Tag: Boetius

The 2017/18 Season is upon us: predictions!

Well people, the waiting is over. It’s all going to go ahead again.

Let’s look in the crystal ball and see what will happen.


We will suffer the least from the summer break vs France. Les Blues have talent to spare but they are rusty in their home game vs Holland. We will hit them on the attack. 1-3. We score first (Depay on a break) and when France is fighting to get back into the game, we score a second (Wijnaldum). They get back to 1-2 but in the final stages a risk-taking France concedes a penalty, converted by Janssen. Oranje is flying high and we won’t lose any qualification game after that. We’ll go to the WC2018. We’re not going to win it but we’ll get some swagger back.



Ajax is vulnerable. A young squad, an inexperienced coach and when Sanchez and Ziyech are sold, there is not enough leadership and experience to have the time fight for the title. Like with JC’s first season as coach, this will be a “development season”. The fans won’t like it but I do believe Ajax has gold with De Ligt, Kluivert, Van de Beek, De Jong and will grow to a peak performance in the coming seasons. They’ll finish 2nd.

cocu shock

PSV has lost their spirit. The new hierarchy in the dressing room takes time. Willems is not properly replaced and something seems missing in Eindhoven. They’ll have an abysmal season. They’ll finish 4th.

Feyenoord is in the winning mood. They won’t be making waves in the Champions League but the new kids gel into the squad with ease and Feyenoord wins the title again. Quite rare for that to happen. Boetius has a super season, Jorgensen wins the golden boot again and Labayad is the coming man in Feyenoord’s midfield. Feyenoord wins the title.

dirk robin

The surprise #3 in the Eredivisie will be Vitesse. With good, neat pass and move, they upset most opponents and get to rub shoulders with the Top 3. AZ and FC Utrecht are just behind, with PEC Zwolle again impressing. VVV will drop back immediately.

It will be Kluivert’s real break through year, like Hendrix will snatch a starting birth at PSV.


Man City will win the title. Man United will again disappoint. Liverpool will do well in the CL as cupfighters. Newcastle will finish mid-table. The lads in England will have a mixed season. Janssen and Klaassen will struggle to get time. Blind, Wijnaldum and Fer will do very well. As will Nathan Ake. Van Dijk will move to Liverpool and will become their rock for seasons to come. Crystal Palace under De Boer will also impress with Riedewald and Van Aanholt on the wishlist of the bigger clubs.

wijnal fer


Cillesen will get the #1 spot for Barcelona. Lens will impress in Turkey, like Promes will do in Moscow, if he doesn’t get a transfer before September 1. Karsdorp, Strootman, De Roon, De Vrij, Hoedt will keep on delivering the goods in Italy, while Robben will have one of his best seasons. Sneijder takes Nice by the horns but will finish fourth, behind PSG and Monaco. Lyon will finish third.

Dutch football will make the comeback we all hope for. We’ll have most players at mid-level European top clubs. No more Juve, Barca, Real or Chelsea but the mid-range players will form a solid team when they wear the Orange and the squad will only grow in quality with players like Van de Beek and De Jong of Ajax joining in.

Sneijder and Robben will lead the pack and young talents like Karsdorp, Memphis, Vilhena, Promes and even Kluivert will add to the recipe. It will be all good, my friends. I’m just still sad that Appie Nouri will never wear the Orange jersey….


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Oranje talents dream of the World Cup

Most Oranje fans would want any competition to stop now to make sure players like Robben and Huntelaar and Nigel de Jong won’t get injured… With Strootman out and Van Persie on the brink of being out ( sources claim that his injury might take longer than 6 weeks) any more bad luck amongst the mainstays would mean disaster.

This is not how the young talents look at it. And we do have a couple. With Strootman out and with Van Gaal opting for the 4-3-3 he is working with (wingers, penetrative midfielders, attacking full backs) a number of youngsters are aware they might be playing the World Cup this summer (albeit short….).

Davy Klaassen can’t stop smiling. He’s 21 years old and asked to come and model the new Oranje away jersey with his peers Joel Veltman (Ajax) and JP Boetius (Feyenoord). Klaassen smiles when he is confronted with skipper Van Persie’s kind words about him. In the game vs Barcelona, young Klaassen had the wherewithal to keep Barca at bay in the dying minutes and play like a veteran.”I read what he said in the newspaper. You then realise that these guys are watching me play like I am watching them. It hit me suddenly and it felt great.” Van Persie said he had enjoyed watching Klaassen playing for time. “Well, I did get a lot of positive responses to that but that was probably mainly because it was against Barca.”


Davy Klaassen

And with the mention of Barca, the discussion goes to the Real Madrid – Barcelona clash of last weekend. Klaassen: “Seeing that game did not give me any incentive to leave Ajax very soon. Man, that was such high level! I actually believe you should leave the Eredivisie at the moment where you feel you are at your top and you cannot grow anymore. Like how Sneijder and Ibrahimovic and Kuyt left.” Jean-Paul Boetius agrees. “Davy is right. And I think your gut feeling will tell you too. I have had my fair share of offers from abroad but I wanted to break into the first team of Feyenoord first. And make myself important for the team.”

