resigned after that game, after coaches like Leo Beenhakker lobbied for his firing. Suspiciously, as Beenhakker would get the job soon after…

Despite his strong club career, his playing career and his eye for talent (as aforementioned), not qualifying for two tournaments means he will not be in anyone’s top 5 NT coaches :-).

Failed World Cup 1986 – Leo Beenhakker

After Rijvers’ demise and losing the first match vs Hungary, Rinus Michels took over. He lost his first match too and won his second. Michels had to give way due to health reasons (heart) and his protege Leo Beenhakker – so instrumental in getting Rijvers out – was put in as replacement. Hungary qualified quickly so Holland had to go for second spot which would result in a play-off game. With talented Robbie de Wit – who would see his career ended due to a brain aneurism – in the team, Holland did win against Hungary away, securing a play off match vs Belgium. Oranje lost the first match, 1-0 in Belgium. Wim Kieft was given a red card in the 4th minute, after some play-acting by Vercauteren. The Belgium midfielder would go on and score the winner. The Dutch – playing with Gullit, Rijkaard, Van Basten and De Wit couldn’t get back into it. The home game in Rotterdam was a terrible night for yours truly. It was super cold and my dad injured his knee during the walk to the stadium which would bother him for the rest of his life. We needed to win 2-0 to go to the World Cup and after 84 minutes, Oranje had the two goals thanks to Robbie de Wit and Peter Houtman. A defensive error in the 85th minute allowed George Grün to head the ball in, 2-1. End of fairytale for Holland. No World Cup.

Leo Beenhakker would have another stint in 1990 and wasn’t able to rouse up the troops for a good performance either. The Rotterdam born coach would enjoy successes with Ajax, Real Madrid and Feyenoord among others but was dreadful as team manager. His buffoon type alpha male machoism didn’t go down well with vocal and astute players like Gullit, Rijkaard and Van Basten. A stain on Leo’s career, this NT stuff.

European Championship 1988 – Rinus Michels

The qualifications for the 1988 Euros was not a smooth ride. JC was coach at Ajax, and he would fuel the bad blood between him and Michels by commenting on the team selection and creating a rift between the Ajax and PSV players. The NT lacked unity and the midfield was drastically out of balance. This prompted Michels to bring the experienced Arnold Muhren (35 years old) back to the team to fix it. Despite all this, Holland was too strong for the likes of Poland, Cyprus and Greece and qualified easily. The most talked about event was the bomb-incident, in the match v Cyprus. The Cyprus team walked off the pitch when a fireworks bomb was thrown close to the Cyprus goalie. They’d lose the match 8-0, but that was scratched from the books. Holland can be happy the UEFA didn’t disqualify the team. In the re-match, Holland won 4-0. Bosman’s record of scoring 5 goals in one match was also scratched from the history books.

The rest is history. Michels didn’t want to take Van Basten as a main striker, who was injured all season long but fit for the Euros. Van Basten threatened to not come in that case. Cruyff apparently talked Marco into going and he would become the tournament’s star. Michels started with a 4-3-3 but after losing the first match, reverted back to a 4-4-2. Ironically, Oranje’s first and only big trophy was won with a 4-4-2 system…

Michels’ finest moment as Dutch NT coach. He did perform well, was warm towards the players and media and seemed to have found his place and tone of voice. Sadly, in the years to come, he would show his colours again. Still, winning a trophy means you do end up in the top 5 of best Dutch NT coaches…

World Cup 1990 – Thijs Libregts / Leo Beenhakker.

So much has been written about this. One more time, now in Telegram style. Libregts won the title with Feyenoord with Cruyff in 1984 and moved to Greece to coach Aris, PAOK and Olympiakos. He returned as NT manager but had a massive falling out with Gullit, amongst other things for some racial abuse. The players demanded his resignation and the FA – led by Michels – promised the players to recruit Cruyff as coach. Once the dust settled, the players were flabbergasted to see Beenhakker as their new coach, and not the famous #14.

Rinus Michels and Thijs Libregts

The rest we know. A dreadful preparation phase, in some dreary Yugoslavian castle. Bad vibe in the squad. Gullit in particular not fit. Tired of football. And more. Beenhakker had battle after battle and even showed up at a press conference with a black eye, explaining he hit his head. Some people claim Van Basten threw an ashtray to his face. We’ll never know. After the WC, Beenhakker quipped that 75% of all that happened during that campaign has never came out. He promised to share it one day, but he never has, so far. An abysmal World Cup, with what was considered one of the best squads the Oranje ever had.

I have never been a Leo Beenhakker fan. An arrogant coach, with an inflated ego. He has never had any loyalty. Escaped to bigger clubs any time he got the chance.

