Noa Lang: Rebel with a Cause

And a heart of gold, if you believe the people who know him. The former Feyenoord talent, ex Ajax prospect and current Club Brugge start got the MoTM award in a game inwhich a certain Leo Messi played as well.

He was already knocking on the orange door, but last week’s CL game turned into a heavy boom. And Van Gaal decided to open the door, albeit cautiously. Noa is part of the provisional squad. But based on LVG’s comment that he is not happy with the available wingers in Oranje, he will most likely jump at the opportunity to get Lang in his squad.

So, when you’re 6 year old and you live close to Rotterdam and Feyenoord knocks on the door. What do you? You go. But in Lang’s case, he decided he didn’t want the Feyenoord sports bag. Why not, was his dad’s question. “Because I am an Ajax fan,” the blond lightning strike answered.

He was a remarkable talent, at his age. “He would shoot balls at me that I simply couldn’t stop. So hard. And when he played his first game when he was five years old, he went about his business with sliding after sliding. “I will never forget a match for the title. Noa played in a team with older and bigger players. One of the opponent kids, a tall player, went alone to score the winner against Lang. He jumped on the kid’s back and hung on his shorts and that guy scored the goal with Noa Lang hanging on his shorts, hahahaha.”

Noa Lang, left, duelling with Ajax captain Mathijs de Ligt

Noa was influenced by Edgar Davids, that much was clear. He would play through the pain and never complained. “If I asked him if he wanted to come to the cinema, he would usually say: I can’t dad, I need to train!”

His mother divorced his dad and got into a relationship with Ajax forward Nordin Boukhari. “He was so excited when he learned I played for Ajax. He would come with me to matches always. He was completely obsessed.”

Boukhari played his football with FC Nantes and Besiktas as well and little Noa would briefly play his junior football at these clubs as well.

When he was 13 years old, his dad asked him again: “If you are really an Ajax kid, why do you stay at Feyenoord?”

And off they went. Noa Lang became an Ajax player. The head strong and articulated fellow would get himself into trouble regularly. Not by being a pest, but simply by asking questions or maybe by being a bit of a smart-ass. His mum: “He’s not trouble, but he’s outspoken and sees through fakeness. But he’s loyal and very honest. A social kid who really values family. And he will definitely sacrifice everything for his sport.”

Noa was always close to Ajax players, as a result of his step dad being part of the squad with Sneijder, Heitinga and Nigel de Jong. It was normal for him to be amongst these guys and he ended up collecting shirts from players like Van Persie and players from Ajax opponents. He once got the Bastian Schweinsteiger shirt, one of his fave players, but he would call him Einsteiger. He simply liked that name better.

On holiday with Nigel de Jong (left) and as youth player at Besiktas

Leen Boer, his coach in the Under8s: “He got into my squad and immediately told me honestly: coach I like Ajax. I didn’t care, I said he would probably change that preference in a couple of months. But he didn’t. But what a player he was. He scored the most amazing goals. And even now, when I see him, he will always come up for a hug and some smalltalk. A great kid.”

His dad: “At home it was all Ajax. Posters on his wall, PJs, his bedding, Ajax Ajax. One day he went to Feyenoord for training, wearing his Ajax shirt. That is when Feyenoord told him: ok, this is taking it too far!”

Eventually, Feyenoord allowed to let him go to Ajax.

When Lang was 16, disaster hit. A back injury became so severe that the medical pros feared for his career. He was struggling with it for years already. Living with a brace for a long spell eventually helped him to “fix” his back. His recovery was almost miraculous.

Two ex Ajax wingers: Boukhari and Lang

His C1 season was not that great, but when he got into the Under17s he had Richard Witschge as his coach.

Witschge told Lang he was considered arrogant, even if he wasn’t. But his mannerisms, his hand gestures, you will make it hard on yourself. And Richard knew all about that. They had a similar type of personality. And Witschge would call him out if he had to. Call him ‘asshole’ in front of the group and usually Noa would accept a dressing down.

His mother, Manon: “He plays for the fans. As a kid he would sometimes be more enthralled with the action on the stands and I can tell when he’s showing off for the fans and when he starts to become cocky. He loves to hear the ooohs and aaahs. And when I try to talk to him about it, he is all like “don’t worry mum, I know what I’m doing”. He feels no pressure.”

Lang would make his debut in Ajax 1 but felt there was not enough future for him at Ajax, after a couple of clashes with captain Dujan Tadic and coach Erik ten Hag. Despite this, Ajax wanted to offer the youngster a 4 year deal, but the feeling was gone. Lang wanted out. Leeds United was interested, but a loan spell to Club Brugge resulted in a firm transfer to the Belgium champs.

It all goes fast for the 22 year old. Lang’s performance in the Champions League got people taking notice. With MBappe, Messi and Neymar on the pitch, it was Lang who got the headlines and the MoTM award.

There was no player in the first CL round with more attempts on goal (6) and he had a higher Expected Goals value than goal scorer Vanaken.