Klaassen: “Playing CL or with Oranje is really a different level. It goes so much quicker. And I noticed that the energy drains away when you need to adjust to this. It’s massive. I think I can handle the level, but playing a World Cup is not the same thing. It’s at least three massive games in a short time span, maybe more. And then all the pressure. And playing top nations, right? There are no shabby teams there. And I have learned from the Barca game that if you have a plan and stick to it, it can work.” Boetius adds quickly: “Don’t forget one Lionel Messi didn’t play…’ Klaassen: “True. That is a big difference indeed.”

Klaassen knows the team manager is a fan and his call up for Oranje gives him the feeling that he might get lucky (with Strootman not fit). Boetius dreams of the World Cup too. “Mr Van Gaal has some options of course. Memphis Depay is a very good left winger. We played together in the youth Oranje teams. He as left winger, me on the right. I will do all I can these coming weeks and let’s hope it’s enough.

Klaassen will first party a bit with Ajax and the Eredivisie Shield. The fourth in a row. Has Boetius congratulated Klaassen already? The Feyenoord winger: “Listen, the Ajax of these past weeks is not the same Ajax as at the time of that Barca game. It feels like they’ll make it exciting again. And Feyenoord will want to finish as high as possible.” Klaassen: “Ah, yes, you’ll go for the second spot. Nice…”


Stefano Denswil

But there is more. Stefano Denswil (20) made his debut for Ajax in November 2012 but is still not a regular starter for Ajax. The central defender is quite a complete defender, with his length, speed and athlethecism. But he is still young and too kind. “I need to become more of a killer. I have worked with Jaap Stam and Frank de Boer on my defensive skills. It’s hard to go from Ajax youth to the Ajax 1 team. The difference is huge. The resistance at Ajax 1 is much higher. You saw that how we won many games easily in Europe in the youth CL ( Ajax lost against Inter Milan in the finals but beat the likes of Barca and Liverpool with aplomb). I am not happy yet and I think the coach shows this with his choice of starters. It’s as simple as that. De Boer always says: as a defender, you can never let both the man and the ball go past. If the ball goes past, the man stays. That mentality I have to learn.”

Karim Rekik is the PSV central defender this season. Developed at Feyenoord and now under contract with Manchester City. “I had a good talk at the start of the season with Man City. They wanted me to stay and I would be able to play 5 to 10 games in the first team. Mainly League Cup and lesser important games. I needed more games, so I decided to go for a loan spell. I preferred Holland because of the open play, the focus on youth and the Dutch style. I only needed one conversation with Mr Cocu to know that PSV would be the right team. Their vision but also the fact that they signed Jeff Bruma, Adam Maher and had Wijnaldum and Jetro already…”


Karim Rekik

Denswil: “This is my 13th season at Ajax. I started when I was seven. I was slowly prepared to play in Ajax 1 but the change is big. As Ajax youth player, you can hardly do any wrong. You win most games and you are Ajax, you know? But the supporters can be harsh re: the Ajax first team. Winning 1-0 at home is not good enough. At least three goals, is what they want. And I know, I used to be on the stands when Ajax played, hahahaha. I was one of them….”

Rekik has trained with big names, like Kompany, Toure, Balotelli… Isn’t that a big step back, playing for PSV? “Well, at PSV I train under Phillip Cocu. Quite a legend too, I think. But sure, the practices at Man City were unreal. These guys you mention, Tevez, Silva, Aguero… It’s top top notch. And I had Mancini as coach. He was quite a good forward but he knew exactly how to defend as well. He taught me about Italian defending, hahaha. We played pretty intense defenive games. He would let us defend with a string between us. And if the ball was played to the left, the whole defensive 6 (4 defenders + 2 midfielders) were supposed to move as one. Keeping distance but not too much and not too little… Really tough. And these type of sessions we don’t do in Holland. But… in Holland I get to play and in Manchester it was mostly practice.”

Kyle Ebecilio has a Feyenoord background like Rekik and Boetius but moved to Arsenal when he was 16 years old. “I don’t really regret that step. It was amazing. I played with Alex Song, Van Persie, Fabregas, Sanga…. Every day a master class. The pace was so high, unbelievable. I realised this was to be my year. I felt it was time for me to become an Arsenal 1 player. But in the talent team they kept on playing me as a winger, or a wide player. And I’m not. I am midfielder, a real midfielder. That didn’t feel good. There was some interest, PSV, Anderlecht, Twente… I spoke with the clubs but the talk with Alfred Schreuder of Twente was just amazing. He knew everything about me and told me what he wanted to do with me. I was sold from the get go.”

Is the level in Holland much lower than abroad? Ebecilio: “Well yes. It is….it is slower. Not lower. I believe it seems a bit less good because clubs go for youth now. You see many youthful squads and they can be a tad naive still .”


