Oranje: The Future

The future of Oranje looks bright. How often have I typed these words. Most likely after most tournaments we covered here on the blog. Starting in 2004, in Portugal, with Robben and Advocaat dominating the headlines, via the Battle of Nuremberg to the Russian drama in 2008, the Spanish toe in 2010 and the miracle of 2014…

But, the future of Oranje always looks bright, which is part of the problem actually. We want the present to be bright. But time and time again, we put a lot of weight on the multiple talents we recognise, but which somehow don’t come to fruition.

In 2006, Maduro, Kromkamp, Jaliens, Vennegoor, Hesselink (never know which one), Babel… In 2008, Engelaar, De Zeeuw, Melchiot, Bouma, Afellay. In 2010, Elia, Braafheid. And the list goes on.

We do have the players. We always develop players. From Cruyff, Rep, Rensenbrink and Neeskens, to Bergkamp, Van Basten and Van Tiggelen. Or Van der Vaart, Sneijder, Robben now to Memphis, Gakpo and Frenkie de Jong.

It’s not the players. I said this before: Greece won the Euros in 2004 without any real world class names. We have enough players to fill a national team.

My key issue with Dutch football is the lack of real competence at the Federation level (the KNVB). Somehow, mediocre managers are pulled towards the jobs. It’s a cushion job, nicely paid, making nice trips to FIFA and UEFA events, you get your face on tv and you get to hang with famous people… But the Dutch officials lack the gravitas, experience and commitment of – say – the German or English officials. It’s all a bit cottage-industry in the Netherlands.

I mean, allowing assistant coach Dick Advocaat a contract clause allowing him to leave his job after 2 months, after coach Danny Blind had said no to other candidates. And then to allow Ronald Koeman a clause in his contract, so he could abandon the NT mid campaign (which gave us Frank de Boer and then Louis van Gaal). And then inviting Koeman back in!!!

What messages do you give to the players? How will Koeman get back into the dressing room? Its like leaving your wife for a younger model and then after a year of failed love-making, you return to your ex?

Or calling Peter Bosz to ask him about his contract and then telling the media Bosz turned the gig down?

Or having joke Hans van Breukelen sign both Ten Cate AND Advocaat and then lying to the media, the supporters and the players while Ten Cate had audio recordings unmasking the glib former goalie.

I mean….

Top sport mentality? In the dressing room yes. On the pitch, sometimes. In the board room? No.

The KNVB management seems to be fishing in the same old pond: ex players, older than 50, successful as club coach, popular amongst the people, Dutch, experience within the Federation a preference.

Louis van Gaal had 3 stints. Hiddink had 2 stints. Advocaat at least 2. Now Ronald “this train might not come by again” Koeman twice. People like Grim or Lodeweges or further back Van Lingen, were part of the KNVB coaching staff before, at the youth level. There is no real vision. Coaches seem to be selected along the “IBM” mantra. In the past, corporations went for IBM because “no IT manager gets sacked for chosing IBM as a partner”. In Dutch football, no KNVB official will get sacked for selecting Hiddink/Van Gaal/Advocaat.

We don’t see rebels like Cruyff,  Ten Cate or Bosz as team manager. They are too high maintenance. They will say things the KNVB doesn’t want to hear. They will have an opinion about the KNVB staff, protocols or methods. They play risky football.

Back in 1994, Cruyff dropped out of the negotiations to lead Oranje in the USA World Cup because he was forced to use the KNVB coaches as assistants, while JC wanted Tonny Bruins Slot and his own staff. Just like someone in KNVB management blocked the signing of Henk ten Cate.

Next up, our Academy philosophy needs a kick up the behind. Our focus has been very much a cookie cutter “pass and move” format, where players like Danjuma, Frenkie de Jong and potentially even Xavi Simons were told to “stick to the program”, i.e. stop dribbling and pass the ball more.

It’s vital to develop programs for specific roles in the team and it’s vital to organise more resistance for our talents. Every player leaving the Dutch competition to go to Italy (in particular), England or Germany will tell you soon after their move how they now train really hard and how it took them months to get up to par with the other players in terms of fitness.

Our talents, at Ajax, AZ, Feyenoord and PSV, win most of their matches with two hands tied to their backs. Send them out to play more international tournaments. Develop ways to make it hard for them. Let them play 10 v 11 for instance, to build more resilience and grit.