European Championships – Rinus Michels

Rinus decided to put his hand up to fix the Oranje problems. Frank Rijkaard immediately retired from international football. Koeman was suspended by Michels for criticising his tactics and John Van’t Schip was suspended because he preferred to witness the birth of his first child, and arrived later at the trainings camp. Michels did bring Frank de Boer and Dennis Bergkamp in the mix. Holland did qualify relatively easy, but was not without little scandals, as Wim Kieft left the camp one day, when he was treated disrespectfully by Bryan Roy, who called him “tall tree”. Gullit and Michels clashed repeatedly as the latter accused Gullit of being to injury prone and too happy to let games go.

The Tournament in Sweden would become the tournament of the holidaying Danes, who were called up as replacement for Yugoslavia. Michels’ team didn’t impress vs Scotland, although we got the win (1-0) thanks to a late Bergkamp goal. We drew vs the GOS (Russia) but beat Germany 3-1 in a great match. The knock out stages ended with the Danes having the better of us in a penalty shoot out, with Van Basten missing vs Schmeichel.

Not a bad result, but not sure how much Rinus and his assistant mini-general Dick Advocaat had to do with that. Gullit was unstoppable at times. Van Basten was instrumental without scoring and Dennis Bergkamp presented himself at the highest level. We could have gone all the way I think but again, not sure how much praise Michels deserved. I think the players wanted to set the score right after the dreadful WC1990.

World Cup 1994 – Dick Advocaat

The mini-general was always Michels’ choice. The players wanted JC again and they actually went over to see him at Barca and negotiate a deal. The deal imploded on Cruyff’s demand to pick his own assistants. The Federation, in those days, had their own coaches and insisted Johan would use them. Cruyff did not have a lot of respect for these cats and felt he wasn’t going to go anywhere without his trusted scout (Tonnie Bruins-Slot) and assistants. So it was a no go. Advocaat is known for his “un-Dutch” cautious defensive game. Sure, he did great as a club coach, but he lacked the adventurous streak we so desire and he didn’t seem too switched on with the circumstances. Gullit was aware there would be a heatwave in Florida and tried to convince Dickie to play a tactics that would work for the best players (read: Gullit and Rijkaard). Van Basten was already ruled out, basically. Advocaat belittled Gullit and the latter decided to not go.

Presser with Advocaat and a depressed Gullit, explaining why he’s abandoning Oranje

Advocaat got his team to the quarter finals were Brazil was too strong. Upon his return to Holland, Advocaat said that being amongst the best 8 teams in the world was a great result. The fans felt that it wasn’t. A great result would be a semi final spot. This was ok. We beat Morocco, Ireland and Saudi Arabia. Big deal.

Advocaat would get a second spell. Overall, a mediocre performance on both counts.

European Championships 1996 – Guus Hiddink

Poor Guus inherited the salary rift that was going around at Ajax. Some home grown talents didn’t make as much as some of the new signings and some of the white players were allegedly making more than the dark players. Hiddink didn’t get the problems ironed out. He also humiliated Seedorf by subbing him off against Switzerland after 26 minutes while Davids only got 10 minutes in that game. Hiddink tended to talk tactics with De Boer and Blind and neglect Davids and Seedorf – according to them – and Edgar let fly in an interview, saying Hiddink should take his head out of De Boer’s arse. Poetic. Davids was sent home and the tournament ended with a penalty shoot out, lost, vs France.

The infamous photo: a table with white players and a table with colour players. However, behind Huddink, not visible, blond Richard Witschge also part of the coloured table…

A tough tournament to judge Guus on. Overall a comedy of errors and a humiliation by England. Kluivert’s conciliation goal got us through, for a quarter finals vs France.

World Cup 1998 – Guus Hiddink

With the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, this is one that we could have and should have won. With one of the strongest squads (Davids was taken back in by Hiddink and played a top notch tournament), we reached the semis. The quarter finals vs Argentina is a high light in Oranje’s history, with Frank de Boer’s long range pass and Bergkamp’s outside foot winner, in the last minutes of the game! The key question still is: did Oranje deserve a penalty late in the semi finals against Brazil, when Pierre van Hooijdonk was pulled to the ground? We all think YES.

Hiddink and assistant Johan Neeskens

This was Guus’ golden tournament which catapulted him to the level of top coach on the planet. Real Madrid, Australia, South Korea, they’d all follow. Included a not so successful stint only recently… This tournament justifies a spot in the top 5 of best NT coaches ever, for Oranje.

This is it for now. The coaches from 2000 until now, in the next post!

My top 3 NT coaches from 1974 till 1998, shouldn’t be a big surprise:

  1. Rinus Michels – 1974
  2. Ernst Happel – 1978
  3. Guus Hiddink – 1998

Gimme your views below!

