After some weeks of frantically following all that happened in the Eredivisie, the EPL, the Champions League and the Oranje shenanigans it is finally time for me to write my post.
It was quite a disappointing end of the season for a Feyenoord fan, as you can imagine. In the three seasons Ronald Koeman (incl Janmaat, Clasie, De Vrij, Pelle) one would expect at least one shot at the title. But every season it was the same old song. Lack of clarity who would come to the club. CL qualifications failing due to this issue. Hardly any width in the squad and when the going got tough, the Feyenoord players let themselves down.
This season saw Rutten come to the club, because he “is so good with young players”. The poor coach had to start without a number of internationals (Martins Indi, De Vrij, Janmaat, Pelle, while Ruud Vormer – the ideal no. 12 left as well). The players who took the spots of these internationals are either very young (Nelom, Karsdorp, Kongolo, Van Beek) or transfer free gambles ( Kazim Richards, Boulahrouz, Wilshere).
New Feyenoord coach Gio van Bronckhorst
The best deal Feyenoord did was signing Ken Vermeer. With Clasie and El Ahmadi (returning from Aston Villa), one of few top players. Richards was never able to do what Pelle did: score a lot of important goals, while his cooperation with Immers wasn’t great either. Immers scored 12 goals last season and got stuck on 4 this season. Not enough for a number 10. Add to that the fact that “talent coach” Rutten couldn’t get Vilhena and Boetius to perform and a crisis was in the making.
Rutten saw the signs when technical director Martin van Geel refused to sign midfielder Cherry from Groningen in the winter break. “Why sign Cherry when you have Vilhena??”
And Rutten didn’t see enough future in Rotterdam and decided to leave the club. This message further deflated the young group and the youngsters clearly were out of steam at the end of the season. Where the #2 spot seemed possible in March, the once famous and rich club fell back to the #4 spot and lost out against Heerenveen in the play-offs.
My 2cents: it’s probably best that this happened. Young gun Gio van Bronckhorst can now focus on the season in the league and the national cup. Make no mistake: winning the cup is the shortest route to European football and is also definitely a top trophy.
With Kuyt returning to the Kuip Stadium and hopefully some good replacements for the departing Clasie (I fear) and Immers (I hope) and Gio giving the young Vilhena and Boetius some TLC we might see Feyenoord on the way back. Next season: the national cup, then the next season: #2 and the season after that: the Title :-).
De Boer disgusted when Ajax loses against relegated Dordrecht….
The issues in Amsterdam are quite different. Frank de Boer also does not have a very strong squad. Probably, the worst and most boring Ajax ever. There is definitely talent in Amsterdam but the team lacks leadership. De Boer aims to resolve this by signing Nemanji Gudelj. An impressive player. Already on the radar when at NAC but Ajax decided to let AZ develop him more and is now paying a lot more for him. But he does seem the finished product: good leadership in midfield, tremendous shot and free kick in his feet, great mentality, wonderful lungs and legs and a body equiped for midfield duels! With Fisher returning to the team and potentially Rafa van der Vaart returning as striker and Ajax might have quite an impressive line up. The ax of the team might sound thus: Cillesen, Veltman/Viergever, Gudelj, Van der Vaart. Not bad. With Klaassen and Bazour and Fisher and Kishna/El Gazi on the flanks, surely the Ajax fans should be entertained.
The problems in Amsterdam however, are more off-pitch. The lack of clarity between the youth camp (Wim Jonk) and the Ajax 1 management (De Boer, Bergkamp) and the lack of clarity in the hierarchy of the club. Marc Overmars vs the “technical triangle” as JC likes to call it. When I hear that “El Salvador” needs to fly from Barcelona to Amsterdam to help the club find its way, I can’t help but cringe. Johan Cruyff knows how to do it. But this is the problem. He is not doing it. He is merely telling the peeps in Amsterdam how he thinks it should be done, but then leaves and with that, he leaves a lot of questions. Seagull management, they call it. He comes down from high up, makes a lot of noise, and when he leaves again, he leaves a lot of shit, hahahaha.
Orlando Trustfull as Ajax’ youth coach
Orlando Trustfull left Ajax last season, when some guru there decided that youth coaches do not longer train one team. The new mantra was: a coach switches teams every 6 weeks. Trustfull immediately resigned: “I cannot instill my vision into a team for 6 weeks and then move on to the next team.” And he left to work for the Oranje youth teams. Frank de Boer got Orlando back. The former Feyenoord playmaker is seen as one of Holland’s best coaches, tactically mainly, and is brought in to support Frank de Boer in instilling a forward pressuring playing style into the first team. Timing, pace, coordination, reading the game, etc. And with Bergkamp and Spijkerman not keen to follow in Frank de Boer’s shoes, it is highly likely that Trustfull with be the successor to De Boer at Ajax once Frank leaves for greener pastures.
Congrats to PSV of course. It was about time though. Marcel Brands was capable of developing a number of strong teams over the last years and was not successful when he had the likes of Mertens, Strootman and Van Bommel in his team, under Advocaat. Depay, being the best player in the Eredivisie, supported by Luuk de Jong, Wijnaldum, Guardado and Willems made it happen. From Day 1, PSV was the team in form. Motivated, focused and professional. Not always with exciting football, but definitely with effective football.
