Finally, the post we’ve been waiting for… The KNVB has made their choices and Ronald Koeman (Team Manager) and Nico-Jan Hoogma (Director Top Sports) were introduced yesterday to the media and the public.
The announcement of Koeman was no surprise. He was named as ideal years ago already. KNVB
failure general manager Bert van Oostveen once bypassed Koeman (and picked Hiddink) and it was quite certain the former Oranje captain one day would get the job. With Van Oostveen out of the way, Oranje in deep dire straits and Dutch football in the slumps, Koeman now is the guiding light we all put our faith in. Will the former Everton/Southampton/Feyenoord/AZ/Benfica/PSV/Ajax/Valencia/Vitesse coach be the right man for the job? Who knows… I can see why he would be, and I can see why he wouldn’t be. Time will tell.
General Manager Erik Gudde and Ronald Koeman
Nico-Jan Hoogma will be a surprise appointment. He does not have a big name in Holland, let alone abroad. He is no Oranje legend and I don’t think he ever won a trophy in football (I will need to check…). Oops! He did. He played Champions League football with HSV Hamburg. Won the German cup with HSV and won the title in the Jupiler League twice, once with Cambuur, once with Heracles Almelo. His son Justin Hoogma is a player of Hoffenheim, in the Bundesliga.
He’s not the big name appointment some would have wanted (Van Gaal, Adriaanse, Martin van Geel) but he’s probably a very good choice.
What you need to know, is that the new Chairman of the KNVB is a man called Jan Smit. Doesn’t get more Dutch. A highly respected club chairman (Heracles Almelo as well), who is revered for his wisdom, astute management and experience. Under his management, Heracles became one of the best managed and most healthy clubs in The Netherlands. And he worked with Nico Jan for 11 years and will know exactly what Hoogma can and can not do.
Hoogma was general manager at Heracles for 11 years and was one of the key men to keep that club stable and solid. He’s been a trooper on the pitch for FC Twente, Heracles and HSV Hamburg (ex captain) and was present in the Bundesliga when the Germans in 2000 got a shock with their slump and used the Dutch football know-how to pull themselves out of the rut.
Gudde and Director Top Sports Nico-Jan Hoogma
His role will be specifically aimed at the football development (trainer and coaching training/development in particular) and the liaison role towards the clubs, in order to get them all to toe the new line.
Apart from him, a more football development manager will be appointed as well, to work with the youth rep teams and implement the new development strategy.
At his press conference, Koeman said he will appoint two new assistants and a physiology coach and a keepers coach. The name of Kees van Wonderen (former Feyenoord captain and FC Twente youth coach) is going around. Ruud Gullit will not be considered by Koeman. Brother Erwin Koeman will also not be part of the new team. He is keen to get a head coach job soon after having assisted his bro for 5 seasons.
Nico Jan Hoogma in his HSV days…
Ronald also announced he will make a drastic change. But he didn’t say what. It’s quite obvious that he refers to abandoning the 4-3-3 sacred system…
So, what should be done…
Use your strengths and let the Team support the Key players
So, imagine the team has one world class player and imagine this player is a dribble king. Now imagine Oranje plays a key match against a big opponent, with the chance to qualify for the big tournament after a good result. And that player has not been able to have one single successful dribble during the full match. Weird eh? This is what happened in the away game vs France, under Advocaat. Oranje lost 4-0 and Robben did not have a single offensive action. Instead, he played right back most of the time. When Oranje did have the ball, he was played in when he had two markers on him and was with his back to their goal, as a result of Oranje’s poor pace and poor positioning play. If you use your key player like this, you’re in trouble. It’s not calculus to determine that you need to adapt your tactics in such a way that you use the strengths of your best players. It has nothing to do with systems. Louis van Gaal used this approach to coach Oranje to the semi finals in 2014’s World Cup, allowing Robben to shine. Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich was the reason why Robben was able to be the most dominant player in that era, with their ultra dominating football. This current Oranje doesn’t have a star player. Oranje is therefore forced to make the team the star. With key players like Daley Blind, Strootman, Wijnaldum, Promes and Depay finding ways to play to their best, and lifting the team as a whole into a unit. The Oranje team will have to work to allow the new star to emerge… Whether it’s Frenkie de Jong, Justin Kluivert or maybe still Memphis…
On the left: Robben played in at Oranje, back to goal. On the right: Robben played in at Bayern.
