UPDATED: Oranje playing for 6 points

We have seen some lively discussions off late, about Berghuis, Lang and Danjuma. Keep the debate going, as I’m sure things will heat up even more, the closer we get to the World Cup!

This is the second to last international break re: WC qualifications and the only break that offers LVG some time to experiment, somewhat. He has 2 days more than normal and he has two relatively easy opponents to worry about.

We have seen freak results in the past (Faroer Islands!!) but surely we can beat Latvia and Gibraltar. With these six points on top of the current number, we are well positioned for the last series of games. Obviously, if Norway and Turkey drop points in this round themselves, life will be easier even.

In a disappointing press conference, LvG discussed the key talking points. I will mention them briefly as most of these have been debated already on this blog.

Here are some key points:

  • Danjuma – the media started to imply that LvG had been sleeping while Danjuma took the European football world by surprise with his dazzling turn v Man United in the CL.
    • “Really? Do you think we don’t have scouts? Do you think I don’t watch La Liga? Oh… well, I am very aware of him. And he is good player, but he made his transfer late in the window, he needed some time to settle and started on the bench. He now has some good games under his belt, that is excellent. And when he can keep this level up, yes, he will be part of the squad again. But this series of games came to early.”
  • Goal keepers – Flekken is now part of the squad, as the fourth goalie, while Cillesen is ignored. Rumours had it that the squad didn’t want Cillesen. That it’s a personality thing.
    • “I need to find the best keeper. And if my scouts tell me there is a 28 year old goalie in the Bundesliga who is all round, I need to check that out. He is a real Van Gaal goalie. Very good with his feet. So this is my chance to test him out and see him at work. Cillesen is not off the radar. He is a very good goalie and he only started playing again recently. He has had two games. Too early for a re-call.”
  • Berghuis – the Ajax player is impressing currently on the #10 position. Van Gaal won’t use him there.
    • “Berghuis was not a starter at Ajax. He was even benched. I played him in three matches which got him noticed in Ajax and he has me to thank for that. I have other options for the #10, and not a lot for right wing, so Berghuis is a right winger for me.”
  • Quincy Promes – the ex Ajax player who is under investigation due to a knife incident (now playing in Russia).
    • “Yes he can play for Oranje, yes on different spots and yes he did wel recently, but by rule, I will not select players who have these things going on in their private lives. It will be distracting. For him, for us, I get questions about it, and it’s not worth it for me.”

What was disappointing about the presser was Louis’ attitude towards the media.

He did this earlier on when talking about the players and the expectations for these two games.

When confronted with close to euphoric comments about how well the clubs played internationally, Louis used his vinegar tactics to put it all in perspective. You see, in the last international break, Louis was charming, warm and funny. He played the game and got the people behind him. Now, he needs to be careful for a too optimistic vibe and he is now using his bad-cop routine to piss everyone off, including the players.

“I have told Lang not to provoke or do things other than football. What he does at Brugge… he can not do this with me.”

“Do you think Dutch clubs perform well? Come on! Only Ajax plays at top level. PSV choked when they could get into the Champions League and failed. They are now in the Europa League, which is fine. But don’t tell me it’s top. It’s not. And the conference league? Really? Feyenoord, AZ and Vitesse are playing games against Punch and Daisy. Of course they perform well. Half of the clubs’ names I can’t even pronounce!”

He also explained how only Stefan de Vrij (of the players who played versus Turkey) won his match, last weekend. “None of the other players won their games. That goes to show that there is no place for complacency, or for arrogance. We will need to be top, also against Latvia and also against Gibraltar!”

This is typical Louis. Getting everybody sharp and on their toes. Bringing goalie Flekken is could well be part of the strategy to tell all his players: if I can find a better option than you, I’ll bring him in! And doing this to Bijlow is a safe strategy for Louis, as Justin won’t balk at Van Gaal. As opposed to a Van Dijk or Memphis who wouldn’t enjoy being treated this way.