Louis van Gaal lamented the lack of wingers when he was just appointed. But with the likes of Bergwijn, Gakpo, Malen, Memphis, Danjuma, El Ghazi, Berghuis and now Noa Lang as well, it seems the old Maestro must stop whining. Most of the ones above prefer the left side or the central striker role (Malen and Memphis), both Berghuis and Lang can play on the right wing. Finally a back up for Ajax winger Berghuis!

Why does it work at Club Brugge and not at Ajax? Noa Lang himself: “I am given more freedom here. The coach knows that serves my game best. The Ajax set up is more rigid. As a winger at Ajax, you have to stay on the wing. Whenever I drifted inwards, I would get told off. But that is not me, I am not a winger. They always play young players there because it’s an easier and less demanding role but it’s not me.”

Coach Clement uses Lang in different roles but he always has the freedom to roam. He can play right winger and drift inwards for an attempt on his left foot. But he can also cross balls in to Bas Dost or start from the left, in a Memphis-type role.

Lang’s image in The Netherlands is that of a complacent, somewhat arrogant difficult kid. In Belgium, they can’t understand any of it, as he’s the model pro there. A team player with amazing stats. His image in Holland was probably fueled by on camera spats with the likes of Tadic and Ten Hag during a couple of friendlies.

Noa Lang’s performances for Young Oranje will not convince anyone about his potential. Coach van de Looi allowed Noa’s debut back in 2019, but he never became a stalwart. He had three sub turns and one starting berth and in the group phase of the Euros U19, he got injured as he also missed the group stage due to injuries. Van de Looi does see Lang as a right winger, in his set up.

Van Gaal likes to use a left footer on the right and vice versa. He instructed Gakpo to “come inside and shoot on goal with his right”. This is also how Berghuis – a leftie – is used on the right. But Lang is right footed, just like Anwar El Ghazi and will have to battle Gakpo, Malen, Bergwijn if Van Gaal sticks to his principles. Which means Berghuis still is the only real option on the right.

Van Gaal will look at his options and pick the player that has the form of the day. Gakpo will probably shine in the Eredivisie, while Malen, Bergwijn and Danjuma might face tougher circumstances in bigger competitions. Van Gaal thinks Danjuma is a real option but he’ll need to demonstrate consistent form at Villareal, like Bergwijn and Malen will have to play and perform as well. For Gakpo and Lang, the circumstances to shine are better.

Danjuma for now is coming in from the bench and he catches the eye with his dribbles, just like Gakpo.

Here is a comparison:

It will be interesting to see if Van Gaal wants to return to the 5-3-2 system, because Lang can play well in that set up as well. At Club, he played in that system in a free role. The statistics won’t let Lang down and that he can bring it is no longer a secret or a question mark. Just ask the Belgs…

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  1. Nice piece. Like it too. If only FDB would have given him a chance to prove himself, for sure he would have exploded at euros.

    Never the less Im sincerely hoping danjuma would be next on the list.

  2. Great profile Jan. Stats table seem to favor Lang in almost every category. Could be the real deal.

    My great wish is for LVG to give this kid a real chance, a real go at it. Coming off a MoTM performance over some of the greatest players of our time, his confidence possibly at an all time high, our next opponent being Latvia and Oranje leading the table in the group(less pressure), points to one thing for me: the stars are aligned. Give the kid a starting berth and see how he performs under pressure.

    It will tell us a lot about him. There is nothing bigger than the NT and he will feel the need to perform. And I have a feeling he will thrive. His temperament and character might just be baying for such occasions.

    This is how stars are made and how squad depth and real teams are put together. No 10mins cameo, no easing him into the team and letting Berghuis claim first 11 entitlement. Let the kid play. The jury can take it from there.

  3. 3-5-2 or 5-3-2

    ——-VAn Dijk -De Ligt-De Vrij——

    My dream team

  4. 3-5-2 or 5-3-2

    —-VAn Dijk -De Ligt-De Vrij—
    My dream team

  5. Ok, so I have some questions/comments Jan and others who have watched Lang play alot more than I have, (i.e., entire matches—because I have only seen him play one full match, PSG, and as others have said, he was impressive):

    1. Re: from the article: “It will be interesting to see if Van Gaal wants to return to the 5-3-2 system, because Lang can play well in that set up as well. At Club, he played in that system in a free role.”—Where exactly do you see Lang lining up in a 5-3-2? As a forward, just behind the forward, in one of the wingback roles?

    2. Is he responsible defensively? What is his work rate? Will he press high and with intensity, like the Liverpool forwards? (And based on his offensive skills, that seems like a team he would fit well with.)

