Team Manager Cor Pot has made a remarkable decision with the jersey numbering. He gave ex Ajax winger and current RKC player Florian Jozefzoon the number 7, implying he will be first choice, instead of Wijnaldum. The PSV player (is he a winger of a midfielder) will have to accept the number 15. The other potential starters all have received a “low” number (see list below).
Insiders claim Louis van Gaal asked Pot to use the traditional winger in a 4-3-3, as Wijnaldum is more a midfielder, attempting to cut to the center of the pitch while Jozefzoon will make runs to the byline and cross balls in.
1. Jeroen Zoet
2. Ricardo van Rhijn
3. Stefan de Vrij
4. Bruno Martins Indi
5. Daley Blind
6. Jordy Clasie
7. Florian Jozefzoon
8. Kevin Strootman
9. Luuk de Jong
10. Adam Maher
11. Ola John
12. Kelvin Leerdam
13. Mike van der Hoorn
14. Bram Nuytinck
15. Georginio Wijnaldum
16. Marco Bizot
17. Leroy Fer
18. Marco van Ginkel
19. Tonny Vilhena
20. Patrick van Aanholt
21. Danny Hoesen
22. Memphis Depay
23. Nick Marsman.
Yesterday, the complete squad had their first practice on Israelian soil. Jordy Clasie was part of the group as well, after missing the Australia game. Danny Hoesen was with the group for the first time, Hoesen replaces the injured Locadia. Cor Pot decided to travel to Israel earlier, as the temperature is such (30 degrees C) that the group needs time to get used to it.
Skipper Kevin Strootman is the oldest and most experienced of the team. His last tournament experience was not a good one. He was a witness of how the “Big” Oranje had a failed outing in 2012 as a result of coaching mistakes and frustrations.
“I saw things there, that I tried to take in as lessons. I want to make sure that will not happen here,” says Strootman, who has an important role on and off the pitch.
Strootman didn’t play a minute in the EC in Poland/Ukraine but definitely saw how others couldn’t cope with that situation. “I won’t go into that now. It’s history now. But I have had good times with Oranje but also saw how very quickly that can turn. The results didn’t help of course and I think it was a wise lesson for all concerned.”
“We have 12 A internationals in this group now, and they can’t all play of course. And the coach might make some decisions that will hurt some. I am also not 100% certain of a starting spot, obviously, so….”
He also emphasizes he is not the only one to show leadership. “We also have the captain and vice captain of Feyenoord in the squad. I expect them to lead too and Bram Nuytinck has worn the band in this team too, so we will need to do it together.”
With our without the band, as he is always a domineering force. “I don’t think about that. It is how I am. I want to perform at the highest level and I want to support any team I play in. Being skipper or not is irrelevant. I think you need to show it on the pitch, and off pitch its a matter of being aware and alert.”
Ola John could have had a cracker of a season. The youngster was one of Benfica’s or even Portugal’s surprise packages, but basically lost everything in the last two weeks: they ended second in the league, second in the Europa League and second in the Portuguese cup final.
The 21 year old wants to do better now. “I was pretty pissed off with those last weeks. But I have to flick the switch. I will focus on the EC now for 100%.” John didn’t want to talk too much about the deflated season he had. “Listen, I’m a bit tired, of course. But it’s all in the mind, I know that too. I do have high expectations of myself. This tournament could be a good finish of my season. It’s really cool to be playing with so many tremendous players.”
PSV forward Memphis Depay is almost the youngest of the bunch. The talented player knows what it is to win a European title. With Oranje Under 17, he won the title in Serbia in 2011. “We were very close back then. Both on the pitch and off. That is the biggest lesson I take with me. You really want to be one team together. It doesn’t matter how good you are individually, you need to work hard as a team.” Almost all players of that tremendously talented team are doing really well. Vilhena has a starting spot in Feyenoord and is part of this squad now. Nathan Ake won the Europa League with Chelsea while Karim Rekik already wore the blue of Man City. “We really wanted it. We beat Germany twice that year, I will never forget that.”
Depay didn’t count on the invite. “I didn’t play a lot at PSV. Advocaat clearly picked Mertens and I wasn’t good enough for more. But I am very glad to be part of this group. The quality in this generation is amazing. I will learn a lot from this, I’m sure.” Depay played his first game for Jong Oranje against Australia, last week. “Mixed feelings. My physical fitness was ok. My first half was really good, but my second half was not. I analysed it with the coach afterwards, but I do feel a bit down as a result.”
Depay can play on all positions up front, but focuses on the left winger spot. “Ola John is much further than me. He almost played everything for Benfica. I’m still very young, but I will show the coach I am ready, if he needs me. I think competition is important. And I can surely contribute as a sub, I think.”