Johan Cruyff and Oranje

A question that always intrigues in pubs or on the beach or when watching a game of football. “Who was/is the greatest?”. It depends on your criteria I suppose, but most people would agree that if one takes into a account the impact a player had on the tactical side of the game, both during and after his active career, none other than JC will top the list.

Messi might have more tricks and speed, Pele might have won more trophies and Maradona had the bravado, maestro Cruyff had it all: speed, trickery, goals, trophies, leadership, and above all: brains.

He understands the game like no one else. “Football is a simple game, but it is very difficult to play it simple”. His total football style, developed with Rinus Michels and perfect by JC as a coach was adopted as Ajax’ housestyle and further developed by the likes of Co Adriaanse and Louis van Gaal.

Cruyff and Van Gaal have further incluenced many great clubs, such as Barcelona, Feyenoord. Bayern Munich and many great coaches such as Rijkaard, Guardiola, Brendan Rogers, Mourinho and Michael Laudrup.

Asked about the impact of football, Cruyff is adamant: “Football is an international language. You can put a guy from Senegal, the US, Russia, Finland, New Zealand, Holland and Brazil together in a room and bring up music, or science or politics and they will have difficulty getting somewhere. They need communications to determine their roles or their aims. Give them two goals, a field and a ball and they can play football together without speaking.” He believes football is the great equaliser. “In athletics, if you can spring very fast, you can be the hero. If you can’t, you basically are out. In basketball, being tall really helps. Being small will make it very hard. In football, you can always get better. You can always have a role. And if you are not that good at it, you can become a goalie….” Or a referee, if you really suck.

jc franz

In terms of tactics, Cruyff has always been radically simple. “In order to score goals you need the ball. So, it’s key to have players who can repossess the ball. To score a goal, it helps if you are close to the box of the opponent. So if you put pressure on their defence as soon as possible, you can repossess the ball and immediately be dangerous. This also means the forwards will do the first defending. They always complain at first. Until they realise everyone needs to work less hard due to this pressure game. Otherwise you keep on going from box to box. Absorbing pressure, sitting deep until you have the ball and you need to bridge 50 meters or more.”

When Oranje played Spain in the WC finals 2010, JC gave his support to Spain. Because they played more JC-style football. “I never intended to say I supported Spain over Holland. It was not a nationalistic thing for me. People criticised me, but I don’t view football as a nationalistic issue. It’s a game. Two teams. The one who plays the style I like is the the team I support. Normally, it is Holland. But we did not play Total Football in South Africa and I understand totally why. Bert van Marwijk didn’t have the quality in his squad to do so. As a coach, you work with what you have. In particular with national teams.”

He goes on: “In baseball, players are mentioned by their role. He is a pitcher or catcher or third baseman. Here it is a bit more vague: a defender. A midfielder. But Beckham is totally different from Nigel de Jong. Both midfielders. People compare Messi with C Ronaldo. Stupid. They are very different. Both top class, but different.”

He sees the current Oranje as a good step back to the Total Football of the 1970s. “A lot of people complain about Oranje. But it is not easy for a small country to have top notch players for every tournament. You need to phase a generation out and phase a new one in. Our youngsters are quite talented. And we have some top notch older players. I like what Louis van Gaal does with the newbies in the team. But tactically, he is not capable of executing the game like he would want it. The problem with Oranje today is the build up. Look at Barca. The ball goes really quick from defence to midfield. Same with Bayern. This is where you want the ball to be. Not in your defence. Our midfielders come to the ball with their back to the opponent’s goal. That is hard for them. Opening up is a risk. So  there are some crucial things that need to be changed. A quicker build up pass, with good quality and better positioning by the midfield. This will allow the midfield to utlise the runs by the forwards and put pressure on the opponent. The problem against France was clear. After Strootman left the pitch, our midfield was outmuscled.”

And here is the big issue Oranje faces. We have big names in the front line, with Robben and Robin. We have one big name left in midfield (Nigel de Jong) although Wes and Raf still have the reputation. But we lack the big names in the back.

Cruyff remembers the 1974 prep for the World Cup. “We were shabby in the run up to the World Cup. Most people in Holland thought we best stay home. We missed top defenders, all central defenders, like Aad Mansveld, Epi Drost, Barry Hulshoff, Rinus Israel, Theo Laseroms… Michels was going mad and only two weeks before the start, he picked the team. Jongbloed came in as sweeper/goalie. Rijsbergen was a young rookie at Feyenoord, but tough as nails. And Arie Haan was put in the libero spot. The rest is history.”


In 1988, Rinus Michels had similar issues. Rijkaard played defensive midfielder for AC Milan – and good too – but was instructed to support the defence (and did this good too). The former Ajax man was / is the ultimate modern defender. Tough, tall, good header, great passer, cool-calm-collected and tactically astute. The Rijkaard “type” was born.

Today, we don’t seem to be able to find that type of player. Who can play central defender when needed and midfielder when in possession. And we tried to find him. Marco van Basten and Bert van Marwijk tried out different lads, from Evander Sno to Hedwiges Maduro to Orlando Engelaar. For different reasons, it didn’t work out. Strootman could have been a contender for the role but we won’t know for another 9 months.

Martins Indi has the potential, but is still to inconsistent. Terence Kolongo is a top talent but very inexperienced, while Kyle Ebecilio has promise too, but the ex Feyenoord / ex Arsenal man also has not a lot of big games under his belt.

As Cruyff said: the material you have will determine what you can do. There are many question marks still in the squad. How is Lens coping in Ukraine? Which talent on the wings will show longevity? How will Wes and Raf stay strong? And which central defenders are able to impress Van Gaal for a series of games?

Earlier on, I said that Vlaar is a solid defender for a team playing relegation football. A classic, English defender. Tall, strong, slow and robust. Looking at the current Oranje squad, maybe it is ok to have players used to relegation football.

Ajax Images Heritage collection.

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  1. Great article Jan. Everything about Cruyff is just a joy to read.
    Sometimes I think it would be good if we use both De jong and Rekik as CB. Not sure how this will work but I would like LvG to give it a try.

