Interesting times. A wise man taught me, that if one door closes, another door opens up. Sometimes more than one….
And I have seen this happening many times. We can see how Kevin Strootman’s injury is one of those doors closing for us. And we can all moan and whine and feel a victim. But this picture will make most people happy.
And why not? It gives a new dynamic to the whole team and the whole debate. Louis van Gaal said Strootman was one of the three players certain to go to Brazil and probably certain to start. Don’t get me wrong, I’d play Strootman as a starter too. But he is not Cruyff or Messi. And he would have had a long season in the Serie A. And it is not like sans Stroot we are rubbish.
If we are rubbish, we would be with Forza Kevin as well.
The dynamics will change. And maybe LVG will be forced to rethink a couple of things.
The San Marco analogy of 1988 ( Marco not fit, started on bench, won us the trophy) might well work for players like Van Ginkel and Huntelaar. Or Van der Vaart and Sneijder. Who knows? Sometimes, having played 55+ games and won a lot of trophies with club doesn’t mean one can repeat this in the Summer with the national team. Look at Messi’s performance in 2010, for instance….
There are many scenarios here. LVG might decide to go 4-4-2. He will probably never announce it but it will clearly look 4-4-2 when executed. This will happen if KJ Huntelaar keeps on impressing.
Klaas Jan and Robin on top. Robben, De Jong, Van Ginkel and a fourth midfielder (Blind??? Klaassen??? Lens?? Wijnaldum??) in midfield.
And some guys at the back.
Strootman’s absence might have impact on this as well. If Stroot – who is a physical powerhouse – gets replaced by a lesser iron man (Clasie? Wijnaldum? Klaassen?) we might see Sneijder bypassed in order to restore balance.
Don’t forget: most successful midfields these days ( Liverpool, Bayern, Arsenal, Real, Juve, PSG) consist of players who can run AND tackle AND pass AND score. Whereas Holland seems to think in terms of “we need one guy to tackle, one to run and one to make the play”.
Marco van Ginkel is back. The Chelsea midfielder is officially not longer injured. He is part of the Under21 Chelsea squad and will most likely get some benchwarming time and maybe even minutes in the first team in the coming weeks. He is keen. “I have worked very hard and Chelsea has worked hard with me on a daily basis. I literally was the first player in and the last one out every day. It was tough but good.” Asked if he dreams of the World Cup. “Everybody dreams of the World Cup, so why not me. But I have to be realistic. I need to start making some minutes on the pitch for Chelsea first.”
Robin van Persie was in a bit of a pickle. The Rotterdam born striker is known to be a bit disappointed with the Moyes approach at ManU and somehow the magic seems to be gone. No real chance on reaching CL football via the EPL anymore and if it hadn’t been for RVP’s hattrick, the CL of this season was history too. Robin did take a knock in yesterday’s game but it doesn’t seem to interfere with his WC chances. But what will he do, coming summer? He is 32 years old next season. And Like Sneijder and Robben, Robin wants to win the Champions League. He might do so with Man United this summer, but if not, he will surely not win it next year. He has a clause allowing him to leave, but where to? Real Madrid? Bayern Munich? And if he indeed is considering a move like this, will we see a repeat of the performance he gave off pitch in 2012? When he refused to speak to the media? As they might have asked about his future at Arsenal? Today, Robin is the team skipper and Van Gaal will not allow his captain not to talk to the media….
But as Robin’s career is on its way to autumn, his successor might have been discovered already. Ricardo Kishna of Ajax is toted the new Van Persie by many. His length, his winger-style (Robin started as a left winger at Feyenoord) and certainly his arrogance and cockiness (RVP was not as PC as he has become under Wenger and Sir Alex).
Kishna impressed in his first Classic against Feyenoord when he tricked Martins Indi and Janmaat as if they didn’t existed and was key in Ajax victory. Daryl Janmaat was spouting venom at the Ajax talent after the game. “That kid Kishna…what’s wrong with him. This is his second game at Ajax 1 and he is moving around with little gestures and things as if he’s C Ronaldo?? Who does he think he is? When we got onto the pitch for the second half, he strolled lazily onto the field. He is a weirdo.”