Flekken on his feet

Now, Van Gaal extends his dramatic play acting and theatrics towards the media too and that is always pissing me off.

I mean, the press conferences are there for the media to ask questions ON BEHALF OF THE FOOTBALL FANS. They deserve a normal treatment and normal answers. But Louis uses the pressers to settle petty scores with journalists. The NOS (the main Dutch broadcaster) got his traditional “Are you the NT manager?? Or am I? Or do you make those decisions??”. Valentijn Driessen of De Telegraaf (the biggest daily in the country) “Ah you and your little paper…”….

It is becoming quite pathetic as the NT manager is the figure head of Dutch football, to treat the media – and thus the public – like this condescending way is not on. It’s typical Van Gaal.

Danjuma showing his number to his opponent

He has been experimenting a bit with Plan B as he called it. He doesn’t call it a new system, he calls it a tweak of the system, in case we need to force a goal. The solution isn’t hard to predict. At the training of yesterday, his booming voice was clear: “And then we bring Wout or we bring Luuk and then it is BOOM BOOM!”

Noa Lang was a popular player amongst the media. The mercurial forward has been seen as a prodigal talent for many years and now he’s part of the nation’s elite, after a really good spell at Brugge. “In all honesty, I expected the call last season already but I guess the coach was focusing on the squad for the Euros and I missed out. I’m so happy that I am part of it now. The coach did speak to me about not being provocative. I get that. But I told him that it is and always will be part of my game. I try to find the limits. And he understood that too.”

Yes Noa Lang is a character alright.

Frenkie de Jong had to deal with a lot of questions about Barca: ” It is not as bad as the media paint it. Really, it’s not. I mean, losing Messi was a blow and he is the kind of guy that always delivers. We will need to make do without him now and we also have at least 5 other first team players out. So it’s normal that we don’t perform at our best. Real and Atletico have only 2 points more than us, if we win our catch up match. And yes, I played right wing in a match, but that was really because we had no other options and there were chances for us on that side. I am convinced it will all come good. Ansu Fati is back and we will have Pedri again and I am also convinced I will improve more as will Memphis. It will end well, trust me.”

We may not see another post before the Latvia game.

But we will see an update :-).

The last presser before the game, Van Gaal confirmed that he is utterly impressed with Mathijs de Ligt who is working hard to restore his form.  “He has risen from the dark. He is so close to a starting spot, but he has to compete with De Vrij who happened to be the Man of the Match in the two previous matches.”

Van Gaal also mentioned Noa Lang and Mark Flekken. “They confirmed what we hoped for. Noa is a very creative player and we need that to break open opponents like Latvia. I can’t tell you if he’ll make minutes but I don’t see why not? Flekken appears to be an open positive lad. He’s good with his feet and he stops many shots. He has to improve off the line though. He needs to be better with crosses, that is what my current opinion is of him.”

And about skipper Virgil: “He is still not 100%. He played four whole matches with Liverpool and he’s on his way to full fitness. He is very close.”

Oranje is currently in Riga and the coach thought it was vital to train at the local stadium. “It’s always key to know where you’ll play. Get a feel for the place. De Kuip, Anfield, Camp Nou… amazing temples but all different. I need the players to experience this.”

Van Gaal watched and analysed some of the previous Latvia games. “We learned a lot and are well prepared. We have been working on our game plan and the dead ball situations. I hope you will be able to spot that.”

About the right wing role, Van Gaal said this: “Steven Bergwijn has told me he doesn’t want to play from the right. I think Berghuis is currently the only one we have, with Lang. And I think Quincy Promes can play there too.”

This is my line up (the one I think LvG would use… I think I would have included Karsdorp in my personal fave line up).




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  1. Thanks for the preview, Jan. Very much looking forward to the match. With Turkey playing Norway tomorrow, things could look pretty good after this round of matches. But I take nothing for granted anymore, (well, maybe Gibraltar). Hoping they continue the good form they showed against Montenegro and Turkey, but even if they don’t look good, I’ll take a win however they can get it. Don’t want to watch another WC without the NT’s participation.