  2. It’s nice to hear what JC has to say. Some interesting points here for sure. However, when you make the analogies to basketball, it’s a little confusing. You need to be tall for basketball but for soccer there are requirements too. Of course you can improve your game but you must have a natural ‘footballing’ ability to be a true star and excel in the game.

    1. Bitterballen I disagree. If you aren’t 6’2 with jumping ability you won’t make the NBA.

      Look at Paul Scholes, Iniesta, Pirlo, even Beckham. None of them were tall, strong, fast, quick.

      Sure extremely talented in other ways but in terms of pure physicality anyone can be a footballer.

    2. I hear what you say and it is a bit too easy to say ‘being tall is a good enough to be a good basketball player” and I agree. But JC is saying that with practice and coaching a mediocre player can reach – say – the National team. This is less the case with basketball. But in all honesty, the comparisons are not that relevant. I personally believe that its more relevant that for basketball you need more infrastructure (the right bouncing ball, a good surface and baskets) whereas with football, anything rather round and any surface will do. This is why Brazil develops football players who were developed on the streets or the beach even. You can’t do this with basketball or tennis….

  3. I just will like to know why, why, why and why JC had never been our national coach.

    Somebody can explain that to me so i can understand it, because as our top hero and proved oracle inside and out side the pitch, he is the natural one to had lead Orange to WC and EC gold.

    I understand there are egos, money, rivalries, KNVB, and 100 other issues, but truly i can’t explain how he have not put all these issues to the side.

    After Rinus Michels passing there is no one better than him. Imagine just what the players would/will feel just by being coached by him, the greatest of Oranje and Europe history.

    Is it maybe that he does not want the job ????? or that is waiting for the perfect conditions/players to lead us.

    Please someone explain this to me.

    1. Rinus Michels always had a big say in who was coaching the Dutch. In the period after Michels, the 1988 victorious EC, it was supposed to be JC at the helm.

      Thijs Libregts coached Oranje in the qualifications but the players didn’t like him. He was arrogant, not a great coach and he was very condenscending towards the black players. He called Gullit “a lazy black”.

      So the players went to the Federation and got Libregts sacked. They wanted JC. The voting went between JC, De Mos and Beenhakker. I believe Beenhakker got 2 votes, De Mos 6 and the rest voted Cruyff.

      Michels decided to bypass Cruyff and even called JC a “psychopath” in the media. Michels picked Beenhakker. The rest is history. Don Leo couldn’t control the disappointed players and the spirit had left the team already while in trainingscamp before the World Cup.

      The infamous black eye incident was from that time. Beenhakker returning from a tactical talk with the team, to do a tv interview with a black eye. Rumour has it Marco van Basten threw an ashtray at his head, hahahaha.

      In 1992, it was Michels and Advocaat again for the EC in Sweden, but in 1994, it was really supposed to Cruyff again.

      But JC had some serious demands as he was coaching Barcelona. 1) he wanted to be paid a similar amount per month as Barca was paying him and 2) he wanted to pick his own staff. The Federation used these demands to say “no” to him and they picked Advocaat. Who managed to upset Gullit and who came back losing the QF and claiming we had a “successful World Cup campaign.”

  4. Great article Jan… Hate it that he followed Spain at the last World Cup.

    Heitinga making a big push for World Cup. three very strong performances, clean sheet against Chelsea on the weekend. Haven’t seen the game but apparently a MOTM performance

  5. Thank you Jan for letting us read what JC has to say. Those pictures are priceless. How come there is no number on JC’s Cosmos but Beckenbauer has number 6?
    Wonder if LVG ever read JC? “we did not play Total Football in South Africa and I understand totally why. Bert van Marwijk didn’t have the quality in his squad to do so. As a coach, you work with what you have. In particular with national teams.” Perhaps JC is giving LVG a hint?

    1. @Hien, I don’t think Cruyff ever was a regular player for the Cosmos. I believe he joined them for a game or so on a European tour once, but he didn’t play in the old NASL for them…maybe that is why.

  6. “I like what Louis van Gaal does with the newbies in the team. But tactically, he is not capable of executing the game like he would want it. The problem with Oranje today is the build up.” JC may not like LVG personally but he shows his respect.

  7. Hey Jan, thanks for sharing this article with all of us. I am a huge Orange fan and I am living in the US. Can you please share with me, what’s been saying in the Dutch media especially after Strootman’s injury. What are the coaches are saying? Any suggestions coming from the NT coaching staff? Is Van Gaal is reconsidering is tactics? What are some of coaches think as far as the best 11 knowing now Strootman is out

  8. cruyff should be coaching the team, i bet he would put some midfielders in defense and have a front three of robben, huntelaar and van persie with lens a right back

  9. guys, 2 questions:

    1) how amazing has the support been for strootman by roma? they dedicated a win to him and made a video, wow. he is like the heart and soul of that team.

    2) How much of the poor performances have been due to De Jong and Urby? AC Milan have been terrible, Seedorf is already facing the prospect of an early sack, and our Dutch players aren’t helping their situation.

    Comments on above greatly appreciated by all

    1. Yeah the support that Roma fans to Strootman have been great, he really is very apreciated in that team, I guess the spirit and leadership that stroot has is vital for any team, and in the NT we dont have a similar player like him in this aspect.
      Seedorf doesnt have the blame, clearly Milan has a very shitty team. De Jong for me have been playing good, not brilliant but he fullfill his defense duties.
      Urby is a very very average player, he really doesnt have the quality to play in Milan, I think De siglio and Abate are way better than him, lucky for him Seedorf is Dutch!!

  10. one more thing..

    3) i’ve always said this and stand by it.. Erik Pieters SHOULD be our LB. He is a proven starter for Stoke, plays in a tough league, and is a TOUGH defender. We need him OVER Blind. Yes, I said it. Some of you throw out names like PVA and Van Dijk but Pieters is a big reason Stoke is holding its own in the brutal premier league… agree?

