Frankly, Oranje was Boering….

It’s tough to be a coach. Imagine, if Robben had lifted the ball an inch higher, Bert van Marwijk would have been an amazing coach! If Malen would have scored vs the Czechs, who knows… Frank might have won us the Euros. That is how tight it can be.

But… Malen didn’t score. De Ligt did handle the ball. And Frank has been lost in his own convictions.

Back in 2019, Oranje was in the finals of the Nations League. Now, we can’t get past the first knock-out round, vs a mid-tier European football nation. The only consolation: we did as well as France, Portugal and Germany. Yay!

De Boer has evaluated his own performance and has concluded: it’s not working. And if he wouldn’t have had this insight, the KNVB would have confronted him with that.

Where is the drive, the quest for attacking football, for creative solutions, the positioning play and the swagger? The ambition to have the ball, to create, to dominate? Everything what makes Oranje Oranje was melting before our eyes.

The Czechs brought their team of mid-tier players: they are with Hoffenheim, Brescia, Hellas Verona, Leverkusen and West Ham. Our team? Two Barca players. A Juve player, an Inter champ, a player of PSG, several Ajax players… So, if your players are better, in terms of level, how come your team doesn’t reflect this?

The Frank de Boer Evaluation.

The System: a Fat Minus. Sure, systems and bags of money won’t score goals, or handle the ball. But why did Frank want the 5-3-2 system so rigidly? Koeman tried it and quickly went back to the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. “This is more like us, how we play and this is how our players know how to play,” was what the current Barca coach said. De Boer decided to call some colleagues. Ex national team managers. He talked to Van Marwijk, to Van Gaal, Koeman and potentially also to Gullit, Rijkaard and Van Basten. His questions: What will I be confronted with? Which issues do I need to tackle? All these people felt in that conversation that De Boer had his mind set on a 5-3-2. Why? His response: it’s easier to press forward, with this system. The only benefit it had: a 5-3-2 would allow the coach to play all his top defenders. When Van Dijk is back, we can play a back line with Blind – Van Dijk – De Vrij – De Ligt – Dumfries. Not bad.

And, Memphis can have his free role. He doesn’t need to be stuck to the left flank ( 4-3-3) or be the lone striker (4-2-3-1).

However, only two players play this system week in week out: De Vrij and De Roon. And De Vrij said in an interview recently, that it took Conte 2 years (!) to work and practice with the team day in day out, to perfect the system. De Boer had 3 weeks.

At the same time, Memphis, De Ligt and Wijnaldum all three expressed their doubts after the first friendlies playing this system, but De Boer was steadfast!

The Execution: A Fat Minus. Which match did we play above average? The North Macedonia one? A match that didn’t really matter anymore. And still, the opponent scored twice (off side) and hit the post.

But while Frank De Boer told everyone that he saw improvements, game after game, the first knock-out game was an implosion felt all the way in Atlanta, London and Milan. Sure, we had some bad luck: Malen could have had a better touch. De Ligt should have cleared the ball after the first bounce. Stekelenburg dropping a ball and turn it into a corner kick. But is it just bad luck?

The Choices: a Fat Minus. Mathijs de Ligt might now be the personification of the bad decision making of Oranje. He lost control over the situation, over the ball… Allowed it to bounce twice, then he slipped and then he decided to handle the ball. Wow. It’s remarkable how vulnerable he was on his two feet. Just like it seemed other were also digging very deep. Memphis could be seen out of breath, after an hour of play, while Frenkie and Wijnaldum complained they had “heavy legs”.

De Ligt was one of the players quizzing the coach about his choice to play 5-3-2. There were more questions: why did he not use De Vrij and De Ligt in their usual roles: De Ligt right CB and De Vrij centrally, like he does at Inter? De Boer never answered that. He decided to invite Donny van de Beek into the squad, while the ex Ajax player barely had any game time. He sent Cillesen away after a positive corona test, while Spain was happy for Busquets to take some time off and wait for a negative result.

There’s more. Van de Beek got injured but De Boer decided he didn’t need a 26th player. Why? First, Ryan Babel was considered essential and right before the Euros he dropped him. He could have invited him back in, but he didn’t, just like he didn’t want to replace Luuk de Jong.

And Donyell Malen, the most dangerous attacker v the Czechs was subbed off, because “the data said he couldn’t go on.” Malen himself had other ideas about that! And by taken Malen off, he took the only penetrative threat away, giving the Czechs even more comfort in playing out the final 20 minutes of the game.

