Feyenoord chooses youth

A lot of great things in the world are born out of necessity. In the golden 1970s, Feyenoord was one of the more wealthy clubs in the world. A massive stadium, one of the most intriguing coaches ever ( Ernst Happel) and a sensational team with the likes of Israel, Kindvall, Van Hanegem and Wim Jansen. And a nice and shiney European Cup.

But the money went and not only in Rotterdam…. The Dutch football culture has been eroded and only Ajax has been able to keep the Dutch flame alive with their tremendous youth academy over the last decades.

Feyenoord may have won the UEFA Cup in 2002, but that was quite an anomaly and done with players brought in by Bert van Marwijk from other clubs, such as NEC’s Kees van Wonderen, Go Ahead Eagles’ Bosvelt, NAC’s Pierre van Hooijdonk and Japanese wunderkind Shinji Ono. The only local talent in that team was Robin van Persie and he made it hard for Van Marwijk to commit him to the club.

But the dramatic financial results of the last ten years has forced Feyenoord to do the only thing possible: focus on their own talent development.

Koeman recognises Louis van Gaal in the stands

The biggest asset Feyenoord has (and has had) in this field was lured back into the club: Wim Jansen. The old fox got his son-in-law Stanley Brard, former Feyenoord defender (and notoriously left winger when Johan Cruyff was with the club) to lead the Feyenoord academy and the rest is history. Players like Leroy Fer, Jonathan de Guzman, Georginho Wijnaldum, Jerson Cabral, Jordy Clasie, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Luc Castaignos came through and in some way or format have created value for the Stadium club.

And the Feyenoord fans have shown their appreciation. By filling up the stadium in every home game. While the scouts of big clubs from England, Italy, Germany and Italy find ways to buy tickets to De Kuip as well.

With Ronald Koeman at the helm for yet another season and youngsters Boetius and Vilhena recently signed new long-term contracts as well. The next targets for technical director Martin van Geel are Stefan de Vrij ( desired by Chelsea) and Graziano Pelle (desired by most women in Holland).

Stanley Brard is being chased by international clubs as well. Not so much to make a jump to these clubs but to explain how he does it. Martins Indi is a typical example of a player who benefited most from Brard’s approach.

Ted Immers

Until his 17th, the strong defender was never seen as a great talent. But Brard recognised – with his team of youth coaches – that the tall Martins Indi has the basic requirements for a defender: mental strength, focus, heading skills and speed. By working with him on an individual basis, Martins Indi’s vision and technical skills improved sensationally,

That Martins Indi is now symbol for the new Feyenoord. Talented, hard working and definitely a lad who is ready to move even higher up. The Feyenoord fans adore him and the interaction between him (and the other players) and the Legion is tremendous. Louis van Gaal has discovered the youngster and with two goals to his name in Oranje, most international top teams have his name on the list as well.

Feyenoord expects to be able to sell some of their best players every season, and sees this as a way to make the club financially healthy. And Stanley Brard is convinced that if Feyenoord can limit those transfers to two per summer, the academy should be able to keep up. Brard also gets lots of offers from foreign clubs for consultancy, as they would love to adopt the development philosophy. One of the key elements for Feyenoord, being awarded as the best youth academy of the nation for three years in a row, is the use of ex players, such as Roy Makaay, Gaston Taument, Joop Hiele, Wim Jansen and Michel Valke.

“We can expect financial injections into the club based on our education. Clubs want to buy our know-how and we will export youth coaches to China or Columbia, to set up youth academies there.”

Roy Makaay is working hard on delivering strikers. The former phantom supported super striker John Guidetti last season and is now thrilled to support new phenomenon Graziano Pelle. One player he has a weak spot for is Anass Achahbar, the 18 year old stocky center striker of the Feyenoord C-youth.

“Anass told me Feyenoord shouldn’t sign Pelle,” laughs Makaay. “He said: you have me! But Achahbar, strong on the ball and handy in the use of his body, is too young to carry all that pressure on his shoulders. He will have to wait.”

Anass Achahbar scored another goal

The young talent gets his minutes in Feyenoord 1 and scored a thrilling goal late in the Sparta Prague European cup game. With a typical backheel. “These goals, you basically score instinctive.”

Achahbar burns with ambition. His age is nothing to him. “My benchmark is very high. I want to reach the absolute top. I have always wanted to play, every day. I am not happy with my current role. I want to play as much as possible. I want to hear my name chanted, I want to be important for the club.”

Feyenoord copped some criticism from the likes of Willem van Hanegem when a number of “could-be” players were signed from mid-tier clubs. Vormer, Goossen, Singh, Immers, Janmaat, Verhoek… With the risk that talented youth players would – again – be put on hold, development-wise.

But talent will always emerge and it’s Ronald Koeman who has chosen to play youngster Boetius and Vilhena over more established names like Verhoek and Vormer, while Janmaat and Immers have proven real assets to the team.

The player who dominates the spotlight in Rotterdam now, is – again – the center striker. This time, it’s Graziano Pelle. On loan from Parma. The lanky, elegant Italian was scouted years ago by Louis van Gaal for AZ, when Van Gaal saw the striker excel for Young Italy. But Pelle was never a success for AZ and hardly found the net in 3 years with the Alkmaar club.

Also in his homeland, Pelle never made it as a prolific striker.

Ronald Koeman took a gamble on the fan favorite. “I worked briefly with him at AZ and despite his lack of goal scoring, you could see he was very skilful. If I needed to chance a last minute deal with a striker on loan, I preferred him as I know his personality and he knows me and he knows Dutch football. I knew that with the right team around him, and wingers to service him, he would score 10 to 15 goals in the season.”

Pelle already scored 10 in the Eredivisie.

Koeman thinks it’s too early to talk title, but it’s clear that with Twente, PSV and Ajax not in best form, Feyenoord could wriggle itself between the contenders.

Daryl Janmaat: attacking defender

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  1. Problem with Dutch clubs in general and Feyenoord is to keep these young players up to 27,28 then it has a good chance to be competitive.
    Are Feyenoord and Ajax the only 2 clubs with good youth academy these days?

      1. Depay and van Ooijen, sure (although Depay was with Sparta until 06), but Locadia came from Willem II and Willems came from Sparta and PSV’s academy had absolutely nothing to do with him. Engelaar??????? he came to PSV when he was 30, and originally came from the Feyenoord system.

        IMO Sparta’s academy is one of the better ones in the country.

  2. Great article Jan.

    If one considers that from the generation Kongolo, Vilhena, Boëtius and Achahbar, 3 high profile players already have left the team (Rekik to City, Ake to Chelsea and Ebecilio to Arsenal) one can only conclude what a great academy Feyenoord (Varkenoord) has developed. The funniest thing of all is that the undressed A team (a team without all above players that belong to play in it) is number 1 in the Eredivisie competition for youth A teams. There are still 1 maybe 2 players that could make the first team and the high set ambition is to get 2 players into the first team per generation. Could have been 6, 7 or maybe even 8 if everybody had stayed.

    Word is that the A2 team is not that talented (will be A1 next season), but the 2 teams behind that one (B1, B2) could offer new exciting talents. It remains a question if talents are able to make the step to the first team and become a starting player over time of course.

    It’s a shame The 3 big talents have left Feyenoord. Behind BMI there is Kongolo but behind de Vrij there is as far as I know not a super talented kid and Rekik would have fit the bill, though he is left legged. Then Feyenoord would have played Rekik and Kongolo next to each other. When Clasie leaves at the end of the season (likely), Ake could have filled in and with Ebecilio as an option I would not have to look at one of the most ungraceful footballers in Eredivisie that goes by the name of Lex Immers. Manu can come back from Excelsior and Feyenoord would be close pulling a Barca, that played with only academy players in a recent match.