    Please comment on all 3! Thx

      1. I prefer a speedy left back that can defend, but you are right he could be our first choice, I still think that Blind could be a good LB,but a prefer him in the DM role, not for now but in 2 years maybe

        1. yah agreed. the problem is that we have an attacking philosophy so everyone on this blog likes to see the LB and RB playing offensive football. however, the defender’s duty first and foremost is to DEFEND. we get so caught up in how much we need to press and play entertaining, attacking football that we tend to forget the basics. GIO knew this all too well. Sure, Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Lahm, and a few others can take risks because they are covered and have sound defenses. we can’t, not until we learn the fundamentals of protecting the back line.

          1. yeah you are right, I think that our CB are sooo inexperience that we need to think firstly in defende than in attack, This world cup sucks because we are in a more difficult group with a much worse team for sure. Sneijder is not the same and RVP and Robben are not getting any yonger.
            I think we are so bad because our 25-26 years old player are very average. Urby, Elia, Afellay, etc etc etc.
            Lets hope we can restore our great youth academies in order to develope better players

      1. also the 3-0 beating we took against germany before euros braafheid was left back,

        and we were beating england 2-0 when schaars came in for pieters

        maybe hes the missing piece in the defensive struggle

    1. Peiters has reall struggle vs the dribblers and easy nut for dribblers.this is what i found,but unlike Williams,braphied, etc has got brain and more guts,which is mandator for a defender.suppose we rate our LBs then it would be
      Williams-5.5 etc goes the there is not much difference in quality.

      1. Willems has more guts than all of them, and that’s maybe his biggest problem.

        He tries to go forward even when it’s really dangerous, doesn’t hesitate to dribble.

        Pieters is exactly the opposite, a “simple” defender that doesn’t really contribute to attacks, and play safe behind, mostly back passes

        He is the prototype of the dutch defender 2004-2012, put him with Heitinga-Mathijsen and Ooijer RB and you have the most cheesy dutch defense you can make. He just lacks speed, authority, skills going forward…Even indonesian players were taking him easily on 1vs1…

        1. Totally agree with Laurent. Pieters is a home, garden and kitchen left back as they say in the Netherlands. Standard semi solid stuff without salt or pepper to it.

          Willems is more of a left back in the mold of Marcelo from Madrid. They come with risk and it takes more time for them sort out the defensive side of their game as they attack a lot. They need time to find the balance. To sort out their decision making when to attack and when to stay back more. Marcelo was also beaten by Afellay in that CL match that costed Madrid. They might never come with Maldini solidness. That’s the price one pays for their offensive traits. Like how he got PSV a penalty vs Vitesse that eventually won Eindhoven the game.

          Playing with Willems is much more ambitious.

          1. what do you mean DRB + Laurent? I generally tend to agree with you both but couldn’t disagree more on this one. Willems was slaughtered at Euro 2012. Sure, he was only 18, bursting with energy but didn’t do what he needed to. He hasn’t proved much since then.

            Maybe if we nurtured and molded real defenders like Arbeloa, Vertonghen, and Ivanovic we would instill fear in our opponents and push forward with more ease. There was a huge gap in the game against France. Didn’t you notice all our defenders trying to play ‘offensive’ only to be chasing shadows. Don’t fool yourselves, France could have easily won 5-0.

            I am all for attractive football myself but protecting the keeper is one of the pillars of this game. As soon as our back line is confident and develops trust with the keeper only then can we think about ‘speedy’ LBs or RBs trying to connect with forwards.

          2. Pieters did quite good with Holland in 2011. His best game was probably the one against Sweden (4-1) where he really had good combinations with Afellay. I also liked him against Brazil (0-0), he saved a ball on the line etc.

            But he just gives an “impression” of security, he isn’t really safe if you look at him in details, he is easy to get past, lacks speed. You mention Vertonghen and Ivanovic playing on the sides, I think they’re stronger than him, and defend better, but I don’t like them as lateral backs neither.

            Pieters is closer to Arbeloa, and if you look at spanish threads etc. they often say that they needed someone better than Arbeloa.

            Not sure that Willems would be better indeed, that’s just two different choices, two different types, but as DRB said, going with Willems is more ambitious if we wanna play football. Even if his Euro2012 was globally bad, I keep in memory that he always tried to go forward, had balls to challenge Boateng in 1vs1 etc. while Mathijsen, Heitinga and VDW were only playing back and lateral passes.

          3. I do think Willems gets call up to Brasil.

            We all know we are in deep ars with options we have left after Strootman and VG’s injuries. So, why not to take players who have big bravado, and eager to go forward and play beautiful game even if we lose?! Why not?

  11. @Bitterballen, a good friend of mine is a mad Roma Fan and he tells me that the Fans in Italy infact around the world hail him as a master class !
    He along with a few others in the team have given the capital of Italy more hope than in a long time. They will always appreciate what he has done for the team this season.
    AC Milan are in trouble only time will tell what happens there.
    +1 for Pieters, he is the real deal, in a real league!

  12. Have people noticed what happened at Feyenoord yesterday?

    Kongolo passed by BMI. BMI sat on the bench for the full match, Kongolo was the left back.

      1. > “Yes, but didn’t know if BMI was injured. Kongolo has simply passed him?”

        No injury. In the past BMI was maybe injured or in any case suspended (that step against Ibarra from Vitesse), Mathijsen was injured, but also 1 or 2 times passed by Kongolo/BMI. Then that 3-5-2 formation happened where all defenders played. Now Koeman made a choice in favor of Kongolo vs BMI on the left back for this game. Of course BMI has also lost the competition vs Mathijsen, as CB is in fact BMI’s favorite position which is sign as well.

        > “Love Kongolo, but might this be a complication for the NT?”

        Well yes, but also a little bit no.

        BMI has played this qualification campaign and has more experience than Kongolo both internationally and in Eredivisie. He was the guy we invested in this cycle. That being said, he is only 22. It’s not like he has been on WC’s and Euro’s for most of his professional career. In fact this WC would be his first. So his experience is not that impressive. It’s not like Gio who was fooled in Eredivisie by Platje before the WC in 2010 and could raise his level from all his experience that he had build up. If we go for Kongolo, I feel like we give valuable experience to the guy with a higher ceiling. Who could be one of those long term pillars for the NT. I would be lying if his total lack of experience would not bother me.