Bookmark and Share


  1. Awesome post Jan, really appreciate the history. I don’t know how you feel about the whole FDB situation, but I definitely think he should be given the opportunity to play through the Euros, regardless of how his results are going. Like you noted, plenty of these managers had rough starts, ups and downs, selection controversies and yet some of them persevered through and had decent results.

    My family grew up in Amsterdam, we had season tickets when I was young, and then when I moved back I had them again for a few years. I was into Ajax hooliganism in my teens, and within my family’s circle of friends we don’t really have this “sack culture” that you find in Spain and England, where coaches arrive on the hotseat and have 1 or 2 games to get off of it. We believe that each manager should be given at least 1 season, and if after one season they can’t build a team to be successful, then they will be placed on the hotseat and their results assessed. Even when Blind took over at Holland, he inherited someone else’s team and was given a matter of games to fix every problem, and his sacking was rather unfair. It would be the equivalent of firing a teacher, hiring a new one midway through the semester, and hoping that teacher can turn all the failing grades around.

    1. Oh and to answer your question. I would rate Guus Hiddink as Holland’s top coach for that period. Having to overcome his shaky start and rebuild relationships to lead Holland to a great result at the World Cup is truly impressive.

      Ernst Happel would be second.

      And I’ll give Michels third, though his tenure in the 90’s tarnishes the rest of it for me. In my opinion the 1992 Euro’s were the biggest miss of this team in history. Sure we had a good team in 74, but the Germans were good too. Euro 2000, we should have been in that final, but France would have been tough to beat. The 92 Danish and German teams were not good, not compared to our squad.

      1. Hahaha Derek, that is exactly how I placed the coaches ( Happel 1, Hiddink 2 and Michels 3) but then I realised Michels did win our one and only trophy….

        1. Great stuff, Jan. Thank you for this.

          Hard call to make regarding the coaching.

          I have always liked Hiddink, and rebuilding the team after the 1996 debacle was impressive. And they did not get off to a good start in the WC. Bergkamp wasn’t even in the lineup for the first game because of injury; that first game was a depressing draw against Belgium where Kluivert got suspended. Mexico had beaten South Korea by several goals, so the worry in the second game was getting a big score (with an injured Bergkamp and no Kluivert)—he ended up starting Cocu at forward (who scored a brilliant opener), and replaced Seedorf with Jonk (which couldn’t have been easy). And then over the tournament, he had to deal with Numan’s suspension and Bogarde’s injury, so he went against Brazil with Cocu at lb, plus, IIRC, Jonk got the news of his best friend’s death. So, yes, agree that team had tremendous talent, but full marks to him for getting the most out of it.

          And, as Jan says, Michels is the one who won something in ’88, and he was also in charge the 1974 team (the most revered and loved team)…so how do you pick against him?

          …but I went back to look at the 1978 team. The team that played the final match against Argentina had only 5 of the same field players as the ’74 team, and two of those were not named Cruyff and Van Hanaghem. (And goalie was on because the starter was injured in the Italy win.) So, for a single job, taking a less talented team than in ’74 and getting it to within the width of the goal post of the WC trophy, is, for me, probably the best pure coaching feat.

  2. Fantastic review Jan, Thank you! Until 1990 I used to live behind the iron curtain. Couldn’t watch much on TV but followed news about NT very closely. I remember the shock of being eliminated by Grun, the disbelief of Spain beating Malta 12-1, the bending free kick from Platini in that 2-0 loss in Paris just as I remember sobbing after losing 2-1 to Germany in 1990 or hating on Van Basten for missing the penalty against Denmark. In 1992 we were by far the best team in Sweden and should have won. I don’t think we could have won against France in 1998 final. Biggest failure in my view is 74, 78 was amazing that we got that far and so harsh to not win it by an inch. In termas of coaches I think by default Michels is top by default (even thought I lost a lot respect for him when I read VB book),2nd is Happel (could also be #1) and third is Hiddink. Best coaches for NT came after 2000 but I know it is subject for another review. Just to add that I think one of weakest links of NT lack of success in the 90 was Van Der Sar regardless of the abundant praise for him. He never won a penalty shootout until 2004.

      1. I reckon NT would have won in 98 if they would gone through to the final.they had everything in that team to win including overmars who was injured vs brazil. Will we see another squad like that ever again.

  3. Really had no idea what was happening behind the curtins during back in those days. Good to hear about these stories. However when a coach inherits a good team, it just comes down to him playing the right cards but when that same coach gets to start from scrtach thats when his credibility of how good he is comes into spotlight.in this context you have to agree with Derekbdberg91 that Hiddink is no 1. I mean 94, 98,Korea,Russia Australia.

    Looking at FDB, he is not a coach who has the credibity to build a team from the scratch and maybe if he inherits a good team, things would be different like during his trumiph at Ajax where he had good contingent at eredividie level.

