Let's take Europe seriously!

This midweek saw our top clubs – sans Ajax of course, as they are qualified to play CL – compete for a spot in the Europa League group stages.

And bar PSV, they all disappointed.

Heerenveen played away against Molde in Denmark and lost 2-0, playing tremendously lacklustre. Coach Van Basten was furious after the game and needs to make sure his team starts to respond to his coaching.

FC Twente, so successful in the EL in recent years, lost away against Bursaspor with 3-1 despite being 0-1 up at half time. AZ, impressive last season, lost in Moscow to Hiddink’s Anzhi.

PSV had no problems “owning” Montenegro’s Zeta, winning 0-5 away. A record score for PSV in Europe, but hardliner Dick Advocaat was not impressed: “If you look at the chances we had, we should have won this 0-8, at least. We are too easily satisfied.”

Feyenoord played Sparta Prague, a strong opponent, and the visitors were 0-2 up at half time after an insecure and spineless first half of the hosts. Playmaker Jordy Clasie was man marked during the game and it took center half Martins Indi – yet again – to lead the comeback of the Rotterdam team in the second half, with Nelom scoring with a distance strike and sub Anass Achahbar scoring in the dying seconds with a sweet backheel flick. The Kuip stadium exploded, with Feyenoord at least having a chance to progress.

And Feyenoord is the last team in Holland to win a European cup. Led by Bert van Marwijk and skippered by Paul Bosvelt. Feyenoord beat PSV, Glasgow Rangers, Freiburg and Inter Milan until defeating Borussia Dortmund in the finals.

But it appears that the Europa League doesn’t hold any priority for PSV, AZ, Feyenoord and Twente, who will all rest certain players for the Eredivisie games, as these clubs focus on a position in the top 2 ( giving them a chance to play CL football). Paul Bosvelt has difficulty stomaching this position.

“Last year, with Twente vs Schalke 04, Mc Claren rested 5 starters for this game. Twente was focused on winning the title and didn’t want to give it all for the EL. Unbelievable. This strategy led to nothing. I never understood this “resting” tactics.”

“I think it’s naive, to do that. We are the only nationality to think in those terms. You need to be able to focus on more than one goal. It’s not “either or” but “and and”. This is how the big teams and the big players think. I never wanted to rest. I wanted to play! Players need to be fit, so they can play 50 games. If you play European games midweek, train less. And give it your all. If you fail, too bad. There’s always next year. But you have to go for it. You have to believe in it.”

Bosvelt was the last skipper to hold up a European cup for a Dutch club. “We didn’t start out that season thinking we’d win it. Of course not. Our group was fairly strong. When we came out we knew we had to play at least 4 massive opponents. But Rangers was doable. PSV always is doable. And Inter Milan is normally too strong for us, but once in a series of 10 games, you can win it. And you need to make sure you play that one unique game. And if you reach the finals, anything goes…”

Do you believe Feyenoord didn’t have the faith against Kiev. “I didn’t like the mentality I saw. They played as if Kiev was Barcelona or Chelsea. All that respect. Why? They didn’t need to lose against Kiev. But they want to be the underdog in Rotterdam. Always moaning about lack of funds or needing a striker. If you talk like that, lack of confidence will enter the picture. And you saw it: two players free before the goalie and they miss. It’s a mental thing. You need to be able to be 100% in the game, in Europe. We seem to lose games on mental grounds. You saw it at the Euros too. It’s part of our game. Twente lost many games in the last minutes. That is not a coincidence. This is where we need to work on.”


“By realising it. By discussing it. By using these examples and making them debatable. And by adapting to the rhythm. If you play on Wednesday, you simply train less but you use the top name players. You need to take the European competition seriously. Sometimes it seems like we are too weak, too junior. If Feyenoord plays Kiev, we have a lad like De Vrij in the back four, they have four night club bouncers. I don’t think money is an issue. I think preparation, mental coaching, focus, those things are key. Wanting it more than the others.”

