With a couple of days to digest the first game under LVG Mark II – and one day before the sophomore match – it’s probably a good idea to have brief look back at that campaign opener.
What can we say about the new Oranje?
For starters… What immediately catches the eye, is the fact that for the first time in a long while, Rotterdam dominates this Dutch National Team. For decades, Ajax and PSV determined the “blood type” in Zeist, but with the recent revival of football talent development at Feyenoord, even Ajax-bred coaches like Kluivert, Blind and Van Gaal aim their sights at the working class city of Holland.
Van Persie being a real symbol of Rotterdam of course (although he surely isn’t working class), but players like Clasie, Vlaar, Fer, Kuyt, Janmaat and Martins Indi all have strong links with Feyenoord too. Add to that Stefan de Vrij (injured), who wears the red and white and benchwarmer Joris Mathijsen (currently at Feyenoord) and the three Oranje players who were developed at Sparta ( Kevin Strootman, Jetro Willems and Nick Viergever) and it’s clear that the folks in Rotterdam walk around with their chests out, these days.
Another aspect we can mention, is that Louis van Gaal is rightfully so seen as a gutsy coach. He picks players that he feels are the best for the job, for the coming two years. And he has no qualms in selecting youngsters and unproven lads.
“I believe in these lads, they will improve. The older players will have to coach them.”
And where Van Marwijk saw Heitinga struggle at the Euros, this time around Van Gaal used the extra responsibility for Heitinga to draw a good performance out of him.
As all “veterans” did well. Robben worked his arse off to support young Willems on the left flank and created a lot. Robben clearly enjoyed his football and with a bit of luck could have scored twice (one ball was expertly defended by…Robin van Persie?!?! and the other one was a pass by
Stevie Wonder Luciano Narsingh that never arrived…
Robin van Persie may not have had the best of games, like Sneijder, but boy that goal was nice. And a carbon copy of his goal against Southampton for Man U. And Sneijder’s assist wasn’t too shabby either. Late in the game, he almost scored another carbon copy goal for Oranje but that half volley just went over.
Man of the Match for me (and many others) was Kevin Strootman. I think he clearly demonstrated to LVG that he IS da man now Mark van Bommel has retired. He is a combination of Bommel, Willy van de Kerkhof and Phillip Cocu. Skill, dynamics, tackling power, vision, passing and leadership.
This Kevin Strootman will end up playing for a big European club very soon.
Lots has been made of the mistakes Holland made in this game (the Dutch media at least) but I am with Louis van Gaal on this one. The only chances Turkey got were the onces we gifted to them, bar two. The early header in the first minute (but Robben was guarding the post, so no problemo) and the header in the second half, from the cross from the right. But as was pointed out to me: Krul had that one covered too.
Other than that, Turkey was able to be threatening thanks to miscommunication between Krul and Martins Indi (BMI: “Krul yelled to me, he said, but I honest-to-God couldn’t hear him… It was such a circus at that side of the field…”) and two momentary lapses of reason by youngsters Janmaat and Willems.
Typical mistakes we saw in the past by players like Frank de Boer and Frank Rijkaard. Both players didn’t alright in their careers…
I have all the faith in our youngsters at the back, like LVG. And I agree with him, yet again! (Scary). You can tell from the way the play, pass, move, that they are the real deal. They look over the ball, they try to make every touch count. They are pure football players. And BMI adds strength and length to that. We should feel blessed.
There was this one moment in the game where our 18 year old left back made a dummy as if he’d play back, only to turn and play a long diagonal pass to Narsingh, which landed on the winger’s tie. That is pure class.
Same with Janmaat. He made a couple of mistakes, but he also showed he has skills going forward and courage when he has to put his body on the line.
I won’t even discuss BMI as he played as if he’s been part of the team for much longer. The way he tackled Van Gaal right at the end of the game demonstrates to me this bloke should always be called up :-).
In midfield, I felt little Clasie didn’t have a lot to play off in the first half. The Turks tried to crowd out our midfield and the only players Clasie had to bounce to were Willem and BMI. Clasie is not a playmaker, like Sneijder (yet) but more a connection man. He does need players to show up close to him – Barca style – to play his short pass game. In the second half, he could have, as the Turks laid off a bit more and seemed to get more tired. But by then Fer had joined in and took Strootman’s spot. The latter taking the Clasie role.
Strootman played less impressive as a result, bar that final long pass on Narsingh ( inch-perfect) and Fer got the change to shine in the penetration role. Something the youngster does really well! Once Fer is fit again (he’s out for 6 weeks!!) LVG has some decision making to do…. Fer on the right midfield spot and Strootman as holding mid, or Clasie in the holding role and Strootman on the right…
All I can say is, that this team really gave me confidence.
LVG is a bit of a pompous arrogant thick-neck but he knows his game and he has cojones. AND eggs.
So, all in all, with Van der Vaart, Afellay, De Jong, Elia, Van der Wiel, Pieters and Maher also in the fold, I think we have a very strong squad.
The last thing I want to say, and probably one of the most important things: the lads played as a team. They were hungry. They worked hard. They were focused (look at Krul giving it to Willems when he made that mistake) and they enjoyed playing football together (look at Sneijder and Van Persie walking off the pitch together in an embrace).
All the ingredients are here.
As Louis van Gaal said: the World Cup has actually started already. This was our first game. I’d say: we are on track to reach the finals! Only 16 more games to win :-).