Kyle Ebecilio

Karim Rekik: “I think the pace is a bit slower but I also believe our current generation talents is really good. We can easily tag along because of our development. Also, in Holland the coaches expect you to take responsibility and show leadership. I think it helps your confidence if you are made important and it probably looks like we are playing with more experience then we actually have, hahaha.”

Tonny Vilhena, the Feyenoord midfielder (18 years young) chips in: “I think we play a little bit too naive compared to the more seasoned players. I played against Van Bommel last year. The trainer told me I could make him crazy by constantly running away from him. Make him work. His legs being a bit older than mine. But he is so smart. He would constantly move in such a way that I would bump into him and he would get a free kick. He would pace the game down, play the referee and get me out of my balance. And I remember thinking “man that guy is so smart….” You can learn from opponents in the field as well. But the number of Van Bommel’s in the Dutch eredivisie is decreasing of course….”

Vilhena can look back on a Superb Year. “I am not complaining. I am still only 18 years old and I do feel like a regular for Feyenoord now. That gives me some rest in my head. I have played 50 Eredivisie games already, I was at the EC with the Young Oranje and played Spain in Israel and I have made my debut for the big Oranje. I am quite happy.”

Kyle Ebecilio feels like his peak is yet to come. “I got a lot of confidence from the coaches but I didn’t start too well. Too much loose balls, too much little mistakes. I need to simply sacrifice myself for the team and work like a beast. That is my game. I seem to be important for Twente now, but I am also aware that this is because of Wout Brama’s injury. Wout is returning now, so who knows what the coaches will do.”

Vilhena remembers the moment well, when Ebecilio told his mates he’d move to Arsenal. “We lost Karim and Kyle. Karim went to Man City. Kyle to Arsenal and Nathan went later to Chelsea. JP and myself had the opportunity too but we both decided to break here. Somehow it feels better for me to play a number of years in Feyenoord 1. I am a Feyenoord lad and they put all their energy in my development. I am happy here, so I decided this. Karim and Kyle did their thing and that worked out well. There is not one way to reach the top.”


Tonny Vilhena

How do you deal with the expectations at the highest level? Rekik: “The expectations were always there, also at Feyenoord and Man City. But not comparable to playing in a first team. We had a bad series before Xmas and the fans really suffered. I believe it is your task, your responsibility as a player to deal with that. The external pressure was enormous. After our loss against Feyenoord our bus was attacked. I needed to get out and talk to them. I wanted to know what they thought and what they needed to get off their chest… I think my bond with the supporters got stronger there….”

And do you dream of the World Cup? Rekik: “If I have to be honest, I would be disappointed if I wouldn’t be part of it. I think I can handle it.I was invited earlier by Mr Van Gaal and had to say no due to injury. I think he will keep on checking me out and I believe I can deliver. So I will focus on that.” Vilhena: “Of course. If you have played for Oranje once, you do know you are close and you want to be part of it. But, I am young still. And there are many great Dutch midfielders, so….”. Ebecilio: “I want to be part of it, but I have quite some competition on my spot. I think I better focus on the Olympics….”. Denswil: “Van Gaal once said he wanted to select me but didn’t because Young Oranje needed me for a key game. That gives me confidence. That was a strong signal. I know need to show Van Gaal that he needs to pick me, but I’m not the only candidate, I know.”

boetiusJean Paul Boetius

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Some good, some bad… Hup Holland Hup!!

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.

Fey 3

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.”

raf hsv

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!”

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Ready to have some fries…. French fries :-)

It’s almost that time again. March 2014. Back in 2013 we were fantasising how Van Gaal would work towards a fixed squad for the World Cup from the France game onwards…. It looked so far away.

But it’s upon us. Only 3 more nights… And it does feel we are getting close….

Lots has happened over the last months. Except for a lot of blog posts by yours truly, hahaha. Well, that will hopefully change. Still flat out like a lizard, as we say in Oz, but will endeavour to post some more inbetween the different obligations.

Lets start with the State of the Orange Union.

Louis copped some criticism lately, as he was becoming overly flippant and negative about the team manager’s role. In one interview he even said he hated the job. This is probably a badly articulated job advertising slogan as he means to say that he adores working with a (club) squad on a daily basis and he is probably hoping to woo one or two club boards here and there ( as long as it is in England). But the choice of words didn’t go down well with the fans and media in Holland. As I said before (a couple of times): it feels like everything LVG does is for LVG. He is coaching the Dutch team not because he feels it’s an honour but because it “fills a gap in his resume”.  Pathetic. You know what you sign up for and if you don’t like the job, than piss off, right? Wouldn’t we all give an arm or a leg (of Louis of course) for this role?

louis lacht

Anyway, now the ball starts to roll again, LVG will focus on positive things I hope.

He recently created another little media flare up when Feyenoord made the fans believe they were courting Louis as replacement for Ronald Koeman. But Van Gaal crushed that story by saying he immediately told Feyenoord he wasn’t interested. “They know I won’t go to Rotterdam so why they keep on telling the media they want to talk to me is a riddle to me.”. Which prompted the Rotterdam club to announce they will now go for Co Adriaanse.