Result: a Fat Minus. It was under his management that we missed the finals for the Nations League. Ok, it wasn’t all under his spell, but still. The first qualification games for the World Cup ended up with damage, after the 4-2 beating vs the Turks. And what was the end result of the system change for the Euros?

We have not made any progress under this coach. There is no foundation for the future. Take the matches in June: Scotland, Georgia, Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia. Even the Czechs, we haven’t played against any top nation and still we got in trouble. Oranje hardly ever shone, maybe apart from Dumfries!

Frank de Boer abandoned Koeman’s success formula, because it would give us more defensive certainty. Well… It didn’t pan out. And we will be watching Denmark – Chech Republic while the Oranje players are at Ibiza.

The worst thing: he would do it all over again! “Yes, I think the 3-5-2 is a great system for us. We were more dominant against the Czechs, we didn’t give a lot away. Until Malen’s miss and Mathijs’ hand ball, we were fine. This is not due to the system. Our wing backs did well, our midfield knows how to play this, but you need to be sharp and focused at all times.”

De Boer thinks it’s bad luck and some players lacking form. But if you can’t dominate with this system and end up with zero shots on goal against the Czechs, something is wrong.

Still, it’s too easy to blame it all on De Boer. The people who put him there also need to be evaluated. Eric Gudde, general manager of the KNVB, is on his way out, towards retirement. Nico Jan Hoogma, the technical director, will be in his role for a bit longer, one would expect.

And one of the baffling quotes he came up with today, was “We are going to look for another coach, type Koeman!”. What the F!! if you want a type like Koeman, then do all you can to get Koeman! If he’s not available, you should stop naming his name. Any coach (Zidane, Wenger, Low, Ten Hag) will think: Ah… ok. They want Koeman. That is not me.

It’s time to act, to talk to the different coaches available. Dutch, Italian or German, who cares. I’d follow Van Hanegem’s advice and I would call Zidane. Why not? National Team coach is a very nice job. You travel, you watch football and you work at a leisurely pace. And when the Euros or World Cup are there, you’re thrown into a pressure cooker. Perfect job! I’m sure many big name coaches would pick up the phone, with a chance to lead Oranje and its amazing potential of top players (Frenkie, Memphis, Malen, Gakpo, Rensch, Timber, Gravenberch, Dumfries, Wijndal, Koopmeiners, Stengs, Boadu, Simons, Ihattaren, Bijlow, Malacia, De Ligt, Van de Beek, Teze, Schuurs) to a World Cup title.

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  1. Well put Jan and fantastic title!

    I wouldn’t bother too much about formation because I don’t see it as that important in the game. Whatever the formation, as you said, events like De Ligt’s and Malen’s decide the match. What I would like to see in the new coach’s plan is a new way to force some fighting spirit in the players, and teach them to stay focused for the whole match. That’s where we are lacking compared to those teams that do well. It’s not only us. France and Germany are currently lacking in this regard too.

    I also agree with Jan that we have the necessary quality in the extended list of players. The new coach should be happy about that at least.

  2. @ Jan

    You still wanna drag with Blind and especially at LB. His a dead wood now, time to get rid of him. Not only him, klaassen, Berghuis,Luuk,Van annholt,Promes,Veltman. All out. Depay on the bench.Its time for the next generation.



    Sinkgraven-Van Dijk- De ligt- karsdorp


    Just unlessh the fury.

    Forget anout 2022. Build for 2024

      1. @jan —
        Of all the insightful, in-depth analysis that you offer on this blog, this simple “no” post might be my favorite. So, so good

  3. Speaking of potential foreign managers taking over…

    Zidane would be great. This is a man who has seen it all and done it all. Both as a player and a coach. I expect him to take over from Deschamps but that may not happen yet. Word on the street is that Deschamps wants to hang on. Who knows that is true or not. He would command immense respect and would bring a winning mentality. There could be a few cries from the media and fans as to why it is not a Dutchman but I think the critics could be silent once the team starts winning. I would not say having Zidane will be a complete success but the probability would be high. I’m sure it will take him a few months to get acclimated to the country and players but it would be a bold move by the KNVB. Ultimately, the probability of Zidane taking over would be low at this point…but not impossible.

    Wenger would be another interesting and bold choice. Things did not end well for him. He did very bad towards the end of his tenure at Arsenal with his laissez faire attitude with the players. But still, he is a players coach and would not come in with an abrasive attitude and ego to prove. He is up there age wise so I’m not sure he still has that burning desire in him that he had earlier in his career. But personally, I would still be intrigued if he took over. His brand of football and philosophy would be embraced with Dutch fans so he has that going for him. He’s also done great developing talent and giving young players opportunities which is what this team desperately needs.