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  1. Good article, not sure i really agree with all of it…

    Dutch clubs have done great in the EL past few years, last year was particularly great, this is just an off year…

  2. Why the interview is about Feyenoord vs Kiev game? Feyenoord didn´t play against Sparta Pragra?

    I can´t understand what happened with Twente….!

    1. The Kiev game would have given Feyenoord access to the CL. They lost that fixture but needlessly… As many clubs in Holland experience, the European competition entrance tickets are decided in August. You have to be ready and stop whining about strikers you don’t have….. 🙂

  3. Wow I have been awol lately with work and came on the site today to noticed I missed 2 articles! How are you all?!?!
    It’s great that football is back isn’t it? Great showings by PSV (Strootman/Wijnaldum) last week. I love Ajax but they look like a frail injured bird right now. I really don’t want to watch their CL matches. It could be bad.

    Douglas, Anita, Leroy Fer & Ola John all called up for Oranje? Things are looking on the up and up for us. I really hope all 4 get a chance to shine. Leroy Fer & Martins Indi I have been the most hopeful about for the last year for their power and skill. Fer and Strootman can be a great pair in the midfield just as Douglas & Martins Indi can be in defense. I hope Buttner’s move to Manure get’s him a shot in Oranje.

  4. Arrival or return of bruma would be a great help for orange…
    Rhijn—–Doulas–Bruma–Martins indi as first choice
    Weil——Heitinga–Devrij–Peiters as second choice
    with the stand byes
    Maduro,Williams,veirgiver we will have a perfect defense

  5. Holding mid looks awesome with energetic players
    Strootman,Anita,Leroyfer,Clasie and Deguzman
    Wow engertic,yooung ,skilled players for that spot……we cannt fail a match if we pair any of these 2 holding mids…

  6. affelay: he will be probably on loan in a epl team. 3 teams are interested,el mundo deportivo doesn’t name any of them. inter were also interested,but with cassano’s arrival they no more need him. barca don’t want to sell him,they will monitor his performances,and next summer will decide if they want to keep him or definitely sell him. actually he’s even not in the 20-men squad travelling to pamplona this weekend.
    a loan would be the perfect solution for both the player and the club. injuries are never welcome,but his last september injury changed his fate at barca. last year with villa’s long injury, alexis fitness struggle, pedro’s injuries and bad form,ibi could have become an “almost” regular,but this year with villa’s return, an in-form pedro and cristiano tello ibi wouldn’t have enough playing time. i always like the idea of dutchies playing at barca,but in his case (at least for this season) a loan is the best solution.

    dutch clubs soon will have the same impact on european clucompetitions as hungarian clubs :-(((( this is really bad. i used to love dutch clubfootball in the past,but i cannot seriously support teams that every years sell their best players. you cannot build teams under these circumstances.

    1. I also hope Afellay is finding himself a nice club to get more playing time. I have always hoped he and RVP were able to play together at clublevel, but this would mean for Afellay at United again sporadic playing time. I would also like him to go to Schalke to play behind KJH.

      About Dutch club football. I made a little graphic about the points Dutch clubs have been able to accumulate per year over the past period.


      I think this year we will drop, but it has not been too bad. There has even be a clear upward trend. The thing we all realize of course is, that the points are accumulated in Europa league and that it looks like a Dutch club will never be able to make any impact in the CL again, while that was the case in the past. Who knows what FFP will mean to this painful reality. However the occupation rate of Dutch stadiums remain with England and Germany the highest in the world and the Netherlands is relatively a rich country also because of financial discipline. FC Porto has more debt I think than all Eredivisie clubs combined. I hope that the clubs and people that act responsible are rewarded on the long run.