Koeman’s exit was to be expected. He has not been capable of turning this talented team – together for more than two seasons – into a winning machine. Agreed, they do play good football at times, they play typically Dutch total football with 3 forwards, and attacking full backs like Oranje but they have trouble killing games off. If it happens every now and again, fine. But Feyenoord has lost 8 games in the Eredivisie in which they scored first. and they appear to concede a lot of late goals… Concentration? Fitness? Tactical discipline? Who knows. But LVG won’t be too happy with his main defence provider being so sloppy.

Some people believe that this squad led by Van Gaal would have been the leader of the table and with Co Feyenoord will have a good second best option.

Van Gaal set his sights on the EPL. He has won titles in three leagues/countries ( Holland, Germany, Spain) and is hoping to add England to the list. Spurs seems to be the most likely to sign the man, but rumours claim that Davis Moyes may be out of a job soon and then LVG might be considered by Man United… Interesting indeed…. Latest rumours claim that Frank de Boer is named as Van Gaal’s righthand man, should Moyes be fired and Louis being courted.

A quick check up on our top guns.

It does seem we could do with some good fortune for ManU, as Van Persie clearly isn’t happy there. He complained about his team mates not having the tactical smarts which prompted Chicharito to sneer at him via Twitter. Van Persie has had some fitness issues as well which could be a blessing in disguise for Oranje, of course.

It seems Van der Vaart is also on an uphill battle. His club is not fairing well and he is struggling with his fitness (as per usual). Arjen Robben seems to be very happy under Pep and he is firing on all cylinders. Lets hope he stays fit. Sneijder is clearly making progress. His fitness is at top level, one would say, witnessing his performance against Chelsea. He looks fit, works hard for the team and has impact. If he keeps on going like this, he will make it to Brazil.

Van Gaal has announced that he likes Sneijder’s performance on the left flank in Istanbul but also added that the little general will never play in that role in Oranje. “Gala plays 4-4-2 or 4-5-1. We don’t. Sneijder will never play on the left flank in my team.”

Van Gaal suggested that Mancini plays Sneijder on the left for a reason. “The way creative midfield players have to play nowadays has changed. Look at Wilshere, Kroos, Iniesta, Silva and Oscar. Players who can make a difference with the ball and who can work for the team without. It’s key to me how Sneijder performs, not in the first 15 minutes of the game, but also after an hour of play. When fatigue hits, when tactical discipline gets less and the space on the pitch gets bigger….”


Strootman had a blast this season and will definitely make the plane, provided he remains fit of course.

Jeremain Lens is a question mark for me. Haven’t seen much of him and don’t hear much of him. With Boetius, Depay and other youngsters making an impact, who knows what LVG will decide. I’m also not sure on Vlaar. I like the guy, he is strong and solid. But not the greatest football player, slow and with Villa basically playing relegation football….

Having said that: our other center backs are not impressing either. Bruma, Rekik, Veltman, De Vrij, BMI…. Can’t say I’m overly confident. I do believe Virgil van Dijk deserves a call up but somehow Van Gaal doesn’t agree.

I like the development of Daley Blind. I have mentioned his name here years ago already (probably on the other blog….) as one of Holland’s biggest talents and it is really coming to the fore. He can play left back, center back (although he is too small, really) and defensive mid. I do like the way Vernon Anita is developing too mind you.

Van Gaal uses Blind as left back and feels that Holland needs some better options there. Jetro Willems and Patrick van Aanholt have not yet impressed Van Gaal. Van Gaal also believes Blind’s ideal role is in central midfield – like De Boer does – but due to his left back issue, he will not use Blind there. LVG has Nigel de Jong and Clasie for the central midfield role as well.

I see Nigel de Jong play for Milan regularly and to me he is still the best central midfielder we have. I like Clasie, I think he is the future but with our vulnerable defence I do believe we need Nigel the Destroyer on that spot.

Mr Van Gaal has named the final 23 and there are not a lot of surprises for me. Louis did call up some new players. JP Boetius (19 years old) is doing really well as a typical left winger and scores goals and makes assists for Feyenoord. Clearly a promising talent for Oranje and rightfully picked.  Karim Rekik is following up from his roles in youth rep teams in which he always was skipper. The Man City defender (19 years old) has the goods and gets a chance to show them to LVG. Davy Klaassen is a shoe in for a role in Oranje, but maybe not for the World Cup 2014. The Bergkamp like midfielder would be on LVG’s radar as he knows him well due to their shared Ajax background (and Danny Blind’s). Klaassen (20 years old) can score, can play the Strootman role, has work ethics and like Bergkamp has a velvet touch. The last newbie is Quincy Promes (21 years old) of Twente. Smart penetrating midfielder, with a nose for goals (like Klaassen) and important for Twente’s surge to the top.