    I’ve heard Low mentioned as well. Overall, he did very well with the German team. That 2014 World Cup trophy being his greatest accomplishment. He is used to national team football and would not need any adjustment. But it would be very weird to see a German take over Dutch football. I would not rule it out. Better he takes over than another pedestrian coach like De Boer or Blind.

    With a World Cup qualification at stake, it is a precarious time for any manager to take over. Lose that game against Norway and the whole thing can start crashing down before it gets started. That’s why this team desperately needs an experienced and proven winner to take on the mantle. This is absolutely not the time for experimentation.

  4. @Wilson, yes fantastic post dear Wilson!! Why don’t we call up players who haven’t even played once for their club teams? Bring on those players from the A1 of Ajax or PSV. It is astounding how you always come up with these lists of players out of nowhere.
    Drommel will get tested this year at PSV but has no business starting fro the national team after one meager season with Twente. We will see about Bijlow as well but not sure he is ready. Karsdorp is very average and will not be an improvement over Dumfries. I would understand Resnch better but even he needs another season at the highest level. Sinkgraven needs to stay healthy for 6 months before we can commit to him even though I do like him a lot. But Blind is still indispensable because of his ability to make passes that actually perforate defenses and are incisive. Then you are going off with Danjuma and Lang. Please!! Let’s see what happens with both of them next season before being considered. Same goes for Brobbey. He will need to fight hard at RB Leipzig and has no guarantee of playing time. He made a HUGE mistake leaving Ajax and he may pay it dearly. The one player we have who has played every minute with Ajax and in the CL is Gravenberch and surprisingly he did not make your list….go figure!! Maybe you should apply for the job at the KNVB, they probably would consider you!

    1. @Jeff Danjuma,Bijlow,karsdorp,sinkgraven has quality..Brobbery has it too..i would sit wijnaldum and Depay on bench…both are not indispensible.both can be dropped to bench….Too much hanging on Gini and Depay…We have some quality players ,we have some good players…We need a better coach/Leader…LVG type,Advocate Type,Ten haag type coach…We will be fine.. we will have better crosses and better fluid games when Rensch,karsdorp,Sinkgraven,Davy propper,Danjuma is introduced….only player i miss that Nijel De jong type Rock solid character..De roon Doesnt fit there…Bazoer/St juste/koopmeiners are the hope..lets see

  5. The talk of foreign coach is gaining momentum. Zidane will be great as he is successful player and coach. Some suggesting names like the Denmark coach, looking at the way Denmark played recently, find him good in bringing cohesiveness and bringing young players to the team. looking back at Germany vs England. Germans left both sterling and gealish unmarked and payed the price. They played a high defensive line which can be dangerous against the likes of rasford, Sterling, Grealish etc. Pickford’s weak side is high ball. Germans did not get in enough crosses to test pickford. They should have sat back and defended and launched quick counter attacks.

  6. This is a current list of the foreign coaches that KNVB might reach out: Zinedine Zidane, Antonio Conte, Lucian Favre, and Rudi Garcia. The information is based on rumors that I collected from different sources in the media. I think KNVB should be more open-minded and entertain the idea of bringing a foreign coach. Not sure whether any foreign coach will want this job though.

  7. @AZ-forever, again it goes back to who is available and willing to coach a national team. Unfortunately, the answer is: very few and not the good ones. The names you mention are names journalists have suggested but there is no indication whatsoever that the KNVB has even begun the process of vetting a coach. So let’s wait and see before we get too excited or carried away. No fake news on this site haha.

  8. I remember that Koeman had a clause in his contract in case Barcelona were interested in hiring him. I wouldn’t have hired him under those conditions. When you are hiring someone and they want to put conditions on you then why hire him?.

    This generation of players lack passion, they need to work A LOT on mentality. They behave as if they’ve accomplished a lot but they’ve done nothing. At least not with the national team. We’ve had the last 7-8 years in Dutch football with no tournaments and in our 1st tournament we get knocked out by a mid-tier team. Shameful.

  9. Lack of strong mentality and lack of resilience have always been Oranje problem. Those traits improved when Koeman was a coach and that is what Hoogma, perhaps, was referring to when he said that there was a feel of having of a boss when Koeman was around.