  4. https://youtu.be/COzDtwy61Ks

    A look at xavi simons. Looks sharp and if all goes well then he is the next best hope for NT with others who are on the horizon and pushing through. 24 & 26 could be bright for NT and hopefully his trajectory continues to rise.

    Lang continued with his scoring streak for Brugge but lost to Anderlecht 2-1.

    The funny one for me was that of ihattaren status this week. Not sure if he was injured but he was on the bench vs VVV.last week after scoring the stunner vs heracles he went to the camera and shouted “no one can break me ” and this week instead of getting more minutes, found himself stuck on the bench again. As much as you feel for him, he just can not put things in right perspective to build good relations with Schmidt

  5. Ihattaren seems to think people are against him, which is silly. The whole nation loves him and want him to succeed, but he simply behaves like an 19 year old (which he is). Robben was a mature player at 19, Van Persie wasn’t either. Mo should stop yelling at the camera but be humbled by the support he gets from literally everyone (media, analysts, coaches, ex-players, etc). But he will need to deliver!

    1. Rick van Drongelen (hamburg) and Philippe Sandler ( Man city) are two more CBs who should be thinking of getting transferred from their parent club in the summer transfer window. both are good talents as well. Van drongelen just recently recently recovered from an ACL injury which sidelined him for 6 months while Sandler is in pecking order at city after returning injured from Anderlecht on loan.

  6. We have an amazing collection of real goal threatening forwards….Malen.Depay,Danjuma,Gakpo,Stengs, it will be better if we select gakpo and Danjuma for Babel and berjwin…
    Depay should shut##3his a#3s about taking every freekicks…his freekicks are utter waste most times…
    i hope koopmeiners and bazoer make the cut instead of De roon…
    Gravenberch,Frenkie,Bazoer,koopmeiners,Wijnaldum(on bench )..Ven de beek …

    1. There better be something in his contract about guaranteed matches, because the way he’s playing for Ajax he could have been a contender for the starting spot next year if he stayed.

  7. Finished watching the replay.nothing much to talk about really. Brobbery introduction produced some spark otherwise the both teams were cautious and held off quiet well apart for the two goals.

    Karsdorp though played very causally but defensively put in good shift with neres and tadic later in second half. Didnt go forward as much as he normally does and on few occasions lost his marker only for tge defensive to cover up. Good game.

  8. Agree that KNVB should lock Brobbey down immediately. No reason he shouldn’t be in the national team picture. I thought Karsdorp had a pretty quiet game. Didn’t do anything either way to move the needle for his inclusion into the NT. They didn’t have to reverse the second goal…thought the Roma player was selling it. Bummer for Ajax, but they lost the tie in the first game with the two bad mistakes.

    1. You could still argue though he has had a better season than dumfries. Dumfries has been regular for NT and that where he edges him out and this is what the selectors are going for.

      Being said this and looking at the current status of NT middfield even karsdorp will struggle. That RCM position has become problematic area for NT.

  9. Dumfries aside, I feel also that Klaassen has never impressed or convinced overall. His rating for Ajax never impressive stats also. Still he continues to be selected. Still beyond me what FDB is thinking. 🤦‍♂️

          1. I mean this is what it has become and criteria for selection. you fail in other leagues, come back to eredivisie, bang some goals and you get selected.

          2. If your level isn’t good enough to get into the squad with your team, then ya you go down a bit, but all of the guys who are regular starters with their squads won’t move. But also Klaassen served a purpose. They’re not going to sign Kluivert or El Ghazi when they’re playing Antony and Tadic on the wings. Riedewald could fill Gravenberch’s role after he leaves and Dijks would only get in if Tagliafico leaves.

          3. Your intro was good but then you changed tracks. What I was trying to emphasize was if players like berghuis and klaassen are banging goals A -y then players like kluivert,El Ghazi, are no exception because a transition from top level to lower level doesnt demand much when u have already been a established player at eredivisie level before and given the the current status of ajax team and also eredivisie level now no doubt they will tear apart eredivisie.Dont you think?. I cant remember who said this but is true “big fish in a small pond” status. Klaassen was very well established player under FDB at Ajax, was flop at everton, average at Bremen and ends up back at ajax reclaims his old old status of being s big fish which he is not.

            Long story short any one can do this especially when he has no competition there but the bigger picture here is Ajax is always seen as a bench mark for selection for NT and with FDB at the helm its a fair tale reunion for both.

  10. Was looking at the fixtures for both euros. The final for the euro u21 is on the 7th and while euros for internationals starts on 12th. Also given there will be friendlies, there could be a clash with respect to u21 players who could be vaying for the spot in the national team. Gakpo, brobbery, boadu, lang etc.

    FDB did say he has a fair idea of what 90% of squad will be. Hence you can expect pretty much the same starting 11 as in the last three qualifers unless due injuries and should there be new inclusions should be subject to bench.