Talents will always come through in Holland but talent alone is not enough.

But enough with the stern criticism. Lets look at the interview with Peter Bosz, the World Cup winning team manager in 2026.

Congrats, Peter. You finally got us a World Cup. When did you start thinking it was all possible?

PB: “I always knew it was possible. We were close so often but we regularly missed a detail. We were able to get all ingredients right, this time. The foundation being the mental and physical levels of the squad. And then it was mainly the typical Dutch football spirit which got us the win.”

Such as?

“It started when Ronald Koeman left after losing the Nations League final versus Spain, 1-8. The new 6 at the back system failed miserably. Koeman wanted to use all good central defenders in his line up and having Daley Blind as a striker was not a good call for some reason. So he left for Dundee United, which was one of his dream clubs apparently. I went back to the usual 4-3-3 and tried to get some clarity in to the squad.”

Was it hard to make the transition?

“The main thing was to get all these petty Van Gaal v Koeman things out of the consciousness of the lads. We just went back to the basis. 4-3-3 is ideal for the triangles and the positioning on the pitch. We were mostly play 3-4-3 whenever we had control which was often as we do have great ball players.”

How did you approach this World Cup?

“We decided to use the principles engrained in us by the glorious 1970s generation of players and we modernised it. We didn’t even do this to be honest, others have done it before us. I mean, Van Gaal in the 90s, Sacchi at Milan, Guardiola and of course the input from Wilson and Emanuel on the Dutch Soccer Blog was priceless.”

You decided to use a lot of playful, creative, adventurous players.

“Well yes, football is about scoring goals. You cannot score if you don’t have the ball. So players who have full control over the ball have more chance of keeping possession and finding solutions. All the rest, we can teach players. The massive overhaul we have seen in our academy has pushed the overall quality up. We’re just delighted with how it went.”

How did the selection process go?

“Simple. Which players are vital to have in the team, based on control, mentality, fitness and pure quality? Frenkie, Nathan, Tyrell, Cody, Xavi and Ryan. Right? So we built a team around them. Nathan Ake our captain, and leader and most experienced player. With Sven Botman regularly standing in for Nathan. Frimpong and Malacia are no-brainers of course and with De Ligt we have a true tank next to Nathan. A midfield of Frenkie, Gravenberch and Xavi Simons can play any opponent to smithereens and with Gakpo, Danjuma and Lang we have smashing forward line. I’m also happy Memphis as a supersub still works. It almost doesn’t matter who I put in goal, but Bijlow did really well doing nothing.”

Seven matches, no goals conceded, and scored an average of 5 goals per match. Wow.

“Yes, we could have done better I suppose. Your criticism is understandable. It usually takes about 20 seconds from start to the move, to the end: the ball in the net. We could and should have score more.”


“Overall, my assistants Daley Blind and Dirk Kuyt have been instrumental in this and I hope we can now win a couple more tournaments. Football is coming home!!!”

Eh no Peter, that slogan has nothing to do with….

“Am I so smart, or are you so stupid??”

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  1. @ JB

    From previous post. Gakpo to Liverpool. Good move and good for NT. I think he will get to play alot now that Diaz is injured and also out of his strong hold which is on the left.

    I reckon if he had gone to United he would have had to fight for minutes. The ball is in his court now.

  2. As for future, the only area that needs alot of focus is midfield especially on the right. The delimma right now is alot of mfs have stronghold on the left, the very position frenkie plays. Gravenberch being one of those whom there is alot of expectations going forward.. Veerman, Taylor all play the same position at their respective clubs.The question remains who shifts where

    Xavi simons should be top notch addition to the team and given his energy, work rate and craftiness, he needs to become the focal point to enhance and bring the much needed creativity from the middle.

    Then comes the need for some heavyweights/ midfielders who can add muscle and aggressiveness. Matusiwa is definitely the no 1 contender for this but then the system changes from point forward to backward.

    I have said this before and the guy I’m waiting for to come on to NT stage is ludviot Reis. He could be the perfect partner for frenkie if any. I have been monitoring him at Hamburg and while they are still in Bundesliga 2 his performance certainly has not gone unnoticed with teams already scouting him from top divisions. He is a natural athlete and his ability to play across any position in the mid is a testimony of it. He is also the second most valuable player right now B2.