  7. Dear Robin Van Persie,
    You seem to like red, since you almost always perform when a red color is placed on your shirt. Why don’t you imagine orange as being red and perform on a national level for god’s sake…

    1. To be honest, I don’t think RVP was as good as he could have been. His goal was a “something out of nothing goal”. It demonstrated a very high level of skill. He also had a good assist on Raphael (header) and a good assist on Young (sending deep). 2 of his corners lead eventually to 2 more goals. The 2-1 and 3-1 were IIRC, game situations directly after his corners, meaning that he at least makes it difficult for the opponents to control his inswingers.

      That’s the good. The bad was his overall absence in the game and his team members lacking in trying to get him more involved. Apart from the egotistic Young not passing to a free standing RVP in the box there are 2 problems that bother me.

      1. Kagawa’s dominance behind him could have the same effect as Sneijder has on him. Also RVP only became so dominant at Arsenal when Fabregas behind him went to Barca. RVP is easily dominated my team members with passing power, who function like distribution disks in the team. These are other types than Ozil or Kaka, who also have the ability to run with the ball, even get passed a player and in that way could be synchronized with on the run. These players are ideal for RVP. The type that plays the architect and makes the game evolve around him (Sneijder being a prime example) decapitates a part of RVP’s game and makes him into a pretty one dimensional player, while he is so much more. This danger now also exists with Kagawa who is a brilliant player and passer of the ball. Other then the dead ball moments that RVP was allowed to take, his goal and 2 “assist”, what struck me was the lack of involvement from his side. However I must see more games of Kagawa and RVP together (what will happen now Rooney is out with a serious injury) if this is something that will remain. Kagawa is more dynamic that Sneijder. He is everywhere it seems. Also club football allows you to work day in day out with each other, whereas in NT football you only spend very short moments together. I see perspective, but there is much work to do.

      2. When Rooney came in, he was played on top! RVP was dropped deeper. This is bad as I don’t find RVP very good in that spot. He was even horrible for Dutch NT against Portugal on 10. Many people have this idea that RVP can play in any attacking position, but not me anymore. I don’t like him on the wing and I don’t like him on 10. He has gotten worse on that position. In the past he was oke over there, but not anymore and that is funny as often you see it going the other way. Creative strikers get positions over time, deeper in the field. That’s the trend, but with RVP it goes into a different direction.

      Apart from these 2 points I hope Young gets a reprimand from SAF. I already counted the tap in RVP could have made.


      1. Once again superb analysis DRB3000!

        Now, we’ve just learned that Rooney’s injury will keep him away for a whole month. And that RVP will thus be the sole #1 striker. How do you think this will change the dynamics within Uniteds offence. Do you think this extra responsibility will give RVP also the opportunity to “prove himself”.

        Maybe this spirit could then rub-off into his role in Oranje? Can we dream?

        Read the report here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1311529-rooney-injury-saves-ferguson-from-van-persie-dilemma-at-manchester-united

        1. Thank you Matias,

          To answer your question, I don’t think RVP was ever to struggle to get playing time under SAF or would not get his chance to prove himself, though I expect him to get less minutes than at Arsenal obviously, who milked him a bit last season or in any case, was pushing his limits.

          I have 3 reasons for that:

          1. His transfer sum. A big transfer does never guarantee lot’s of playing time, but it will bring up the thought with the decision makers that they have totry to make something from their investment. Buyers just look stupid if they put an expensive player on the bench after a few failed performances, as it also looks bad on their assessment skills and their ability to carry out the job they were hired to do. He was around 25 million Pounds and also gets a nice salary, so that’s enough money for the proper motivation to explore all possibility’s to make him succeed at United.

          2. RVP has no resale value. It is even rumored that RVP was a gift for SAF and his last 2 years at the club as he wants to go out with an EPL win and for that he thought he needed RVP. This makes it even better as SAF apparently really wanted RVP. Now he has the toy he wished for, you bet he will use it for the few years he can as RVP is already 29 years old.