Stop man marking, you can’t win matches with 11 asses
When Oranje plays it’s last match under Dick Advocaat, it’s exactly 25 years since Ernst Happel passed over and is coaching the likes of Garrincha, Cruyff, George Best and Nico Rijnders up in heaven. In the 1960 the Austrian legend brought his innovation to Holland, introducing the 4-3-3 system. He also detested man marking. “When you tell your players to man mark, you’re sending 11 asses into the game and you will never win.” It’s good thing he died and didn’t have to see how Hiddink, Blind and then Advocaat struggled with the new developments in the game. When Belarus left back scored against Oranje, some people blamed Arjen Robben for not tracking back. Now there is an old fashioned concept. The paradox of man marking is, that one can always blame one individual for a conceded goal. Whereas in modern football, the team is the individual. The one team unit philosophy. It’s the collective. We live in a time where nations with less individual qualities than Holland are going from strength to strength (Iceland, Wales, Sweden, Poland, Japan, Peru) using zonal marking. It’s simple. When possession is lost, you create 2 banks of 4 players, with two quicker forwards in front of the block. Compact. Hard to break down. And relatively easy to break when the ball is turned around. Koeman’s first priority should be the defensive organisation. Not conceding is key. And to work on creative, dominant play is not something a team manager has the time for. They simply don’t work enough together and get enough time together. So the priority must be the defensive organisation, which is easier to drill in. And scoring wasn’t out biggest issue anyway. Holland scored more in the qualifications than France! But conceding silly goals was. The good thing is, it was certainly not due to bad defenders, but mostly due to bad collective and organisational defending. Surely, Holland has better defenders (Van Dijk, De Ligt, De Vrij, Van Beek, Blind, Hoedt, Ake, Fosu-Mensah, Bruma, Rekik) than Iceland, Sweden, Poland etc etc but we simply had a dreadful organisation…
Our new defensive organisation!
What makes most people crazy and does not help Oranje winning games, is the hopeless and ongoing square passing and back passing. In nine out of ten qualification games, it was the defenders who had most of the touches. Koeman will have to put an end to this. This is the symptom of a team unable to dominate the midfield. If a team hasn’t got the individual class to dominate the midfield, it will have to do so with a better organisation and positioning. This was a trademark for Holland for decades. But today, we hardly see the dropping-back forwards (Van Persie, Bergkamp, Ronald de Boer, Cruyff) or the forward moving defenders (Krol, De Boer, Rijkaard, Blind, Koeman). Our midfield is constantly drowned out by numbers. No wonder Wijnaldum and Strootman are hailed at their clubs but constantly fail in Oranje. In most modern successful teams, the flanks are covered by one athletic runner. Whether at Man City, Bayern, Chelsea, Real, Ajax… the double cover on the wings, with two players on each side stuck to the line is outdated. Our opponents think it’s fine that we play like that. What danger can you present from there? Fabian Delph at Man City plays like a midfielder when City is in possession. Same as Kimmel at Bayern. Why can’t Daley Blind do this? Currently, we don’t have a world class striker. So what? Use that to your advantage. Barca doesn’t play with an out and out striker. Use the space for a player to drift into. Promes from the right, or Van de Beek from midfield. Use the 3-4-1-2 system for a change, allowing more dominance of midfield. We have the runners (Janmaat, Karsdorp, Willems, Tete, Van Aanholt) and we have three good central defenders with build up capabilities (De Vrij, Van Dijk, Blind). Watford used this system to beat Champions Chelsea (admitting Chelsea played with 10 most of the game) but still…
Dick Advocaat did make a step forward by placing Daley Blind as central midfielder, against Romania and Sweden. Daley has been developed as a midfielder and can play excellent in this role, provided the team around him can cover for his weakness (speed). Spain uses two playmakers (Isco and Silva) who both start on the flank and drift inside. Steven Berghuis and Quincy Promes or Memphis Depay can play in these roles…
Movement, it’s all movement…
Forget systems, but focus on principles. In modern football, space is limited and time is limited. In today’s football it’s the turnaround that allows for space. It’s all about variance and movement. This is how you can break down an opponent which doesn’t allow for much space. Structured running line and fixed systems are obsolete. Flexible guidelines is what is needed, no more straightjackets. How can we use the ingredients of the Dutch school and adapt these into playing principles of the modern times. Which formation we start with is totally irrelevant. Does Man City play 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1? It’s not relevant.
Holland only scored one goal from a corner in the recent qualification games. A Sneijder corner, headed away and volleyed into the goal by Promes, with a lot of luck and through a lot of legs. Working on dead ball situations can and should add 4 to 5 goals in a qualification process. It could well be the difference between qualifying and not qualifying. Long throws, free kicks and corner kicks. The Scandinavians have had mediocre forwards, but they turned throw ins, free kicks and corners into an artform and scored key goals from them. Jetro Willems is one of the few players we have that can throw the ball into the box. If we can’t dominate and obliterate opponents with dazzling pass and move play, why not be happy with a 1-0 win from a corner or well worked free kick?
Thanks to VI Pro.
Next up: Who the F is Nico Jan Hoogma?
Ronald Koeman explaining his concepts for Oranje, sadly in Dutch…