    3. If they go 4-3-3, and hestarts against Latvia, which wing and who plays on the opposite wing?

    1. I think with him you don’t need a attacking mid just like at Brugge. he is always was hungry for the ball and and drops deep and again somewhat like what Neymar does. they are all over the park. or maybe in a Griezmann role in France. one of the reason why I think Griezman failed at Barce was because he never got to play that free role which he does in the French team and at athletico where he was the second striker in 4-4-2. I dont think Dutch will go 4-4-2. if he comes in he will the whole complexion of the Team. Wijnaldum and Klaassen, berghuis might all become causalities if he comes on board. and then Malen is also there.

      vs Psg, Brugge, it was more of a 4-4-2 with Van Hanaken and De Ketelaere up front and Lang on the left wing. in attack all of them were exchanging positions. its in the highlights as well.

      1. has to be shadow striker and same with Depay who will have to move around. midfeild will have to be reshuffled.

      2. I think the the liverpool forwards are more comfortable on their prefered side Mane on the left and salah on the right. lang does drop deep and like I said he is hunter.

      3. left wing

      1. Thanks for the info.

        RE: “1. has to be shadow striker and same with Depay who will have to move around. midfield will have to be reshuffled.” Doubt that Van Gaal will make significant changes in the set up to accommodate him, so he’ll have to fit in on the wing. I think he can do it; that he and Memphis can co-exist just fine—I like teams whose forwards are always interchanging. You’re right about Liverpool’s forwards, Salah and Mane, playing on their natural wings. I think there is some offensive similarity to Salah though, in that they are both so direct, straight in on goal when they get the opportunity. What I don’t know, not having seen him play over entire matches except the one, is his defensive work rate off the ball. Will he press effectively?

    2. Hi Andrew,

      Yeah, Lang would be one of the two strikers in a 5-3-2

      He is responsible indeed, tremendous work rate but physically maybe not strong enough in the duels, but definitely a worker. And I think tactically savvy too. A street smart player like Sneijder or Sterling.

      He can play both wings, but with an overload of good left wingers (Gakpo, Malen, Bergwijn, Danjuma) I would probably use him on the right.

      He is totally different than Berghuis which is a plus. Berghuis is more static, wants ball to feet and is good with the play ahead of him. Lang will run in behind and dribble and is more explosive.

    1. Be carefull, jeff might here it. Lol. Just joking. Til is also exploding.

      There was also carabao cup games in English football. Could watch the game but El Ghazi playeed full 90 and then scored in shootout. Villa lost to chelsea 3-4. From the ratings, Reece James had a good check on him.

      Locadia also popped up at Brighton vs Swansea. Brighton winning that one 2-0. Piroe was on the bench, as well as scherpen for Brighton.

      Ki Jana also played full 90 for Wolves in 2-2 draw vs Spur. Lost out in the shoot out as well.

      Looking for the feyenoord vs Heerenveen. Anybody watched this game.

  6. Watched lyon vs Troyes and like I said earlier, you can add Sandler to the growing list of up and coming CBs. I dont want jump to the gun just by watching his two games but he is really composed on the ball. Started the game and while had alot of interventions both ariel and on ground, did have few nervy moments, particularly one in which Shaqiri left him for dead but the keeper reacted in time. His reading of the game also looked good. The sad part though was he pulled in hamstring and had to be subbed and troyes ended up conceeding 2 goals. Lyon winning 3-1. Could hear him shouting in agony and disappointed using the F word.. His ariel Defense, vision and over the head passes from the back, was the highlight of the game.

    I think he will surpass botman as he plays more because of his on the ball composure attribute. I have watched Botman, his on the ball skills is average.

    Im starting to think he will be better than Ake as well but needs to prove himself in bigger games. Troyes is a good team and has good attacking players. Vs Psg, Marseille will give a more more clear picture of how good he is.

  7. Re: J Veerman

    Never seen Veerman in a full game but just watched a few of his highlights. Have to say I’m very impressed with his quick thinking, vision and range of passing. Reminds me of FDJ by how he glides on full throttle. But does he have the defensive acumen of FDJ? Can he be considered for that role?

    I know we have Koop and other suitors ready to pounce but he may be worth looking at. Especially with the unpredictable nature of injuries. Changing the formation of a team because of an injury (Strootman 2014) shouldn’t be the default mode of an established national team.

    Wish they would at least give him a chance down the road if we open up a gap on the way to Qatar.

    1. Against Feyenoord, Joey Veerman showed his weakness and his strength. On the ball he is amazing and he scored a cracker of a goal. Bijlow – no slouch – didn’t even react.

      But he also was ball watching and sleep walking when the Feyenoord RB powered forward and Veerman simply was too late to stop the cross into Til.

      He will need two seasons of good football, consistently, at AZ or PSV to prove that he is Oranje material for me.

  8. A question. What do you think will change or how, if he plays for AZ and PSV. I think he will still be the same player. I mean he has already played against them and has already showed the calibre of player he is in previous seasons playing out of Heerenveen. how will thinngs change when the opponents will be the same and competition level will be same but in a different team. CL / EL aside. Well obviously around better players and in a better team, you expect him to thrive better given the they are gonna dominate poessession. No doubt at heerenveen this aspect of the game is average but still when ever with poessession vs any team, veerman has always been in the thick of things and decsive, even if they have gone to lose.