Jurgen Streppel, best coach of the Eredivisie?
As per usual, coaches like Rutten and Cocu were nominated for Coach of the Year (the Rinus Michels Trophy). Cocu I can relate to, he won the title. But there were other coaches in Holland doing much better than both. How ’bout John van den Brom? Winning 3rd place coming into AZ when there was trouble. The season had started. Van Basten had health issues and decided to take a step back into assistant coach role. Alex Pastoor was supposed to become the head coach but somehow was not deemed fit and was pushed out. Van den Brom played very good football with the likes of Gudelj and Berghuis and got European football. Van der Looij and Ron Jans got to the cup final. Van der Looij’s Groningen won it, but Jans got their for the second time in a row with Zwolle. Not bad! Or Marinus Dijkhuizen with Excelsior? Or Jurgen Streppel with Willem II. I think it is harder to do what Streppel did with Willem II then Mourinho with Chelsea or Pep with Bayern.
Even Ruud Brood wasn’t nominated. The NEC coach was able to promote back to the Eredivisie immediately, winning practically all his games, totalling more than 100 points… A record in The Netherlands. Brood got his promotion in the form of the assistant coach job under Philip Cocu and will assist the former Barca skipper when PSV enters the CL next season. Dijkhuizen makes a move to the English Championship, to Brentford. Fred Rutten will most likely move to his beloved but technically bankrupt FC Twente.
Speaking of Barca: there are quite some ex Barca professionals successful in the different leagues: Blanc in France with PSG, Pep in Germany of course, Philip Cocu #1 in Holland, with Frank de Boer #2, Mourinho (assistant to LVG) winning the EPL with Chelsea, Luis Enrique winning it in Spain while LVG secured CL football with ManU and Koeman secured Europa League with Southampton. Nice record.
And with the different competitions coming to an end, fittingly for all things FIFA/UEFA, Oranje has to play a qualification game some 3 weeks after the end of the season. The US is waiting for a friendly and then it’s Lithuania. Guus Hiddink took the opportunity in those weeks ahead of the games to test some young talents that made an impression earlier. Twente midfielder Ziyech, Groningen midfielder Cherry, AZ maverick Berghuis and Vitesse icon Davey Propper were part of the prelim selection. Hakim Ziyech had to leave with an ankle injury. By now, Jeroen Zoet (PSV) and Leroy Fer (lacking fitness) were sent home again. AC Milan destroyer Nigel de Jong is also not needed. Hiddink: “Nigel was a key player in Brazil but against the US and Lithuania we are looking for a different style player and we decided to let Nigel go.”
Former Heerenveen midfielder Ziyech with former Heerenveen striker and assistant team manager Van Nistelrooy
With De Jong, you never know. If Oranje gets a group at the Euros with Germany, Spain and Italy, Hiddink might want to use the beast in midfield but I am personally happy to see Clasie or Blind play in that position. Coach Guus has used the time to play and practice behind closed doors with his limited squad. Obviously, the play off players were not yet part of the squad, just like Sneijder and Lens will come to the squad after their obligations for their clubs. Ibi Afellay, his on Hiddink’s list of fave players, will not make the squad this time. Hiddink: “What can I do? He has not played for three months. He wasn’t even part of the squad. He is 29 years old and it will be important for him to find a club and coach that understand him. Returning to PSV? It’s an option but those come-backs don’t always work well. With Cocu, it did. Van Bommel did well too. But we have seen too many examples where it doesn’t work and you don’t wish that upon any player.”
The injured Ziyech can be seen as the most valuable player of the Dutch competition. The former Heerenveen midfielder was one of the few players at FC Twente, in deep doodoo, that impressed. He scored 13 goals, as a midfielder, and had 16 assists!! Not bad. I don’t think Ziyech will stay at Twente this summer. Feyenoord had a chance to sign him last summer but passed. It is not unlikely that he’ll go to PSV, in particular if Wijnaldum follows Depay to the exit.
At the same time, Jetro Willems told the media he is ready for a next step. This is code for “I am going”. And he is correct. He started playing for PSV at 17 years old in the Eredivisie in the 2012 season and took the left back spot in Oranje at the Euros 2012 after Pieters got injured. He has 3 seasons behind him at the highest level in Holland and had a cracker season, with a good number of assists. Willems probably has the best left foot in the land… He doesn’t mind spending another season in Eindhoven, playing Champions League football but I predict a big future for him and if Man City, PSG, Barca or Liverpool come for him, he is gone. That is the level he will end up, for sure.
Rafa helped save Hamburg but killed the coach in the process…
Last but not least: Rafael van der Vaart retained his hero status in Hamburg, captaining HSV in their last game to keep their spot in the Bundesliga. It took penalty kicks for the Hamburgers to stay up and Rafa played his last game and did so for the full 90 minutes. The midfielder will leave Hamburg and will announce his new club soon. I am not sure Ajax will have a chance, as the Heemskerk born wizard wants to continue his adventure abroad.
This is the Season Summary for me. Soon back with Oranje news!!