    I know he won’t be called up playing in a 2 division league and the only hope is either Hamburg can gain promotion back to Bundesliga or a transfer for him to a competitive league/ club in order to crack into NT.

    Another midfielder whom I think has alot to offer is Vilhnea. Just completed a permanent transfer to salenitara in serie A. He has experience, good work rate and creativity as well. He has worked with koeman before and could make a return as well, probably make the bench if any. He is still 27 and can always be an impact player.

  3. @wilson Nice to hear that there are even players in the lower leagues who are good enough to make the cut and play at a higher level.Hope koeman has his eyes and ears open and do the right selections.

    1. Naci Unuvar – what a typical dutch name 🙂 I hear many of these names mentioned tirelessly here. I estimate in about 1-2 decades if we can find a Van Something in our NT it will be considered a miracle. Let those with dual citizenships pick and you will see they will choose their parents motherland. Like Ziyech etc. To me these guys even if they are some sort of genius players should not be considered unless they beg to be in the team. They should feel sincerely honored to play for one for the great football nations, otherwise good riddance.

      1. @Balkan, people here will feel much more comfortable if we do not make any racist and apartheid-related comments. Neither you nor me would like to live and work in US if we were treated here differently from those of Anglo-Saxon origin. Here are two reasons why non-Dutch origin players choose to represent their native country: 1. They are not competitive compared to “Van Something” or 2. Even though they are bright (like Hakim Z), they do not get invitation to represent the Netherlands due to politics within KNVB. I think the reason why Hakim Z. chose to represent Marocco was the second reason. KNVB is full of shit, they do not think about Oranje or Netherlands, they think about their chair and safety. Completely opposite situation is in France. 80% of the team is composed of the first- and second-generation immigrants from Africa. Mbappe is not exactly French last name either. Why do not they choose to represent their native countries? It is because French Football Federation is proactive and, in some way, patriotic and puts the interest of their country above any racism and biases.

        1. @AZ, it is a bit harsh to accuse me of racism. Apartheid?! I feel offended. I just made an observation and I don’t think we should become thought police in this group. I have been subject of stereotyping by those who feel oppressed in the society today since my very early days but I grew a thick skin and persevered and never asked for handouts but this is a different story. Perhaps if given the option I would also choose to represent my native country instead of the US, it’s a matter of feelings.
          Like I said before, if a foreign born player has doubts representing Holland he shouldn’t be begged to be part of the team regardless of his talent level. He is not feeling dutch and this is reason enough to not be considered. I still believe representing your country is a matter of patriotism and pride, win or lose. That’s how Ziyech acted and I respect that. I really doubt Ziyech feels more Dutch than Moroccan.
          Speaking about personal feelings, I repeat fell in love with the Orange team represented by Van Somethings in the early 80s but that can’t make me a racist, can it? Majority of my native countrymen supported Germany back then, should they feel ashamed because of WWW2? I also like Croatia a lot because they haven’t imported any players and have created a brilliant team of CROATIANS out of a mere 3.8 million people, does this make me a racist too? I can’t believe we’re talking about this.

          @Jan, apologies for diverging from pure football topics.

          1. @Balkan, I am not thought-policing anybody here. Childhood memories are the strongest ones, and we carry those throughout our lives. From that point of view, I understood your comments about “Van Somethings” and eco your admiration of the Oranje in 1974 and 1978. But your comment ” To me these guys [immigrants, my editing] even if they are some sort of genius players should not be considered unless they beg to be in the team. They should feel sincerely honored to play for one for the great football nations, otherwise good riddance” came across too strong and very offensive (at least to me) and I wanted you to be aware of how your comment was perceived. My goal was not to offend you. With respect to Netherlands, the country should be proud and honored to have a team of players with diverse backgrounds. Not the other way around.

          2. @ AZ:
            “With respect to Netherlands, the country should be proud and honored to have a team of players with diverse backgrounds. Not the other way around.” – WHY????? Where is the evidence that this ensures success? The goal is to win a prize. Why does diversity matter and how does it contribute to reaching that goal?! You need skills and attitude. You can teach skills (up to a certain level) but you can’t teach attitude. If you don’t embrace the culture of the country you migrated to which gave you the opportunity to succeed then you lack the attitude and hence you’re not a good fit. If you do not know the anthem of your country no matter your color or skill level, you are not fit to represent the country. Period.
            Don’t mean to turn this into a debate but this diversity thing has become really tiring. Agree to disagree.