    Defensively I agree there are some question mark around him but who hasnt faulted on a given have to look at it from both sides. Overall team capability and player quality in the team as well.

    Daley Blind has being exposed so many times playing out of the midfield but yet he gets the nod based on what, his strength which is distribution. Everyone is prepared to take the risk, knowing his defensive weakness. So why not veerman

    You also look at Koopmeiners, his defensive game is also not a top notch either. He is only good on the ball ( poessession) .How good was Pirlo defensively.he also was all about poessession and teams including Italy played to his strength. In between im not saying veerman is he pirlo but with Van Dijk and De Vrij in the Backline, why not. He is the type of player you can take the risk especially if
    It is vs Lativa and Gibraltar type teams where you know NT will dominate poessession. One good break and there will be a lift of him and this where the coaches should understand how this will benefit the team in long term. Its all about looking outside of the box. What happens on a day if Frenkie get injured. The midfield will collapse like strootmans injury in 2013.

      1. Re: PSV -Ajax connection

        Normalizing the notion that a player has to play for one of the big guns for him to be considered worthy is both ludicrous and counter-productive. It is a bane on the progress of the NT and it unfortunately extends far beyond its border.

        With the form Danjuma and Karsdop have shown, they would have been in the NT if they were part of the fraternity. Weghorst suffered the same fate and nearly missed out on the Euro.

        This mentality is truly toxic and egotistical. And it has been ravaging Dutch football for years with the in-fighting and all. It makes one wonder what’s the psyche behind it. Is it a need to prove something? Oneself? An urgency to be right at the cost of progress? Serving the rest of the world the two-middle fingers as to say “We are still here” and the spirit of Cruyff will never die?

        I wish the powers that-be can somehow remind themselves that there are tournaments to be played and trophies to be won. And that the ONLY way this feat can be achieved is by presenting your best self in whatever color scheme you come.

          1. @Wilson, Orangutan, Do you think this is a problem with Van Gaal? I don’t see anything in his past that suggests that he has such a bias. This certainly can’t be said about the 2014 team.
            I know that Til came up in a somewaht related thread awhile back. He is a good example. Some good years at AZ. Two years ago, he went off to Spartak; played only 22 games there without great distinction. Last year he was sent to Freiburg (for less than what Spartak paid AZ for him so its clear that for whatever reason, he did not impress them.) At Friebur, he played only 7 games. He returned to the Eredivisie this year, and got off to a good start, but it was a small sample, given that he had only played a handful of games. Yet, Van Gaal (and likely others he was relying on for opinions) saw enough to include him in the NT. In other words, LVG selectd him without the Ajax/PSV connection that you write of, with only a small sample of playing time this year, and without anything to recommend him from the two previous years. What more do you want than someone who is approaching selections with an open mind, and apparently willing to take any player who fits his vision.

          2. @ Andrew

            You are partially right Andrew in regards to team selection by LVG. He at least give chances to younger players. But they are all ultimately cut from the same cloth. Rensch should not be in that team over Karsdorp. Nor should Timbers playing over Dumfries(fitness was an excuse.

            But they would even admit to you that their system of coaching aligns with the Ajax way. So you can conclude that their bias is somehow borne out of necessity

    1. wow, ok… my answer.

      What is the difference between playing for Heerenveen or PSV?

      Ok, the pressure is one. At PSV every training, every match you need to be top or you’re out of the team. You play more too (European) so is Veerman a diamond under pressure or a lump of coal?

      Secondly, you said it already, he will play with better players and he will have to do less defending, meaning his playmaker qualities will have more chances to shine.

      Thirdly, he will have a protected role at Heerenveen being their key man. At PSV he would drop in the hierarchy. Can he deal with that? Is he a big fish in a small pond or happy to be a mediocre fish in the ocean?

      good example: Mark Diemers. Successful playmaker at Fortuna (protected role) but failed at Feyenoord.

      The comparison with Daley is interesting.

      You’ll see Daley less and less in a midfield role. This is due to his lack of legs and dynamics. Daley is vulnerable due to his lack of speed, but not due to his lack of vision or focus.

      Veerman’s focus and vision need to be tested at the highest level, still.

      Blind is anything but lazy. Veerman has spells where he is lazy and complacent. At Heerenveen, it’s sort of allowed, because every second game, he is the best of the bunch.

      The comparision with Pirlo is not so legit. Pirlo played in a time when there was less defensive and physical duties to be performed. Football in 2004 is not the same as football now.

      Every opponent (Austria, Iceland, Czech Republic, Turkey) have fit and able athletes on the pitch. You see the work rate of Kimmich, or Foden or Frenkie? That is needed at top level.

      For me, Koopmeiners also still need to prove he can cut it.

      I don’t believe Veerman is the only player we can use to replace Frenkie :-). We have others for that: Gravenberch, Propper, Koopmeiners, Schouten, Toornstra, Van Ginkel, De Roon and others.

