SORRY GUYS! HAD TO MAKE BRIEF BUSINESS TRIP. ENDED UP STAYING AWAY FOR A WEEK. AND HAD LAPTOP ISSUES SO COULDN’T POST.
APOLOGIES BUT ALL GOOD.
Well, in all honesty… We came third this time, so the only way is up!!
I am dead serious! I am totally in awe of what this team has achieved. With the emphasis on TEAM!
Let me rant a little ok? I have seen all World Cups Holland was involved in, from 1974 onwards.
Granted, the 1974 one was not really on my radar. But we happened to be on a holiday and everyone stopped whatever they did to watch the World Cup so I was drawn into it and when Holland beat Uruguay in the first match, I didn’t know better or we were simply winning as per usual.
As Ajax and Feyenoord already sat Europe alight with their dominance in the UEFA competitions, winning all our games (sort of) at the World Cup was actually considered to be normal. By me. At that time.
And the way they played might have been incredible for many non-Dutch people, but kids like me – grown up with seeing Cruyff, Van Hanegem, Van der Kuylen and Drost play – knew what we were capable of.
The 1978 World Cup was different. For starters. many Dutch people didn’t want the team to go as a result of the Argentinian junta government. When Cruyff and Van Hanegem didn’t travel to Argentina, my personal interest dropped as I couldn’t see Oranje do well without them. And when the group games were quite abysmal and the media coverage poor, I sort of lost interest until we saw those rockets by Arie Haan and Ernie Brands… The finals vs Argentina was one of the most intense matches I have watched, ever, and that shot on the post haunts me as much as it does Rensenbrink…
The 1980s were my glory days in football support. I played football, I was friends with a number of pro players in Rotterdam and I started to work for companies that sponsored football…and right at that time Oranje has a poor patch. I loved the 1982 and 1986 World Cups but not thanks to Holland. After our 1988 win, I expected a lot from the 1990 World Cup but a child could see that the circumstances were wrong.
The players – and we are talking big name players like Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard and Koeman – were ignored by the KNVB management and that is never a good thing. Cruyff, as a player, would have walked out of the training camp, as would have Van Hanegem. The 1988 generation didn’t and subsequently played a horrific World Cup. I do have vivid memories of the Germany game though. The spitting incident between Rijkaard and Voller is always highlighted which is sad, because Oranje actually played really well and deserved more in that game. We ended up losing 2-1 and Germany ended up winning the whole thing of course.
By then and by 1994 I had lost faith in the KNVB. They ignored Cruyff in 1990 and played some silly game in 1994. I was never and Advocaat fan and the 1994 World Cup has proven me right. He mistreated Gullit who this time did walk out. And the preparation for the weather conditions in Floriday were non-existent. We played tough games in the group but had a fighting chance against Brazil. The final free kick for Brazil shouldn’t have been awarded to them, but to us. The Brazilian clearly smacked Overmars in the face before he got tackled.
Anyway, Holland didn’t make it beyond the quarter finals and to make matters worse, Advocaat was gloating with pride when he came home….
The 1998 is also a favourite amongst us Oranje fans. Because we made it to the semis of course, but also because we played pretty exciting games. The Belgium game with the Kluivert red card. The Mexican draw. The late Davids goal. Pretty impressive stuff overall, with the Argentina game and Bergkamp goal really lighting up our adrenaline more than the semi final goal vs Brazil. Although that goal can be considered a classic too! A thumping header by Kluivert on a superb cross by Ronald de Boer.
2002 was a black page in our history, credit to Louis. A black page he tore out of the book this summer and was able to replace with a new chapter… 2006, I still consider a freak tournament for Oranje. A good group campaign, under an exciting young new manager, derailed in the Portugal match.
2010 was a tournament where I sort of expected Holland to do well. The performance of Robben, Sneijder, Bommel, De Jong pre-tournament… The winning mentality brought in…the tremendous qualification campaign… I had high hopes for Oranje and what disappointed me a bit was the lack of real quality in the tournament and of course our loss vs Spain.
This time around….expectations were not high altogether. I don’t need to remind you that De Vrij was considered a huge liability by many. Vlaar was considered slow. De Jong was considered over the hill. Sneijder was a risk. Kuyt was considered superfluous. Etc etc etc. Not just here, mind you, this was echoed in the Dutch media and internationally, no one rated Oranje.
On May 31, I wrote this :
The Group Games
I believe we will got through as #1. And I think it’s either Chile or Spain as #2.
I think Spain is a little bit rusty. The players of Spain all had massive seasons and I believe some of them will lack the real desire. Holland will play as if they are replaying the 2010 finals and we will win this, with a masterful Sneijder and Robben.
In the second game, Spain will have to attack Chile, who will have beaten Australia. Chile will absorb the pressure and counter attack to a win. I can see Chile make it as number 2. We will beat Australia and get the full victory over Chile as these lads are already happy to be through and Oranje is on a roll.
I don’t need to gloat of course. But I also predicted us to play Brazil in the finals and we’d score three goals and win it. Little detail, in real life it was the “little” finals and not the big one. Final, schminal.
So Louis did extremely well. That is bottom line the conclusion.
I followed him closely these last two years as I have always been intrigued by him. From my first meeting with him, from me admiring him as a player and later as a coach while also bewildered by his antics and his thick-skull as he kept on making the same mistakes. In public too.
I went back to scan old posts on this blog, about Louis. And I found that we could have seen this success coming. His relationship with the players was good from day 1. His choice to go with young Eredivisie talent paid off in the qualifications and in February 2013 after the Italy game, I wrote this:
Against the losing finalist of the last EC, Van Gaal picked the youngest team since 99 years. The average age being only 22 years and 361 days. Seven of the players starting against Italy are still eligible to go to the EC Israel this summer with Young Oranje.
And Oranje played fresh and gutsy football against Italy and scored the first goal via Lens. The lads forgot to score more goals and conceded a late goal, ending it in 1-1.
LVG was slightly disappointed in that equaliser but still walked through the Arena with his chest out. Eight players in his starting eleven are Eredivisie players and his team was better than a team full of Serie A stars. This gave him hope for the months to come.
And as we all knew, as long as Van Gaal leaves his antics in the bottom drawer (this applies to his time now at ManU as well), he can be extremely successful.
So in March 2013, we can see the potential in what he is doing with Oranje. Check this post of end March 2013:
….but despite my criticism on LVG, one has to admit that less than 12 months after the Euro 2012 debacle, we have a renewed, rejuvenated and exciting Oranje!
Blind, Janmaat, De Vrij and Martins Indi. Add Van Aanholt, Willems, Pieters, Buttner, Bruma, Van Rhijn and Van der Wiel to the mix and we have quite a nice little group to work with for defence.
And with Janmaat and Blind, we also have two players who can contribute massively in offence.
Our midfield is improving too. The mediocre De Guzman and Strootman played a good match against Romania and it must be sweet for Van Gaal to know that whenever he brings Clasie, Maher or Fer, this team will not lose any quality.
Van Persie and Robben are all class (when in top form or even when they’re not).
The team was spirited, worked hard, there was great understanding between most of the lads and they looked like…well….a team.
… you read it here first: This team has a shot at the gold in 2014.
I am sure the doubters couldn’t see it and many analysts in Holland were adamant we wouldn’t be able – ever – to reach a World Cup finals ever again. Well….eat this Johan Derksen!!