The media were all about “De Boer has dreadful record” and “no coach didn’t win one match in his first five” etc etc. I don’t think these stats are really meaningful. You play a lousy friendly in a time when players need rest. You lose one. You draw away vs Bosnia. Not great. You draw away vs Italy with different system and get compliments, but not the 3 points. Can happen. And then you play another friendly vs Spain (top class team) and you draw. That is fine, in my book. We need to judge Frank on his last games (finals? Euros? World Cup???). Not his first.
And now we have the win, vs Bosnia Herzegovina and we scored 3 goals and we played pretty good (with the ball) while there are still things to fix without the ball. And with the fact that Van Dijk and De Ligt were missing in the center of defence, I think it’s not strange that we allowed them to cut through our last line.
De Boer came into the mix when Koeman left unexpectedly. The Federation took its time to find a replacement, and when they did Frank had 1) limited time to find his way, 2) was told to “follow the Koeman line” and 3) wasn’t able to bring his own assistant in.
These last two clauses would normally be reasons for a guy like him (or Ten Cate or Van Gaal) to say: forget about it!
But Frank is not in a position to be selective, with jobs, so he went for it.
And he didn’t stick to the Koeman line for long, and he shouldn’t. Koeman left. Bye Koeman. And now it’s the De Boer line.
And he impressed me already and against Bosnia Herzegovina I think the players demonstrated that they like his approach.
Memphis “lost” his spot as leader of the forward line and the media gambled on a potential clash between the former star and the current star. But no! Memphis is happy to play anywhere. He is able to play from the left with Luuk de Jong as striker, as they did for a while together at PSV.
Against Bosnia, Memphis ruled the show. He was the Man of the Match and constantly threatening, capping it off with a good goal. Memphis is simply not a guy to use in a friendly.
Skipper Wijnaldum rose the occasion to with two goals and an almost hatttrick. Luuk de Jong should have had his goal too, if the linesman would have done his job, which would also have meant: 2 assists for Berghuis.
Dumfries played again and he got his assists too, and demonstrated again that 1) he’s not the best right back ever, but 2) he’s definitely better than Hateboer.
Frenkie de Jong enjoyed his game as well and Owen Wijndal again showed that we mist likely won’t have a lot of issues on the left full back spot. Van Aanholt has a couple of years in him still, Haps and Malacia at Feyenoord are knocking on the door and if need be Blind or Ake can play there as well.
Frank de Boer was relieved after the game and had high praise for his team. He also saw some elements that needed attention: “We played in a high pace and we moved a lot. They had issues with this. Usually, we start too slow and have to fight our way into the match. We were adamant, as staff, that the team started at full throttle. And we did. 20 to 25 minutes of sixth gear football, resulting in 2 goals.”
De Boer also stressed that playing opportunistic is not considered dirty. “We want to play neat football, with passes from behind, but at times, you need to play the long ball. We have speed up front in Memphis or Berghuis or even Wijndal and Dumfries! Use it, I said. I was happy to see this on the pitch. We do have to do better in certain areas though: I think we should have scored at least 3 more. We had the opportunities and were a tad too complacent at times. We also gave away space. At one point, Frenkie made a pirouette and was fouled. He started to talk to the ref, while the Bosnians sprinted away from him and Dumfries got into trouble. That can’t happen.”
A last word on Memphis: “There was some talk that he wouldn’t be happy playing from the left wing, well… you saw him play. I think he did ok. That little flick with the outside of his left, that shows you that Memphis is feeling good in this system. He is multi functional. Memphis can play anywhere, really.”
De Boer is right. Memphis starts as left winger on the team sheet, but has a free role. Luuk de Jong’s disallowed goal is a perfect example. Memphis is all the way on the right, allowing Berghuis to vacate his spot and make a dart in behind. Memphis pass is perfect and the Feyenoord winger only needs to square the ball to the Seville striker…
Steven Berghuis played another solid match, with one assist officially (and two for real). The Feyenoord winger had 8 shots on goal, the most, but hasn’t been able to register a goal in this 19 international games. For a player like him, club topscorer for the third season in a row, that is not much. “I was quite angry, actually. I had two major opportunities to score and didn’t. And I am not specifically looking to score but when I end up in the one on one with the goalie, it has to count. We do a lot of things well and I do get into the dangerous positions, all it takes now, is to pull the trigger and score!”
Expect an analysis on Berghuis, who seems to be competing for the right winger spot with Steven Berghuis and Frank de Boer’s son-in-law (yep, another one of those) Calvin Stengs.
So now, we are playing with two full backs who push up high, four creative players in attack and an offensive mid midfielder in Frenkie… This gives us a lot of creativity, but makes us also vulnerable as the photo below shows. Blind will never reach the ball. Dumfries will be too late. De Vrij is exposed and Wijndal is completely out of position… This will not end well when we play against a better opponent.
Ex Oranje legend Willem van Hanegem did have some sobering words to offer… Willem believes our team is doing ok against opponents like Bosnia who didn’t really come to make it hard on us. Once we play vs stronger opponents, the full backs need to be way more disciplined. Van Hanegem also felt that the praise for Wijndal (and Dumfries) is a bit presumptuous. Yes, Dumfries had two assists, but was vulnerable at the back, like Wijndal. On top of that, Wijndal’s crosses were poor. Vs Spain, he hit more opponents than team mates and vs Bosnia it wasn’t much better. Lastly, Willem agrees with me, that Luuk de Jong should be used as pinch hitter against the stronger clubs as he is too limited to play against the big boys. Like Willem, I too like to see more of Donyell Malen and Mo Ihattaren, who are two potential world class prospects. Luuk de Jong is not that. Neither is Babel or even Promes.