Rekik has been selected earlier on in the pre-selection but had to bail due to injury.

Remarkably enough, Van Gaal didn’t pick Nigel De Jong. His comments were ambivalent: “I know what Nigel can and cannot do. I want to see Clasie and Schaars this time.” Stefan de Vrij is also left out. “I need to present a list of 30 players by end of May. I want to have players now that have made a name for themselves recently, to get a clear picture.” De Vrij’s partner in crime Martins Indi has been called up.

Jeremain Lens is not part of the squad because he is suspended.

LVG Blind

“I’ll say it again Danny! If you want the top job, you HAVE to start wearing your hair like me! That is what the young guns respect. Modern hair, spikey and upright!”

Bruma didn’t make the cut either (injured) and Fer, Siem de Jong, Propper, Stekelenburg and Vermeer were left out too. The absence of Tim Krul surprises me. Surely an experienced goalie from the EPL is more valuable than a talent from a struggling PSV?? LVG actually said that Ken Vermeer fits the job description best. “He is very athletic, fast, courageous and a good football player. He fits our style best.” But he won’t be selected because he doesn’t play at the moment. “But I haven’t forgotten him….”

Lastly, Paul Verhaegh had to pull out due to a nasty injury and it remains to be seen who will replace him. With Daryl Janmaat and Gregory van der Wiel, it seems we have enough right backs….

I will never agree with Van Gaal fully, I suppose. I don’t see it in Zoet (yet) but I am a big Krul fan. I doubt Vlaar but otherwise we seem to have the best players in defence that we can get.

In midfield, I can understand his doubts re: Sneijder (and Van der Vaart) but I don’t understand why Schaars is ahead of Nigel de Jong in the hierarchy. Nor can I understand the presence of Dirk Kuyt… I have always been a big fan of Kuyt, for his lion heart and his mentality. But he is the number 3 striker behind Robin van Klaas Jan. And thus shouldn’t be in squad. As a winger he simply is not good enough. Not when we (will) have Lens, Wijnaldum, Boetius, Depay, Robben, Promes, Narsingh… My 2 cents at least.

Beyond the World Cup, the Euro 2016 draw is out. I won’t go into it now. And I might not ever. Even the best number threes qualify so what is there to say…. Guus Hiddink and his shortly to be announced staff (incl Ruud van Nistelrooy) will not have a hard time to qualify.

Danny Blind will step into the “Joachim Low” role at Oranje. Meaning that he will assist Hiddink, who will be the shield for two years, until 2016 and after that Blind will assume the end responsibility towards the World Cup 2018. Most likely a good decision of the KNVB and there will be milestones in the contract to allow for adaptations should the results require this….

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Feyenoord Bloodbrothers

From left to right: Tonny Vilhena, Terence Kongolo, JP Boetius, Anass Achahbar

The Feyenoord youngsters keep on impressing. Last week, they beat PSV, this week the win over NEC prompted former Team Manager Bert van Marwijk to quip “Boetius is the best winger playing in Holland at the moment”… Asked if he was advising his successor he said “no no, of course not… but Feyenoord does make a strong impression. Great talents, good fighting spirit, fit… and they enjoy their football.”

Time to check out the youngsters.

“We are so used to winning titles. For us, it’s normal.” Not your average claim of a Feyenoord player. The last time the Rotterdam club snatched a title was in 1999. Bert van Marwijk managed to add a European trophy to the mix in 2002 but that was about it.

But the current up and comers at Feyenoord have the experience. Since Feyenoord scraped the bottom of the piggybank, the youth development team became creative. Cruyff adept Wim Jansen recruited his son in law Stanley Brard – another JC protege – and together they injected their views into the youth academy. This is now going on for more than 8 years and the results are finger lickin’ good… With Wijnaldum, Fer and Castaignos as examples generating healthy profits for Feyenoord, the supply line keeps on going.

This season, youngsters like Boetius, Vilhena and Achahbar have impressed while Kolongo (injured) and early exiters Rekik (Man City) and Ebecilio (Arsenal) are still with the gang in spirit.

Youth coach Erwin Pinas remembers it well. “The 1994 generation was sensational. Feyenoord always attracted top talents. These guys however play together since the early stages. And I assure you, they will all make it to the Dutch senior National Team.”

As per normal, the 4 Feyenoord lads are sitting together, talking loud and with their hands and feet as well. “We have been talking about football together for 10 years or so,” Terence Kolongo says.

All four Feyenoord players ( Boetius, Kolongo, Vilhena and Achahbar) were selected while very young. They started playing at 5 and were asked to play for Feyenoord when 6 years old. Tonny Vilhena: “I actually am a year younger then them but the coaches always wanted me to play with them.”

The four make it clear they consider themselves family. Achahbar: “I never had friends outside of football. My team mates were my mates. My team mates are family, really.” And Jean-Paul Boetius adds: “I hear stories of others and how they develop on the streets and learn stuff, you know. Well, we learned it at trainings camp, I suppose.”