    It would be great for Feyenoord if they could become champs this year. It would reward education over purchasing power. Brama (FC Twente) complained today that FC Twente and PSV experience much more pressure, as they are advertised as buying clubs, while Ajax and Feyenoord experience less pressure as a result of people accepting more failure from clubs trying to reach success with academy players. I think that is a good thing and maybe it makes those clubs think about the road ahead. PSV in Europa League gave Brenet only 4 minutes of playing time for his debut in a meaningless game. What is that about? Why maintaining Manolev while he wants to move to another club anyway. Play Brenet at least 45 minutes. If players that have reached their ceiling and make mistakes (though Manolev did not do bad in this game) then I rather see those made by talents, as then it’s an investment in their development and serves a long term goal. FC Twente wants to have a great academy soon, but if I look at how they sold and treated Ola John I can only ask … why? Munsterman told the media Ola wanted to go at all cost and there was nothing he could do. Reality was that Munsterman already had bought Tadic and either Chadli or Ola had to be sold to pay for that transfer. They choose to sell their first big prospect in years after only 1 year of shining in Eredivisie and wrapped the sell into a dirty lie that put an harmful label on the boy as a money grabber. What a way to treat your own Tukker.

    Talking about Ola John, I am over the moon about his development. Against Barca (B) he was the best man of the field in the first half IMO. Second half he faded, but still put that chance in the final seconds of the game on a silver plate. General shooting was also hard due to the strong wind. I think Ola John is on his way to become one of the best crossers in world. His corners are also consistently good and dangerous. Then he is also able to give the creative pass from midfield, almost like a play maker. Rumor has it that a family member of Ferguson attended the game and was there for a winger. First suggestions were Gaitan and Tello, but I have this feeling Ola John fits the United profile. He is two legged and so can play left and right, which United wants I think. That having said, Ola has just come in and Benfica can ask what they want (which they will). Nani needs replacement if he goes and Young can’t cross that well. Ola assisting RVP is something I would look forward to.

    For the rest, I have seen Dortmund vs Wolfsburg and maybe it’s time people consider Dost a real threat for Klaas Jan Huntelaar. Huntelaar is going through a bad period and Dost created a penalty situation, got an opponent send off in the process (should have scored in that situation though :)) and scored the all important third goal for his team, securing the 3 points. Dost and Hunter are both underwhelming players IMO, as they are box players, having box intelligence as that is called today (“schoffie loerders” if you ask me), but the flip side of living off from your goals, is that when you don’t score much anymore, you have nothing going on to keep you any longer in the team. Dost fits the same profile and does score (while not being the penalty taker for Wolfsburg). I also say this as Huntelaar has been a problem in the last Euro and I have no problem to let him know that he can do that again as there are other options for him.

    I saw Anita on Monday in an EPL game. He was arguably MOTM. Certainly one of the best players. I hope the coach will play more 4-3-3 and Anita really being able to own that DM spot. I think he played more right midfield in the game I watched (not sure), but I think he is making progress after a bumpy start at the barcodes. He would be served well with de Vrij behind him I think and Newcastle need a right center defender. Curious if they have the guts to go for a footballing defender, rather then a no nonsense figure ramming the balls away. As Krul is (almost) first keeper and Anita a prospect, I would like a de Vrij at that club.

    I saw glimpses of De Guzman. It looked pretty good and his (long ball) delivery remains impressive. The third goal of Michu was in fact all de Guzman. It looks like he can put it wherever he wants. Is he better than Maher currently? He might be an interesting option for the right midfield position against lightweight opponents. Against tough opponents he lacks metal.

    Elia keeps getting subbed off somewhere in the second half and looking at his stats: only 2 assists and 0 goals. There is something ineffective about him.

    Nigel had a great game against Juve recently and seems to settle in at Milan. Emanuelson seems to be sidetracked a bit.

    Sneijder and Robben are known cases. I am curious what club eventually will go for Sneijder. Important for Dutch NT IMO.

    Tomorrow I look forward watching van Ginkel, the PSV-FC Twente match and the Manchester derby.


  3. Jan, good article but I am not sure how you can say Feyenoord chose youth when they bought Janmaat (not feyenoord product), Immers (same), Pelle (not even Dutch who already played at AZ in the past)and of course Mathijsen (enough said about him). Last year they also bought Shacken who is 30 years old. In fact, I think they have made bad decisions by not allowing some of their youth products to develop. Don’t forget they also have Vormer (former AZ and Roda) and Goosens (former Ajax and NEC). Frankly I would be stunned if Feyenoord were to win the title.
    Great game by Ajax today. 4 wins in a row now and almost caught up with the league leaders. Boerrigter is really coming back game by game. Give credit to de Boer to come out of the group of death and be the sole Dutch representative in Europe. The style of play is great and with more bite in attack (thanks to Fischer and Boerrigter), Ajax is looking like the real deal again.

    1. That is correct Jeff. That is the criticism people have within Feyenoord. Janmaat was a Feyenoord youth prospect before he left though. For him it’s coming home.

  4. @DRB like u said De vrij,Dost,De guzman,Patrick van annholt looks deal.i think they deserve a call and playing time.thank god De vrij is already in.Annholt should be slected ahead of Williams as RB.Dost mus be given chance at the expense of kuyt or even hunter.Anita can be tried at times instead Dejong.De guzman can be tried at times of Vaart and wesly and even strootman.
    But all these are tough call.will LVG take a chance???
    IMO if he takes a gamble or chance he will SUCCEED.like he did against turkey…

    1. I think van Gaal is making more and more sense with every game I see him manage the NT. How delightful to have a top coach with balls. That doesn’t mean I agree with him or like him on a personal level, but I do understand his reasoning. Van Gaal has chosen to work with profile sketches and give trust to a player for only 1 game. It’s not so much that you play a good game and so have earned your spot for the next game, it’s also the case that he has all players in his laptop for a profile and when he needs “this kind of player for that type of game” he will give a 1 game ticket to let the player prove he can execute the role well.

      The opposite was Bert van Marwijk. He quickly came to his first 11 that created the strongest and most balanced team in his view and then started to use every game to build patterns between those first 11 players, both in the football department and communication. His view was that international football allowed the coach to have few moments with his team and so had to use it optimal to build familiarity between the first 11.

      Pretty much opposite’s IMO. Van Gaal’s approach is much more tactical orientated and with his philosophy there is a much bigger role for the coach to play on the field. I say in the field as Bert talked a lot with these guys and especially in a kind of “Socrates way”, asking them questions all the time. “How do you deal with this situation?”. “Are you able to reach your own level also against mediocre opponents?”, “What do you want to achieve?”. I loved van Marwijk for the second question. Before him friendly’s and games vs San Marino and co where seen as obligations that had to be carried out. During his reign it became more a test for the players to see if they were able to reach their own level, which was important to win the WC. Bert thought that everything was a habit and winning was one as well. He wanted to build winning streaks or at least unbeaten streaks (as you 7 of those on a WC) and for that, players needed to reach their own level game after game. It’s no coincidence that under his reign we achieved FIFA nr 1 spot in an era where Spain dominates heavily and turns out to be one of the best teams in NT history. To beat that in points, in it’s peek, even for a month or so, is no small achievement.

      Going back to van Gaal and explain why I take this detour, Dost is in the profile sketch with Huntelaar, but not with Kuyt. They are separated profiles.

      Consider this. Huntelaar has quite some status in Germany as last year’s top scorer (both in goals and goals+assists, which is a separated title in Germany) and is also broadly seen by Dutch public and himself as second striker behind RVP, if not first striker ahead of RVP. Yet in the game vs Germany, Huntelaar was benched full 90 minutes. Full 90! The guy plays in Germany and feels badly about not being allowed to play them. Plus there is a psychological factor that players operating in a certain country’s competition do better against that country’s NT, along the lines of players doing better against their ex club. There is some kind of extra proving going on in those games for players then. Yet van Gaal brushes that all aside and plays Kuyt, as he needs a hard working, roaming striker that frustrates the build up from the opponent. He does not care for special feelings or status(loss) of players.