  2. One thing I’ve been interested in is actually Memphis’ goal tally. We would never consider him as prodigious a finisher as Huntelaar, van Persie, Kluivert, but he’s already at 33 goals. With games against Latvia, Gibraltar, Montenegro and Norway coming up I see no reason why he won’t be able to score 6 or 7 goals in those 4 games and suddenly be tied for 2nd all time for Holland.

      1. Yes, good call, the numbers don’t lie. For all the stick he has taken over the years, he has performed, and without the supporting cast of the others you mention.

        1. Re: Memphis

          guys you are missing some thing. starts with L. Memphis doesn’t have any outright competitor like to that of others. Hunterlar, Van Persie, Van Nistelroy, Hasselbaink, Kluivert. Huntelaar’s goal ratio was better than Van Persie’s even with the less games he played. Huntelaar is 76-42 goals, while Van Persie 102 -50 goals. at this rate Huntelaar would have smashed it if he would played the same number of games.

          also there is also no outright scores in the team either compared to before sneijder, vaart, Arijen robben, overmars, zenden, berkmap. For this reason memphis has always been the focal point of attack in NT and he benefits from it. after Depay, after him its would be wijnaldum if im not wrong, who with others like klaassen are more random or occasional scorers.

          he is still 27 and by 30 -31 , with no one in sight who can dispose him or provide competition to him, he could well topple everybody even to that out van persie’s record. increase in competition like Nations League and its qualifiers could again aid this.

          1. not sure about his PKs either. he is regular there also. he might topple the record but will not be remembered like to that of others.

    1. I did not; I was kind of hoping you saw it and you would be providing information. lol I also see that the U19’s beat Portugal today 3-1, anything on that?

        1. interestingly Xavi smons came on late in the game 75′. looks like Ucuvar is already being fast tracked ahead of him. formation too was strange.4-3-1-2.

          van Brederode (AZ) – Emegha (sparta)

          Unuvar (Ajax)

          fitz kim (Ajax)- Hartjes (feyenoord) – De Jong (AZ)

          baas (Ajax) – Hillen (Ajax)- Regeer (Ajax)- Benita (Feyenoord

          Roefs (NEC)

          1. I also see Anass Salah-Eddine has fallen out after joining Arsenal. he was active in the Arsenal u21 win over Brighton u21 where he also scored 1 goal. again some question mark on how the jury weigh on which player is better than other . eerste divisive to u21 leagues.

  3. @Wilson regarding Depay

    I’m watching the number beside his name in the record book go up. I didn’t say anything about his performances, or why he is scoring so many goals. I just commented that it’s happening. Not every commented has to be a battle of player performances.

    Also, if you want to go by the numbers:
    Memphis has played ~180 minutes at a World Cup Level, scored 2 goals
    RVP has played ~1500 minutes at a World Cup level, scored 6 goals
    Memphis has played ~360 minutes at a Euro Cup level, scored 3 goals
    RVP has played ~550 minutes a Euro Cup level, scored 3 goals

    So if we’re going to talk about who is and who is not performing at a certain level, I don’t think you can hold it against Memphis that he has not played as many high level matches as RVP. In fact, his goalscoring record on “the biggest stage” is about a goal per 100 minutes. You also must be aware that RVP has never scored in the knockout rounds of one of these tournaments.

    WC2006 – 1 Group Stage Goal
    EC2008 – 2 Group Stage Goals
    WC2010 – 1 Group Stage Goal (in 7 game)
    EC2012 – 1 Group Stage Goal
    WC2014 – 3 Group Stage Goals + 1 in the Bronze Medal Match

    I’m not saying Memphis is the same calibre as RVP, but I definitely think he shouldn’t be faulted by his team’s inability to have qualified for a major tournament. But if we were comparing them, and looking strictly at numbers like goals per minute on the “biggest stage”, I think it’d be advantage Memphis.