          3. I don’t really think RVP and Rooney are competing with each other. Not saying you won’t see them subbed for each other from time to time, but the prime competing couples IMO are RVP vs Hernandez vs Welbeck (though he can play on the wing also) and Rooney vs Kagawa. The fact Rooney played on top of RVP does not change this (or does not change this for now) as SAF is a coach that loves to play his guys out of position. The fact we conclude RVP might not do well behind Rooney, is something he could not care less about.

          Will this rub off to the NT?

          I wish I knew. I won’t hold my breath over it. I have waited really long for RVP to start to perform in Dutch NT. Yes I remember his goal against Ivory Coast. I remember his goal against Italy. For people who have seen all games at especially the last 2 tournaments it is clear RVP is not able to do the same for country as for club. That also has to do with Dutch NT’s playing style under BvM and the fact the striker was very isolated. Huntelaar is also isolated (have we seen him against Portugal? I have not!), but it does not effect his scoring ability. When he gets that change he is able to shoot it in. RVP looks like he gets worse because of it. Denmark, that first touch in the box, ball from Wesley looked so not RVP. Was not even able to control a simple ball over the ground that would have given him a clear shot on goal.

          So if the striker is a more involved in the 4-3-3, then yes, if not, then no.

          I thought Huntelaar had a number of touches against Belgium (all bad ones by the way), but to say he was really involved? Not really IMO. With Sneijder and VDV behind him, he really has to deal with two architects who like the game to evolve around them and have not an own action to get to him. They always look to launch him, or VDV likes to combine but at the end of the combination it’s him doing the launching again and defenders know this. He would remain the “tool” that is used to express their game, rather than having a strong own voice in the game play I am afraid. So it might be a matter of personnel chances. I have always opt for Afellay behind RVP. I know you get a pretty blind player in a slot that should be fulfilled by a creative and visionary mind, but RVP’s vision and creativity all over the attacking third, would be unlocked by playing such a player behind him. You give some, you get some. Afellay would run and dribble with his head down towards his best buddy all the time and RVP would start the synchronizing process he is so good at. Looking for the optimal positioning in relation to Afellay and dropping here and there and sending that delicious ball over defenses he is so good at. Afellay would also possess the speed to receive those passes in an unexpected run from midfield and beat defenders, as he is fast enough. Sneijder and VDV are not. Sneijder and VDV’s aura’s just expel RVP from most of that attacking third working area where RVP thrives in, with his unexpected drops (drops on his own terms and chosen moments) and key pass delivery power over or through defenses.

          If a change of club means, he will learn new patterns that would improve his game for Dutch NT …. I don’t think so. I think RVP is RVP and a player of 29 is pretty much an end product. I think getting the most out of him is very much possible in Dutch NT and has always been possible, but we have chosen for Sneijder, not RVP.


      2. as always, very nice post DRB 300. However I want to argue the point you make that RVP only became dominant once Fabregas left. Remember the start of the 09-10 season? RVP was given the no. 9 lone striker role for the first time and him and Fabregas were both scoring and assisting freely (often setting up each other for goals). The only reason most people don’t remember RVP dominating back then is that he then picked up that nasty ankle injury in the November friendly vs. Italy (THAT Chiellini tackle that started all the horse placenta jokes), which pretty much ruined the rest of his season and meant he came in to the 2010 WC with no form whatsoever.

        Something similar also happened in the 10-11 season, with Cesc still at Arsenal. RVP missed most of the first half of the season with an injury, came back and scored 18 goals from January to the end of the season, putting him just two behind the golden boot winner, despite playing just over half the season.

        I think the difference here is that Cesc looked to play the ball to RVP almost every chance he got, taking full advantage of the intelligent runs in and around the box made by robin off the ball, whereas Sneijder looks to play the ball a bit earlier (to a breaking forward like Robben) or to take a shot if he is within range.