      I have always wondered why Huntelaar is even played against top opposition as the team will get very few moments to the other side and he is also very slow in the sporadic counter situations. I feel that van Gaal finally has addressed this issue and really looks at what he needs in certain games.

      The only problem I have with van Gaal is that he sells himself as the white knight of Dutch football, while he only uses moderate pressure and I have seen little intricate passing so far. We are more a dangerous counter team under his management then a dominating ball possession team. I respect the results, I also understand why he does what he does, but it should be made more clear, also by himself, that there is little difference between him and van Marwijk in how he let’s his team play (which is something different from general approach and how to utilize certain players for the game type that is played (which is a big difference between the coaches)).

      So concluding, in games Huntelaar answers to the profile sketch that is needed, Dost can be in the discussion too. When Huntelaar does not answer, Dost will probably neither and both players will be out of the discussion to play ahead of Kuyt, which is a different kind of player. De Vrij is a favorite of van Gaal. He was only injured recent time. When fit again, he already played against Germany, did well and “only” has to improve his decision making in the passing department when making a deep run with ball. Left back is up for grabs IMO. Willems, van Aanholt, BMI, Blind. They are all in the discussion and I feel there is little room between them. 2 or 3 good or bad performances at club can tilt the choice towards a certain player. For the right midfield position we now have Strootman, Maher, Fer, Afellay, de Guzman and van Ginkel. I have Sneijder and van der Vaart down on the left midfield, though van der Vaart played right midfield vs Belgium. De Guzman brings something in the creative department, especially with his delivery, that could help the Huntelaar and Dost type of player greatly. When we face a bunker team, that could be a great way to brake them down. In these matches I would play de Guzman at least 45 minutes and see if he can deliver. He won’t play for Canada, he has had huge part of his football education in Netherlands and I think he is performing better than Maher at the moment for example. It’s a bit harsh for him not even be in the preliminary squad, while a player like Janmaat is making minutes. De Guzman can produce more good crosses in 1 match than Janmaat in his entire football career, though they play in different positions of course. I think van Ginkel can become the long term choice for many matches in the future though. He can match Strootman in his defensive toughness and solidness, yet has a better technique, is more box to box and is also quicker off and on ball. He has better handling speed than Fer and tries to solve more problems with football then with power. If you compare him with Afellay, the first thing to notice is his perfect attitude. Afellay is hated in the group for his arrogance. Van der Meyde recently underscored this in a pundit show talking about his book and mentioned Afellay’s attitude during his time at PSV. This is toxic for the team process and van Ginkel is tiptop for the cohesion as he is humble and nice to everyone. Over de Guzman he has obviously defensive solidness. All in all van Ginkel could nail that spot for Brazil 2014 if keeps developing the way he has until now and does not dip next season.


  5. RVP…wow.

    PSV needs a win, been a tough few weeks.

    Great write up Jan and DRB, i always enjoy reading your analysis.

    One thing on Dost, i dont think a 1-1 comparison between KJH and Dost is so accurate. Dost is quicker than KJH and has better link up play. Him and LDJ have real talent, it just remains to be seen how much they develop. They are obviously no RVP, but we may never have another one.

    Whatever is happening with RVW, was killing it in Portugal, now we dont hear much. I guess dutch youth never learn, develop at home, then move on so they will actually play.

    I am very excited about our mid-field and defense. Wow. Van Ginkel is the real deal, he may be the all around MF we need. then u have strootman, maher, clasie, we are solid. BMI is impressive, as is De Vrij. I am not sold on Janmaat.

    I am curious to see how Pieters fits in when he comes back, he has less speed, but better technique and awareness.

  6. 2-0 Strootman awesome move and pass to Matavz.

    BTW, for those watching, a couple of minutes ago Strootman lost the ball near the opposite box, he went back, followed the player and stole the ball back. Huge value for the NT, moments like that …

  7. Yes of course I mean Ajax! Did you think I meant Willem II? Go and support your light bulbs or sorry should I say “boeren”! I would rather stick to the classy Amsterdam. And by the way, just ion case you don’t know, goal difference won’t mean anything when we are 6 points ahead at the end of the season….

    1. Ok man, I’m naturally an Ajax fan, Dutch has no meaning without ajax, we have a lot of respect for team who beat us with 3 goals and more than 70% position, no doubt ajax is best dutch team for now, but with all respect their go nowhere this year, i hope u can reach second place (i promise to pray for ur poor team) and come to CL with us, because Twente and Vitesse and Feyenoord cannot compare with u, don’t forgot we have young players like Lens, Narsingh, Strootman, Willems, Depay, Wijnaldum. how a dutch fan cannot respect us with these players however we don’t make them big, but all of them all netherland future, and they r in our team, so my friend with all respect for Ajax, this cup would go to Eindhoven this year.
      be patient for next year if we allow u to reach something. and just one small thing, “madrid score 8 goals against u, it is too obscene u win somehting this year,
      Jeff, my friend. i hope Ajax finally reach something next year 😉

      1. @Faraz big differnce between ajax and Psv are Advocate and FDB.Ajax will beat any team in eredivise and they are not going to loose any games.its really hard for PSV with advocate,thoygh they have some real good players.if ajax conceded 8 goals against Madrid then with bouma like defenders PSV will concede more.thats for sure.if Strootman leavs for MANU in winter,then it is finished for PSV.thats how reality is…..

  8. Players (Dutch or not) that you bought. There is not a single PSV product in the starting 11. How sad is that! We may have conceded goals against Real, but at least we played them. Where is PSV in the Europa League? Oh yes out!! Trust me, with Fischer, Boerrigter back at his best, Ewriksen, Siem and Babel, we will win it again this year. But I grant you this, if we don’t win, I want PSV to win as it is my second favorite team. We will see at the end of the season.

  9. Nigel is seriously injured people. Has a torn Achilles heel. Stands 6 months for. Feel bad for him and Milan. If that period is correct he will miss 3 games for Dutch NT:

    * Italy in February
    * Estonia and Romania in March

    The match after those 3 is in September and he should be able to make that. Hope he is able to recover much faster.

    1. At least it means more young players will have to be tested, its the same with the sneijder situtation. LVG cant play sneijder if he doesnt play for inter. So midfield has 2 spots up for grabs, im guessing LVG will stick to Strootman.

      My guess is gonna be


      MVG will come on as a sub

      1. I think Sneijder will have a new club by January. A rumor is that PSG want to sell Pastore and want to buy Sneijder. Just a rumor, but I do think he will be playing soon again at a new club. If Sneijder is not able to find a new club or is held back by injury, there is still VDV who was quite decisive with set pieces against Romania. If he is injured as well, there is still Afellay, though he has a tough time competing with Holtby and Draxler and is currently injured again. If those 3 are prevented from playing I would probably play this midfield vs Italy:


        Van Ginkel————————–Strooman

        Strootman is left legged so can play perfectly on the left side. On top of that, I have not really liked him so far on the right midfield spot. If Fer improves I can see him getting a starting spot, but the way he let Strootman run past him today and let him assist on the second goal raised an eyebrow with me.

        This is by the way van Ginkel’s goal of today:



        1. ——————-Clasie——————

          Van Ginkel————————–Strooman

          Very nice. That could be the future. But I have some doubts about Clasie there, although it doesn’t hurt to try and give him several chances. Otherwise, I would shuffle the cards a little bit and perhaps play Fer with MVG and Stroot.

          1. Hi Demi,

            I am a big Clasie fan as I am a bit of a handling speed fanatic. I value that quality in a midfielder like no other almost. It brought a smile to my face when a Dutch pundit, who takes care of all shows around Dutch NT’s friendly’s and sees all training sessions, told that Clasie was one of the 2 players being able to keep up with the position games played by the 3 best ones in this regard (RVP, VDV and Afellay IIRC, though I’m sure he forgot to name Sneijder). The other name was Nigel de Jong, but for me that player has dried up. You often see that players over time lose their creative spark and play everything save. Constant back passes and wide passes also bring the tempo down in a game.

