Oranje under new management

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!

Control midfield!

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.

Standard situations

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…

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  1. When Koeman’s name came up a few months ago as a potential candidate for the Orange Manager position, I was livid. As a follower of Everton, I could see how ALL his strategies and tactics failed. But now that he has gone from Everton, two coaches later Everton is still the same hot mess. This tells me that the issue at Everton had more to do with player selection and the failure to find a replacement for Lukaku than anything else. Koeman did play a significant role in player selection but he shouldn’t be the only one to be blamed. The player selection head Steve Walsh should share the blame as well.

    So, the bottomline is that I have softened my stand on Koeman and hopeful that he can help guide Oranje out of the deep shit they are in. It will take time, so the earliest when we may see results is the 2022 WC qualifying campaign. He should build realistic expectations (like not over-promising for the 2020 Euro) and work on developing new players and a fluid playing style. I like that he plans to ditch the stupid 4-3-3. Honestly, once the whistle blows, formations mean nothing. It’s how you adapt and play with positional awareness that matters.

    One request to him: Please eliminate the ridiculous back-passes that we have became the masters at.

  2. Jan Im really baffled with what you have said about Blind. how can you cover up a DM who lacks speed and who is meant to be the most consistent player providing cover going back and forward. I jus hope this mentality of selecting players on versatility crap ends under koeman. if daley Blind lacks speed, then either he plays LB,CB or DM he will always be a liability. you have to look at longer picture here. Sweden and Romania are average teams, can you picture him vs France, progba,Matudi,Kante,Bakayako . germany, kroos,Khidera,Gundogan,Rudy. mind you NT will face both this teams in the nations league.

    this is the time to build a new foundation with right players and who have the right qualities going forward. there is only three positions that lacks depth in NT now, LB, DM and striker. this is where koeman needs to dig deep.

  3. We have some very nice players and all we need a Coach who has good adaptability and we should play to our strength.
    Williams—Ake–Frenkie Dejong—Vanrhin
    Annholt—–Stjuste—Van debeek–Hateboer
    On stand bye.

  4. A classy goal for clasie today. came off the bench for Nakamaba and scored the winning goal for club brugge vs standard Liege 3-2. Vormer also assisting in the second goal. Bowed out on aggregate.

  5. Ruud Vormer has won the golden shoe in Belgian league and was presented to him by non other than Louis Van Gaal. This guy needs to be called up with all due respect.well it will interesting to see as it was under koeman at feyenoord,he left for club brugge.

  6. cant believe he hasnt been mentioned here yet. Cillessen with godly save of the season vs Valencia from a point blank range that even made Ter Stegen got on his nerve!!

  7. Watched the extended highlights of Ajax and Twente and must say Adam Maher made the right decision to go to twente on loan.there is no doubt with more game time,he find his old form back . Though the first goal of Ajax was from his poor execuated kick which led to counter attack and goal, but he still
    Managed good runs, dangerous set pieces and bossed the midfield well.definitely a standout figure in the game.

  8. More coming on the new management team soon. Confused by Wilson’s comments about Daley Blind. And the audaciousness to call my comments “crap”? Really…

    Blind played DM for Holland (controlling midfielder or deeplying playmaker is a better term) under Dick vs Sweden and in the friendlies.

    You don’t need speed per se in that role. Was Pirlo so quick? Guardiola? I don’t think so.

    You need a top passer of the game and a guy who can read the play. Name me one player in Oranje who is better in this role 🙂

    1. Short answer: Frenkie de Jong and Clasie in near future, but Blind was our best option in the past.

      Long answer:

      I am Blind fan, and I have always supporting him against the critics. I am also aware that the NT improved a lot whith him playing as DM.

      However, I consider that players like Clasie or Frenkie De Jong would play better there. They both are better in the build up. The problem in the qualification round was that Clasie wasn´t playing in his team and Frenkie was very young. So blind was our best option there (sadly we found it very late).

      Hence, in a near future, under Koeman, I think Frenkie or Calsie should play there. Furthermore if Koeman plays with 3 center backs because Blind should be one of them!

      And if Koeman plays with 4-3-3, Blind should play as LCB, or LB until we find a reliable LB.

      And he should be the new NT Captain!

  9. This debate about Blind make me question: who will be the ideal left-back-wing if we play 5-3-2?

    I thin Komean has something like this in his mind:

    Ven de Beek Wijnaldum
    Frenkie De Jong
    Willems Kardoshp
    Blind–Van Dijk–De Vrij

  10. Jan,jus to clarify here,the crap part I was talking about was from the management point which only saw Daley Blind as a versatile player back then. My question is why did they see that in Ake.He had all the experience,qualities and including the versatility at that time.eventually Ake did break into the NT team. This is what I’m always critical about.recognizing talents.Daley Blind received the captaincy arm band ,was rotated all around in the defence and DM with what mentality.man united.all this have gone to total waste.look at Daley at United now and Ake at Bournemonth. No one would have predicted this until now.. This is what I call mind over matter selection but in any case daddy was at the helm so he was always at the centre of attention.Ultimately it has all but come to a end for him at Man United.ultimately his technical abilities is not potent enough to other players who are good overall.Ashely Young.

    When you look at the DM position ,the first thing first that comes to mind is Roburst and somebody who can break down the play and set up play from the back. Daley’s strength is in his ability to cross other wise its back passing.how can you expect him to succeed at DM. vs Romania and Sweden as I said , situations might suit Daley but with big teams,there is big question mark.In most duels either he is flying or falling. For me he is a technically player with limited ceiling.

  11. wijnaldum-strootman was a huge mistake by advocate..Once blind played as DM we simply out done sweden and bulgaria …
    we must drop the so called players…we should go for 343…
    it is nice to see berjwin and kluivert emerging..infact i had lost hope in our wingers..had advocate started from begning as a coach we would have been in russia..

    1. Will France and Germany be outdone if he starts at DM. Koeman will have jus few friendlys before the WC starts and supposedly if the planned tournment in US doesn’t happen,then koeman won’t have much time to prepare for the nations league. As I mentioned early this is the time to build a new foundation and not drag with the past. Players that are in form and are individually talented should be considered regardless of where they play.

      1. over all Blind is good player..if he gets full freedom in offence he can be great …Our curse was his father Danny and his too much shuffling and sticking with wrong players and playing players in wrong spot…he was disaster NT coach..horrendous…
        Who is the best DM in ur opinion i mean a player can defend and build up from back???if you look for physicall sound guy who can bully any one is Fosu Mensah..he can even bully pogba..i like Clasie,Frenkie Dejong but they are too light weight they should play up front..
        Daley Blind is an ok option..So is Ake.. i dont see any one else with both quality..

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