Tag: Danny Blind

Oranje adds character to its armour

For years, the Dutch national team was synonymous with class. The passing of Sneijder, the dribbles of Robben, the trickery of Van der Vaart and the wonderful goals of Van Persie… In a somewhat more distant past: the guile of Van Basten, the touch of Bergkamp, the elegance of Rijkaard… Or maybe the magic of Cruyff, the intelligence of Van Hanegem and the unfathomable solos of Rob Rensenbrink…

And sure, we had grit. And fight. In midfield or defence, there was always a Johan Neeskens, Edgar Davids, Jaap Stam or a Nigel de Jong. But these players would be in service of the protected prodigal sons.


Jaap Gladiator Stam

We still develop great talents, but all nations around us have developed their technical and tactical skills while keeping hold of their specific national “traits”. Defensive strength of the Italians, the mental strength of the Germans, the physical strength of the English and of course the all round athleticism of the French… Playing shrewd can also be seen as a quality aspect, as the Portuguese have taught us many times over.

Holland needs to add some character, some intent to their game and at times we have been able to. Van Marwijk used 6 players in service of the Big Four, with Van Bommel and De Jong offering grit. Van Gaal did it with his tactics and bravado.

Under Danny Blind, a new chapter seems to be in production, trying to incorporate the best of all worlds… Technical skills (Promes, Sneijder, Wijnaldum, Blind), tactical smarts (Blind, Strootman, Sneijder), guile (Janssen, Karsdorp, Van Dijk) and…character…

Rick Karsdorp, Vincent Janssen, Kevin Strootman… They had to acknowledge that beating France at this stage was basically a bridge too far, but with courage and character thrown into the mix, we can go a long way. Again.


Johan El Torro Neeskens

Let me take you back: it was an icecold wintery Monday evening in March 2015 when a livid Karsdorp pressed his forehead against the face of referee Stieler. The German ref gave Young France a third penalty for a foul on super talent Benzia. Young Oranje is being taken to the cleaners and Karsdorp loses it. He would tell the Dutch media days later “never to have been played off the pitch in his young career as on that day, by the frickin’ French (4-1)”.

We’re 1,5 years down the track. The impatient Benzia decided to play for Algeria, as the French coaches overlooked the youngster for the senior team (hello Hakim Ziyech). And Rick Karsdorp? He was one of Holland’s best players in the senior game vs France in Amsterdam.

Karsdorp’s story is one of falling and getting back up again. Showing character when things turn bad. Biting your lip, instead of giving in. In that Young Oranje match, there was another youngster who doesn’t know the words “giving up”. Vincent Janssen, striker of Almere City, was a sub on that night in North France. He was looking to stake his claim after Feyenoord told him he didn’t have what it took to make it at Feyenoord.



And Janssen was also impressive, against the French at the highest level. Every time, people would say he was too light for the top. Karsdorp and Janssen are currently the role models for technical director Hans van Breukelen, who keeps on emphasizing the fact that Dutch football “might have the best technical skills, but is lacking the winning mentality”.

After Karsdorp’s clash with Laurent Koscielny, the medical staff of Oranje urged the Feyenoord back to come off. Joel Veltman was warming up already. But Karsdorp wouldn’t think about it. “I couldn’t even lift my arm up, but leaving the pitch? Never! I really wanted to finish the game.”

“Of course I know Dimitri Payet. I saw him play for France at the Euros and when he was subbed, I felt even stronger. Against Belarus, I felt my legs cramping up, 20 minutes before the end. But now, I could have played three more matches. Despite my shoulder.”

This month, it’s actually two years ago when Karsdorp was in tears in the Feyenoord dressing room. His first sub turn at Feyenoord and his mistake led to Rijeka’s goal in Croatia in the Europa League. It seemed his career for Feyenoord was over before it began. Fred Rutten, then coach of Feyenoord, was responsible for taking Karsdorp from Feyenoord 2 – the playmaker! – and putting him on right back in Feyenoord 1. Not only that, Rutten predicted that Rick would be the next right back for Oranje! A day after the match, Rutten talked with Karsdorp: “It is up to you. If you now succumb, yes… you career is over. But if you stand up and straighten your back, you will have a big future ahead of you.”