  4. Great article Jan. Bullseye eye on everything with exception of the baby Blind coaching reference🤣 Plz enough of that family.

    But seriously, I totally agree that KNVB is the very scourge that has plagued Dutch football. They seemingly cannot do anything right. Common sense and logic won’t be applied because it is overshadowed by their infighting and petty boardroom politics.

    It’s frustrating how a group of people could have so much sway and, stay so consistently dictatorial in their operations of the Dutch national pastime.

    They operate like a monarchy which is quite surprising as I know Dutch people to be fairly liberal minded. How do they end up with the power to mess up so many times without repercussions?

    And a more pressing question would be how do they manage to maintain this ongoing cabal or clique, year after year?

    Will be much appreciated if you can shed some light on this Jan. How do they seem to always get away with it and why is it always more of the same?

  5. I enjoyed the article Jan. Thanks. One thing I am curious about is dutch media reaction to KNVB. They should be hammering them for their failures. Is any of them doing it? And based on what you write it seems to me the title should be “the future is grim” not bright.
    When you think about it, having Koeman back is ridiculous after his detour to Barcelona right when we had stability and were playing good football. It again won’t end up well with him. This guy will probably abandon NT again when he receives an offer from Turkey or Middle East sometime mid campaign. If KNVB likes former players whatever happened to Rijkaard, Van Basten, Van’t Schip etc? All decent coaches who should be much more mature by now.

    1. Marco van Basten was my childhood hero, but I would never in this life or the next refer to him as a “decent coach”. He inherited a pretty good Holland side and did nothing with them and flopped at every single club he was at.

      Koeman had a clause in his contract which was Barcelona specific, which I doubt will be there again, so he’s not just running away for money, he left because of his connection to the club and because opportunities at Barcelona don’t typically come up often.

      1. Under MVB we played 2 of the best games in NT history against Italy and France and demolishing them in 2008 EC. Yes, he choked against Russia and by same token choked against Portugal in 2006 WC. But he was a young coach and inexperienced. In his book even he himself admits to being shocked to have been offered the job and he would not have accepted it if it wasn’t for the financial troubles he was in.
        It seems like at the time his biggest issue was dealing with different personalities in the squad especially R Van Nistelrooy. He honestly accepts that in his book and later reached out and reconciled with him.
        In any case I meant to say that just like other european teams there must be 3-4 ex players who are not so bad at coaching and that with a little investment and experience can turn decent. Argentina became WC winners with a mediocre ex player.

  6. In what will probably seen as a crazy idea, I think Sarina Wiegman should be Holland’s next coach. The only Dutch manager with any real pedigree of winning, aside from Ten Hag who will likely stay as a club coach for a long time.

  7. @Derek, I know he “only” had the Barca clause but that clause in itself was ridiculous. And if you followed his career, you’d know he did it before. He committed to Ajax and left. He committed to PSV and jumped on a deal to go Benfica ( I believe). ” A train I couldn’t ignore to jump on”. It’s very Koeman, who in terms of narcissism is not unlike Van Gaal: me me me . I think Erwin is the better coach.

  8. I enjoyed this article Jan and all your comments. And Wilson, thanks for keeping tabs on promising players, it gives me some hope when I see Dutch youngsters around Europe with potential.

    Today I noticed van de beek got some playing time with United. I couldn’t help but remember that delightful Ajax team a few years back that dominated the champions league. The midfield, which was comprised of Frenkie and VDB, had great chemistry. The team played fun, attacking football and if not for a last minute counter attack, Ajax would have been in the final. If we could somehow replicate that team we would have something to cheer about. I still rate VDB highly and hope he can return to form with a team that values him.

    And I hope Wilson is right and the future stars deliver their full potential in time for the Euros. 🙏 🇳🇱

  9. Even with the present weak team, Dutch are undefeated in WC. Nations league should see new players playing for dutch side. One another thing, everyone knew was dutch side was out of form by end of the last two rounds of Nations league matches and Ajax brigade was also out of form and had less quality. But still Argentina with worlds best player could not beat Dutch team in regulation time. This Tells us something, that is Argentina and to an extent Brazil actually dont have a great record against Netherlands in head to head matches and in WC matches. Argentina won against dutch side in 1978 with home advantage and brazil in 1994 won against dutch. Other than that it is mostly draws and shootouts with dutch having an edge with more wins in regulation time against the south americans. If the team is built up with this strong defence as a base by adding more young and quality players in middle and upfront then in 2026 WC at North America, dutch team will be a strong contender.