  11. @Jan, I am not sure you are correct about crediting Ernst Happel and Feyenoord for the development of total football. You may want to brush up on the topic and read “brilliant oranje” and other books. If you do not want to credit Michels, then arguably the one you should credit is Jack Reynolds but certainly not Happel and Feyenoord. That Happel used that philosophy afterwards when he coached Holland in 1978 is defensible but to credit him with the invention of “total football” is egregious.

  12. So that’s it Ajax lost to a team which I don’t think is stronger than Ajax but than a bit more Mature than them , which is just enough FOr Rome to go though

    Pity i really wanted to see Ajax to go though . Anyways I don’t see Ajax become a stronger team next year , unless there will be emerging some new potential youngsters .

    And I think that will take another 3-5 years at least for Ajax to reach back to the level they were 2 years ago

    I haven’t hear much from anyone talking about Bryan Brobbey ? Really wonder what you guys think of him and if he could become our new lethal weapon at the front. Line ?

    He looks very bulky to me but yet he really causes danger to the opposition in every game

    1. I’m with you, Yan, I really like Brobbey. He has changed the game as a subin each the Europa League games he was brought on. I was hoping he would start yesterday, but I understand that there was some doubt because of injury; so maybe it wasn’t thought that he could go 90.

      I hope the NT locks him up soon, same with Danjuma (I think he could still opt for Nigeria, if someone knows different, please say) and Ihatteren.

  13. Like I said brobbery has to be the super sub at euros with depay moving to the wings. If you look at most of the games brobbery has played especially in EL then alot of teams have being caught off guard when he has come on as a sub and with the pace and the babaric effect that he brings it could be suprise many teams at euros. Imagine when the defenders are getting tired, build of lactic acid and then brobbery comes on. It just gonna be brtual from body physic perspective.

  14. @ derekvdberg91


    Re Klaassen.

    Good you brought this topic up because I have long said players like klaassen have limited ceiling when coming up with different opponents and off cousre with different tempo of the game itself.

    Mr right has never being a big game player and the reason why he flopped at everton was simply because he couldnt handle the high tempo status of epl. He is only instrumental when the tempo of the game drops or is played to his specifications. This is also one of the reason why he only thrives in eredivisie and being opportunistic if at the right place at the the right time come in NT which we have all seen.

    You can take this europa league has a good example and relate to what I have said above. As Ajax was progressing in europa league klaassen trajectory performance wise was gradually going down and if you at both roma games he was helpless even if you take that two goals out of the equation from the first leg.

    This is one of the reasons why I have always being critical about players like wijnaldum, blind, berghuis and Mr Right. Going into the knock outstages always brings out the best in players and at the same time weakness or limited capabilities as well.

  15. eerste divise news

    Cambur has secured promotion back to eredivisie with former AZ alkmaar striker Robert Muhren smashing in 34 goals and 11 assists in 33 games and with 6 games remaining.

    The guy that caught my attention however is Jizz Hornkamp.you might remember this guy, he broke into heerenveen first team few seasons back as a striker and later was switched to RB. He left heerenveen because he wanted to pursue his carrer playing as a striker and signed for FC Den Bosch who are sitting bottom of the league table but he still managed to smash 16 goals in 30 games. Relegation will be cruel for him given his scoring ability

    Lastly its not looking good for jong ajax and looks like the conveyor belt which has produced so many great talents over the years finally has worn out. They have dropped to all time low 16th out of 20 in the table and there aint much players to look out for apart from kenneth Talyor and maybe Liam Van Gelderen.

  16. Wilson, very difficult season to judge Jong Ajax because the u19 did not play a single game and the team relies on very young players. You can also see Jong Utrecht, PSV and AZ struggling very much this year. The gap between Jong Ajax in 16th place and Exelsior in 9th is only 6 points so not insurmountable. But otherwise I agree that the talents are not really there. The top team already took them all Rensch, Timber, Gravenberch and Brobbey. Not bad!!

  17. Thanks to everyone here for putting Brobbey on my radar. I haven’t had a chance to watch him play, but I like everything I read about him – pace, shows for the ball, smart about movement in the box, nose for the goal, comfortable with his back to the goal. That’s a profile we need more of in the NT.

  18. @Wilson, Jeff, you guys have alot more knowledge about Jong Ajax than I do, so curious what Youri Regeer has looked like this year…he came into the team in the 3rd game, and the team was better. His passing out of the back was very accurate, and he looked like he always wanted to push the team forward.

    Also, anyone from any of the other “jong” teams (PSV, AZ) to look for?

  19. Andrew, I think he has potential but has not really blossomed into a finished product, far from it. But he is very young so let’s see what happens next year with Jong Ajax. He is an example of a player who should have played with the U19 but because the youth league was canceled in Holland was placed directly into Jong Ajax. This is why it is a bit difficult to judge their true level…of both the players and the team. Hope it makes sense. I don’t really see any huge prospects in any of the other 3 Jong teams (PSV, Utrecht or AZ).