    1. I think Jan and anyone else who lives or has lived in Holland might be able to attest to this, but there is a famous Dutch footballer by the name of Sjaak Swart. Swart played for Holland in the 60’s, which as we all know was another one of our dark times.

      I think if there were to be a country-wide discussion of the “best goalscorers in Dutch history, Swart would be one of the first names out of a lot of peoples lips, despite the fact that he never scored goals on “the biggest stage”

      1. Sjaak is Mr Ajax. The 2nd dad of many players and most recently Donny vd Beek who lived with Sjaak. You used to have Piet “Scissors” Keizer on the left, Cruyff in the centre and Sjaak Swart on the right.

        Swart could not head a ball but had a very powerful shot.

        The goal scorer pur sang which no one talks about ever, here or anywhere is Ruud Geels. One of the few players who played for all 3 Dutch top clubs. His time at Ajax was probably his best spell.

        Geels wasn’t tall but was a superb header of the ball (great jump on him) and he was a Inzaghi type poacher.

        He played 20 internationals for Oranje. His main issue: he didn’t look like a footballer and didn’t behave like one off the pitch either.

        He lacked the rockstar appeal of Van Hanegem, Krol, Rep and Neeskens.

        His stats below (games played and goals scored):

        Feyenoord: 89 – 46
        Ajax : 131 – 123
        PSV: 32 – 15.

        A decent man.

        Which other player(s) do you know who played for all three top clubs? Don’t google!

        1. The only other one I can think of is obviously Koeman who played for and managed all 3. Truly a man of no allegiances.

          Berghuis is sort of close, having now played for 3 of the “Big 4” if we want to give AZ that distinction.

          1. Well done!

            He was a player for all three, but also coached all three…. Koeman, I mean. Not Berghuis.

  4. As for Memphis and his stats, for me it doesn’t matter if there was competition or not. It might work in his disadvantage actually, not having to compete with another player.

    Also, Memphis is not your typical #9. He spends more time not in the 9 position, and still scores like there is no tomorrow. A bit like Messi?

  5. Just finished watching the replay of France and Belgium. What a game, worthy of a final. Two teams at its best and again free flowing soccer. Belgium started off the blocks quick but it was because France let them as they decided to defend in the early stages of games which back fired when Belguim went 2-0. Second half France came out Firing and turned the game around. Some good saves from both GKs which kept them in the game but when France went into attack mode it was all hell break loss.

  6. From “Football Oranje”:

    According to De Telegraaf, Guus Til will start tonight

    Expected Netherlands XI: Bijlow; Dumfries, De Vrij, Van Dijk, Blind; Klaassen, Til, F. De Jong; Berghuis, Memphis, Gakpo

  7. Thanks for the article Jan. Also went through the comments and thoroughly enjoyed the background information on some of our “unknown” greats.

    Saw the France-Belgium game. France is truly a team to worry about if Deschamps doesn’t mess it up. That style of playing with the handbrake on worked for them in the last world cup but they have all the tools to just go at teams. Went rampant on Belgium in the 2nd half. Have my eyes on them and Argentina. Can’t discount Spain either. Qatar is gonna be a dandy.


    Again I have never seen a full game of this kid. But I bring up his name because I am not really sure about the way forward if something unfortunate were to happen to FDJ. Koop of course seem to be a natural replacement. But he doesn’t seem to possess much pace and have clear defensive frailties. De Roon of course doesn’t have the technical ability. Every other midfielder in the NT team playing in that position would be taking away from other areas of the field or might just not be FDJ type player.

    Again I saw snippets(plz correct if wrong) of Schouten and feels he possess comparable technical abilities to Veerman or Koop but with greater defensive abilities and pace. That’s my impression.

    For me, the quote that management doesn’t want to transform the NT into a “pigeon nest” is egotistical and just another mechanism of maintaining the status quo of not trying to see what’s on the other side of the door and ultimately, favoritism. These light fixtures would have been a good time to see a kid as Schouten (or Veerman for that matter) in 25-30mins cameo(depending on how game goes). Really doesn’t matter if he plays for Bologna.