  10. Jan:

    Peter Bosz and “no goals conceded” have never been used in the same sentence before! We’d have to average at least 5 per match because we’d certainly be giving up 4.

    On the bright side, if we hired him now, he’d be gone by 2026 as he’s never lasted more than three years at any position. Then he could instill an all out attacking mentality in our players and we could bringing someone new to manage the actual tournament matches 😉

  11. Nice read, @Jan!

    I’m currently skiing in the Swiss Alps, in a resort with quite a few Dutch tourists.

    So today, I start talking with one of them, a gentleman in his seventies, I’d guess. I mention I’m a quarter dutch, and though I don’t speak a word of it, I do support our team.

    His reply: “they were really lousy this year”. Then a pause. Then he adds “well, since you’re also swiss, it seems both your teams were playing at the same level”.

    We had a good laugh 🤣😆

  12. @Jan, great article as always. Peter Bosz would be a shout. I have a feeling another club will give him a call. I can actually see him at an EPL club next esp w/ the influx of new owners coming in.

    Jeremy Frimpong is now #2 on Kicker’s Bundesliga Winter Rangliste behind Fonzie Davies. Rated International Klasse now. Big move up!!. He should get some looks in the Nations League Semis for us.

    Man,@Balkan I guess we have few Hiddink fans here. Yep he was the one that took us through a phase of 442 in the mid 90’s (all the way to WC ’98 Semis) but remember even Iron Rinus did that with the beloved ’88 team. Btw i know we have 4-3-3 dogmatists here but does anyone remember what setup Rinus Michels used for our Euro 92 squad? I feel that we should’ve won back-to-back Euros that year.

    Also, what’s up with the post-transfer over-analysis on the Gakpo move to LFC? Esp since ETH did not get his guy. And yes that’s the guy he wanted! One of United’s whisperers on Twitter made a really subtle comparison to Dennis Bergkamp…even calling Dennis the Dutch Cantona. So If United’s board wants that traditional #9, he can get Osimhen or Taremi then…but likely in the summer.

    1. @Victionary_47:

      “does anyone remember what setup Rinus Michels used for our Euro 92 squad?’

      I looked back at highlights of the 3-1 win over Germany. Whatever the particular formation, the players had such versatility. Nominally, it could be described as a 4-2-3-1 (Van Tiggelen, Koeman, Rilkaard, F. De Boer; Wouters, Witschge (Rob); Roy, Bergkamp; Gullit; Van Basten. But watching them play it was more of a 3-3-3-1, as Rijkaard pushed so far forward out of the back he was both an extra man in the mf, and a key defender, Gullit went wherever he wanted to, and Wouters moved around, plugging gaps…and, yes, a great team; could (should?) have won it.

  13. What is all this commotion going around with Blind being released by Ajax. Why the attack on Schruder when he is trying to do what’s in the best interest of the team.

  14. I like the 4-4-2 questions and it’s true: our only trophy was won with 4-4-2. This is why I always say, that “systems” debate is so out dated. It should be about football principles. You can play attacking football with 4-4-2 (AC Milan) or really defensive. Doesn’t mean a thing.

    Total Football in 1974 was played without a striker. The false 9 was born (probably already way before ’74) with JC as a number 9 but never actually in that zone. It was Neeskens, Rensenbrink or Rep who’d end up playing there and JC, well he was everywhere.

    Same in 1988. The 4-3-3 with traditional wingers and a real striker (Bosman) was abandoned after the first match (loss) but we did play our best football in that first game (sorry Marco, but we did).

  15. @Wilson, not sure what commotion you refer to?

    He is in his last season for Ajax and I think Schreuder wants to go forward with Wijndal. So Blind’s contract might be renewed but on different terms.

    I think Blind also had a falling out with Schreuder, actually.

    Antwerp’s Overmars is keen to offer Blind a good deal and it’s driving distance from Amsterdam which ticks all the boxes for him, so he’ll most likely sign there.

    For rendered services and for Daley being a true Ajax talent, they will offer him a free now. Not sure what commotion you refer to?