    1. Youri has played more than anyone in current Jong squad raking in 33 caps altogether this season and wearing the captain’s armbnd when the big guns are not around shows the calibre of player he is and agree with jeff, he has deployed all over the park for JA,RB,CB,MF so its hard to tag him down at this stage.

      1. Thanks Wilson, appreciate the response. I knew went to the right place going to you and Jeff. He slotted in as CB in Brazil when one of the regulars was out with a red card, and he hit passes all over the pitch. So I’ve wanted to see how he progressed.

  20. Thanks Jeff. I’ve seen where some of the others from that group have gone (Braaf, Hansen, Rensch, Hoever, Bogarde etc.) wasn’t sure what was up with him. Really appreciate the response and update, and thanks for the explanation about the lost U19 season, makes good sense.

  21. Groeneveld had a goal and a assist for bournemouth against Krul and norwich taking his tally to 14 goals and 7 assists. He has to go to euros without any doubt.bergwijn has gone awol at Spurs.

    Weghorst also scored vs Bayern but wolfburg lost that game. Wolfburg is in the driving seat to qualify for CL and perhaps thats where he can really make a case for himself, if he can to raise his stakes to the extent where he cannot be ignored anymore. The Atalanta contingent were in the same boat when they were hovering in the 5th 6th position few seasons back in serie A. Once they made it back to back seasons in CL, they stakes grew and were called up to NT.

  22. Agree, no question the NT needs a wide player with the speed and skill to take on defenders one on one, or run behind the defense. There is no one in the current NT who scares teams by running at them. Danjuma has been performing at a consistently high level, doing just that all year. He deserves to be called into the Euro’s camp. My only question is the level of competition. But that can be answered by how he performs in the camp and in the pre-tournament games.

    They are still young and relatively unproven, but thinking of a front line where Brobbey and Danjuma combine with Depay is exciting.

    Also, the Spanish papers and the Barsa fan sites are gaga over De Jong’s performance in last night’s cup final. (ESPN gave him a 10/10 rating.) The NT has to figure out a way for him to be able to do that as he did when Koeman was the manager. I know Barsa played a three man back line last night, maybe that helped. Though it is hard to compare as Barsa had Busquets playing in front of it.

    1. Brobbey won’t go to the Euros. I’m a huge fan of his (just ordered his Ajax kit actually), but they’ll use Depay, Luuk, Wout, Malen and Myron before him.

      I actually think that Wout will end up going to the Euros. I hear you guys about Frank being stubborn but I think he will, just a feeling. Myron and Brian will go to the U21’s.

      Danjuma should get picked though. The level in the Championship is no lower than the Eredivisie, so if Klaassen is getting picked, Danjuma should as well. Stengs, Danjuma, Berghuis, Bergwijn would be my 4.

      1. @Derekvdberg91, agree that the Championship level isn’t lower than the Eredivisie overall. So, just to clarify, I think Danjuma should be picked to the squad. But my point is that whether he can excel at the higher level is still to be shown. But I feel the same way about all of the forwards except Depay. Plus, I think Bergweijn is a known quantity at this point, and should be in the team. Whether he starts or not would depend on what Stengs, Danjuma, and Malen show in the camp and build up.

        Also agree that Brobbey likely won’t get picked for the Euro’s. I was thinking in the future.

  23. My predictions for the Euro squad will look like such.

    1. Cillesen – No brainer really, as long as he’s fit.
    2. Krul – Frank de Boer prefers him, so he’ll likely get brought along.
    3. Stekelenburg – As long as he’s starting for Ajax he’ll go as the third. He’s in good form too, and remember he was there for Holland making a world cup final, so he’s a good voice in the dressing room.

    4. Dumfries – He’ll go. Captain of PSV and Frank prefers him, and I doubt anything will change his mind before the Euros.
    5. Hateboer – Starter for one of the top European teams. Will be a good sub to come on and add pace and width late in games.
    6. de Ligt – No brainer
    7. de Vrij – No brainer
    8. Blind – As much as he gets critiqued here, he’s a solid defender, albeit slow, can play a variety of roles and is experienced.
    9. Ake – Should provide good backup for the two CB’s
    10. Wijndal – Will play backup to Blind at LB, or will get the LB spot if Blind moves around.
    11. van Aanholt – Similar to Hateboer will act as a super-sub when down and needing some pace.

    12. Frenkie – No brainer
    13. Wijnaldum – Has been consistent for Holland and plays for a top European squad, so he’ll go.
    14. Klaassen – Frank likes him and he’s performing well.
    15. de Roon – Will be a good tool when trying to hold onto a 1-0 lead, or for when playing strong nations that like to hold the ball.
    16. Gravenberch – Could play the U21’s but he’s above that. Will play sub most of the tournament.
    17. van de Beek – Not getting minutes at United, but will go anyways. Likely come on as a sub when we need a goal.