        On LB BMI has made plenty of mistakes at Feyenoord though. He also lacks speed for that position. Kongolo is faster than BMI and caries and equal trait that he is multinational, if not more so. BMI was not good vs France. It’s not like he saved us from defeat in any way.

        We still have to see if Koeman carries on. Maybe he will switch BMI and Kongolo next game. This game, Koeman felt more save/better off with Kongolo rather than BMI. We should pay attention to that.

        1. DRB what about BMI passes ? I think it’s his strongest point, this article is talking about the dutch bad possession behind that most of us have described, and I think that BMI is a good defender to play quickly forward.

          1. His general passing and passing under pressure is not that good IMO. His hard vertical pass into interesting area’s of the pitch is a strong characteristic of BMI, I agree. It’s a shame to lose that, but Kongolo can do nice stuff as well:


            Nice assist.

            For me this is a last minute development we have to monitor. 6 games remain in Eredivisie. If Kongolo is now picked over BMI 7 games in a row in total, then there is a problem IMO. Koeman does not do this for his pleasure. He thinks he can close the season strongest with Kongolo on LB in a very exciting race for second place with Vitesse, PSV and FC Twente. Or maybe it’s a way to let everybody know that they have to fight for their spot and wants everybody to be as sharp as a knife. Either way it is interesting that Kongolo got picked over BMI for Left back in the weekend.


    1. @DRB : I have to give you credit for this bro. You was the first one to mention him as a possible option for Oranje and I just read on twitter that LvG thinks of kongolo as a possible candidate for the LB position for the WC. You are a great scout.
      Keep it up 🙂 .

  13. Verhaegh’s Ausburg are sitting 8th in the league and pushing for a spot in Europe. He is captain of the team as well. Good league, good form, experience plays against top attackers

  14. I guess I am one of those who truly misses BVM’s tactics. Sure, he had his flaws but he played the team to its strengths and developed a squad that was cohesive and understood each other.

    We were unlucky and maybe overconfident at Euro2012. Losing to the Danes would be hard to make up in the group of death especially against Portugal and Germany and we lost all 3 games by a single goal. It happens.. and it happened at the wrong time.

    Having said that, BVM ensured the squad connected. 6 players protected Stekelenburg and 4 played forward with a solid connection and awareness in the middle. Many of you attribute our success in SA 2010 to luck but it was more of a mutual understanding between a talented squad who knew what strategy to employ and how to execute it. Against Uruguay we could have scored a few more, against Brazil too, and on top of that our defense was more sound than it was given credit for.

    LVG on the other hand hasn’t a clue what he will do in Brazil and that’s a fact. I must say, I was never a big LVG supporter (and still am not) but I must give credit where credit is due and the guy did choose a whole slew of new young players whom he tried to integrate into the fold but veering from those core players now is a big no no in my books and will lead to disaster. If we choose young untested guys now like Veltman (whom I do admire) they will be left for dead against top drawer teams.

    1. Four reasons why we excelled in SA:

      1) You had two players who were on absolute fire: Robben and Sneijder
      2) Easier route to the final.. The only difficult team we played was Brazil
      3) Luck was on our side when it mattered – Brazil’s own goal is laughable…
      4) We had a good solid defence.

      Euro 2012
      1) Sneijder was dealing with injuries (and Inter Milan crap) and Robben with mental problem (and a shitty season with Bayern)
      2) We were in a group of death
      3) Luck was not on our side – Had Robben or RvP turned their chances to goals in the Denmark game, the tournament would have been very different
      4) Van Bommel, Mathijsen got old… Defence turned to shit

      I honestly think the tournament we should have won was the Euro 2008 under Marco Van Basten. The missing piece from that team was Mark Van Bommel.

      For Oranje to do well in 2014, we will need miracles. A spark, maybe. I don’t see that will happen in the short time we have left to the World Cup. I knew WC 2010 will be something special… I had an uneasy feeling before Euro 2012.. and now I have a slightly careless feeling about WC 2014. The same feeling I used to have before an exam that I didn’t study for… My expectations are really low… It’s really sad cause we’re closing in on the careers of sucj great players such as RvP and Robben.

      1. The worst is that the current Brazil isn’t so scaring, even if playing home. They have no Ronaldo, no Romario, and even no Ronaldinho (2005 one) or Kaka (2007 one). Their main “attraction” will be Neymar and Robben is clearly better than him.

        If they reach 1/2 or finale in july, it will probably be thanks to their defence, which is probably the best in the world with Thiago Silva, Alves and Marcelo.

        They have a bit the same problem than Holland, they don’t produce top players anymore to play their “football samba”. Dunga understood it and changed the nature of their football, asking for solid defending and counter attacks, that’s how they beat Spain last confederations cup but I’m not sure it will be the same during world cup.

        I will consider them as outsiders if they play Spain, Germany or even Italy.

        1. It is very sad that I also have low expectation as this is probably last chance for 4 very talented players: Robben, RVP, Sneijder and VDV. I really hope these 4 can win the 1st WC for Oranje. Pessimistically I do not see any future players in the next generation that can become as good or achieve as much as these 4 (perhaps not VDV’s personal achievements).
          It is Scolari for Brazil not Dunga, and he is a good coach. In addition to the 4 Brazil defenders, I’m also impressed with Paulinho and Luis Gustavo (the 2 defensive mids).

          1. I’m talking about the work Dunga started few years ago.

            About Paulinho and Gustavo, not sure they’ll be starters when you have Ramires and Fernandinho available…

          2. makes me sad to see you write this hien, you and demi were always 2 of the most positive people on this site always praising Oranje.. Don’t lose hope, anything can happen in a 7 game tournament.

        2. Looking at the forest instead of the trees: Brazil has a huge home country advantage. A few other key nations will work to make themselves feel at home, too.

          But do you remember the last time a European team won in South America? 😉

  15. Cruyff is a legend – no argument i that. He allways have a say in the NT setup. Be it positive or negative. He will stop saying anything until he is selected to become KNVB president. Lets face the fact reality , we can’t play the same like during the TOTALVOETBALL era because we don’t have and we will not have the same type of players because the world moves on…. What we should be doing is improvised TOTALVOETBALL and Spain has done brilliantly in that field, thanks to Cruyff/Rijkaard/LVG giving the framework for the so called “tiki-taka”……….Hup Hup Oranje !!!!!!!!!!