Karsdorp grows when others run for the exit. “After two years since that situation, I know what I have in me”.

janssen boos

Janssen doesn’t take shit from nobody

Vincent Janssen will be able to empathise: “I can find the positive in everything. Like this match. Yes we lost. That is a disappointment but we are a team again. All noses point in the right direction. We can build on this!”.

In recent months, apart from the likes of Janssen, Karsdorp and Berghuis, Quincy Promes emerged. Developed at Ajax, sent away by Ajax, back in the lime-light at FC Twente and after one year transferred to Spartak Moscow. Where he is a star. Since last week, he now also is a man to reckoned with in the orange jersey.

He had the misfortune of flipping his ankle early in the France game, but Promes lives up to his promise, finally (apologies for the pun).

When talking to Promes (24) you know there won’t be a silence in the conversation. The Spartak forward talks as fast as he takes on Russian defenders. He renewed his deal this summer and will be with Spartak until 2021. “It was a conscious decision. I’m not ready for a step up. I’m developing well in Moscow and there is more to come. Making the right move is not going to be easy. In terms of price tag, I’m expensive now. The mid-tier clubs in the bigger leagues won’t just buy me like that. Should I go to a big club, I run the risk of coming for the bench. I rather make more of a name here at Spartak.”

promes work

Promes vs France earlier on

This career path is remarkable for a lad who left Holland after one season at Twente. For an adventure in Russia? “I never wanted to leave Twente. But they were in financial dire straits. They called me in and said there was a massive deal on the table for me. They needed to sell me. I was pushed out.”

Scoring 18 goals in his first season, he did have to take a hurdle before scoring in Oranje. “I’m simply not the key man in Oranje. I play in the number 10 role for Spartak, protected, and the ball comes to me a lot. In Oranje, I’m more a winger. But listen, I know I can score. I wasn’t in doubt. The key thing is not me scoring, though. It’s Holland winning. Who ever scores. It’s not about me, it’s about Oranje making it to the World Cup.”

And the fact that the World Cup is in Russia is special for Promes. “Sure, it is. I’m happy to be on the team sheet always in Moscow. That makes it easy for the coach to select me. And I’m super proud to play for Oranje. Whenever I pull on my jersey, I get goosebumps. And I want to go to the World Cup.”

You are a very proud lad. And there is always that line in interviews or articles saying “sent away at Ajax”…

“I was a very difficult lad when I was young. I won’t lie about that. Super selfish. I played in Ajax youth and the arrogance comes with that. You think you are da man. But in all honesty, you’re not. You only sniff at the opportunity. At Ajax, at some stage, they had enough. And I could leave. I am grateful to them though. It changed my life. It opened my eyes. I should not be praised, I should always be pushed to fight. Then, I’m able to give my best.”

quincy interview

So what happened after Ajax? “I went to Haarlem but they went bankrupt almost immediately. FC Twente came and Patrick Kluivert was my coach in Twente 2. That man did something to me. They loaned me to Go Ahead Eagles and (current FC Utrecht coach) Erik ten Hag was there. He gave me the key to success. He was super strict. I didn’t get that at all. Until I suddenly realised he did it to help me. He turned me from a piece of coal into a diamond. I started to score goals at the Eagles and I was off. Next season, it all happened at Twente and now I’m with Spartak.”

So Kluivert and Ten Hag made you what you are now? “And Alfred Schreuder at Twente. I also became a dad at Go Ahead. Seeing that little one changed me tremendously. For the first time I realised I had responsibilities. I stopped living just for myself, I now work and live for my wife, my daughter. Well, daughters, we have two now.”

promes ten hag

Quincy at Go Ahead Eagles with mentor Erik ten Hag

How is life in Moscow? “I don’t live in an apartment anymore. Moscow is really a cool city, just very cold in winter. I will never get used to that. But Russians are typical people. They’re not very open or social, but once you break through that veneer, they will do everything for you. It’s not like in Amsterdam, where you can just borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbours. In Moscow, they won’t open the door even.