            Clasie still has the creative pass forwardly (yesterday he gave the pass on Pelle that created the penalty for the 1-2) and he also has a good game mentality. He is a little pitbull that dispossess opposite players with precision, his short leg shooting out rather then making many “show tackles” going to the ground (that often takes the speed out of the game as the player first has to stand up again to make the next pass).

            I think that with 2 box to box players you needs a creative passer behind them to send them away, for otherwise their whole quality to go deep off ball (Strootman’s goal vs Finland) becomes decapitated and is not utilized. Also with box to box players that like to run with ball (van Ginkel), you bring the game speed down. Clasie’s quick release ability will bring things up to an overall acceptable level and allow you to outplay the opponent at least a little bit. Luckily van Ginkel has more side’s to his game and can vary between runs and quick passing.

            Another option remains Anita, especially with de Vrij behind him. I see Anita being able to build an excellent chemistry with this specific player, like he did with Vertonghen when Ajax went on a winning streak of 13 or 14 games in Eredivisie. I hope Pardew starts to see the light and starts playing 4-3-3 with Newcastle, so that Anita can develop himself properly and can offer Dutch NT soon another nice option. They play Fulham tonight.

            Fer is indeed a possibility, but I fear for our ability to be creative with an all running midfield. 3 or 5 runs creates surprise during a game, 20 or 30 runs, turns into a pattern the team will recognize quickly and becomes their main focus to address during a game. As you said on another day, it’s about the right balance in a team. With too many running you get into mailman football pretty fast. That is easy to defend by any defensive disciplined team and with an inexperienced back line as ours that can turn into a loss with 2 or 3 counters that most teams are able to produce during 90 minutes.


          2. DRB300, thanks for the reply and the very informative posts. I have a lot of respect for the information you bring forward and your opinions that are based on facts.

            As you mentioned in another post “Fer ticks off all secondary boxes” and I am in complete agreement. Clasie ticks off more primary boxes but the tick is not convincing enough – not yet. Gladly we agree he should be the first choice for the DM in a classic 4-3-3 formation. And Anita given the right circumstances can also be a serious consideration.

            We also agree that hard tackles slow the game and show some inability to defend by better positioning. Now Fer is young and he gets up quickly but NDJ can’t do that any more because he is “spent”.

            Ball handling speed is paramount. No disagreements there too. But we are facing an important question:

            Will we play 4-3-3? And if we do, where do we fit Wesley? Remember our old discussion about Wes not fitting well in the middle “3” part of the 4-3-3? That is a very important question to answer before we decide which players will play. We need to do the same thing that LVG does. We need to have a profile for each of the middle “3”. Personally I don’t see how Wes will fit there. He does not have the stamina/defense to be part of the middle “3”.

            If we play 4-3-3 then for sure Fer/Stroot/MVG @the same time do not fit very well in the middle “3”. We will have too many bouncers and although we will be a tough nut to crack we will get cracked eventually. But if we play 4-2-3-1 then the dynamics change and the profiles required change. We could put Stroot and MVG as “2” and move up Fer to shadow Wes and be his bodyguard throughout the game. It will be another un-Dutch formation but it could be effective against many opponents and gives a -hopefully fit- Wes the opportunity to pass balls/score uninterrupted.

            As you can see I am very concerned about Wes’ position in the team. He is a -1 when the others attack/counter-attack.

            As per the overall balance of the team, the percentage of “Van Bommels” versus the ball handlers, I have put some thought into this and I would like to request 2 or 3 such profiles in the team depending on the game. I definitely suggest a strong personality as one of the two CBs (like Krol/1978 – even if our guy knows half the soccer that Krol knew it would be good enough) and one DM (Stroot is my guy, I am 100% satisfied). On occasion, and if we need to play 4-2-3-1 I might need 3 “bouncers”. But 2 for sure.

            No matter how many handlers you have, no matter how intelligent the team is, you need the Van A**holes (to put it in a funny way) to win the WK. Remember 1974? We had the best footballing team ever made. And we lost. EK 1976? The Czecks tackled the living daylights out of us.
            Nederland is a small country – very intelligent extremely talented but “small”. We will never have the connections that Brazil/Germany/France/Spain have. We will never get a Webb style referee to whistle like that but in our favor. We need one Strootman in the middle (ok we got that) and one more Strootman for the CB position. At least. Then we can have a more realistic chance to let our ball handlers win the game against the mega opponents.

            I am watching sports for almost 40 years now. I would suggest you review/research the victories of Greece in the 1987 Eurobasket against the giants of the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union. You can draw a lot of parallels between that triumph in basketball versus a hypothetical WK victory by the Oranje. Greece beat Yugoslavia (Petrovic/Radja/Kukoc/Divac/Paspalj/etc) and the Soviet Union (Valters/Tkatchenko/Marčiulionis/Volkof/Kurtinaitis/etc) two giants of World Basketball and very well connected with “Webb” refereeing available if needed. That Greece had some excellent players but at least 2 out of 5 were “Van Bommel” in personality. Their job was to beat you no matter what 🙂

            I have huge respect for your opinions but I think you may want to broaden the context of your thoughts to include more of “less footballing” but realistic considerations.



  10. DRB300, I posted that Wes was going to PSG earlier today. It has been confirmed by AD but by nobody else.
    Steen, Fer is simply not good enough. I saw the whole game today against PSV and his touch is poor, his decision making even worse, and his vision sub par. I was very disappointed. He had a golden chance to score after he stole the ball from Strootman but shot way too early when he could have walked the ball into the net.

    1. Jeff I now see your earlier post, good catch. As I don’t really follow Ligue 1, I hope he goes to EPL or Bundesliga. One can only hope he and Mourinho are reunited at a club like City or so and go for another CL title, something the current City coach and players can’t give. 2 years in a row not past the group phase is pretty poor. I still remember Mourinho crying when Sneijder mentioned him in a CL award show IIRC.

      I also totally agree with you about Fer. He seems to be overrated on this forum, though he is just getting back from a big injury and is struggling to get back to his higher level, so yesterday’s game is selling him short. Fer ticks off all secondary boxes: strong, stamina, scoring ability from midfield (though this could be named under prime quality’s as well), he has a through pass, he can do some cleaning up in midfield, has a good penalty, but he lacks the prime thing: True football ability. He does not generate speed for the team as his handling speed is low. His first touch is indeed poor and can not add to high level intricate passing that is necessary to solve high level football problems. With a guy like Fer it is harder to brake down teams. It’s not for nothing that FC Twente is in dyer need to add a creative mind to their selection of players (Djuricic from Heereneveen is named lately). There is no magic with him on the ball. With van Ginkel and Strootman Netherlands already have better options and if Maher is able to grow more I see him as a better option as well on midfield from the new lot.

      Still, it’s nice to have a Fer in the back pocket. I can see the ambition in his eyes when he dispossessed a Narsingh yesterday and Fer really wants to make a name for himself. Throughout all the youth teams, he was the boss and the big man at Feyenoord. I expect him to move to EPL in 2 years and his game style will get more respect over there I think.


  11. Robin van Persie – Top of the Match
    A quite glorious chested pass was the catalyst for the first goal and the Dutchman’s play was typified by less obvious but nonetheless crucial contributions. Picked the right times to dart forward and pull defenders away from Rooney in the first half and so unlucky to hit the post with a brilliant shot on the hour. Missed with a second-half header but deserved his late goal, despite the deflection, for his contributions.

  12. Bas Dost – Top of the Match
    Isolated up top for the majority of the match, but linked-up play well. Clinical finish to grab his side a victory in the 73rd minute.