  16. @DRB, Regarding Kongolo. He first came on my radar screen when as a CB in tandem with Rekik for the U17 team that won the Euro’s and competed in the U17 WC. (Good group, btw, in addition to Kongolo and Rekik, DePay, Vilenha, Willems, Ebicilio, Ake, Achabar). Anyway, is his best future at CB or LB?

    1. CB, without a doubt. He is just a good general footballer. He can become a Swiss knife at the back in the future for the Dutch NT. Can play at both CB positions. Can play left back. Can play midfield even. He is like de Vrij and BMI combined. The football of de Vrij and the dual power of BMI. Certainly when he goes to the gym a bit more. His heading should get a look in though. Then again, he is faster than both de Vrij and BMI.

      Can’t wait for Ake finally going for serious club football other than that stupid academy stuff. Hope he comes too Eredivisie rather than playing championship football. He could probably easily join Vitesse and play under Peter Bosz. Good coach and good experience for him. Fingers crossed.


    1. Wonderful. He gets a lot of support, though I would trade all that for good medical care. From what it looks like Van Ginkel has received top medical treatment (both the surgery and rehabilitation). Now I hope Strootman can make a strong come back after equally good care.

      I remember van Nistelrooy coming back at PSV from something similar as Kevin and Marco and soon his knee was broken again. The United medical team actually cancelled the transfer when looking close to it a week before that incident happened. Good example where medical check up saved the club a lot of money. Then he went to a special facility in the US, recovered fully and made the transfer anyway. But I have never seen the surging Ruud again. In England they all think Ruud was a fox in the box, but I remember actions from Ruud running past players with pace. It was just never the same anymore.

      There is probably a lesson from that memory. Stroot and Ginkel will probably lose a bit of pace and mobility. Too bad. On the bright side, it’s a much better time to have these injuries than 20 years ago. There simply is much better care these days with this injury.

      I went to Roma once, when they played Inter Milan. Vierri scored 2 times and annoyingly held his hand close to his ear as to say that he had silenced the crowed. In the end Roma was able to score 3 goals and win the match. Great game with a great ending. I will try to visit a Roma game before Strootman leaves the club. Apart from Ultra’s, it’s a great club with a great club song.

  17. Zivkovic has officially signed with Ajax. I saw pics on there Instagram of de Boer presenting him with his Ajax top. One question, how are they doing this transfer when it’s not a transfer period?

    1. Probably some kind of pre contract. Contract starts on July the 1st. So it’s a contract that sees to it that the transfer happens when it is possible. Tadic construction was the same IIRC when he went from FC Groningen to FC Twente.

      FC Groningen do get a player from Ajax for this transfer on top of the 2,5 Million. Not sure what player.

  18. I’m sorry but unless LvG makes some radical changes, we can forget about having success at WC 2014. At this point it’s just too much of an uphill climb, that will require even more luck than WC10 did.

    LvG wasted too much time relying on Eredivisie players, most of whom failed. He ignored players who deserved a chance, and could have made a difference like Urby, Anita, Pieters, and Krul.

    We’ll be a force at EC16 though. I’m feeling optimistic about our chances under Guus. I’m thinking this will be the possible squad:


    van Dijk—-Veltman

    van Ginkel—-NdJ


    1. Agree Sam….. it has backfired big time for Van Gaal and it raises the eye brow why he didn’t consider the EPL guys who play in one of the best and the most toughest league on planet. with three international friendlys and the remainder of the league games the door has closed for Van Gaal.Its even too late to even do last minutes changes and expect it will work in the world cup.

      Veltman, Rekik only have one international cap to their name

      he stuck with Blind throughout but at the last minute he shitted from all holes.

      janmaat and weil…still there is uncertainty in the air as who is no 1 and who will start

      I know this sounds negative but this a fact and shows that Van Gaal is a total failure and we will be going to the world cup with squad not knowing what to expect and with this sentiments….. maybe, hopefully this happens ……that will happen and then we can do this if that happens…..this will the first world cup the NT will be treated as minors given what all has happened leading up to world cup.

      Hopefully Hiddink will change things around……

  19. Thinking about Eredivisie, I’m wondering what club I’d like to finish second and get the CL ticket.

    Twente ? They can definitly be interesting to watch if they keep Tadic, Promes and Castaignos. Especially if they buy some other players. But I do have the feeling that Tadic and Promes will leave next summer, and maybe Castaignos also. But that’s not a big problem cause unlike Ajax, Twente always spend 2/3 of the money they get with buying other players. They sold Elia and Arnautovic, brought Ruiz and Stoch, they sold Ruiz and John, brought Tadic and Castaignos. I just hope that Tadic will be sold smth like 15mo, cause he worth them, they bought him 7,7 mo, he had two great seasons, his contract still has 2/3 years, they have to sell him the double, so 15 mo. Twente shouldn’t make the same nosensensical mistake than PSV selling Mertens for 9mo…

    Vitesse ? It can be interesting cause it will definitly attract good players (from Chelsea especially). If they keep their current team and get a better striker than Havenaar, they can do something. But they should limit the numbers of Chelsea players though, they took many useless ones this year, only Piazon and Atsu played regularly.

    Feyenoord ? Can be good too, in the group Janmaat-De Vrij-BMI-Clasie, I see two of them leaving, not more. The youngsters Kongolo-Vilhena-Boetius will stay and keep developping, Pellé will probably stay also. If they bring some good players, they can have a good team.

    PSV ? Can also be interesting. I expect Willems to leave but they already have his sub with Hendrix. If they qualify, Rekik will probably stay one year more. After I worry a bit about the midfield, Schaars is getting old but his experience will be interesting for CL games, I worry more about Maher/Park, don’t really rate them. Wijnaldum will finally leave Holland I think. They should bring a good sub. With Depay/Narsingh/Bakkali and Ruiz if he stays, they have good wingers. But I don’t really rate Locadia as striker even if he is in a good form.