        1. Hi Igor,

          thank you for your response. This is an interesting observation:

          |I think the difference here is that Cesc looked to play |the ball to RVP almost every chance he got, taking full |advantage of the intelligent runs in and around the box |made by robin off the ball, whereas Sneijder looks to play |the ball a bit earlier (to a breaking forward like Robben) |or to take a shot if he is within range.

          Would you say, he was as dominant with Fabregas as he was last season, or as effective, but less dominant?

          there is this video from that season by the way:


          This gives indeed the impression that Fabregas did not eat away from RVP’s game so much as a Sneijder does IMO.

          Your observation gives me hope that he and Kagawa will be able to work it out with each other. I wished that with that shot on the post from Kagawa he would have given it to RVP. I feel that the egoistic tendency’s with certain players was strong and RVP became a victim of that in the first 2 games. SAF also said after Everton that the players looked not enough for RVP.

          This probably is a thing that we have to see enroll and give some time I guess.


  8. I’m watching Anita playing vs Chelsea and he has not had a good game. He has been too slow and barely touches the ball…naybe he just needs time to adapt to the EPL.

    1. I think Anita was very unlucky with the penalty as Torres also made a meal out of it (the Spaniard also got a yellow later on for simulation). Then there were 3 maybe 4 incidents were he made a bad pass leading to a (dangerous) turnover or didn’t intervene aggressive enough for my liking. Then there were glimpses of promise like in the 76th minute where he was surrounded by 2 or 3 players, get’s a very hard pass played to him and he is able to control it perfectly to pass it quickly to the next guy in front of him. Previous to that he also had a fine interception on Hazard who was running horizontal along the box to go for a killer pass or an own action. There were even more glimpses, but I think for his first EPl game against the CL title holders, playing 2 games in something like 48 to 60 hours (was also part of the EL squad on Thursday) he was not that bad. He didn’t go though the ice for me. Cabaye when coming to Newcastle, also caused 2 penalty’s. I think it is all part of the learning curve and with more games under his belt he will be able to phase out the mistakes by adjusting to the higher level he now is in.


      1. Respectfully disagree.

        Anita was a colossal moron. Every footballer should be able to pass the ball – it is a pre-requisite for playing the game. I’m certainly not going to get excited because Anita fleetingly demonstrated a skill he should already possess in spades.
        In fact, defenders are paid to defend – and that means stopping the ball, not the player.
        Anita is facing a very sharp ‘learning curve’ if he thinks he can get away with that sort of idiocy in the Premier League. He was a million miles from making that tackle. He has quick feet but a slow brain, sadly.

        1. ———————————————————-
          He has quick feet but a slow brain

          That’s a harsh conclusion so early. I can agree maybe on the fact it looked a bit stupid from his part, but to conclude from that he has a slow brain goes to far for me right now. I think Anita and Clasie are vital for Dutch NT in the future (to create a high tempo as they have both high handling speed) and so I really would like him to succeed at Newcastle or even make a big club transfer in a few years time, earned by his good performances in DM at Newcastle. His defensive ability’s are more to be found in forward interventions, coming from applying early pressure, than really defending on it’s own. That’s also the reason why he was always pretty poor as a left back. So that also means the team has to get used to his style and join with him in applying pressure from time to time. Also the attackers have to wall pass it more often to him. In fact he can be much more for the team, then I have seen so far, if team members would just pass it more often to him and that takes time as he has to win their trust first.

          Let’s just give him some time to get used to the league and everybody get used to him and see if he is able to become a good EPL player.


  9. Anita tripped Torres and conceded a penalty. Torres made it look worse than it was but it was enough for the referee to point to the spot! Other than that, he played ok. Nothing special.

  10. I saw the highlights of the Aston Villa – Everton game. Steven Pieenar scored a 4th minute wonder goal from outside the box. Vlaar was the defender who was came closest to challenge his shot. He was just a second late to react which gave Pieenar enough time and space to clear Vlaar’s stretched leg.

    Great individual effort by Pieenar but Vlaar could have at least deflected it. I didn’t see the whole game so I can’t comment on his overall performance.