      Today, Veerman plays 6 matches per season against better opposition. When playing for PSV, he will play every week against a team that is playing one of the games of the season (because they’re up against one of the Top 3).

  9. Real has so many options. Danjuma has been very quiet in the SF. That one clear chance he received from juan Foyth.instead of pull the trigger directly, he should have just taken one more step and then pulled the trigger. I guess they were missing mereno as well upfront. I hope van gaal is watching him and realizes what he can bring to NT.

    If not then, its the same old story, its to do with his background.

  10. Great!! Now instead of one blogger making idiotic comments, we have 2. Orangutan has joined the Wilson bandwagon. Between the 2 of you, the blog is clearly improving in quality. Out of the 35 posts for this topic, there were 23 between the 2 of you! All you talk about is entitlement, player selection which you know nothing about, and yet again provide lists of players. I command you for your creativity; now we are talking about Sandler??? Seriously? We already have 4 or 5 top class center backs, BUT NO, now we need to consider yet another one who is on loan for a mediocre club. Of course!! Same with Danjuma, and Veerman and so many others. He scores a goal so come on, Louis, get him on your team. Absolutely unreal. Through your posts/comments, the 2 of you clearly demonstrate your lack of knowledge about the game. Go and watch matches from the 70s, 80s, 90s and educate yourself before making one useless comment after the next.

    1. @ Jeff

      So your problem is that we are too active on the forum? And that we are idiots because we have differing opinions than you?

      @ Jan

      I wish you would have something to say about this as you did about people whom you seem to think have disrespectful opinions of the NT players.

  11. @ Jeff

    Two things I want to say to you. First I have already said it before. Stop looking out of the window and come out of the house to see a bigger picture. If you dont watch games, how will you know whats really happening. On sandler I specifically said ” can add him him to the growing list of up and coming CBs”. I never said anywhere he should be called up to NT.

    Secondly your 70s, 80s and 90s comments comes as a no suprise as to what Orangutan was saying in his post. You are stuck in past and want to continue riding that same bus. Fair enough but you cant expect others to do the same. Change is evitable and sooner or later it will happen.

  12. Watched Bayern Leverkusen vs Maniz.
    First game to watch St Juste and Boetuis for Maniz. St Juste had a torrid a time containing Frimpong and Diaby. Was caught out cold on the only goal of the game. Qiuck feet of Frimpong and one two with Writz left for dead. Leverkusen go second behind munich.had some good penetrating runs forward but didnt cause any damage. Started in a 3 men back line on the left.

    Boetuis has turned more in a midfelder this days and apart from standing over the set pieces was mostly running for most parts of the game trying to link up and get the ball upfront. Was subbed of late in the game.

    Frimpong, again with another live wire performance. Was in the thick of things given his flank was the most active. was thrown in duals, caused havoc with penetraring runs and link ups was top notch. With the assist, he could well have been the MOTM. I havent checked on this.

    Bakker, lazy game from him. Was often found strolling on the park.alot of back passes and compared to Frimpong was less active going forward. Had one thunderbolt shot on target but the GK came up with a spectular save.

    1. Yes, well… Danjuma has better stats. Traore is strong and fast but hardly scores and hardly creates goals. He is not good enough (yet).

      Muller and Til, yes, I can see that!

    1. Come on Louis, call him for the national team!! Joel Piroe! Mitchell Bakker! Louis are you stupid or what?
      @Orangutan, nothing to do with diferent opinions, I am a scientist so I very much enjoy diversity of opinions but in order to be respected, you need to speak the language. This is the message I give all the post docs, residents and medical students in my research lab. You and Wilson unfortunately do not speak that language, the langauge of football. This is why I recommend that you watch football from the past decades so you can learn and enrich the blog with insightful comments instead of the nonsense we are forced to read. I have been on this blog for quite a long time and have had disagreements with others but the key difference is that there was mutual respect based on deep knowledge of the game, unlike the 2 of you who again regularly demonstrate your lack of knowledge about the game. Wilson confessed that he never even played the game so how on earth are we supposed to consider his opinions?

  13. @Wilson You should check out Daan Rots at Twente. Just secured a spot in the starting 11 and doing very well.

    I’ve also been very impressed with Cambuur this season, aside from the Ajax game. Jamie Jacobs has been a huge factor for that little club doing so well.

  14. @ Jeff

    I actually wanted to talk on this as well. can you be more specific on Football language you are talking about. I have always said, I look at Football from modern day point of perspective. all the top football nations have come and surpassed NT in this aspect but the dutch still hasnt / are reluctant to cross the bridge. this is where the squeezing mentality like I have said comes in and they they want to prove to the world they are still are the definers of world football as in the past. agian this is what exactly orangutan said in his post.