    1. DRB mentionned Ake for Vitesse, it’s definitly realistic. The triangle Veijnovic-Propper-Labyad isn’t bad but they’d need a real defending profile for CL, and it can be Ake.

      Also maybe they can get Mohamed Salah or Van Ginkel back if they qualify.

  20. Jan,

    Thanks for your explanation, but then again, let me ask why after 1994 Jc had never been apointed NT coach, especially after Michels passing.

    I don’t remember when Michels passing was, but for 2010 and 2014 JC should be our NT coach and did the best with the resourses at hand.

    One of the hidden clues to succes is to get the Rijkard kind of player. Is it so difficult to find this tipe of players or can they be somehow made with training and good coaching.

    1. Frost, I recalled reading in this blog (or the former netherlands world cup blog) that KNVB went to JC after Euro 2004 (Advocaat, famously subbing Robben out) and JC recommended Marco Van Basten. By then (2004) his health did not allow JC to coach again. His best chance was 1990 where players wanted him but the rumour was that Michels was afraid that JC could win the WC (overtaking his success). JC’s 2nd best chance was 1994 WC (again after Michels coaching Euro 92) and it did not work out (and KNVB turned to Advocaat again). Jan or someone can point you to the previous article.

    2. Yep, after the 1994 debacle Guus took over and after 1998 JC felt his health didn’t allow him to take it on. I think he had a heart scare in those years?

      He suggested Rijkaard for the Euro2000 and since then JC was no longer an option.

  21. I think De Jong is the key to our midfield and this where Van Gaal has to come out of his so called superman jumper and change his formation where by De Jong is stationed as a one man defense army in the heart of the midfield which will very difficult in 4-3-3 formation.

    IMO 4-1-4-1 , 4-1-3-2, 4-1-4-1 OR 4-1-3-1-1 otherwise its no use taking De Jong and it will stupid taking him and benching him.

  22. Bitterballen, I still has small hope for our team to have some luck at this WC. Starting with 1-0 defeating Spain will be a nice start. I will not give up on Oranje, never. With some luck we can go deep like 2010. Many contributors here are more optimistic with the new generation than I am. My opinion is that this current team will be better than the next Euro 2016 because of the quality of RVP, Robben which their quality likely decline in 2 years (although I hope that they will still be in top form). I am skeptical now and would like to see what Hiddink can bring after this WC. I am sure we will qualify for Euro 2016.

    Laurent, you are right that Dunga started but Scolari made the team a lot better, more efficient, more clinical and much better defense, not much samba.

    1. surely not based on jose comment,we must see how good sniejder when he works with Robin and Roben,where he falls far far far behind Vaart,ITS A NAKED TRUTH.
      If Vaart finds 90 min stamina with RVP+Roben it is going to be the deadliest most potent attack of the WCBRAZIL 2014.
      @Dear Vaart
      As a 33 year old who doesnt played professional football like you coould run 45 minutes with out problem,YOU CAN MAKE IT VAART.the dutch team needs you more than anyone.You can out run many coz u r just 30 now.Common vaart………….common

        1. They are basically the same formation hien! Maybe they were quite different when we tried it with Vaart and Sneijder. But with De Jong, Strootman and Sneijder it basically is a 4-2-3-1

          1. The better claim is Sneijder played well in Inter and Holland’s counterattacking formations instead of van Gaal’s possession based game.

          2. Exactly Sonneveld, which is absolutly logical cause his main quality is to give deep passes and his main defect is his dribbling and ability to protect the ball.

            Less Sneijder keeps the ball, better it is.

    2. I really doubt he said that and ifeven if he did then he was only playing mind games, because it is obvious by the game tonight that Chelsea alone have four number tens that are better than Sneijder.
      Oscar, Hazard, Willian and Shurle

  23. Wonderful article, Jan. JC’s reflection on football as the universal language brought back a memory from about 10 years ago. We were visiting schools in Tanzania to which we helped provide some support through a charity run by a friend of ours, when we came upon a group of boys playing a lively game with a football made of tightly wadded up plastic bags. When they spotted me – a lanky, awkward white guy (“mzungu”) in dress shoes and a button-down shirt – they playfully challenged me to join their game. I called their bluff, jumped right in, held my own, dress shoes and all, and had do be dragged away by my wife when time came to head off to the next school. JC is right — football is one of the world’s great levelers, a universal language that at its best transcends race, country, and class.

  24. I forgot to add — I’d love to hear others’ stories of football bridging boundaries, regardless of what they are. Feels like a natural pre-world cup conversation, and I’m sure that this global football community has its fair share of cross-boundary football stories to tell.

  25. Vlaar was named in’s EPL best 11 of the weekend and he faced a big team like Chelsea against a Spanish forward…Torres 🙂

  26. Ajax got richario,i really wish Vanginkel should not have made stupid decision to join plastic money club where ur place will always be under threat.its big loss for ajax and Van ginkel.
    i dream of ajax team
    Van ginkel
    Blind as holding mid
    PVA as lfet back
    janmaat…its just dream which never goin to happen.

  27. under Guus hiddink
    we will see the emeregence of Ginkel,stroot,Virjil,Reikik,kongolo may be Bruma
    then comes Kishna,richario ,Ake etc
    Ake is clean top class holding midfeilder in making,only shit thing abt him is playing for chelski the plastic clubs which spoiled many talents,with their shit load of money.

  28. Zikovic is another bet made by Ajax (with a big economical interest).

    Let’s to bet that he will be directly a starter, no matter if he is no CL material yet, Ajax plan to sell him in two/ three years maximum if he becomes good.

    I’d be much happier if they brought a striker who is 24/25, already a good player, and who will stay at least 5 years in the club, but it’s not their interest to scout such players.

    I expect more about Twente and Vitesse transfers next summer

    1. Your cynicism is understandable. And I think you’re to some measure correct.

      There’s more, of course: Zivkovic will be playing in Amsterdam, and he’ll sink deeper roots in Holland. Not long ago the consensus seemed to be that he would play for the Serbian NT. Perhaps not so now.

      Ajax is a prime engine for the NT. And just as we all fuss here about the worthiness of Eredivisie talent on the NT, we should expect that Ajax’s function in grooming youth — then sending them on to the top leagues — serves some of our NT purposes.