Would Spartak Moscow win the title in the Eredivisie? “Hmm, don’t know. PSV and Ajax are strong teams. But I don’t think Spartak would finish lower than 3rd or 4th. We are no Utrecht or PEC Zwolle, with all due respect.”

Speaking about Ajax, it was always your dream club. How is that now? “I’m from Amsterdam. Which means you want to play for Ajax. But, I’m not sure whether that’s ever possible. Probably not. But…you never know.”

And to finalise our portrait of winners… Kevin Strootman is renowned for his mentality. And in typical Strootman form, he was very angry at the player who made the mistake against Sweden, allowing them to score. This player was Strootman himself.

“The will to win is strong in me. Very deep. Fighting for the team. I have always done that. Friendlies, practice games… I find it hard to deal with mistakes that cost us points. And when I’m the one making the mistake, well….”

protest ref

Strootman came in front of the cameras after the Sweden game and was super critical on himself. He came to the Oranje camp for Belarus and France with a thigh injury but played a decent game vs Belarus. In the France game, he was again partly at fault for the goal conceded.

Did the Sweden mistake play around in your head? “Well, yes, for a couple of days. Sure. But once you’re at the club, there is that rollercoaster ride of games and you can put it aside. But when I came back to the Oranje camp, it immediately popped up again. We looked back at the Sweden game of course and that blunder was on the big screen again. I looked away. This simply cannot happen.”

This self criticism is part of your personality. Did you have this in the Sparta youth as well? “For sure. But listen, you have a job. If you make a crucial mistake in your job, you’d take it home with you. I think every player has this, but maybe not all players show it.”

Really? I doubt it. “No, I am telling you. This was an obvious howler. A pro player who’d try to talk his way out of this would be ridiculed for days. I made a decision against France. The Pogba goal. It was the wrong decision in hindsight. But it was calculated. I didn’t think that was a blunder. We were out of position. If I bite, and Pogba goes past me, he’s in on goal. I rather have him take a shot from 30 meters than from 15 meters. I forced him to go to Maarten’s right, which is his strong side. Sadly for all of us, the ball was too good. In hindsight, yes, I might have done better to close him down, but that’s all irrelevant now. You make a quick decision and sometimes you’re wrong. With the Sweden mistake, I could live with that better if Bas Dost’s goal would have been allowed. Making a mistake but winning is not that dramatic.”


Strootman is skipper in the absence of Sneijder and Robben. He was positive about Oranje’s development. “We controlled the game versus Sweden and Belarus, bar 20 minutes. The France game, we knew it would be tough to control them. But overal, it’s more stable than – say – 5 months ago. We seem to be able to execute all the tasks the coach puts on us. We don’t give a lot away, we coach each other and work hard. The way we defend dead balls is also much better. Everyone is focused. These are key moments in top football. You got to “stand right” as they say. I remember the Iceland away game. Two moments of loss of focus and we’re 2-0 down.”

The only way is up. “We can play much better even. I think the vibe in the group is excellent. We are a team, we fight for each other. I am sure the rewards will come. And you know what, I think it’s a good thing that we can’t be certain to beat Sweden or Belarus, like we did in the past. We now know we have to give everything against so-called smaller nations. Holland used to qualify with ease. That is behind us. I actually think it’s a good thing. Sneijder said recently, “There was a time when we got out of the bus and said to each other: let’s win this 3-0. That time is over.””

Louis van Gaal allowed Strootman his debut four years ago, against Andorra. He got the skippers band at 22 years old. And everyone thought: Strootman will have 50 or 60 caps when he’s 26 years old and will have played three or four big tournaments. The 2018 World Cup will be his first big tournament, should Oranje get there.