  16. I did read more about the Blind situation. It’s claimed the players feel Blind is being pushed out while Daley himself posted an emotional farewell statement to the fans.

    It’s not easy for any player to realise his time at the club is over. See CRonaldo for a good example. Blind is Ajax through and through and probably had another idea of how he’d end his career in Amsterdam.

    As for left backs, I am watching Leeds – Man City, and Struijk is playing really weak. He mis hits balls, he had a couple of strange clearances, gifting a corner to City, without any pressure. Just goes to show that the new kids on the block are not without weaknesses themselves. I still rate him though, I hope Koeman will give him a chance. I prefer him over Wijndal or Bakker.

  17. @Jan Struijk is playing regular where Depay,klassen etc in EPL…So he can be excused…He can play LB and DM..over all i see him as an asset..his ceiling is 1000 times ahead of hateboer whom we wasted lots of time…i feel We should give Chance to struijk,Youri baas,Winjdal,Borne Meijers eqaully and should find who is best,as of now on their club performance we cannot judge…
    @Jan this article was nice,interesting thing is that we could have played ,xavi,brobbey,Gravenberch,Malen in 433 or 442 in this WC and we would have beaten the arjentines…everytime we find an excuse and bottle our current chance and dropping players who are willing to die for NT for some favored ones…after 2026 we will say we have 2030 coming…its all always take the best 26 on merits..and go for the kill…
    i expected this2022 gruop of players had enough to win this WC…But i was pissed off to see gravenberch,Malen gets dropped,Vilhena was another players could have done better..What would have happend if we play

    To start vs arjentina????

  18. When I was growing up, the one name that used to be on everybodys lips used to be pele and brazil. Then came Maradona in the picture and the hot debate and even quarrel always used to be who is the best. Literally we knew nobody else in those no tv and internet days. Still remember when we used go and play soccer on the red soil ground. We used to have a Maradona and pele team and the team was selected based on who liked who. Daaaam its brings back childhood memories.

    RIP my childhood idol

    1. Look where van den Boomen is on that chart! Pretty impressive while playing for mid-table Toulouse. He’s actually linked to a move to Galatasaray in the winter window.

  19. Berghuis no. No more dragging with him. With his limitation it’s not worth investing in him anymore. He ain’t gonna bring anything different. Simons should get the nod at AM with either of lang or gakpo being other alternatives. I also read Klopp is planning to use gakpo in the centre as wijnaldums replacement.

    Veerman needs to improve defensively, that’s the bòttom line. Breakdown, physicality aspect. I still think though he could have been deployed in 3-5-2 with one of CB covering him like pirlo in Italy set up. His creativity from the back could be instrumental.

    Being said this the hurdle for NT to overcome or maybe at club level is to develop CM who can operate in double pivot set up or double defensive mid. I hope I have said this right. As in when deploying 4-2-3-1. Especially on the right. Can frenkie and gravenberch efficiently work if played outside of their stronghold. I mean frenkie on the right or vice versa. Like I said most of the midfielders have their stronghold on the left and this is kind of becoming a hurdle to get a good balance in the mid if it is centered around frenkie. The only players who are actively involved in that position (RCM) are Matusiwa ( remis),spierings ( toulouse) and Reis ( hamburg). Koopmeiners is being rotated around if I’m correct. Even then his stronghold is in that point back (DM) position where he free to roam around.


  20. RIP Pele! I never saw much of his game and I won’t join the chorus of “he is the greatest”. Yes, he won 3 World Cups but really there wasn’t much competition back then especially in 58 and 62. Was trying to catch highlights of the 58 WC final last night and boy oh boy. It felt like watching a bunch of patients from a war field hospital. In my eyes he was the best marketing tool for the powers that be and that’s why his legend lives on. To me there is not doubt that Maradona was the best ever with Messi very close by.

  21. I have been watching highlights of NT from the late 70s and 80s during our multiple failed campaigns. A mess of teams with very highs and lows, from being smashed by Poland to smashing Belgium, from barely beating the likes of Cyprus to always having a tough time against the Irish. During a period of about 10 years it seems like NT changed about 5-6 coaches. But the one thing that really killed us was our defense. We had talent in attack but couldn’t score enough to outscore the opponents until the trio of MVB-Gullit-Rijkaard matured.
    Today it is the opposite, we have a strong defense but can’t find a decent striker that can provide some assurance upfront.
    Fun facts: JC was bought by Barcelona for $1 million in 1975. Today Cody Gakpo is worth more than 60 times JC. 🙁
    We couldn’t get a win against West Germany until 1988 🙁 , in fact no European team except for Italy could stand up against Germany in critical games from 1970 to 1986. W Germany was invincible as validated by their achievements from 1974 to 1990.
    Sooo much has changed!