      To an arguable degree, it works both ways.

      1. English, motherfucker!
        Do you speak it?

        Fuck, it’s like watching two retards touching cocks in a public swimming pool.

        Tell us more, brownnose, sorry, i mean goldstone.

  29. Apparently Feyenoord will release Schaken in the summmer and look to buy van la Parra as his replacement on the right wing. They also look set to sign Hakim Ziyech from the same club.

  30. My respect for Roma has been rising ever since Kevin joined them – but after what they did to Kevin, I now respect them more than any other team in Europe. Unlike the cheapass Bayern who requested financial compensation from Holland for Robben.

    Back to the Oranje discussion – I think it will be very likely that RvP will lose his place in the starting line-up if he keeps f***ing up in EPL. Hunter is playing very well and in all honesty, deserves a chance to shine. Football play in South America is rough and I think Hunterlaar is the better warrior. Against Spain – We will get 2 chances, maybe 3… They need to be finished by an efficient striker. I say let Hunter play. We all saw his goal against Real Madrid.

    1. My preference will be to start RVP but if Hunter is what it takes to win then I do not mind. I just want us to win, don’t care at this point if it is pretty win or ugly win. I’m not counting LVG to play total football or tiki-taka football; winning football is what i hope for in Brazil 2014.

  31. To all Snejder fans out there.
    Did you just see a long pass out of defence from Sneijder at around the 72th minute against Chelsea?
    With his team 2 down, needing someone to raise their game with only 18 mins left and he sends a long pass intended for a either of two attackers on a two v. two straight out of play something like 20 yards away from bth of them.
    This was pure Jupiler league stuff.
    I really hope that vGaal is watching and never calls him again in oranje.

    1. As disappointing sneijder has become, i do think it would be incredibly stupid to not take him at all for so many reasons:

      – he was been our best player for every tournament since 08
      -He has lots of international experience in the tournaments
      – we have a young squad who need experience around them
      – we hardly have any decent options beside him

  32. Looking at Sneijder’s performance, i doubt he deserves a start, he was never menacing physically & now his passing / vision has also taken a beating.

    He had so many opportunities yesterday to take a shot or make a defence spitting pass but he chose to pass it backwards to the LB or CM. Very disappointing, he’s become a single dimensional player.

    Would DEFINITELY prefer VDV over him now!

  33. Jan, Hien and Andrew…yes something odd about these 1st two
    Pics. Some nice photoshop work? Cruyff was with the Washington diplomats. And what and where with Pele’s right arm?

    As for Sneijder. Let’s hope that LVG puts the right players around him
    Cause he is our only f’n Leaders out there

  34. Let’s just all hope that Wes will be up and ready for Brazil. He and Rafa are simply our best AM at the moment. The other options are too inexperienced.

    Wes served NT very well in South Africa last time around so I will keep faith in him. I know he was coming off a CL winning season when we was on fire for Inter, but maybe he can regain some portion of that form. He is actually one of the few guys that we have now that had stepped up to the tast in South Africa.

    Once we have guys like Robben, Van Persie, Nigel, De Guzman, Janmaat and Vlaar, we should be able to put a decent team together. In addition to having these guys we need Van Gaal to adjust the line-up to a 4-3-3. Also, I think we can at least try using Van P as a no. 10 with Klaas leading the line in one of the friendlies. However, I don’t think this would work against a team like Spain. Against Spain we need a quick skilful forward who can pose serious problems on the counter. Klaas is a goal machine but he doesn’t have the kind of speed to give Spain problems on the counter.

    Give me a 4-3-3 line-up with the following and we can get a positive result against Spain. Certainly a very strong dosage of self-belief and “Lion like” determination to win:


    Pieters (if Kongolo or BMI are not up to it)

    De Guzman

    Lens (given that the issues with the Ukrainian league gets sorted soon)
    Van Persie

    1. To play counter attacks we need a player able to bring percussion in the midfield. Nigel is good to help defence, VDV is good for long passes, but we need someone faster than De Guzman. De Guzman lacks dribbles and skills going forward, is more a player for the distribution., more like a VDV sub.

      4 midfielders able to bring percussion : Leroy Fer, Afellay, Wijnaldum and Duarte. And after them you can consider De Guzman and Van Ginkel.

  35. Laurant,
    Fer lacks the handling speed and technical ability. Afellay and Wijnaldum all lack a little bit of defensive sense, toughness and both are not playing. We need someone with good abilities to play a box-to-box role by reading the plays and provide great positioning and cover when we are defending. Duarte is a great option but he isn’t playing regularly now and cannot be considered unless he starts to get more game time with AJax.

    De Guzman is the best option at the moment. He is quite comfortable playing any of the three midfield positions and has been playing them all with Swansea in a top league this season. He has a little bit of dribbling skills (not as good as AFellay and Wijnaldum, but much better than Fer). He can tackle and work hard going box to box. He has good technique and can add to the attack and be more agile and nimble in the middle than Fer.

    Unless Afellay and Wijnaldum start to play regularly very soon, they will not be considered.

    1. You underrate Fer technically, he lacks handling speed indeed, but Pogba also lacks in this case. Fer is able to do good dribbles sometimes, and his percussion is great.

      I like De Guzman technically, elegant player, but he doesn’t really have a good projection forward.

      But I wouldn’t mind De Guzman starting and Fer coming for 25/30 last minutes, especially as Fer is often better when he comes as sub more than when he starts games.

  36. By the way, Anyone knows when will Wijnaldum recover fully? I can’t seem to find it anywhere. He came back from injury a few weeks ago and started a game with Jong PSV, came off at half time and has been missing since.

    1. I think PSV are taking all precaution on him so that he doesnt aggravates hi injury again. that’s what happened to him with Jong PSV after his comeback. Maybe other two -three weeks.

  37. @ Pete. everything has a life expectancy and unfortunately for Sneijder the time is up. I think yesterdays game has has summed up everything. The Tukish league was never meant for him. Off course yes he took the first route to get out of inter but he also should have left Turkey when he had the chance. those who think we should do 60-40 with Wes and Senijder it would better to be more realistic and take one guy who can the do both job.