Kishna laughed the matter away in his recent interview with VI. “I was happy with my game against Feyenoord. I did hear from my mates that Janmaat said something negative about me, hahaha. I had to laugh about it. It probably means I played well and he couldn’t get a grip on me.” The 19 year old is seen as a super talent. Everyone can see that. But most people – incl Frank and Ronald de Boer – are somewhat concerned about his attitude. Some call it bravado or flair. Some call it arrogance and provoking. “I enjoyed the Feyenoord game. That entourage, the atmosphere is just brilliant. I don’t value what Janmaat said. I am not an annoying guy. I don’t do silly things. I focus on my game. I would never make a foul on purpose or anything.” Fons Groenendijk, Kishna’s coach at Ajax 2: “Kishna has something special. Something ungraspable. He has what you only see very rarely. That pure and utter class… And most of it, he is born with. It’s talent. His ball touch, his speed and in particular his first touch. Exceptional. And we can all claim we taught him, as coach, but it’s nonsense. This is natural. A gift.” But he didn’t get it all for free. The ADO Den Haag developed talent couldn’t play for two years ( between 16 and 18 years) as he had marrowbone issues and he had two heavy knee injuries. When Kishna went from the Ajax youth to Ajax 2 he was disappointed. He wanted to move straight into Ajax 1. His coach, Groenendijk, taught him to earn that. “I needed to remind him that the only way Frank de Boer would pick him, if when he would show that he was eager. By working harder than anyone.”
And last week, in his first interview with VI, he was able to tell the world what his ambition is. “I want to become the best player in the world. I have big dreams and no one will stop me.”
We are doing well in the young talent department. To have players like Blind, Clasie, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Veltman, Klaassen, Boetius, Promes in the national squad is already quite something. But the European Top is also around the corner for Vilhena and Kongolo. Terence Kongolo’s little brother Rodney already made the step to Man City. The two youngsters + JP Boetius, all three under management with Stellar Group, are said to be on the radar at several European top teams. This summer, according to rumour, the Feyenoor trio might already make their move.
Feyenoord is not waiting for all their talent to run off and they are about to sign the “American Messi”, the 15 year old Wan Kuzain, who was on trial in Rotterdam earlier.
From the American Messi to the Dutch Messi. Rafael van der Vaart. Impressive in the qualifications games of Oranje, but now too slow, too fat and too injured?
“It drives me mad at times. People ask you wherever they can, and the kids sometimes don’t get it either. In my car, these media people sometimes chase me as if I’m Princes Diana. I ask them friendly to leave me be, but what I can do?”
Van der Vaart had always time for fans and media (and our blog) but when it doesn’t well or when a player is injured, it sometimes is hard to please all. “Its part of the game, but sometimes it goes too far. And when the results are like this, fans and supporters can become hard to deal with. We were yelled at, cursed at, threatened… As skipper, I have to interact wit them but you can’t win. I remember seeing Marco van Basten…. One of the greatest ever. He is an Ajax legend, but the Ajax supporters really made his life miserable. He quit. That was sad for him and I can only sympathise. No one wants to perform badly.”
And then people ask him whether he made a mistake to return to HSV? “Well it crosses your mind, yes. But what can I do? I am here now. We will need to fight our way out of this. Even when big name icons start to criticise you, you can only respond with your feet, on the pitch. And listen: we did play horrible! We started well under Bert but something went awry.”
Van der Vaart needs to have the ball a lot, in order for a team to get some result from him. In recent games, Van der Vaart was making sliding tackles. It didn’t look good. “I know… but I needed to help the team. But I also realise, once I have to be the one making block tackles, something is going wrong. We didn’t see the ball and then we concede a goal and the whole thing falls apart….”
And all this with the World Cup only months away. “Well, yes…it crosses your mind. But I think the coach knows what I can and cannot do. I think I was important for Oranje, even recently. And if I make sure I regain fitness and form, I will have a chance. There are never guarantees. You have to show it yourself.” Van der Vaart had serious difficulties with being a benchwarmer at the Euro2012. Will the current World Cup need potentially be a repeat of that?
“Eh no. I never said I didn’t accept a role on the bench. My problem was more that Bert had picked his team before the Euros no matter what I or others did. There simply was no room to play yourself into the team. My beef with Bert was that he promised everyone would get a chance and that didn’t happen. With Mr Van Gaal, I think and I know it is different. He will say what he does and he will do what he says.”
Was it hard to play under Van Marwijk again, at HSV? “Not at all. We are close, actually. Bert is a very very good coach and an honest and good man. But he picked a strategy for the Euros and it failed. Once we were at the point where we needed to change it, it was too late. We were all – incl myself – on the wrong track. Tactically in particular. We were not longer a team. Then it doesn’t matter how much skill you have. It simply fell apart.”
Van der Vaart was the model the KNVB used to show the new WC-jersey. Interesting choice, a player who isn’t certain of a starting berth at his club. “Ah well, I really think I will make the WC squad. That is my ultimate goal. Playing for Oranje is the highest honour and a joy. And I think we can surprise in Brazil. We have a young but super eager and talented team. And we all want the same thing. I think something could evolve, you know?”
Your 6th tournament, potentially. Where will it end? “Well, I still have one more big jump in me. I am not ready yet. And then I might just play a couple of years Jupiler League. I don’t play for fame or fortune. I play because I love the game. I might play in the amateurs with my dad in the same team… That would be cool!”