    1. I caught a good number of fan comments and even the most negative one didn’t think Vlaar had a bad game. They start to learn his weaknesses (turns slow around own axis for example), but he and KEA were the better players yesterday.


    1. Well it was over the ground. He did not have to make a cross through the air and get it on the head of an attacker, which requires more skill. I sometimes wonder why the players like van der Wiel don’t take a look at Valencia from Manchester United and do the thing, what he build a career on. Just shoot the ball as hard as possible over the ground into the box and watch the pinball result. I think that is something he is able to do and also something with a much higher return. Van der Wiel and consistent semi accurate crosses through the air that are workable for a striker will happen when hell freezes over.


      1. hehe’ too judgmental on a guy who is only 24. Did I just freeze in hell and wake up learning that football is evolving too quickly and that the final verdict on a player’s skill is out @24? call me old skul but players peak at 28, which is a crucial point and what separates the men from the boys…
        I actually want him to stay at Ajax,especially having Van Rhijn breathing down his neck. Fierce competition only makes one better and better. Let him develop
        I hope I’m wrong, but we are already very close to judging (negatively) about Willems, who is what? 18 years old

        1. Hi Gio,

          Did not try to give a total verdict on the player if it came across that way. I am frustrated about VDW’s inability to deliver a good cross (one of the skills that could come in handy for Dutch NT) and give an alternative method. I do agree on your Willems point by the way. 18 years and pundits are already giving their verdict about the limits of the players potential, by comparing him with BMI and his talent who is 2 years older. Much to early to say anything about Willems and in fact a great story so far.


  11. What a show by Ajax! Moisander is exactly what we needed. Fabulous football at times and amazing goals especially the last 3. I am sad Janssen is leaving though as I think he would have been useful.

    1. they have really impressed me thus far. Seems FDB has things in order. I doubt they can make an impact in Europe this year, but if he keeps this up and keeps dipping his pen in the academy’s ink, i think ajax can go far a few seasons from now.

  12. At some times before Euro12.i thought BVM would have called Ronald koeman for a richly experienced defender..after calling bouma i really doubted it,he was forced to use 18 year old williams.

  13. Watching PSV-Groningen, not a great game to be honest so far, PSV mainly working on the break, Groningen barely able to keep possession.

    Lens is showing his lightning speed, Strootman with some nice passes, MVB is playing ok, had a wicked shot on goal though.

    Willems is also playing ok…and Atiba Hutchinson just scored a beautiful goal!

  14. man, de jong really feels comfortable when he is playing with a strong and secure defensive mid (yaya toure). He disputed a ball in liverpool’s half when liverpool had ball possession.

    1. Goes to show that a player can only perform well if the rest of the team takes care of their part of the job. Without a solid and trustworthy defense Oranje might as well leave their offence at home. I know everybody loves the attacking style of play that Oranje is known for, but right now I would rather they win at least a few games without conceding any goals than scoring a lot. Even if they would be up by 8 goals they should not allow any goals in return.

  15. btw, robben was very active yesterday during bayern’s game. and you know where he played for most of the game (wait for it…) on the left. 1 assist (well it bounced on the kiper) and 1 goal(well it was a cross and deflected by the defender)

        1. In a 4-3-3?

          I like Strootman and Fer a lot — in part because they’re both over 6′ tall, and can dominate space.

          Hope they come along for the NT soon.

  16. @Gabriel,
    I also think Strootman and Clasie combination should be tried. I like what I see from Clasie on the defensive end of the equation. He would add more confidence and reliability until we get a new set of 1st choice defensive line.

  17. The problem is not having 2 defensive midfioelders, the problem is that Nigel can not attack at all but I think having Strootman and Fer is a good idea as we all know they can defend well but also create good goals.

  18. Nigel is a good player but he is just a destroyer most of the times I’d love like most of you that LVG tries Clasie, Strootman and Fer.





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