Anass Achahbar: “I think we are all kept a bit shorter on the leash by Feyenoord and our parents. I am thankful to my parents for that now, but when I was younger I sometimes hated it. But kids like us, if we would be let loose, we could get deranged you know?”

The support they give each other goes further than just in gaining life experiences. Kongolo: “I made my debut when they weren’t in the squad. I was pretty nervous. There was no one for me to sit with. Whenever I play with one of them, I am never nervous.”

The lads are very positive about the Academy. Vilhena: “Anass is working with Roy Makaay now and with Gio van Bronckhorst. Obviously, you get better and better like that.” Achahbar adds: “I worked with John Lammers in the youth, the former NAC striker. He taught me much, to use my body properly, to keep an eye out for the third man…”

Boetius: “I think we are all boss over the ball. We can do most if not all with it. And that gives us confidence on the pitch. When I made my debut, it all went flowing. And I knew I was ready and my development had worked.”

Anass Achahbar remembers Cor Adriaanse in the B1 youth team. “He was fair but tough. I used to dribble too much. He would sub me and say I would never make it like this. “There is no time and space to dribble in the top” he’d say.” Kongolo adds: “He made us play on black shoes. All the other guys, the Ajax and PSV lads, played on colourful shoes. He wouldn’t allow us. “First you learn how to play, you have to earn these shoes” hahaha.”

About their debuts.

Achahbar: “When I heard that Kelvin Leerdam woulnd’t renew his deal with Feyenoord, I realised Tonny Vilhena would get a chance. Tonny is a special player. Mark my words…”

Vilhena: “For Anass, it’s always harder. A midfielder or defender can grow into the team. A striker needs to be there. Feyenoord expects strikers to score goals. Whenever you have Guidetti in front of you or now Pelle, you simply need to build patience. But you saw his goal against Prague? Anass will make it.”

Kolongo: “I think we all know now that a starting spot in the first team is an option. It’s possible. We have proven that.”

Boetius: “I think people will say that we have always been talented and that its normal for us to make it, but apart from our talent, we have all worked very hard. Always. We are winners, not just great talents. But once you are on the pitch, it doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or a veteran. It’s about your effectivity. I wasn’t nervous against Ajax, because I have played against these guys in the youth, you know? Why would I be nervous?”

About winning…

Kongolo: (Asking his mates) “What didnt’ we win? We won everything… Title, cup, Super Cup, European title… Winning is part of our DNA…”

Boetius: “It’s true, at Feyenoord winning becomes second nature. In the youth system, I mean. Whenever we lost, I was in tears. And we created a strong mentality.”

Vilhena: “Last year I was asked to come to trainings camp in winter. And I had a 50-50 tackle on El Ahmadi, who was one of the leaders of the team. But I couldn’t back down. So we were head to head, yelling at each other. But it was a ball to be won… So when I was asked to join the squad at the start of this season, and Karim was still with Feyenoord, I immediately looked him up and shook his hand. I do have respect for the older players, but not when we are opponents in a game.”

The big jump to a tougher competition…

Achahbar: “I think we all had the chance to leave at a specific time. But I was clear: I want to show my skills in a packed De Kuip, in Feyenoord 1.”

Boetius: “Kyle Ebecilio and Karim Rekik chose to go. Can you imagine, if they were still part of this squad? Feyenoord would have an almost all self-developed team…”

Kongolo: “There are more roads leading to Rome and they took the foreign route. We still talk everyday. Sms, or skype… I know Tonny Vilhena didnt want to go yet. He had the chance too. Like we all did. But it does feel like we lost family.”

Vilhena: “I didn’t want to go. My goal from when I was six was to play in this jersey in a full De Kuip. I wouldn’t leave before having realised a starting spot. But I do miss the lads.”

Achahbar: “I was pissed off at Karim when he told he’d go to City. We were together every day. Our fathers were mates… I think we will get the chance later. We will stay for that. Karim and Kyle felt they had to do it then. But, according to the scout reports, we will one day all play together in England, haha.”

Kyle Ebicilio in London…

Ebecilio was 16 years old in the summer of 2010… Oranje was going for gold in South Africa and Oranje under 17 would win gold in 2011.
Ebicilio: ” I have the photo books and look through them regularly. Gets a smile on my face. It was so cool to win a big trophy and see the faces of all your best mates on the pitch with you. I was voted best player of the tournament and Tonny Vilhena was joint top scorer with me… Very cool…

But the whole Ebecilio family bar his sister Sam, decided to move to England in that summer. “It was a tough decision. I didn’t just make that on a whim. I had sleepless nights. I had to tell my brothers… It was hard. But Arsenal had presented itself to me with such an enticing pitch… I had to go. And my mates, they understood.”

Kyle is really Anglicised, if that is the word. He drives on the left side of the road and his little brother can’t read Dutch anymore. He goes on: “The development I got at Feyenoord was amazing and I am really thankful, but I think Arsenal is giving me more now. Physically, I am stronger, smarter too. I think differently about football I guess. But I can see that things are going really well in Rotterdam. When I was there, I had to deal with Leo Beenhakker. There was a different philosophy. It wasn’t certain that I would get a look in. Now, with Van Geel and Koeman, Feyenoord is truly exciting again.”