    18. Memphis – No brainer
    19. Malen – Has pretty much cemented his spot.
    20. Stengs – de Boer selecting him for qualifying games over the U21 means he’ll likely stay with the squad
    21. Weghorst – Even though he hasn’t been selected yet, I truly believed Weghorst will end up going to the Euros
    22. Berghuis – Frank’s preferred RW, is coming into some form as well.
    23. Bergwijn – Not who I’d want there, but Frank likes him. And he’s useful when we’re trying to hold a lead as he can effectively turn into a wingback, and give us 5 at the back.

    Notable absentees:
    1. Koopmeiners – He’ll go to the U21’s. Frenkie will play every minute of the Euros and there’s no point having them both in the squad. If Frank wants to play Frenkie as an 8, he’ll start de Roon as the 6, Koopmeiners just won’t fit.
    2. Babel – There’s no way he gets selected for the squad. Getting picked for qualifying games is much different than a finals tournament
    3. Luuk – Same as above, Wout will take his spot.
    4. Brobbey – I think everyone in the KNVB would rather see him lighting up the U21’s and maybe winning the title rather than getting a few minutes here or there for a Holland squad that likely won’t win the Euros.
    5. Boadu – Same as Brobbey
    6. Bijlow – Same as the above two.
    7. Danjuma – I think he should go, he’d be my pick, but Frank won’t take him. Frank’s an Ajax boy, meaning that he’ll take lesser players that can play a variety of roles. It’s why he likes Babel, Strootman, Klaassen, Bergwijn, Blind. Danjuma’s a LW, he can’t really slot in elsewhere. He’s a good LW, but Frank won’t take him.
    8. Schuurs/Botman – They’ll play the U21’s

    1. It seems highly likely that the UEFA allows NTs to bring 27 players due to Covid. I think Koopmeiners, Weghorst, Stengs, Babel will benefit from this.

  24. @ Andrew

    “But my point is that whether he can excel at the higher level is still to be shown”

    I have to put up an argument pount here.Danjuma jumped from a 2 tier league to play at CL level, epl, and NT level and even though it was a handful of apperarence given his injury status, he still showed the calibre of player he is with his stand out performances all across.

    You look at veltman and tete selection, both of their clubs are hovering in the relegation zone in epl, krul is also playing in championship.its really puzzling which criteria the selectors are using or is it simply whom FDB knows gets the nod.

  25. Looks like Onana is aiming to leave Ajax this summer. Hopefully Ajax do the smart thing and promote Scherpen to be the starting keeper. There will be a learning curve for sure, but he could be Holland’s next keeper.

  26. Derek I hope you’re right but I think there is no way Frank will leave out Veltman, Babel and Luuk if they’re healthy.

    Players like Danjuma, Gakpo, Karsdorp and even Timber from Ajax need to be given a chance in the upcoming friendly games (unless they are selected for Euro under 21) to prove themselves if worthy of being there. I still have my doubts on selecting players who haven’t played much this season like Bergwijn, Ake, Van de Beek and even Blind due to his injury that might possibly leave him out. Lastly, Stengs wouldn’t make the team if he wasn’t dating Frank’s daughter.

    Who I’d take: Cillessen, Krul, Stekelemburg.

    Dumfries, Karsdorp, De Vrij, De Ligt, Ake (only if he plays a few game with his team otherwise I’d take Botman), Blind if fully recovered, Wijndal and Van Anholt.

    De Jong, Wijnaldum, De Roon, Klaassen, Van de Beek even though he barely played this season, and Koopmeiners (toughest decision for me to choose between him and Gravenberch).

    Mallen, Danjuma, Depay, Weghorst, Berghuis and Bergwijn assuming he gets some playing time now that Mourinho was sacked. If he doesn’t then Stengs, Gakpo, Lang or Promes can fight for that last spot depending on who is in better form.

    Who I think Frank will pick: Cillessen, Krul, Stekelemburg

    Dumfries, Veltman, De Vrij, De Ligt, Ake, Blind, Wijndal, Van Aanholt

    De Jong, Wijnaldum, De Roon, Klaassen, Van de Beek, Gravenberch.

    Mallen, Depay, De Jong, Weghorst, Berghuis, Stengs.

    1. I think Stengs is class, has nothing to do with dating Frank’s daughter. Good to bring on when you need a goal because he has the ability to run at people and hit that decisive pass. If it was up to me, I’d probably start Stengs over Berghuis.

