Note: I don’t get to post pictures like this often, ok? Please let me enjoy this 🙂
Have we turned a corner? Even slightly? After a dreary period of Dutch club football (and a shorter dry spell for the NT) both Oranje and Dutch club football seems to be making their way up again.
Overall, Ajax missed a huge opportunity vs Rostov to get back into CL football. A couple of reasons: 1) signing Peter Bosz as head coach, 2) being too frugal with funds.
Bosz is known to be a head strong football idealist, who was signed by Ajax for that reason: strong philosophy, able to build attacking teams. On the downside: he needs time and he will not budge to change his ways just for the result.
Vs Rostov, he gambled and lost. Not just the game, he lost 15 mio euros for the club and lots of prestige.
As a result, the fans demanded something. And they got what they wanted (and Bosz didn’t need): Hakim Ziyech.
With the Moroccan playmaker, Ajax will have a chance in the Eredivisie to get back on top but lots of work needs to be done to make Ajax great again. They have the Academy, they have Bosz and they have funds. So it is doable.
PSV led the way last season with their tremendous displays and results in Europe. The knock out game vs Atletico last season could have been won. They got so close.
In this CL group fixture vs the Leticos, PSV deserved more. Again, the home team fought with spirit and conviction. At no stage in the game did they look overwhelmed, even with the bright start by the visitors. The disallowed goal was a disgrace. De Jong’s goal was legit and PSV should have been up. You could even debate that Atkinson should have disallowed the Atletico after the clash of heads with Propper. Some PSV players clearly got distracted, but then again…play the whistle… The first push in the box on Narsingh should have been a penalty too. This probably prompted Atkinson to be lenient when Narsingh stumbled later. Penalties unfairly rewarded have a higher percentage chance of being missed, is my theory. Players subconsciously know the pen was unjust and goalies muster extra motivation to undo the injustice. I might be wrong.
But fact is, PSV has a dreadful record re: penalties. Luuk de Jong has his qualities, but taking spot kicks is not one of them. This time around, Davey Propper was the designated shooter. But he was being treated on the side line for his head wound and when he wanted to come on to take the penalty, he was denied by the ref. Mexican midfield motor Guardado stepped up and followed his captain in failing to convert. Mediocre penalty (height!), good save.
Ajax did the business away in the Greek Hell. A tough place to go to, although the Ajax with Litmanen did great business there in the 90s. Ajax fought back after conceding and Riedewald ended up being the match winner after Klaassen fudged his penalty as well.
AZ disappointed vs Irish battlers Dundalk. An unnecessary draw. AZ is currently the freshest team to watch in Holland. Free flowing football, by players with a constant smile on their faces. They enjoy themselves on the pitch and the duo of Wuytens and Vlaar give this team backbone. I rate John van de Brom as a coach and I’m sure they’ll fight themselves back into it, even though this is a tough group and the 2 points lost vs weak Dundalk could well be the points AZ will come short to stay in Europe past the group stages.
The biggest challenge was for Feyenoord. The group with Fener and ManU looks pretty tough and I’m sure Gio would have made his calculations based on two defeats vs the Red Devils. I’m sure Feyenoord would have considered a draw at home a good result. In a disappointing set up in the De Kuip stadium (only 31,000 fans vs 46,000) and big nets around the pitch and blacked out stands close to the field, Feyenoord expected a strong ManU, but after 10 mins everyone watching the game could see Man United wasn’t able or willing to force the issue.
Everyone at Feyenoord showed up on the night. And the 31,000 demonstrated that they could compensate for the missing fans easily, continuously supporting the team and chanting their battle hymns. Feyenoord has made “You’ll never Walk Alone” theirs in Holland, in the past decades and the Man U fans were a bit rattled hearing it, as it obviously also is the trademark tune for arch rival Liverpool.
Dirk Kuyt being the man with the hattrick vs United from his Liverpool days was the least impressive man on the pitch. The years are showing. He wasn’t instrumental throughout the game, but for some solid hard work. His passing was off, his ball handling off pace, but all in all the whole team did well. The defensive four were excellent even. Botteghin looked like he could be yellow carded three times in this game, as he started clumsy, but he set the tone for a strong performance by the team. With Karsdorp and Van der Heijden using their physical strength and Kongolo powerful with his runs (forward and back). El Ahmadi was the boss in midfield. Constantly nipping at Pogba – in particular – and in possession making the right choices. Vilhena was lively and Berghuis had his moments, particularly in the first half, with Rojo becoming more and more erratic.
The win was flattering for Feyenoord who only had a couple of distant shots and a flubbed chance for Toornstra created by Kongolo. The goal – nicely put away by Vilhena – came from an off side situation. Man U on the other end, only had one real chance and Martial picked the wrong corner for his attempt, missing the target.
A good start for Feyenoord, and with Fener drawing vs the “other club”, Feyenoord looks solid in this group, for now. PSV here we come!
A quick word on Memphis. I think he played well. He started with some intensity and desire. Passed forward all the time. Went straight into space to make himself available again. Played with composure and confidence and in the way he talks with/to Zlatan and Pogba on the pitch and off, it seems he’s settled.
Yes, he tried to do too much. Free kick overhit, volley hit in the stands, some more attempts to score. But…that is what you get if the coach doesn’t use rotation and then puts players like Memphis in the team with the message “this is when you show me what you have”, while lacking rhythm. It’s a given that a player like Memphis will not pass the ball when he has a shooting opportunity. Hitting it in the top corner is the message Mourinho can’t ignore.
This Man U performance is on Mourinho. Not on Schneiderlin, Rashford or Memphis. Give a player 30 minutes to “prove himself”, what can you expect?
Mourinho needs to create a system with a preferred line up and players in the squad who know whose understudy they are. Clarity. Now, Pogba is trying to do everything (running with the ball, dribbling, shooting) whereas he needs to pass and go, pass and go. He feels he came to Man United to be Messi. Also, Mourinho shouldn’t play two central holding mids. Against Feyenoord? Really? He probably doesn’t need two of these guys ever. Rashford was isolated and their never was a flow in midfield because somehow Schneiderlin and Herrera was set up to cover Dirk Kuyt (37 years old).
If Man U plays weak vs Watford, I’m sure the pens will be sharpened yet again.
As for the Feyenoord Stadium. Yes. It always was the home of Oranje. The reasons: capacity, super pitch and atmosphere.
This is one of the few perfect pitches in Europe, 100% made of real grass. No synthetic stuff. The Feyenoord groundsmen win award after award internationally and we lost some in the past to the likes of Arsenal and Barca.
The reason why the KNVB doesn’t use De Kuip anymore is money, basically. This stadium is merely that: a stadium. Hardly and sponsor homes, meeting rooms, presentation rooms, no museum, no shops, no commerce going on bar the Feyenoord restaurant. There are urinals from the 1930s and the safety / security infrastructure is obsolete.
The Ajax Arena is a terrible place to play football if it’s not at full capacity. The pitch is horrific. They change pitches more than I change underwear! But, they have a parking garage, an Ajax museum, shops, many restaurants, talking toilets, elevators, escalators, sliding doors…
The everlasting debate in Rotterdam is: 1) do we upgrade De Kuip or build a new one, 2) who will pay for it, 3) where do we want it.
Still no answers.
The Feyenoord die-hards (fans, sponsors, ex-players) want De Kuip to stay where it is and to have it renovated. The project development sharks and the local government want a new site for Feyenoord and a completely new stadium.
Traditions vs Commerce. I wonder what will come out on top?