    Oranje has never been a team who can sustain prolonged defensive pressure. They always seem to lose their way in high tempo quality barrages. That’s is why I’ll always favor multi dimensional players and not so much de Roon. Who ever saw what France did in the second half against Belgium would appreciate my worry. That’s why I’m also against Berghuis. That kind of French thunderstorm requires players who can get dirty and also technically astute enough to facilitate the break.


    I hear he is going to start. Again. I really do not appreciate that left wing being a shoo-in for a player who has shown little. Let’s see if he is going to get 90mins. We will know where LVG stands with Berghuis and Gakpo by the end of today.

    1. Orangutan: “For me, the quote that management doesn’t want to transform the NT into a “pigeon nest” is egotistical and just another mechanism of maintaining the status quo of not trying to see what’s on the other side of the door and ultimately, favoritism.”

      You are wrong, of course. For starters… favoritism?? What is wrong with that :-). If I was coach I would pick Frenkie, Virgil, Memphis and Bijlow without a doubt, and yes, call it favoritism. Of course a coach has a favorite. Don’t you think Cruyff was once the fave of Michels? Or Van Hanegem of Happel? Don’t you think Antony is the favorite of Ten Hag…?

      Coaches need to win games. They pick a strategy and tactics that work. Bert van Marwijk proved that with a mediocre overall team (Heitinga, Mathijsen, Kuyt, Nigel) you can get far by sticking to a core of players and have them play together a lot.

      Coaches don’t want to keep the status quo. If there is 1 thing Louis wants, is to win the World Cup.

      Did you ever play or coach football?

      1. @Jan

        Re: Did you ever play or coach football?

        I actually was a fine box to box midfielder. Never professional level but also never a slouch.

        But that’s not really what we want to talk about is it?

        Let’s talk about favoritism and how you conveniently left out all the names that have been blasted as recipients of that most regressive tendency? We are not going to talk about Memphis, Cruyff, Virgil, FDJ or any of the names you mentioned because they are all deserving and worthy of their roles. Remember we are talking about favoritism. So let’s talk about the names you slyly left out.

        We will start with Europe’s best Berghuis. What more is there to say? Or see? A dud.

        Danjuma. If there was anytime for him to shine it would have been today.

        Blind. Wish you saw the France/Belgium game and tell me how someone that lacks such athleticism would cope. Imagine.

        Gakpo. Trying to force him down our throats(like Berghuis) without him facing any type of competition. Gross.

        We eagerly await your match report.

  8. Cool guys…we played vs a bus parking team who waited for counters…with little luck and and Bijlow save we got 3 points…Tim krul would not have saved that i think…i felt the absence of Berjwin/Danjuma….Berghuis place up for grabs and hope Noah lang takes it…
    Blind is a question mark hope Malacia,Terence kongolo or Jetro williams to arrive as first choice LB..
    My questions of Guus till,i dont think he is oranje material and Van de beek,Vilhena are 1000 times better than him…
    Blind,Berghuis,Till,De roon…..they should be challenged..i am convinced we have better players than these 4 players…
    i felt the absence of berjwin,,the pace,trickery,work rate of Berjwin where missing…that will free memphis to a beast..
    on bench
    ———Van de beek———-
    kongolo–Botman–De ligt—Rensch
    ———-Drommel——————-22 members
    Another 4 players
    krul(only on penalty shootout).

  9. The way I see it, this world Cup will pave way for a better and bigger team for 2024- 2026. Again my projection being for them winning. Lang has come on board, Danjuma might be at some point but overall it has come to late for Qatar given just being called up is not enough. You have to have that condidence level running at max throttle and this comes with playing and playing more games. Malacia,Gakpo,Malen, Til, koopmeiners are all in the same boat. Im talking about NT level here and not club.