    I also said I haven’t played professional but that doesnt mean I havent played the game.

    you look at how Derekvdberg91 responded to my Joel Piroe post. he understands what Im trying to do. its called “LOOK OUT” and you are call yourself a scientist and still cant rationalize the explicitly of the content. Yes for some players like Danjuma, Lang and veerman I have said it for them to be selected in NT and that is purely based on their technical abilities.

    1. Yes precisely!!! There is a Dutch way of playing which is why -unless I am mistaken- we are all supporters of that brand of football, no? We all love the free flowing game that is so typically Dutch, the total football made of movementthat still permeates the best Dutch teams of the last 50 years, off the ball running, overlapping fullbacks, highly technical players and defenders who can make a 70 meter pass on the dot. Again this latest comment shows me how little you know about Dutch football. You watch games, see players who score a few goals or make a tackle, and you want them immediately called up for the national team. As I said a thousand times, you have given us the names of countless players over the years who never made it at any decent level. This is why I keep telling you to watch the Dutch team of 1974 and 1978, the Ajax of the 1970s which to this day is absolutely unsurpassed in its quality of play (in fact voted the best ever team by Four Four Two magazine in the history of football), the Ajax of Louis in the mid-1990s, the Dutch team of 1998. That is Dutch football, that is the Dutch football School; not Bakker or Joel Piroe. It is as if someone said that we do not care about the Dutch paiting tradition; from Rembrandt to Hobema or Van Ruijsdael. Let’s throw them all in the garbage! There is a universally recognized way of painting that is uniquely Dutch…well by the same token, there is also a unique way of playing football in Holland. Everyone was quick to bury the 4-3-3 but it is not dead, in fact it has been resurrected by Louis and Ajax that still plays a classical 4-3-3 but with a modern twist. However, if you don’t even know what the Dutch 4-3-3 was in the past, then how can you assess the modernized version of it? Watch Ajax play at the moment, analyze it and then come back on this blog to explain what you see about the way Ten Hag has modernized and improved the style of play despite employing a classic 4-3-3. Same goes with Slot who is probably the second best Dutch coach at the moment behind Ten Hag. See how he is able to turn Feyenoord with such average players into a war machine. Watch how the players occupy the field defensively and transition into offense, watch how the fullbacks are playing and how Til has rebounded purely because of the style of play. Once you do all that, then we can talk!!!

  15. @ Derekvdberg91

    I remember Jamine jacobs. he was also in the fore front for them last season in eerste divisie. If im not wrong then AZ released him few seasons back when he was in Jong AZ.

    Twente seems to be in good form. Havent watched them yet but will try to keep a tabs on him. im also waiting for pierie to come back as well. he is due back in November I think, after being sidelined due injury.

    1. @ Jeff

      Re: in order to be respected, you need to speak the language.

      I am surprised to learn that being respectful and respected in a football blog is predicated on the ability to “speak the language.” What’s more shocking is that you are the self-appointed arbiter of such language. Flemish, perhaps? Because when it comes to the language of football your rebuttals and inputs are sorely lacking of any originality but rather, bile.

      Your comments are full of ad hominem attacks. “Stupid, ignorant, nonsensical, idiotic” is the vocabulary, the recourse, of an individual who has failed, and continues to fumble in ably expressing themselves. At best, you come off as a wannabe bully.

      Re: from Rembrandt to Hobema

      I am not Dutch myself but have siblings who are Dutch citizens and speak fluent Dutch. I appreciate national pride but also can distinguish it from nationalistic drivel. Nobody is suggesting that Oranje lose their way of playing football. What’s being put forward is the possibility of recognizing one’s own limitations and playing to one’s immediate strength. What’s being suggested is acknowledging the fact of the yo-yo trajectory of Dutch football. The fact that these are not anomalies but have become a defining feature synonymous with the best team that have never won a world cup. What’s being asked is to look within and see where fundamentals can be steered to the path of future success.

      If you tell the average American that America is not the greatest nation in the world they would laugh in your face. They would agree with you that they have 40 million uninsured people, a cough away from bankruptcy. They would agree with you that they have endless racial problems which has translated to the largest incarcerated prison population in the world. They would even agree with you, albeit with pride, that they are imperialist. But they would still laugh in your face as they drown your protest with the booming ring of “USA USA”, cascading in a resolve never to lose their way. Sounds familiar?

