I have been having a go at friendlies for years… I do see the point of them, for sure. But it’s not for us, so much. It’s usually for the coaching staff and players to test things, to get rhythm, to play together. Sometimes it’s a benefit game for something…
Holland will now play two friendlies in this international break without any meaning whatsoever. And it shows. Numerous absentees… And the media turning this into a “Farewell for Dick” kindagame.
Farewell for Dick? Gimme a break… One farewell for Dick (in 1994) was more than enough for me.
Yes, he did what we felt he should be doing, at least. Lose vs France, win the rest.
But he didn’t qualify and he made some awkward mistakes in the games played. Not that he is to blame for the Big Mess, but he definitely didn’t do a great job, all in all.
Dick Advocaat was even giving silly soundbites at the press conferences… “I will tell everyone after the two friendlies what I will do!”. Huh? What do you mean? It’s not up to you, Dick, to see what YOU want to do.
The KNVB needs to 1) appoint a TD first, then 2) the new TD will select a coach. No one is interested what you want now, because your contract is done after Romania. Don’t flatter yourself.
Dick is starting to take himself very seriously.
And to make it even funnier: Ruud Gullit let slip in another tv program, that he will stop as assistant coach “and go with Dick”. So, Dick is trying to keep us in suspense, for some reason, while Ruud spilled the beans.
Does it ever stop?
So now the squad has to travel to Scotland. To play on that paddock of a pitch in Aberdeen. In the cold. Against a bunch of Bravehearts! And then we get Romania. Because there is no real football nation anymore in the world keen to play against us…
I can totally understand that players like Janssen, Locadia, Dost, Hoedt and Tete decided not to come. Some are desperately trying to get playing time at their clubs and can fully appreciate a week off, instead of being knocked about by some Scots in kilts or Romanians. Some are obviously actually injured. But if we played the play-offs this weekend, I’m sure Dost and Janssen would be present.
Advocaat got Tim Fosu-Mensah in as replacement for Tete and Luuk de Jong for the striker position.
Gini Wijnaldum has a point to prove. For starters, he’s a regular at Liverpool so no worries there but in Oranje, the former Feyenoord junior needs to step up. With an ankle injury on the way out, he came to the Oranje camp. “I told the coach I wasn’t 100% but I want to be here and play with Oranje.”
Some players are keen, on the other hand. Steven Berghuis wasn’t part of the Oranje squad for a spell but the right winger is in top form for Feyenoord and Oranje does lack its regular right winger. What’s his name… ? Eh… Robben! Steven Berghuis: “I’m really happy to be back. I feel good and Oranje can use a new right winger, right? Not that I’m Robben… There will never be a new Robben, he was off this planet, but I think I can offer my qualities for the team.”
Memphis Depay is another player happy to be in the Oranje camp. “I want to show myself. I had a difficult time but I’m getting stronger and stronger. I enjoy playing in Lyon and I am important for the team. I want to do the same for Oranje. I still feel so much joy when I’m on the pitch or even in training. I am very eager to play and very grateful to be here.”
With the key strikers missing, the big question is, how will Dick staff his forwards?
Luuk de Jong, the obvious choice. He’s a classic number 9 and won the golden boot in the Eredivisie in the past. He had a goal drought for 8 months but scored last weekend again for PSV. He scored for Oranje in the past vs another British nation: Ireland (1-1).
Memphis Depay, not obvious but he has played central striker before. He played there for PSV and he played there in Oranje. Against Italy in the friendly right after Blind’s exit. And that went well. He’s eager, he can be physical and is always threatening.
Quincy Promes, quite obvious. As he scores prolifically in Moscow and plays easily in different roles in different systems. He might not have shone as much in Oranje, but he would definitely suit the #9 or #10 role.
Ryan Babel is the fourth option. He is “a typical winger” said Dick Advocaat last time around. But, the tall athletic forward has played in the striker role for Ajax and he demonstrates week in week out that he can score goals.
The final option is: no striker. Using the space for the running man/men. Memphis, Promes, Wijnaldum, Sneijder… Oranje might be able to play more compact and use that pocket to come into, instead of being there already.
Another big name is Virgil van Dijk. Belonging to a big guy, with a massive future. The 26 year old seems to have the right attitude, physicality and role in the team to become our next captain. With Arjen Robben gone, the hierarchy is going to change. “I have always coached and stimulated colleagues. I play central defender so I will have to. Whether I wear the band or not. But yes, if the staff thinks I’m ready for it, I won’t say no.”
The last word is for the current captain. Wesley Sneijder, he doesn’t know when to stop… “I won’t be seeing these friendlies as my farewell. I will stop one day, but that day is not now. So I will not answer any questions about that any more. This week is not about me or my final match.” Arjen Robben said his farewell after the game against Sweden. “I would have loved to be there for that. Well, also to play of course but it wasn’t to be. We had a wonderful partnership all these years. But hey, I didn’t play, so that is all behind us now. I play now and I’m fit and eager. It hurts not to be there but it also stimulates me even more to make my mark now.” He’s not open to what his future will hold. “I want to play as long as I can. Simple. And yes, the next big tournament is in 2020, I’m 36 years old then. We’ll see.” And on the question who he’d like to see as his new coach. “I want a coach who can bring us to the next big tournament. Whoever he is. Ronald Koeman? Great choice, but I would say that about any name you bring up. Because it’s up to the KNVB, not me.”