    I cant see this team winning in Qatar and the simply reason is they dont have the right ingredients. The team still lacks a good creative midfielder and given the current bench mark being klaassens, Tils, wijnaldums and Berghuis if you wanna consider him since he is flourishing at Ajax, just sums up the quality that they have.

    You really cant take much out of the Lativa game. With Norway drawing vs Turkey, I think NT has already put one feet in the qualification for qatar. They will defintely win vs Gibraltar and just need a draw bs Norway at home.

    Few things I would say though is this is where Berghuis experiment needs to stop. Lang needs to start vs Gibraltar and start getting to familiarize with the team. I was looking at him and Dumfries and while he likes to play that one two in congested spaces, dumfries was not up to it. I think this will eventually come as they play more together. His workrate was good compared to berghuis and again his ability to play in the traffic was elusive and again compared to berghuis. Holding up like he did on that pass to Depay. I said it before, wait for him to come on board and he just showed the glimpse of whats to come of him.again he will be a good addition to team plus Danjuma as well.

    I also liked Van Gaals subs. But he should have changed Blind as well. His inability to overlap really put gakpo in tight positions and the Lativa players double tagged him through out the game.

    1. @Wilson

      Re: You really cant take much out of the Lativa game.

      That simple sentence sums up what’s been wrong with the NT for so many years. Imagine you coming close to a WCQ campaign and STILL have so many unanswered questions. Primarily because you refuse to ask them and have apparently decided to settle for half-answers.

      How many times does Berghuis needs to be given a chance before someone can come in and form a semblance of relationship with Dumfries since that’s the flank you want to run your attacks?

      When will you realize the LB position and accommodating Blind has a chain reaction that’s taking away from the whole team? Like you said, Gakpo is ineffective because his chosen partner cannot run. Same story with the right side but just in reverse. So we are now left with the middle which even the most refined teams struggle to make way through.

      Why at this point it’s only Koop we have seen in the holding position and somewhat ready to deputize?

      Why couldn’t you try to make up your mind on Gravenberch as substitute for Wjilnaldum before you usher in Til in a game like yesterday?

      Why are we still left with only the unconvincing performance of Timber as cover for Dumfries? Karsdorp? Ever?

      No answers. Because no serious questions ever gets asked. Tunnel vision 101.

  10. Danjuma in the team lol , who could have imagined that!!

    I couldn’t really wait till next month who knows what will happen tmr . Now show Van gaal your true power Arnaut !!

  11. @ Orangtugan

    Of my years on this blog, if there is one thing I have been sceptical about, it has been the selection.

    If you ask the question,have they ever nailed it. Not sure about 88 (Jan), but 98 under Hiddink perhaps and again I would say that the bench mark or anything close to it,for NT to win a big tournment.

    We also have to scummb to the fact that we don’t hold the key to the door and can only hope things will change for better under exceptional circumstances like injuries which will pave way for a better team and overall change. Mind you this has been the only way changes has come about in NT from the mediocrity in 2016.

    For players like Daley Blind, the jury will only be satisfied once they will be humiliated and thats when they will accept its time for change. Unfortunately we have to tolerate him for another tournment and hopefully there will be change for better after that come 2024 – 2026. By then there will be more options avaliable as well.

    The others you have mentioned like Karsdorp, it to do with preference and like you said, its same talior made so its whom they want and not necessarily why

    In general

    During the Lativa game when the camera focused on the sidelines, the picture was motionless even with van gaal holding a paper. There was no buzzing going on what so ever in the ears as compared to the Turkey game. They just knew what they were looking at. Im not even suprised van gaal has decided to call danjuma up when the CRITICS here were saying he will have to compete with Malen, memphis and even gakpo. For Van Gaal, the alarm bell must have rang inside watching the how the game unfolded regardless of weather, pitch factors. They simply lacked the cutting edge and for this reason he has given danjuma sos call. With Gakpo out, he could have opted for Malen, it shows he doesnt see Malen as winger which is sensible and good call out.

    Again im saying this, just watch and note what danjuma brings to the team and in the span of time frame.

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