      1. Yes that is correct, “speaking the language” means that there is a basic understanding of the topic in question, an established level of competence and knowledge that precisely allow the participants to communicate on the same footing. You don’t need to be an expert in everything but you at least need to understand enough about a topic so that you can remain involved and understand what is being discussed. Again I bring back the analogy with scientific research. I am a cancer specialist with a focus on liver cancer but if suddenly I am involved in research or clinical work involving kidney or pancreas cancer, I need to know enough about those cancers so that I can participate in discussions with those who are the real experts. To come back to Dutch football, yes I think it is critically important to know the history of Dutch football, the successes and failures, the players and coaches who contributed to the rise of Dutch football that has influenced so many in the world, hence my point about Dutch painting. There is not one person in the entire world who does not remember the Dutch team of 1974! Why? Because of the “oranje” jersey they wore? The “clockwork orange”, the great Johan, the innovative Michels still live in many to this day. Listen to Gardiola speak about it.
        Why are you on this blog if you do not identify with that style of play? Again, is it because of the jersey color? As I said, the reason why so many love Dutch football is the style of play. Look at how controversial the 2010 team was especially in the Netherlands. JC himself came out to criticize the team so heavily because it had nothing to do with the core essentials of Dutch football. He even supported Spain in the final!! Now, I was not like him and did support the team because I wanted the trauma of 1974 to finally go away but he had a point, of course.
        I will not try to address your second point about nationalism and politics because that is not appropriate on this blog but I have to say your message made no sense to me. I have spent most of my adult life in the US and do not share any of your views. I hope you are not one of those who support this ugly “woke” movement that is destroying the importance of history. I will leave at that.

        1. Re: why are you on this blog if you don’t identify with that style of play?

          I have been a fan of Oranje for decades. I don’t see how anything I’ve ever written on this blog would somehow provoke such a question.

          How is settling for mediocrity(trying to squeeze water out of stone) against Total Football? How is calling out bias and in-fighting against any style of NT play?. How is the outcry of bad coaching appointments against the 4-3-3 system?. For that level of showmanship that you harken to, everything has to fall in place. The right coach. Above average players. An open mind etc Lacking even one of these components may easily lead to failure, so delicate is this system of play.


          My USA reference is an analogy. It only becomes political if you assume my political bent and carry on with the assumption that I’m “woke”. Or not.

        1. @ Andrew

          There is nothing political of I using the image of the supposed American dream as an analogy to make a greater point of the importance of looking outside of the box. It only becomes political if someone fundamentally disagrees with my viewpoint of the USA as presented. And in that case, you are not disagreeing with the point I’m trying to make in relation to the NT team. It’s more likely you don’t like the irrefutable facts that have been put forward about the U.S. to support my point.

          1. @Orangutan. While I don’t always agree with your contentions and conclusions about football, I’ve appreciated reading them of late because you’ve put time into thinking about them, they are presented well. I look forward to reading more of them. But, again, can we just stick to football here? You have zero idea as to who I am as a person, what I believe, what I like or don’t like, or my life experiences—other than I am an avid supporter of the Dutch National team. 🙂

          2. @ Andrew

            From the few interactions I have had with you, I have come to the conclusion that you are someone with a sense of humor. I have enjoyed our banter which thankfully have been silly and mutually respectful.

            I just want to say that I won’t be that kind of a person to break such rapport by assuming your political leanings or calling you out on anything as I don’t have any idea who or what you really stand for(and nor would it make any difference to me)

            My use of “you” in my reply is in a generic sense and not personal. I hope you(I mean YOU now😊) will understand that.

  16. @Jeff

    I appreciate you clarification post. this is what I like talk to talk, however we have gone through this on so many occasions and you still want to keep hitting your head on the wall. I totally agree with what you have said but at the end of the day its paramount that you have the RIGHT PLAYERS to serve the purpose. My vision is to see this and the mediocrity currently in the team to be flushed out. you have to ask this question why do they keep stumbling? because they dont have the right players and come selection they simply cant get it right. they think they can squeeze it it with respect certain players but it often works for short durations or in soft schedules and then its back to square.

    again you are saying Ten Hag has modernized and improved the style of play despite employing a classic 4-3-3″ but agian it goes with quality of players they have, tadic, Haller, Antony which they can afford.

    1. again you look at 2014 when Strootman got injured, why did Van Gaal abandon 4-3-3? simply because there was no other player of calibre in the team and with his injury the whole balance/complexion of the team changed. In the end he called up Nigel and throw in another CB to cover him up.

      “As I said a thousand times, you have given us the names of countless players over the years who never made it at any decent level”

      looking back at some of the players I have recommended that should be looked at. Karsdorp, Danjuma, Lang, El Ghazi, Bakker, Frimpong atmost. all are playing at competitive level except for Veerman. Whats wrong in that. do you follow players apart from Ajax. I dont think so. I see you take my “look out ” for players as to be included in the NT which is kind of (dont knoe what to say here). I follow players and when I see they have certain qualities, I try to bring it into spotlight. where did I say Joel Piroe should be called up in NT. I have being specific even in the case of Sandler, Zivkovic etc.

      1. Of course I do. I follow many of the youth teams from the major clubs and usually watch some of the U18 games on Saturday mornings. But there is a huge difference between a promising player and the finished product. Just look at the U17 Dutch teams that won 3 European championships and how few of those players made it or are making it. It is astounding. Even Vilhena failed. Same is happening to Hansen and Unuvar. Brobbey is likely to have the same fate and countless others will too. Believe me Sandler is not going to make it, nor is Zivkovic or your favorite player Bakker even if they are playing for professional clubs. Same goes for Kluivert. They will end up back in the eredivisie playing for average clubs. Combination of poor choices, entitlement, arrogance and lack of noticeable improvement. These players think the grass is greener elsewhere but it is not! Brobbey made a huge mistake. Progression is football is not linear as we all know. A perfect example is Timber who has become arguably even better than De Ligt. But the reverse is also true. Many promising players never make it.