    John Heitinga
    On as a late time-wasting sub.

    It looks that our senior players WC10-EC12, either injured, not in form, subs role, or lack of competitive match (Heitinga-nigel-rafael-sneijder-robben-van der wiel-pieters). Mathijsen now being sidelined after de vrij back from injury, which I think the end of his time in NT. Even Affelay was not in starting lie in the last 2-3 games.

    We can expect a fresh formation in March against Italy.

    Janmaat/RvR – Vlaar – BMI/Douglass? – willems/aanholt?
    Lens/narsingh – RvP – ola/ elia

    I hope fer, guzman, ola, aanholts and dost will be called as replacement for nigel-rafael-sneijder-and robben.

  13. Am more of a Heerenveen fan although I love Feyenoord’s play a couple of seasons ago when Diego Biseswar used to run havoc…where is he now?? What happened to talents like Furdjel Narsingh at Volendam, Prince Rajcomar, Kiran Bechan, Ricardo Kishna? Currently the only 2 players I follow closely are my beloved D.de Ridder & R.van La Parra…which reminds me did u see his amazing chip goal from over 30 yards and then dive onto van Basten a la Robben en van Gaal?

  14. Team of the week of 16:
    especial tnx to DRP300
    Goal Keeper: Boy Waterman (PSV Eindhoven)
    Defender: Cuco Martina (RKC Waalwijk) – Kees Luijckx (NAC Breda) – Marcelo (PSV Eindhoven)
    Midfielder: Filip Djuricic (sc Heerenveen) – Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven) – Yuki Otsu (VVV-Venlo)
    Attack: Graziano Pellè (Feyenoord) – Tim Matavz (PSV Eindhoven) – Danny Verbeek (NAC Breda) – Robert Cullen (VVV-Venlo)

  15. DRB300, I totally agree with your analysis. It is now the second time I see Twente play a whole game (Ajax first and now PSV) and they clearly lack creativity. Fer is too predictable, no incisive passing and not skillful enough.
    But I agree that it is good to have him in our back pocket.
    I watched the Ajax-Groningen match as well and I am really impressed with Ajax’s play. We have to recognize what de Boer has managed to achieve. This is good for the national team because we all know VG wants to play that style. Even against Real at the Bernabeu Ajax had almost 60% possession. The second half in particular, Real could not keep the ball at all, yet Real scored twice during the second half. Here is one of 2 problems Ajax has this season although it is getting way better: 1. tighter defense in transition after the ball is lost or turned over to the other team as the defense is extremely vulnerable to counter attacks (4 goals against Dortmund, at least 3 against Real, 2 against Man City. If they can pay more attention to this issue, they will really be good. On that note, both Blind and Van Rhijn are the best defensive backs in Holland by far.
    2. Not enough punch up front. That is changing since Fischer has emerged as the next big talent. He is so direct and his mere presence allows Eriksen and Siem to have more room and space.
    It really should be interesting for the second half of the season but frankly I don’t see any team that plays better football at the moment.

  16. Nice article, Jan. Thanks. I am a little late to reading it, and, as usual, there are alot of interesting and sueful comments above. My 2 cents is that Feyennord has been on a pretty good run since Vilhena began starting. Many things go into a good stretch of results, but he is a player to wathch for the future. (Came out of that youth team that won the Euro’s along, along with Rekik, Depay, Kongolo, Ebicilio, Achabar, Willems, Ake…quite a good group.)

  17. It’s great that Dutch clubs are developing players like they usually do.

    During the last years it was only PSV and Ajax but now Feyenord is doing a great job developing good players and added to that there are other teams working with their youth academies like Twente!, AZ, Vittesse, Herenveen.

    I also love the fact that legendary players are taking charge of Dutch football like Davids, F. de Boer, Blind, Van Basten, Bergkaaaamp!, Edwin, Gio, Koeman, etc…

    What I don’t like is that top Dutch youngsters are sold very early and because of that they fail to shine. If only Dutch clubs could hold on to their young stars for a little more it would be great for the player and for the clubs as well.

  18. I’m with some of you here (TFCAjax, Demi, DRB300 and Miguel Rosado. No offense to Nigel De Jong but his injury means good opportunity for Clasie, Fer, Van Ginkel or Anita to pair up with Strootman. Strootman’s place is firmed. The other 2 I still see LVG will try and experiment. If the top 4 Dutch clubs (PSV, Ajax, Feyenoord and perhaps Twente) can be strong then it benefits our national team and I can dream of winning the WC.

  19. @ Demi (there is no reply option under your post above, so I put it here):

    I maintain an open view and like to learn everyday something new. However something else is to just choosing another kind of balance on a midfield, not only as a battle plan, but also to play a kind of football that benefits the greater good. I think this is where the problem lies when you talk about “broaden the context of your thoughts”. You use failures in the past as an example or maybe even as prove that one needs more players that can influence the game in our favor by their physical presence. May I add that the Dutch side of 1974 had Neeskens, van Hanegem and also a player you hailed, Krol in the line up? I don’t agree that those players would have lost due to only trying to win by playing football or not being able to dish it out. I’m going to leave this video here:


    Then the blueprint of Greece in basketball. It’s only one blueprint. The beauty of football is that there are more roads that lead to victory. Building more enforcers into a squad is certainly a way to win (I will never say it won’t be successful), but not “the way” per se. The premise that lies under this blueprint and has you convinced of the necessity to follow the blueprint, is something I do not agree with. The premise is, that Netherlands is never able to compete with bigger country’s in quality player output that can maintain high level passing and have high technical skill.

    I actually agree with that for how things have evelved and currently are set up and carried out in youth development in general in the Netherlands. I’m going to post an interview with a Belgium NT youth coach. Belgium is a smaller country than the Netherlands and per capita Netherlands has even more members playing the sport. So double advantage there, yet notice the ambition. If you don’t speak Dutch, you might want to use Google translation with this one:



    14 november 2012

    De Belgische fans genieten momenteel van de kunstjes van Kompany, De Bruyne en Hazard, maar ook hun opvolgers doen het lang niet slecht. Maak kennis met de Belgische U17, de volgende gouden generatie.

    Dit is de beste generatie die België ooit heeft gekend.” Deze quote over de Belgische U17 is er een van Jan Boskamp, fan van het eerste uur. Als namen zoals Charly Musonda Jr, Zakaria Bakkali, Andreas Pereira of Mathias Bossaerts u nog niet bekend in de oren klinken, weet dan dat het niet lang meer zal duren voor deze jonge talenten echt furore zullen maken. In een groep met Letland (5-0), Litouwen (2-0) en Nederland (1-2 verloren) wisten onze Belgische U17 zich makkelijk te kwalificeren voor de tweede voorronde van het EK. Sport/Voetbalmagazine wil weten hoe de toekomst van het Belgische voetbal eruitziet en ging daarom even aan tafel zitten met Bob Browaeys.

    Browaeys is al sinds 1999 trainer van de Belgische U17 en werd dertien jaar geleden samen met Frans Masson door de KBVB aangezocht om de trainersopleiding te coördineren. In die dertien jaar heeft Browaeys heel wat talentvolle spelertjes de revue zien passeren. “Dat is waar, maar ik vergelijk verschillende generaties niet graag”, begint Browaeys. “Ik spreek trouwens liever van een lichting dan van een generatie. Het klopt dat er momenteel enkele veelbelovende talentjes zitten aan te komen, maar tussen hun 16 en 20 kan er nog heel veel gebeuren. Het is pas binnen vier of vijf jaar dat we echt zullen kunnen zeggen hoe sterk de huidige U17 wel zijn. En hoe goed ze ook zijn, het zal voor hen moeilijker zijn dan voor de vorige lichting om het tot bij de Rode Duivels te schoppen. Ik heb ook de generatie van ’87 met Moussa Dembélé, Jan Vertonghen, Dries Mertens, Kevin Mirallas, Steven Defour, Anthony Vanden Borre en Jonathan Legear onder mijn hoede gehad. Zij hadden het – gezien de relatieve zwakte van de A-ploeg toen – makkelijker om tot de A-ploeg door te stoten. Ik herinner me nog goed hoe we met de generatie van ’87 op een haar na het EK misten.”