Ebecilio played one game in Arsenal 1. A friendly against Southampton. “For me, it’s about the practice now. The games will come, I hope. Being on the same training pitch as Van Persie and Nasri… I played with Fabregas, Vermaelen, Alex Song, Emmanuel Eboue… Believe me, that has made me better. And Van Persie was always talking to me, about things. Same as Song and Vermaelen, they are all focused on you making yourself into a success. Arsene Wenger is not very talkative but he sees everything. He told me recently that I surprised him positively with my development. But not a lot of people see it, hehehe. But he does, and that is key.”

Ebecilio’s deal is ending soon, but Arsenal wants to renew. “I do too, I love it here, but I do want to make some minutes now. I need to play games now…”

Karim Rekik in Manchester then…

Karim and family rent a home from Man United defender Jonny Evans. His neighbour is a former Man United business manager. “This city breaths football. There is always some gathering. Recently I saw Karim El Ahmadi (Birmingham) and Oussaidi (Liverpool) who love to hang out in Manchester.” The Feyenoord defender had a smorgasbord of clubs wanting to sign him and when he knew he wanted to leave Feyenoord, he visited them all. “Atletico Madrid offered us a house with a pool, Chelsea mapped out this whole plan and at Juventus I felt like a movie star. President Agnelli even came to shake my hand at dinner.” But Juventus ended up number 2 on the list. Because Man City was able to impress the youngster most. “At City, they had this map they took out. With all my games of the last two seasons. They had followed me well, they knew my game, my strengths, my weaknesses… They told me exactly how they’d work with me. I was overwhelmed.”

Rekik was disappointed in Feyenoord. “When I was there, Beenhakker was in charge. He is old-school. I went in to talk to him about my future. And I never meant money, I meant my development, my chances. He basically gave me a new contract and said “take it or leave it.” I didn’t feel the love, you know? He also said “I can get you to practice with the first team but if that doesn’t work out, we’ll drop you into Excelsior.” That is not how I manage my own career…. So Man City it was.”

The Rekik family settled in well. Dad Mo works at the club and helps new foreign players settle in. Mum Judith is a volunteer at the club while 10 year old Omar is said to be a huge talent in the Under -12 of Man City.

The Rekiks have a strong bond with the Ebecilios in London. “Kyle is my brother, but so are the lads in Rotterdam. If you would ask me what I’d miss about Holland, it is basically them.”

Karim is the leader of the pack. The skipper of all the teams too. “I have been captain from when I can remember. Don’t know why or how that came about. Probably my position in the field and my extraverted personality. But I have been collecting a lot of trophies and did a lot of speeches, haha.

He recently got a pro contract at Man City. He is there for another five years. Assistant manager David Platt told him the plan. “I will go to another club on loan now, for half a year and next season I will fight for a starting spot.” Rekik can’t stop talking about training with the big boys. “I thoroughly enjoy that. The ball caressing Silva, the power of Tevez, the focus of Kompany… I take it all in.”

Balotelli’s name conjures a smile on his face. “I liked him. He was a nice guy, a very nice guy. I think he has a good heart, but he can lose the plot a little, hehehe.”

Rekik has the future. He knows it. “Mancini told me recently he would have played me against Man United if Clichy would still have been sick. He has all the faith in me. I know the guys in Rotterdam are playing as starters now, and that is fab, but my time will come too. And once that happens, we will start winning trophies together again too, hahaha.”

Because the lads all end their dreaming with Oranje.

Vilhena: “To play World Cup in orange together, is my dream.”
Boetius: “It will happen.”
Kongolo: “Make Holland World Champ.”
Achahbar: “We did it once before, why not at senior level?”
Rekik: “The six of us in Oranje, I know it will happen.”
Ebecilio: “And then we will win gold, because we are used to winning.”

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Feyenoord chooses youth

A lot of great things in the world are born out of necessity. In the golden 1970s, Feyenoord was one of the more wealthy clubs in the world. A massive stadium, one of the most intriguing coaches ever ( Ernst Happel) and a sensational team with the likes of Israel, Kindvall, Van Hanegem and Wim Jansen. And a nice and shiney European Cup.

But the money went and not only in Rotterdam…. The Dutch football culture has been eroded and only Ajax has been able to keep the Dutch flame alive with their tremendous youth academy over the last decades.

Feyenoord may have won the UEFA Cup in 2002, but that was quite an anomaly and done with players brought in by Bert van Marwijk from other clubs, such as NEC’s Kees van Wonderen, Go Ahead Eagles’ Bosvelt, NAC’s Pierre van Hooijdonk and Japanese wunderkind Shinji Ono. The only local talent in that team was Robin van Persie and he made it hard for Van Marwijk to commit him to the club.