        1. again I like this post and will agree as well. what options else does NT have?. I mean you look at the transfer window , after a long time there has a good transfer window in relation to dutch players. while you write them off, I have hope at least 1-2 will make it big and will be able to reinforce the NT. Otherwise there is no another way to upgrade the quality in the team and without quality they aint gonna win anything. you have look from both sides. changes will come about with rotation and new players, this cannot be disputed

  17. Watched Roma vs Lazio. Battle between sariball and Mourinho. Good high intensity game. Lazio winning 3-2 The highlight of the game though was pedro scoring against his nemsis coach who didnt want him at Roma and later joined lazio.

    Roma trailed all through out the game and lazio exposed them badly through the middle channel. The second and third goal respectively came through the middle channel on breaks. Its has been hectic schedule for Roma with 4 games in 11 days and is set to continue with europa fixtures and then other game in Serie A before the international break. They missed pellegrini who was suspened and though they tried hard to get back into the game, Pepe Reina kept them at Bay with some good saves.

    Karsdorp as usually played a very high line along side Zainolo and though his flank was not troubled much, he was too causal on tracking back. On the third goal when Roma initially lost poessession , he was in the middle of the park. if he would have been in position, he could have provided cover to Manicini who was no match to Immbolie’s pace on the through ball from the middle and who rounded him up and set up Anderson for the third goal. On a brighter side he kept pedro at bay and hardly let him go outside of him.

  18. I’m going to comment in the above article that Jan has given to us.
    I think Noa Lang deserves a call up. And I think Steven Berghuis has been amazing this year

    (Please note: this is my opinion, you do have the right to disagree. But also note, you will not be able to change my mind. Just as all of you are unable to change anyone else’s mind. Yet, It blows my mind (pun??) to see numerous posters bickering endlessly here. But, given how in people in general can’t agree on anything, I suppose this shouldn’t shock me.)

    Thanks Jan!

      1. Ajax has a CL game tomorrow. I read that Klaaseen is fully fit. Has anyone heard how Ajax will line up? There are 5 players (Klaassen, Antony, Tadic, Haller, Berghuis) for 4 spots. My guess is that Klaassen will be the odd man out tomorrow—can’t see Ten Haag changing a group that has been in good form.

        @Orangutan, Understood. Thanks for taking the time to clarify. Sometimes I read things wrong.

  19. Berghuis as a 10 looks amazing, I doubt Klaassen will be able to get his role back at this rate. I could also see Berghuis taking his role as 10 for Holland.

    1. @ Derek

      So you don’t think Berghuis can cut it on the right wing so he has to be accommodated as a 10?

      I mean just as Klaessen is coming into his own in the NT and we come up with another idea. Klaessen has been one of our top two performers in the past three games.

      There is something I know. Club football and international football are two different proposition. More so for some than others.

      1. Like I always say “squeezing perception. they think if its works in Ajax, it will work in NT. they did the same with Daley Blind in MF. it worked but vs certain types of teams only. In between when it comes to Berghuis, one thing that has be kept at the back of mind, he is somebody that needs to be brought into the game or be a focal point. At feyenoord, Advocaat did the same and looks Ten Haag is trying to do the same by shifting him at CAM at Ajax. you have to look here in context to both, his workload around the current players in Ajax and to the up shift which is usually a requisite in NT especially against more component players. this is where I have being critical about players who cant live up to expectation when it matters the most. its obvious he will thrive vs teams like Lativa and Gibraltar but then you dont wanna gauge him in soft schedules to later finding out in crucial stages or going into big games that he is can not step out of his comfort zone. the dortmund game will be good game to gauge him. they have good midfield. or in Second round when they go up against more comptent teams.

        on another note and like I said, the CAM position is up for grabs and it worth a shot and with the resurgence of Til, it will also stir competition.

  20. Watched the replay of Brugge vs Leipzig. Full game. Have to say Langs workrate is phenomenal man. Think Jan aslo mentioned this.He will be a good addition to the NT. Brugge started with the same lineup as vs PSG and the special thing about this team I would say is when the team attacks the whole team goes forward and when they defend, the whole team drops back. You hardly see those lateral and back passes to the defenders.

    Again Lang was in the thick of things. In those tight spaces he was slippery like a eel, give and take, give and take, overlap.I think in the build up to the second goal, it was him who popped up on the right and initiated the move/cross.

    Had one good chance towards the end of the game on a clean break with one defender covering him but there was no sting left in his shot. Could tell was exhausted.

    City clash should be intresting as well. Looking at how brugge is playing and with same lineup, it surely will be another entertaining game.

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