Because Brazil didn’t qualify of course. They “bought” their ticket :-).
And despite all the negativity of the last days, we need to be proud of our team and our coaching staf.
I can list a number of reasons why we should be very distressed, by the way (and I am sure I will).
But I can also list a number of reasons why we should compliment LVG and Co.
For starters: Oranje started under Van Gaal in bad shape. The Euro 2012 was a disaster. Cult hero Van Marwijk was tarred and feathered and players like Van der Wiel, Huntelaar, Sneijder, Robben and Van der Vaart had difficulties hiding their frustrations.
Van Gaal was appointed amidst controversy following his unsuccessful run in 2002 and his JC backstabbing at Ajax. His comments that “his career deserves a go at a World Cup” didn’t sit well with me (and others). As it should NOT be about mr Van Gaal’s career, but about the Dutch National Team. I do like him as a coach (I think he is a very good coach), but I think he is a horrible human being.
On top of that, LVG had to deal with some player issues as well. Stekelenburg in trouble, Van der Wiel in trouble, Heitinga in trouble, Van Bommel retired, De Jong injured, etcetc.
LVG had to bring young blood and was somewhat forced to change Oranje’s playing style back to Total Football (he is doing this not just because he’s forced to, as he is a big believer himself of course).
And despite all of this, he has managed to only drop 2 points in a freak game away (Estonia, 4 days back) and managed to qualify as the first nation from Europe.
To quote LVG: “It simply wasn’t possible to qualify quicker, unless when you organise the tournament…..”
The expectations for Oranje’s chances are now being assessed. The KNVB management is only happy when Oranje finishes Top 4. This is what they gave LVG as a target when they signed him last year. Louis himself believes this is too ambitious and he will talk to the management about this. “There are at least 8 teams equal to us or better.” Louis goes for top 8. Johan Cruyff however believes Oranje should be happy if they progress from the group stages. “This Oranje lacks experience in key positions. Players like Martins Indi and De Vrij do have the future but simply lack experience. They can’t help that. They will be much stronger after the World Cup.”
Obviously, the position on the FIFA ranking will be key for Oranje’s chances. If Holland is Group Leader, we should be able to progress without too much drama. If we loste that spot and are part of a group with – say – Brazil or Spain, it might be less likely. However, I do think we play better against teams that play open (England, Germany) than against negative bus parking teams.
Robin van Persie: “We should have won this game 0-4 or 0-5. This was a bit…thin. Against Andorra, you should be able to turn and go deep 8 out of 10 times you get the ball, but we simply failed to do so. I think bringing Maher in the second half was a good move. We got some more creativity.” Van Persie almost has Kluivert’s record. “Patrick is awesome. He really wants me to get that record. He works with me a lot. In particular my timing. When to come to the near post, when to go to the far post. I take it on and think about it. It helps me a lot.”
Skipper Van Persie offered his jersey to a fan. “I am so happy. I think we did well this qualifications series. Sure, we need to improve, but at least we have a goal to work towards….”
Let’s look at the negatives now, for a bit.
Most people will say “how is it possible that Holland played so weak against Andorra???”….
– It’s always hard to break down 100% defensive/destructive teams
– Oranje does not have the “automatisms” and flow you expect from the Dutch, which makes the former even harder
– We play with some new chaps who need to find their footing ( Willems, Schaars, Schaken, Lens on the left)
– Some of our players are missing (Robben, Vaart) or simply not in best form (Sneijder)
– Somehow LVG didn’t want to experiment too much, hence we played with 4 defenders and two relatively defensive midfielders
– We failed to score early, which further increased Andorra’s resolve
– Once it was 0-2 for Oranje, the team thought well enough was good enough as Andorra played a rough game and the players didn’t want to risk injuries
All these, are good reasons… Although I personally don’t get why Louis didn’t experiment a little bit more.
Why not use Schaars or Strootman as CB instead of Martins Indi? Using three defenders instead of four? Why not have the lightfooted Maher close to RVP and the man with the golden pass (Sneijder) sitting a bit deeper? Why not using the more offensive De Guzman instead of Schaars?
I can imagine Van Gaal’s response: “If the team does not flow as it is, changing the make up will only confuse more. We need stability and consistency. My aim was NOT to dazzle and to score nine times against Andorra. My aim was simply to win.”
Most of the other criticism is fair enough, but also not that relevant now. This month is NOT when the prizes are handed out.
We qualified. Which is more than LVG could say in 2002. We have 10 months to get our act together.
I believe we have two massive strikers with RVP and Hunter. I don’t buy the criticism on Klaasjan. He is an awesome killer in the box. Simply check his records.
We have 4 pretty good goalies.
We have a young and inexperienced defence. True. But in the words of JC: “If your defence is weak, make sure you attack!”.
Our midfield is potentially strong: Vaart, Sneijder, Clasie, Maher, Wijnaldum, Strootman, De Guzman, Van Ginkel, Afellay, Siem de Jong… What is not to like?
And we might have at least two or three awesome wingers…. Robben for sure. And at least two of the following list: Narsingh, Lens, Elia, Ola John, Boetius, Depay, Boerrigter. Surely, two of these lads should have some form come summer 2014?
I am not pessimistic. I never am.