  10. The Hoogma comment made me immediately think that Van Gaal is who they have in mind—especially given the immediacy of the upcoming matches against Norway and Turkey.

  11. I think a foreign coach is a long shot. It won’t happen.

    They might go for Van Gaal with a great ex player assisting. KNVB boss said it has to be someone of a strong character who makes it clear who’s the boss.

    1. Ha, our own “Messi” doesn’t want someone who barks out orders. I really don’t think a 3rd stint for LVG will work but since our lazy butt doesn’t like him I really hope LVG it is.

  12. First, I don’t think any serious and successful foreign coach would take a chance with this NT. Why taint reputation when chances of reaching success with these indifferent veterans and nothing special generation of players. Players such as our new generation are found in droves in Portugal, Spain, France, England, Italy. Second, who would work for peanuts?! FDB was hired because he was cheap. You get what you pay for but no top coach would bother to coach Depay et al for crumbs. I really think there are very good dutch coaches around but KNVB doesn’t bother to entice them for whatever reason. My fear is that KNVB will find someone who will make FDB look like a genius.

  13. @ jeff

    Adrenaline rush if you wanna call it but then I think you never took into account of what I said in my last Sentence, sacrifice 2022 and build up to super 2024.

    few things I will say though. Danjuma is definitely moving to new Club and if he injury free there no way he can be overlooked. I cant see any winger right now who can dethrone him in what he brings to table, not even Gakpo. But gakpo should be a backup going forward. he is a future and its worth investing in him

    Land and Club Brugge are also in the CL with Leeds also tracking him. whether he goes or stays will both be in his best interest. If he stays he gets to play CL, if he goes, he will get to develop under of the best coaches and in best league. Given the lack of threat on the right ,minus dumfries, Lang could be a good upgrade to the current wingers on the right. it also remains to be what happens to Dumfries when switches to back 4 and will have to share the work load both defensively and offensively

    For Brobbery, you can be correct, it wont be served on the plate for him especially with Andre Silva now on the verge of joining RB Leipzig, but given they will have a hectic season like all those other clubs playing in Champions league and and europa, you can bet he will be utilized as part of the extended squad. Also the investment of young players has been stronghold and success for RB Leipzig in the last couple of seasons. it has also been a good step stone for players as well.

    Karsdorp being an average player?. I watched alot of Roma games last Season and I just dont how you can compare him Renach who just had one season at Ajax while Karsdorp is already miles ahead of him in terms of experience. I’m not saying he is not a good prospect for future but if you are saying he should be ahead of karsdorp then why not others with good potential and in other department.

    the GK area definitely needs face lift and Drommel is my top bet. he is good Gk and probably was playing in an average team. if cillessen plays regularly at Valencia, well and good, if not then its worth going for a new GK.

    unfortunately for the Dutch , the next three qualifiers are crucial ones with Norway, Montenegro and Turkey and who ever the coach will be, wont have balls to makes changes. the October qualifiers with Lativa and Gibraltar would then be perfect window to rotate in new players.

    no van gaal please.

    1. Bert van????.. That dimwit was riding the talents of sneijder and co… He got ass kicked at ec2012…faced only brazil a wc… Zero Chance for new players… Lvg would be nice… He would slap rappers in team.

    1. then the only other option would be for kNVB to negotiate a swab deal with Ajax for Ten Hag with FDB going the other way. Fdb has a contract until 2022 and KNVB will have to pay him either win situation for everybody.

  14. I’m super disappointed with the tournament, obviously, and I have to admit how much the system and the manager affect the results. I suppose my naive hope was that a good group of players with a few great ones sprinkled in and a good team mentality would be enough to carry this group deep into the tournament.

    Unlike some of the other commenters here, I think the team mentality was pretty good. I think the failure against the Czechs in particular was not a matter of laziness or mentality, it’s a matter of the manager not being able to devise a game plan specific to the opponent and to the players in his own squad. They ran around pointlessly, exhausting themselves in the heat, but the set up was just plain wrong and the substitutions were the clearest proof yet that FdB really isn’t overflowing with ideas.

    There’s no question that this is a completely different squad had Virgil been on the pitch— not just for his defensive prowess but even more for his leadership. We have all seen the videos of Virgil the Conductor and that was a huge part of the success under Koeman. He would have been enough to make Frank look better, I believe. Hope he’s ready to roll soon and that we get a good solid Manager at the helm. I’m not sure who that is, of course, but I hope it’s not a return to an old solution (LvG, etc).

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