Edgar Pitbull Davids

“Well, I was at the EC2012, but I didn’t play a single minute. The World Cup 2014, I watched on TV as a result of my injury. And we missed the last Euros. I really want to experience a World Cup now and play. It’s a huge motivation. I’m 28 years in two years time. It’s about time I start to present myself on that stage.”

Strootman’s massive injury problems started with a game vs France. Did this play in his head? “Well, I did get a slight knee injury in that game and was subbed. But the real injury happened in a game vs Napoli a week later. So, no. It didn’t cross my mind. I now was troubled with a muscle injury, but the knee will always demand attention, for the rest of my career. I need to work through a schedule constantly, but when I do I am free in my head to play the match. And the more I play, the stronger the knee will get. Your whole body, basically. And the more confidence you build.”

training poland 2

Do you experience the game differently now, post injury? Do you look differently at your career? “With regards to the game, no. And it’s not so that I am less serious about my game, or less frustrated from mistakes. I don’t think I’ll look at my career until it’s over. No time to do that now, hahaha. And football life in Italy doesn’t allow it. You need a top mentality in Italy. In Holland, when you’re injured or a sub, you still get guidance and attention from the coach and the club. In Italy, if you don’t play, you need to make sure you stay fit and that the coach keeps seeing you. It’s tough.”

Is Kevin Strootman the leader of this new Oranje? He shuffles on his seat uncomfortably. “I am one of the players. I’m not bigger or better or more important. I’m a player in service of the artists. I won’t dribble past 5 players to hit the ball in the top corner. Sadly. My qualities are to keep the balance. Fill the gaps. I will lead by example, not with words. I will fight and battle and go into challenges with all I have. I want to win. That is deeply engrained in me.”

But, there is a chance that in a year or so you are the first captain of Oranje? That surely is an honour?

“But do you know what that means? That Arjen is still not fit. That Wesley isn’t available. That is not something that would make me happy at all! It wouldn’t be good for Oranje, nor for me. No no, please let me be the third skipper for  a while, behind these two. All good!”


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The Future of Oranje is Lucky

While the umptieth war is waged (I am not talking Israel – Hamas, but Laurent vs the rest, which I choose to ignore) lets have a look at our future…

When Louis was signed I was cynical. I thought it was all about Louis’ ego and personal ambitions (and it was, actually) and feared he would screw up in the social realm (media, clubs, some players) but he actually did remarkably well. And that is an understatement.

I have said it here and will say it again: he did an amazing job. With Three World Beaters, one World Beater fighting back to top form and a  group of young talents and/or mediocre players, he was able to squeeze the maximum out of the orange. And if Robben took that chance to shoot in the dying minute of the Argentina game, we could have gone all the way.

So Louis has taught us some things. 1) Preparation is everything. Working hard on tactical discipline, game plan and physical fitness brings dividends. 2) It’s not about the individual names, it’s about the team! 3) Good changes / substitutions can alter the game and affect the result. 4) Focus and believing in the mission allows athletes to rise to the occasion and exceed expectations.

To me, this means that there are no more excuses possible in the future. Germany for instance, has a great team. But they do not have a Messi or a Robben. They have many great team players and a number of players who are more than a team player (Kroos, Muller, Lahm, Ozil) but none of these will be remember in 30 years, like a Beckenbauer, Muller or Netzer. Only Klose, as a result of his record. Depending on how long that will stand.

Danny Guus

It’s the TEAM that wins it. Brazil was all about Neymar. Argentina was all about Messi. Oranje was definitely leaning on Robben a lot but we did have that massive team spirit. Vlaar. De Jong. Blind. De Vrij. And those wonderful subs: Huntelaar. Depay. Wijnaldum. Fer.

I was not too happy with the choice of Hiddink but I now believe it is not a bad move.