    Zijn zulke grote toernooien wel het belangrijkst voor jeugdteams? Browaeys vindt van niet. “Als je moet kiezen tussen een nationaal jeugdelftal op een groot toernooi hebben of talentvolle spelers opleiden die later het verschil maken bij de Rode Duivels, wat kies je dan? Ik kies voor de tweede optie. Wat niet wegneemt dat het natuurlijk interessant is voor de ontwikkeling van de jongeren om zich eens met talentvolle spelers uit andere landen te meten.”

    Van stugge speler tot dribbelkont

    Daar waar we vroeger technisch tekortschoten in vergelijking met onze noorderburen, staken de spelers van de U17 er in hun clash met Nederland op technisch vlak duidelijk boven uit. Het waren de Nederlanders die het van hun organisatie en fysieke power moesten hebben, terwijl de jonge Duivels vooral individuele acties maakten. “De hedendaagse Belgische voetballer is er eentje met een ietwat uitdagende speelstijl”, weet Browaeys. “In de jaren negentig werd ons vaak een gebrek aan visie verweten – en dat was ook terecht. Begin 2000 zijn we met z’n allen rond de tafel gaan zitten en ontwikkelden we het zogenaamde Vision 2000 waarin de doelen per jeugdcategorie duidelijk omschreven werden. De opdracht is bij elke categorie wel dezelfde: de actie durven maken. De allerjongsten leren dat in een-tegen-eenspelletjes en in een latere fase gaat dat van twee tegen twee over vijf tegen vijf tot ze uiteindelijk weten hoe ze elf tegen elf moeten spelen. Zo dwing je spelers al op jonge leeftijd om een keuze te maken tussen zelf dribbelen, passen of op doel besluiten.”

    “Mijn uitgangspunt is dat je de bal vaak moet raken om je op technisch vlak te ontwikkelen”, legt Browaeys uit. “Honderd procent balbezit houden is het – onbereikbare – doel. Als een speler de dribbel aangaat en uiteindelijk de bal toch afspeelt omdat hij geen andere oplossing meer ziet, vind ik dat niet erg. Het juiste evenwicht tussen dribbelen en passen kan hij later nog vinden. Ik vind een individuele actie maken in ieder geval geen teken van egoïsme. Wel integendeel: je probeert beslissend te zijn voor de ploeg wanneer je een actie maakt. Ik zal dan ook nooit tegen mijn spelers zeggen dat ze moeten passen in plaats van dribbelen. Ze moeten zich in de eerste plaats ontwikkelen. Het contrast met het verleden kan niet groter zijn. In de jaren negentig was het bijna verboden om individuele acties te maken. Tegenwoordig moedigen we dat net aan.”

    Straatvoetbal als voorbeeld

    “Het huidige opleidingsmodel is niet gebaseerd op een bestaand model, wel op de ideologie dat een kind in de eerste plaats moet houden van dribbelen en scoren en dat het daarvoor dan ook over de nodige technische vaardigheden moet beschikken. In Engeland zeggen ze dat voetbal a dribbling and shooting game is. Die basis proberen we de kinderen dan ook in de eerste twee jaar van de opleiding mee te geven. Samen leren spelen met ploegmaats komt pas later aan bod. Musonda Junior kijkt nooit nog naar de bal terwijl hij dribbelt. Net zoals Enzo Scifo destijds. Dat kan uiteraard alleen maar als je zo vaardig bent in het dribbelen dat het je geen moeite kost. Zodra je dat kunt, heb je meer tijd om rond te kijken, te zien waar je ploegmaats staan en waar de ruimte ligt. Als je een kind altijd dwingt om de bal meteen in te spelen, heeft hij zelf minder vaak de bal en ontneem je hem eigenlijk een soort persoonlijke ontwikkeling. Dribbelen is iets wat je op jonge leeftijd moet leren. Als je alleen maar goed bent in passes geven, schiet je later gegarandeerd tekort in het internationale voetbal.

    Straatvoetbal speelt een belangrijke rol in de visie van de voetbalbond. Het is onder meer daardoor dat we in onze nationale jeugdreeksen zo veel jongeren van allochtone origine terugvinden. Het belangrijkste is dat kinderen tussen vijf en acht vooral creativiteit ontwikkelen en zelf oplossingen weten te bedenken. Een speler zoals Bakkali is zo creatief geworden door dag in dag uit met dat balletje bezig te zijn. Hij is gewoon ongelukkig als hij geen bal aan zijn voet heeft. Soms zie ik hem zelfs in de lobby van het hotel voetballen.”

    Groeien in het buitenland?

    Eden Hazard werd opgeleid bij Lille terwijl Jan Vertonghen en Thomas Vermaelen al op jonge leeftijd naar Ajax vertrokken. De keuze voor het buitenland wordt steeds vroeger en makkelijker gemaakt. Bij de U17 zijn er vijf spelers die in het buitenland spelen, waarvan drie in Engeland: Musonda Jr (Chelsea), Mathias Bossaerts (Man. City) en Andreas Pereira (Man. United).

    “Een opleiding bij een buitenlandse club is volgens mij nochtans niet noodzakelijk om het later te maken”, zegt Browaeys. “De Belgische jeugdcompetities zijn echt wel van hoog niveau. Vanaf de U11 spelen de eliteclubs onder elkaar. Dat kan in het buitenland vaak niet omdat de afstanden daar te groot zijn. Er wordt in België steeds beter gewerkt met de jeugd. Wat jeugdtrainers en inhoud van de opleiding betreft, zitten we in de top vijf van Europa. Op vlak van infrastructuur en aantal medewerkers is er evenwel nog werk aan de winkel. Als je het vergelijkt met het geld dat er in de A-ploeg wordt gepompt, wordt de jeugd nog al te vaak te zwak bedeeld. Onze jeugdtrainers krijgen ook zelden een degelijk salaris. Daarom zie je het vaak gebeuren dat een goede jeugdcoach na een paar jaar een eersteprovincialer gaat trainen – niet omdat hij dat liever doet, maar omdat hij daar wel betaald wordt. Als je dan weet dat jeugdtrainers in Nederland en Engeland vaak fulltime in dienst zijn… Maar ik blijf zeggen dat je als jonge voetballer niet naar het buitenland hoeft te trekken. Kijk naar Kevin De Bruyne en Axel Witsel, die zich in de Jupiler Pro League perfect hebben weten te ontwikkelen tot ze klaar waren voor een stap naar een grote competitie. De Belgische competitie is sowieso voor de meeste talentvolle spelers een tussenstap. Hoe beter we onze jeugdopleiding maken, hoe minder spelers ik op jonge leeftijd naar het buitenland zie vertrekken. Clubs zoals Racing Genk, waar jongeren ten volle hun kans krijgen, zijn in die optiek ook belangrijk voor het Belgisch voetbal. Ook bij Anderlecht worden jonge talentjes steeds vaker in de ploeg gedropt. Dat kan alleen maar een extra reden zijn om toch wat langer in België te blijven.”

    Het moge duidelijk zijn dat het succes van de Rode Duivels de buitenlandse scouts naar ons kleine Belgenlandje lokt. En die scouts kijken hier hun ogen uit. “De buitenlandse clubs zijn dol op Belgische spelers. Het succes van de Rode Duivels zit daar uiteraard voor veel tussen. We mogen evenwel niet vergeten dat we hier in een vijver van amper 400.000 aangesloten voetballertjes vissen. In vergelijking met het miljoen spelers waaruit Nederland kan putten, blijft dat een relatief kleine vijver.”