    1. We had a chance to have a re-match vs West Germany in the Euro 76 finals but got outwitted & outmanned (bc of Red Cards to Neeskens & Van Hanegem) by the Czechs. The Czechs won & forever we have the famous Panenka penalty.

  22. “This debate about the player of the century is absurd. There’s only one possible answer: Pelé. He’s the greatest player of all time, and by some distance, I might add.” — Retired Brazil star Zico.


    “The greatest player in history was Di Stefano. I refuse to classify Pelé as a player. He was above that.” — Hungary star Ferenc Puskas.

  23. In terms of arguments who is/not greatest in sport, one should take into consideration the status of media and commercial interests at that time. When Pele, Cruyff, and Beckenbauer played, football was not the area of crazy commercial interests, neither media was at this mind-impacting state as it is now. When media tells you day and night that someone is “the best of all the time” earlier or later you will believe in that…Especially those who have a “bandwagoner” mentality.

  24. Hi guys, just my 2 cents:)
    I don’t understand doom and gloom: team was undefeated. Yes, eliminated by penalties in 1/4 finals. Top 8 in the world, by some classification #5. At that stage, mostly very strong teams are left and someone will be eliminated. It does not mean the team is bad. England, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina all lost 1/4 finals on penalties one time or another. The outcome is just due to outstanding goalkeeping of Martinez where he parried both VVD and Berghius shots (note those were not misses). Remember Goycochea heroics in 1990? So the Oranje is currently #6 in the word, soon to be #5 as Belgium is about to collapse. They have as good of a chance as any other team of winning NL in June. Euro qualification should not present the problem either.
    Speaking of Euro, the very next Oranje game is against France. Who wants to bet that Koeman will not introduce any dramatic changes for that encounter? For the next against Gibraltar- maybe. They will be among favorites for Euro’24 for sure.
    There is a good core that can be improved/made more nuanced across the few positions. The future is not all roses, but not a catastrophe either (unlike Belgium)
    Finally Blind. Never understood amount of vitriol on this board against him. He was a faithful Orange soldier for 10 years, have some respect for him for god’s sake. I’m sure ,whatever happens in the future, Koeman will give him his 100th cap, he deserves at least that. And he was not at fault for the penalties both in 2014 and 2022. The circumstances of him leaving AFC are just very sad.
    That said, I enjoy the discussions and Jan’s posts immensely. Looking forward to the successful 2023. Happy New Year!

  25. “At times it feels football was conceived for this magical player” – Sir Bobby Charlton on Pele.

    “I could be a new Di Stefano, for all I care but I am not the new Pele. He is the only one that go beyond logic.” – Johan Cruyff

    “I said to myself pre-match that he’s just a guy of flesh and blood, like any other opponent. Boy did I see it wrong….” – Tarcisio Burgnich, Italy international and opponent of Pele in the WC Finals 1970.

    “When you win the World Cup three times… sorry, that is a lot! The 60s and part of the 70s were Pele’s decades.” – Ruud Gullit

    “An artist brings light into a darkened room. I don’t see the difference between the Pele pass to Carlos Alberto in the 1970s finals, or the poetry of a young Rimbaud.” – Eric Cantona.

    “Pele was the best ever. He ruled for decades, all the others – Maradona, Cruyff, Platini – are just below him. No one is like Pele.” – Franz Beckenbauer.

    “When I saw Pele play, I was ready to hang up my foot all boots. I never felt more dominated and outclassed.” – Just Fontaine.

    “My best goal was a 1-2 combination with my wife Celeste: we named him Edson Arantes do Nascimento.’ – Dondinho, voormalig aanvaller van Fluminense en de vader van Pelé.

  26. It’s crazy how many quality CB’s we have coming through the system.

    VVD, de Vrij, de Ligt, Timber, Struijk, Botman, there’s enough for two teams there.

    It almost makes me think that we should just reinvent the game a bit, go hyper-defensive, and win all of our games 1-0. Play a 6-2-2 or something like that.

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