But the dramatic financial results of the last ten years has forced Feyenoord to do the only thing possible: focus on their own talent development.

Koeman recognises Louis van Gaal in the stands

The biggest asset Feyenoord has (and has had) in this field was lured back into the club: Wim Jansen. The old fox got his son-in-law Stanley Brard, former Feyenoord defender (and notoriously left winger when Johan Cruyff was with the club) to lead the Feyenoord academy and the rest is history. Players like Leroy Fer, Jonathan de Guzman, Georginho Wijnaldum, Jerson Cabral, Jordy Clasie, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Luc Castaignos came through and in some way or format have created value for the Stadium club.

And the Feyenoord fans have shown their appreciation. By filling up the stadium in every home game. While the scouts of big clubs from England, Italy, Germany and Italy find ways to buy tickets to De Kuip as well.

With Ronald Koeman at the helm for yet another season and youngsters Boetius and Vilhena recently signed new long-term contracts as well. The next targets for technical director Martin van Geel are Stefan de Vrij ( desired by Chelsea) and Graziano Pelle (desired by most women in Holland).

Stanley Brard is being chased by international clubs as well. Not so much to make a jump to these clubs but to explain how he does it. Martins Indi is a typical example of a player who benefited most from Brard’s approach.

Ted Immers

Until his 17th, the strong defender was never seen as a great talent. But Brard recognised – with his team of youth coaches – that the tall Martins Indi has the basic requirements for a defender: mental strength, focus, heading skills and speed. By working with him on an individual basis, Martins Indi’s vision and technical skills improved sensationally,

That Martins Indi is now symbol for the new Feyenoord. Talented, hard working and definitely a lad who is ready to move even higher up. The Feyenoord fans adore him and the interaction between him (and the other players) and the Legion is tremendous. Louis van Gaal has discovered the youngster and with two goals to his name in Oranje, most international top teams have his name on the list as well.

Feyenoord expects to be able to sell some of their best players every season, and sees this as a way to make the club financially healthy. And Stanley Brard is convinced that if Feyenoord can limit those transfers to two per summer, the academy should be able to keep up. Brard also gets lots of offers from foreign clubs for consultancy, as they would love to adopt the development philosophy. One of the key elements for Feyenoord, being awarded as the best youth academy of the nation for three years in a row, is the use of ex players, such as Roy Makaay, Gaston Taument, Joop Hiele, Wim Jansen and Michel Valke.

“We can expect financial injections into the club based on our education. Clubs want to buy our know-how and we will export youth coaches to China or Columbia, to set up youth academies there.”

Roy Makaay is working hard on delivering strikers. The former phantom supported super striker John Guidetti last season and is now thrilled to support new phenomenon Graziano Pelle. One player he has a weak spot for is Anass Achahbar, the 18 year old stocky center striker of the Feyenoord C-youth.

“Anass told me Feyenoord shouldn’t sign Pelle,” laughs Makaay. “He said: you have me! But Achahbar, strong on the ball and handy in the use of his body, is too young to carry all that pressure on his shoulders. He will have to wait.”

Anass Achahbar scored another goal

The young talent gets his minutes in Feyenoord 1 and scored a thrilling goal late in the Sparta Prague European cup game. With a typical backheel. “These goals, you basically score instinctive.”

Achahbar burns with ambition. His age is nothing to him. “My benchmark is very high. I want to reach the absolute top. I have always wanted to play, every day. I am not happy with my current role. I want to play as much as possible. I want to hear my name chanted, I want to be important for the club.”

Feyenoord copped some criticism from the likes of Willem van Hanegem when a number of “could-be” players were signed from mid-tier clubs. Vormer, Goossen, Singh, Immers, Janmaat, Verhoek… With the risk that talented youth players would – again – be put on hold, development-wise.

But talent will always emerge and it’s Ronald Koeman who has chosen to play youngster Boetius and Vilhena over more established names like Verhoek and Vormer, while Janmaat and Immers have proven real assets to the team.

The player who dominates the spotlight in Rotterdam now, is – again – the center striker. This time, it’s Graziano Pelle. On loan from Parma. The lanky, elegant Italian was scouted years ago by Louis van Gaal for AZ, when Van Gaal saw the striker excel for Young Italy. But Pelle was never a success for AZ and hardly found the net in 3 years with the Alkmaar club.

Also in his homeland, Pelle never made it as a prolific striker.

Ronald Koeman took a gamble on the fan favorite. “I worked briefly with him at AZ and despite his lack of goal scoring, you could see he was very skilful. If I needed to chance a last minute deal with a striker on loan, I preferred him as I know his personality and he knows me and he knows Dutch football. I knew that with the right team around him, and wingers to service him, he would score 10 to 15 goals in the season.”

Pelle already scored 10 in the Eredivisie.

Koeman thinks it’s too early to talk title, but it’s clear that with Twente, PSV and Ajax not in best form, Feyenoord could wriggle itself between the contenders.

Daryl Janmaat: attacking defender

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