          1. Well, he has had some detours. He came up and made a big impression late in 2017. In 2017-2018, his first year, he had that terrible knee injury in literally the first game. Didn’t return until midway through 2018-2019 season, and 2019-2020 was cut short by Covid. Even though it seems like he has been around for a long time, he is still only 22, hasn’t played alot of games, but he does flash real talent at times; he can split a game open with a move and a pass. Might be one of those guys who just finds “it” and moves to a different level.

  27. The truth is that..
    Jurrien Timber is head and shoulder above DUMBFRY AND HATEBOER..but he wont be selected,cause he doent have experince..1995 kluivert had experince to score vs Milan,1998 owen had experience to score vs arjentina…..
    Bazoer and koopmeiners are head and shouldler aboove De roon and klassen..first one doesnt know how to pass second one needs 15 chances to score 1 gaol…
    tyrell malacia is way better thahn winjdal…
    But wont be selected…
    Blind is injured ,but will get selected..
    Virjil lacks rythem..but will be selected..
    stengs is better than berghuis but berghuis will start…
    Danjuma and cody gakpo are 1000 times better than Babel and Berjwin ,but wont be selected….

  28. i would go with assuming blind and virjil out.
    Cillessen,Stekelenburg,krul(only for shoot out)..3nos
    Timber–karsdorp…Deligt-Devrij,Ake-Bazoer–malacia,Singraven..8 nos
    koopmeiners,Frenkie,Gravenberch,Wijnaldum(only as second half sub).Van de beek,Vilhena..6Nos

    For God sake
    No Babel,No dumbfry,No hateboer,No veltman,No winjdal,No berghuis,No de roon,No strootman…

    1. We would lose Wijnaldum, de Vrij, de Ligt, Ake, van Dijk, Frenkie.

      So our team could look like: Cillesen, Dumfries, Blind, Schuurs, Wijndal, de Roon, Gravenberch, Koopmeiners, Depay, Berghuis, Malen.

      Not much different.

  29. @Andrew

    “Also, anyone from any of the other “jong” teams (PSV, AZ) to look for”

    kenzo goudmijn (Jong AZ) is closing on breaking into the senior squad and I think next season he could make his debut. Maybe AZ forever could share more light on him. He is an intresting player considering future options for AM. I really cant see any one right now who can replicate the days of sneijder and vaart. Simons at PSG seems to have the package but it might take him some time to really establish himself there. Looking at How koeman has injected the young blood at Barcelona,you can say his timing was off signing for PSG. Should he would have known koeman would come in to the picture at Barce, he would have been in the same shoes as pedri,Fati and others whom koeman gave the big break.

    Elsewhere Philippe sandler was back in action for city u23 after long injury spell on the sidelines. His future will be decided at the end of this season. Pep used him at DM in the two appearence he made for city and with the depature of eric Gracia, there is a possibility he could stay as a coverup for both DM and CB positions.

    1. Thanks Wilson, appreciate the reply and information, as always. I’d forgotten about Sandler—another promising, mobile CD.

      With all of that talent concentrated at CB (VVD, De ligt, De Vrij, Ake,and younger players like Timber, Botman, Schurrs, potentially Struijk), a 3 CD set up might suit them. IMO, the best game they have played since DeBoer was head coach was the match in Italy where they played 3 at the back. I know one game is a small sample, but in that match Frenkie De Jong played more freely, and Blind was very effective. (Not intending to start another back and forth about whether Blind should or should not be in the lineup—just saying that if FDB plays him, wingback is the best place to make use of his qualities.)

  30. Watched Bayern and Leverkusen. Both sinkgraven and Frimpong started the game. Two goals in quick succession within in first 15 minutes did the damage for BL, with the second goal coming from sinkgraven’s error. Not entirely his fault though as the ball deflected of him awkwardly and found an unmarked kimmch who rifled it from just inside of the box. He did have good game though, made some good runs, interceptions ,passing accuracy was there but often there was no one he could connect upfront to and as usual ended up passing backwards. They never looked like they were going to score either way with Patrick schick looking switched off. I think this is what led to Bosz sacking. The consistency of their forwards upfront schick ,Alario who are flanked by two exceptional wingers, bailey and diaby has been very poor. Add to this the defensive crisis contributed to the downfall of bosz. Other wise leverkusen’s playing stlye overall has been exceptional

    Its hard to call if Sinkgraven could thrive in current NT. He fits very well with he the players around him and with the setup at BL but not sure what will be the outcome when he is not in his comfort zone.

    Frimpong on the other hand is an intresting talent imo.Pocket rocket if I have to call him. Didnt have much sucess compared to sinkgraven and was subbed at HT.
    I would say though his ground coverage was good due to his phase but was often got dispossessed due to his small frame and light wieght. Alphonso davies had a good check on him going head to head and like I said physically he out muscled him.

    Certainly somebody to look out for in future and if Bosz does becomes the coach for NT someday, he will be in his squad.

Join the Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.