    De kleine Belgen

    “We hebben er bij de KBVB voor gekozen om ook met de zogenaamde laat-volwassenen te werken”, zegt Browaeys. “Spelers van wie je ziet dat ze wel talent hebben, maar die op lichamelijk vlak pas heel laat volwassen worden. Dat zijn vaak jongens die zelfs in hun club niet aan spelen toekomen. Die jongens proberen we te combineren met jongens die wel al volgroeid zijn om zo tot een interessante mix te komen. De bedoeling is dat we die kleinere spelers zo niet verliezen en we ze bij de U19 kunnen zien doorgroeien naar een basisplaats. Dries Mertens is een voorbeeld van zo’n laat-volwassene. Mertens kwam zowel bij Anderlecht als bij Gent niet aan spelen toe, terwijl ik hem toen al technisch superieur en vooral ook heel intelligent vond. Men verweet me vroeger dat ik hem bleef oproepen. Sommigen noemden me zelfs ‘de lilliputtercoach’.”

    Bij de huidige generatie U17-spelers zijn er veel kleine jongens die barsten van het talent. “Dat klopt, maar het blijft moeilijk om in te schatten wie het nu wel en wie het net niet gaat maken. Dat hangt van zo veel verschillende zaken af. Welke club kies je? Tref je daar een trainer die in jou gelooft? Blijf je professioneel genoeg of trap je in de val van de verleiding? Als je Mario Balotelli begint te imiteren en liever in de discotheek zit dan op het voetbalveld staat, wordt het moeilijk om door te breken. Ik heb al zo veel talentvolle spelers gezien die het dan uiteindelijk toch niet gemaakt hebben. Toch blijf ik optimistisch wat de toekomst betreft. Met de spelers die we nu ter beschikking hebben, zouden we voor de komende vijf tot acht jaar goed moeten zitten. Maar we moeten ook de volgende fase al voorbereiden zodat we ook in 2020 over een talentvolle lichting beschikken.”

    Dutch football education has taken the German/Belgium road of the past, while those nations have taken the Dutch road in reaction of their poor football, footballers and football results. Spain is a prime example of a country having taken the Dutch road. Barca is more or less a club adopting Cruyff’s philosophy . Guardiola: “Cruyff has build the Sixtene Chapel, Rijkaard renovated it and I am keeping it into good shape”. Who can deny that Spain would never have won 3 straight international tournaments without the Barca players and their passing game? Xavi and Iniesta where clutch, as the others where too. How about that being a blueprint for success? By the way, Barca currently also try to get more and more players from Catalonia into the first team, population 5 million. Belgium have 4/10th of our member resources and also less money. Look at the rise of Belgium football recently. They went 10 years without qualifying, but a decade ago they chanced their vision and look at the awesome player output at the moment. In player market value they have pretty much surpasses Netherlands this year looking at the NT and you look at what is next for them in a few years time:

    * Adnan Januzaj (United)
    * Charly Musonda (Chelsea)
    * Zakaria Bakkali (PSV)

    Not 1 but 3 of the biggest talents of Europe are all Belgium players. Belgium in a few years time will be a WC favorite as these players can be nicely phased in soon with the already talented group that exists today. It will deliver a nice mix of experience and youthful gusto. Yet, they are a small country.

    My point is that the Netherlands has gone the wrong way (also pointed out by this Belgium youth coach) into player development by maintaining a point of view that players needed to be physically stronger and play more disciplined. What has that done for us? Where is the new Sneijder? Where is the new Robben? Hell, where is even the new VDV?

    Luckely Cruyff saw the problem and intervened at Ajax. Ajax have taken a sharp U turn and started to take a radically different approach. Throwing out Judo practices (they had Judo practices every week at Ajax) and focus on position games and personal technique again. Funny enough, there was a club in the Netherlands that started doing this all years ago: Feyenoord. Funny enough, that is what Jan’s article was about and all the talents it started to produce recently. At this rate they are on their way to have a full first team that is produced by their academy

    The line of thinking of building in more enforcers into a team is close to what would have brought Dutch football to the abyss, if it where not for Feyenoord and Ajax taking a different road. Jordy Clasie was inches away from being kicked out of the academy, where it not for a youth coach having a different philosophy on matters sticking up for him. Luckily, that line of thinking has now gained more power at the academy.

    The Dutch national team is the flagship of Dutch football. Kids watch it and imitate it. The Dutch coaches watch it and copy it, when successful. If not in professional football, then in amateur football, the backbone of Dutch football. If success is linked with more physical game play, those demands shift also to the youth development. That’s exactly the road Belgium, Germany and Spain have moved away from. Denmark has moved away from that as well under Olsen by the way and who are the most talented players at Ajax at the moment? Eriksen, Fischer, Andersen, Boilsesen? Hell even Schöne looks better often than Siem de Jong.

    This physical road is damaging Dutch football on all levels, not in the least case in the result department, especially long term. There is no NT in the world more consistent than Spain and they rely heavily on technique and passing. Also on stamina by the way, when it comes to quick pressing in case of losing the ball, but not on physique in the traditional sense. Ajax won 13 or 14 straight games last season at the end. How about that for results. It was FC Twente and their physical, running midfield that bombed out of CL spots and almost even the Europa league spots, on top of failing at the moment as well. Real and Dortmund are probably one of the best teams in the world (especially in counter situation, but also general football), but when Ajax was faced with City they won and drew against them. Who would have thought? They ended third in the group above City, the champs of the EPL.

    You need balance in a team in the way that you need controllers, dynamic players and players of vision, but all players must have an excellent technique, handling speed and passing ability IMO. I have good reasons to be fanatic with my focus on these quality’s. They are also quality’s why many people around the world have fallen in love with Dutch football. One only has to look at the image of Bergkamp at the top left of this website to realize football is fulfilling more needs than winning alone, for otherwise an iconic picture from an half final or final would have taken the place for one from a quarter final where Bergkamp scored a great goal with his first touch and close control.

    Sneijder embodies technique, handling speed and vision. Greece basketball is no blueprint for me (I don’t think Netherlands should copy anything coming from Greece, including the way they manage their economy), but this player is the blueprint. He is what was close to being lost and I want kids and trainers to be exposed as long as possible to this example. Especially when he was responsible for the record number of key passes in a Euro game ever: 10 vs Denmark. How RVP is not able to perform a simple first touch on Wesley’s passing in the box and put it in, I do not know.

    Where do I draw the line where his defensive fragility becomes too costly? I have not yet seen a game where this was the case. At the Euro for me (but we disagree here) it was cowardly defending by Heitinga and Mathijsen that did not dare to cover through properly vs Germany. I clearly remember a clip selected by a Dutch pundit where Sneijder was pressing and was outplayed -> he expected Heitinga to pick up the man with the ball, but when turning around he discovered that the coward had been walking back close to his buddy Mathijsen. Sneijder was betrayed in that moment. To maintain these kind of players that simply play to their quality’s (play the most awesome football on the planet) you will need defenders that cover through all the time. Keep the lines short to each other as well. We now have defenders that can do that as BMI and de Vrij posses speed to maintain a higher line. Sneijder can press, but does not have the engine to run up and down and he shouldn’t, as he is no work footballer. Sneijder is a player with most football quality in our team. So much, that RVP is in awe and starts messing up a first touch a 5 year old can pull off (Denmark game). Sneijder is currently the captain and with him Dutch NT is the best NT in qualification. Only Russia has the same amount of point as the Netherlands, but Netherlands beats Russia in goal difference. So Netherlands is best in Europe with Sneijder as first captain.