    The option would take have him on the left wing which he was promintanly displayed his skills in the first leg vs chelsea

    1. We are lucky to have 4 players that are all what you’d call big game players even if they are past their prime in :Wes , rvp , robben and huntelaar.

      we just need to play to the strengths of these guys.

      If one had to give way it would be sneijder but having said that if we played a 4231/4411

      with sneijder lm who is with an attacking fullback e.g. aanholt

      and robben rm with a player able to cover – verhagh or even janmaat who worked well with him.

      Rvp behind KJH( who has never really been given a fair crack at the whip)
      then if we built the rest of the team to make up for the imbalances and to serve these guys , surely we could make a good effort.

      middle 2 cms could just be fer and de jong, would be very solid physically but wouldn’t offer a whole lot in terms of just destroying other midfields.

      i don’t know what to expect but i think if LVG does anything he should realise that he has experimented and done fairly well if I’m honest- he has shown us what players really have to offer at the moment with regards to international football – Eg de vrij not being ready for the big time.

      This is good because at least he can now make the most of what we have. We definitely are good enough to pass the group at least i can say that but it depends on if the team is in the right state and gets a bit of luck and fluency. These are all out of our control really.

  38. Pete, I did some searching and Cruyff was playing Cosmos Exhibition where he played with Beckenbauer. Another article about JC as the greatest player all time, above Pele and Maradona and the rest. (

    Hiddink is helping Cocu with PSV so that hopefully he has a good pool of players he can select from (Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord) when he takes over the NT. The rumour is that his assistants will be Stam (former PSV/Ajax player; assistant coach at Ajax), Van Nistelrooy (former PSV player) and Gio (former Feyenoord player, Feyenoord youth coach) and if Blind stays (former Ajax player). The 88 team were made from Ajax, PSV (Hiddink was the coach) and the Milan trio.

    1. @Hien, Interesting. What I remember is that they played together briefly (Cruyff was a kind of guest player) against Chelsea (I think) on a European tour. (Cruyff had been called in to help after the Cosmos had been beaten 7-1 in Bayern on Beckenbauer’s return). Was this a different exhibition? And many thanks for the link to the article.

  39. I think the only way to salvage something or any thing at the WC would be consider Afellay , Van Ginkle , Wijanaldum if they are 100 % ready to go. we all know what they bring to the table and if they can go through 120 minute fitness test. green light it should be.

    One good exanple is if you look at John Obei Mikel situation at Chelsea. He hasnt played alot under Mou but he will surely be a starter for Nigeria at WC.

    1. milan are in so much more of a decline than man u, this is a stupid newspaper. The daily mail isn’t trusted at all in england it makes stuff up all the time

    1. Yeah he is having a great game. Please no more Huntelaar “instead of” Persie posts. I don’t mind them both starting , but if only one starts it will be RvP.
      He is doing great with the 4-4-2 format with Rooney beside him. Wish LvG can make him perform the same with Oranje in the WC.

      1. When was the last time Hunter and RVP started a game together? I don’t remember offhand that they have, but surely so at some point. Anyone know?

      2. Just stretched off. Let’s hope he’s just buying time for his team and that this is not another “Strootman”.
        If it is then by June vGaal might be left down to the U17 if this continues.

  40. It sounds strange but if rvp got iinjured it would make things more simple when compared to stroot.

    It would mean Kjh starts robben out right depay/ lens on the left, Sneijder behind Kjh

    Stroot still has no replacement that fills me with confidence but I so think fer can / needs to step up

      1. Netherlands last place behind Australia? I’m assuming that’s a joke. But the dutch are much better than Australia, so have more confidence as a dutch fan.

        1. Sure Netherlands has better footballers than Australia, but they also had better ones than Denmark, no ?

          When the team is sick, misses many players,plays a football based on useless possession etc. they can lose to everyone, France finished 4th behind South Africa last world cup…Italy finished 4th behind New Zealand lol

          People don’t wanna see the truth, they still live in the dream of the 2010 finale, wake up, last reality was EC 2012, 2010 is far now, the context was really different.

          + you should keep in mind that Holland never beat Australia, there were three games between the two countries, two draws and one victory for Australia…

          So the last place is not to exclude.

          Hope for the best but expect the worst.

          1. I know anything can happen in soccer, but you can’t just automatically guarantee a last place if vp doesn’t play. Players step up in these situations.. Even if they have never beaten Australia, there’s a first for everything. I’m assuming they were all friendlies? Friendlies don’t mean much especially when most are to be played with experimentation. I understand your realism and it comes from your frustration. But remember, it’s soccer, anything can happen, and you just have to hope for the best result. Be positive.

  41. Both RVP and Huntelaar should be in Brazil. I’m not sure if they both will start but they are simply many classes above Dost, L D Jong, Ricky VW or any other strikers that we have. What I hope for is both are fit and not having a cold streak/slump going into the WC.

  42. you guys know in the end, van gaal is all about van gaal, do you guys read the news and see the interviews about how he’s dreaming of winning a premier league title, what about the world cup. Van Gaal doesn’t care about Holland winning or losing, and he will stick to his formation no matter what. it’s gonna be 4-3-3

    it’s gonna be if healthy, for sure, rvp, robben, lens, vdv,janmaat, blind and cilissen as goalie, i’m thinking he might even take vermeer cause thats his true favorite.

    the real question is who gets to be the defensive midfielder and the box to box runner in his system,

    along with the centerback pairing, i’m thinking he likes vlaar, even though we hate him there, and bmi, with veltman on the bench with rekik, and the only stark change would be blind as defensive midfielder, most likely though, i think he will go with schaars as def mid.

    i’m expecting this formation for holland at the world cup


    1. on offence the formation will look something like this in possession robben cutting in, rvp switching with robben or lens, from time to time, lens coming in, blind staying put, janmaat extremely forward, offensively i’m actually not worried, i’m worried about counters more than defending straight up.


  43. Friendly reminder. The 20th of March 19:00 hours (Dutch local time) Netherlands U17 play in the Elite round vs Austria in Malta. That is the qualification for the Euro.

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