    In my opinion I take a very broad view. I take into account the example Dutch NT has for Dutch football in general and youth development. I see people advocating realism as people giving in on instant gratification. Idealism (or you might call it ambition) and the fruits it’s produces take longer but taste sweeter and also set up a machinery that keeps going, adding one win after the other against harder and better opponents each year it is nurtured more. Relying on football ability rather than physicality creates far more consistent result. I’m not talking about winning 1 tournament in my lifetime again, I’m talking about multiple ones and being amazed by the football in the process as well. Ajax won and drew against the EPL champs and had more ball possession and simply outplayed City for moments in the game, with less good players. It’s very much real and very much a result as are their 2 recent titles. There always was idealism in Dutch football. It was this idealism that got a small country to produce the kind of players it did and with excellent players you get excellent results. Running was the method of evolving human species on the savanna to catch animals for evening diner. Animals where faster, but could not go on for 50 kilometers. Humans could and eventually could catch the deadly tired animal. I would like Dutch football to be evolved from this model and don’t want to outrun my opponent and catch them. I want to “out football” them with marvelous intricate passing and vision. A player like Sneijder embodies that for me.

    Sorry for this long writing, but I felt compelled to explain where I am coming from and why I will never see Sneijder as a problem. In practice all these words mean that my tolerance for his defensive fragility is much bigger than yours, as I think he serves the greater good, as well as I think he gives hands and feet to the vision Netherlands must follow towards it’s future. On top of that, I see him as important for the sheer quality injection he gives the NT, to simply win it’s next games in qualification. Sneijder can create magic and I want more of that, not less.


  20. Hi DRB300,

    would like to start my reply with clearing a misunderstanding:

    “The premise is, that Netherlands is never able to compete with bigger country’s in quality player output that can maintain high level passing and have high technical skill.”

    No. I am sorry if it came out wrong in my writings or it was simply misunderstood. I never meant that. Nederland can compete in quality football and in fact it can surpass giants like Brazil in it. This is not the point, I am not arguing that at all. The point I am trying to make is even if we surpass the others in quality of soccer, they will still find a way to squeeze a title out of our hands if we don’t have the enforcers that I am asking for.

    Greece of 1987 did not win because they were physical. Basketball quality-wise they were up to par with Yugoslavia and Soviet Union. Simply their players did not let Webb style refereeing to squeeze the title out of their hands. Their two best players -basketballwise best players- were also the physical enforcers who did not let the circumstances/luck/refereeing interfere with fate 🙂
    Gallis/Giannakis (you can google/wiki them) were two superb players – two of the best ever in European basketball, If I had to make an analogy it was Krol/Haan1978 quality wise. But Giannakis like Strootman would breath down your neck the entire game, would professionally hustle/press the opponent playmakers till their lungs burst.

    The road to the World Cup is very long. Lots of things can happen, especially if you don’t have the same protection that Brazil/Spain/Barca have. They get all the grey area decisions. They have Webbs available. We don’t. All I am saying, the bottom line, is that building footballling ability up to par with Spain will not result in a WK victory unless other factors are taken care of. You need the personalities made of granite to make it to the top if you are not one of the big countries/markets. Excellent footballing is a given. But you need more than that.

    I hope that in a general sense my point should be more clear now. And then, let me pass to individual lesser points but nonetheless very interesting and pertinent.
    The 1974 team had only one player that fits my profile. Van Hanegem. Krol was too green/boyish then. Neeskens clearly does not fit what I have in mind but him and the video you offered “dishing it out”, is simply a good opportunity for me to show you what I mean and what I do not mean (nice and entertaining video by the way, I have posted in the past to respond to others claiming we didn’t play rough in 1974).

    Ok, the video and Neeskens in particular are a display of being thuggish, reactive, unprofessional and immature. Simply an attempt to prove that you can be tough too. But this is not what we want and this is not what I am asking. I am not asking for stupid hard tackles and retaliations like the Neeskens red with Czeck in 76. That is dumb.

    Here is an illustration of what I want:


    2:57 to 3:15. Rene VDK charges, Haan charges, Poortvliet tackles and gets up like he is made of rubber, at the end R VDK scores swarmed by Germans. See, there are no punches, elbows , hair pulling or spitting. But there is commanding presence, very professional with aim at a footballing result. Night and day between that and the 74 brawl (very entertaining though).

    Another illustration of what type of play I am advocating for, and easier to relate since we both watched the game at the same time, is the recent WK qualifier with Turkey. The Turks came in to play physical, look how that SOB puts his elbow on Janmaat’s throat and the scum referee does *nothing* about it.. ridiculous, isn’t it if it was Barca he would yellow on the spot? But then Stroot did two professional assaults, hunt two Turks down like dogs and took the ball back. Exactly what I want. No ankle breaking/spitting/elbowing but commanding physical presence to enforce the team who actually plays the better football. I want to break their spirit, not their legs 🙂

    Players who fit my profile are Van Hanegem from 1974, Krol/Haan and to a lesser extend Rene VDK and Poortvliet from 1978, F De Boer from the 98/200 squads and of course Bommel/De Jong (and to a lesser extend Mathijsen/Kuyt) from the 2010 squad. And Steks/VDS from all the doelman. Most of them were great footballers too.

    Idealism. Nothing wrong with it but also nothing wrong with results coming in. Physicality is not the only means to a result. Physicality is a complement to footballing ability, it completes the picture. And being commanding/physical and leader like Frank De Boer does not mean that you do not know football. But at the same time soccer is a very comprehensive game. And there is nothing wrong with a comprehensive approach. Leadership is an excellent and very useful skill just like handling speed. I do not see one as lesser than the other, I see both of them as equally useful and required in a good balanced team. I don’t think players like FDB or Krol are bad examples for young footballers. Football or any other sport should not just build some technical skill. It is much more than that in my opinion. A soccer game is a micro-world with all the complications of the real world.
    I think you have taken the necessity for physicality as a blanket statement, as a need to be applied to every young player. That is not what I am advocating. You don’t need 11 physical players in the team. If that is the direction taken in the youth academies then it is wrong. But there is a difference between what is going on and what I am advocating. And they way you put physical it does not address another important dimension of what I am talking about. Leadership. The ability to recognize situations before they happen and address them. The ability to marshal the resources back after some bad result or a bad moment or the opponent taking the lead.

    “You need balance in a team in the way that you need controllers, dynamic players and players of vision, but all players must have an excellent technique, handling speed and passing ability IMO.”

    You will never have a team with 11 Ruud Krol. That is not balance, that is utopia. Some players will have better footballing skills and some others better stamina/physicality/leadership. Not everyone will have Sneijder’s control and not everyone will have Strootman’s leadership and stamina. If you are saying more of the first and less of the latter then that is ok with me. And you don’t need that many leaders. It is like having too many chefs in the kitchen. Two will do, and one on the bench as a backup. You do not need to teach boxing or judo to every Dutch kid to accomplish having some good leadership in the Elftal. I think a smart young academy trainer will have an eye for whom belongs to the Sneijder club and who belongs to the Strootman camp and develop them accordingly. Teaching judo is hilarious for a soccer academy but at the same time applying the same methods to different personalities is also wrong.

    But if you want only Sneijders then we will never achieve a WK trophy. Overall I perceive your opinion expressing a lot the Cruyff ideals that we should play beautifully, and even if we lose, they will remember us for the pretty game. I am truly sorry but I cannot subscribe to the theory of losing as being an ok thing with me.

    “I don’t think Netherlands should copy anything coming from Greece, including the way they manage their economy”

    LOL – yes economy and soccer sucks. But basketball is a whole different sport.

    Both Greece and the former Yugoslavia were the two “little” monsters who dominated and still dominate European and even World Basketball. Two tiny countries who consistently outplay/ed competition from giants like Russia/USA. They are pretty good at it but if you don’t want to check it out, ok 🙂 They built though world admiration for their skills and achievements and every kid wanted to be a basketball player like them… Which are things you are looking for. They could achieve some of that with playing good as they did but they can achieve a lot by winning as well.

    Dank u wel voor de links en de info, ik spreek Nederlands niet zo slecht … en Nederenglish 🙂

    tot ziens,


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