Lucky Guss will not add a lot of tactical wizardry to Holland. But he will bring his typical toolbox. He will bring a sense of “relax, it will all be good” charisma to the table. His pizzazz and cool will deal with the media and some of the big boys (Van Persie, Sneijder) while Blind will continue the work of Van Gaal.

And when RVP, Sneijder, Robben move on, Blind will be the man with the authority before a new group from 2016 onwards.

And with all the talent that is emerging, and with Blind’s skills in managing and prepping teams (assuming he has learned a thing or two or three from the Master) we should be VERY confident.

The key thing is: how and when will we move from the reactive style to the more dominating style we like to play. Ajax, Feyenoord, Twente, Heerenveen, AZ and PSV all tend to play that game. So does Bayern. We can only hope LVG will do the same with Man United and I guess Galatasaray will not play reactive football in Turkey?

Guus is not as adventurous as I would want him to be, but in the lead up to the EC, in that qualification group we’re in, I cannot see Holland play like we did in Brazil.

When Guus Hiddink was introduced to the media the other week, and he praised the work of Van Gaal. “Louis has add a dimension to Dutch School football. I will pursue that avenue myself too. Sure, playing creative and playful is fun but we need to watch out that we are not just being world champions playing nice football within the borders of our own country! It’s key for our talents to learn how to perform under pressure. The pressure of winning! We have many talents but they need to be transformed to players who can win games.”


Ruud van Nistelrooy, assistant of Hiddink and Blind: “I never listened to the assistant coach…”

Hiddink emphasized that winning is important. Silverware is important. He also stressed that Danny Blind will have an even more dominating role. “Danny will be in charge as field coach but will also be involved in the media and press conferences. He is a very astute coach and we will jointly manage this two years, as we both bring our specific qualities to the fore.”

Blind is an astute tacticus and I hope he will find a way to have Oranje play the Dutch football style we see being played by Bayern and Germany. (Ouch, I didn’t expect THAT to come out of my keyboard!!!).

But when you have the likes of Promes, Boetius, Robben, Depay, Kishna etc up front and the likes of Maher, Wijnaldum, Clasie, Klaassen, Van Ginkel, Siem de Jong, Strootman, Blind, Fer, Sneijder, Afellay in midfield and wing backs like Janmaat, Van Rhijn, Van der Wiel, Willems, Kongolo and Van Aanholt you cannot but play attractive attacking football…

The only worry I have is the center forward of the future…. Is it Castaignos? Or Luuk de Jong? Or Van Wolfswinkel? Or is it a player that has yet to be spotted? Or will we play without a real center forward…..? We were spoilt for choice in the past (Van Nistelrooy, Kluivert, Makaay, Hasselbaink, Van Hooijdonk, Van Basten, Van Vossen, Gullit, Kieft, Bosman, Gillhaus, Houtman) but we seem to not develop any real killers anymore… Is our development to blame? Or is there no more space for strikers…

Klose doesn’t seem to agree with us but most other goal scores at the World Cup are more attacking midfielders (James) or false strikers/wingers (Muller, Robben, Messi).

I personally don’t mind. Because whatever the need: we have Dirk Kuyt.

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Positive start of LVG's New Oranje…

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.

The Big Three, enjoying their football and one another….

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.

Poor Tim is out. LVG gives no clue as to who will play… I say Vorm plays…

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.

Louis: “Danny, I’m adamant! Next time BMI runs to me like that, you catch him!!”

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.

Meanwhile…elsewhere, the squad is secretly training the collective run to LVG if they score against Hungary….

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…

Who knows…?

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.

Very strong…

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 :-).

Skipper Sneijder, leading the way to victory

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Louis van Gaal is ready

After the Dutch hockey women showed Oranje how it’s done ( congrats with Gold, the men got silver…lost against Germany…) it is almost time for us to forget about the Olympics and focus fully on football again.

Due to those games in London, Louis’ press conference did not get headlines in Holland, although it should have…

The man who made it all “about him” when he was team manager in 2000-2012 and who did not do himself huge favours with stints at Bayern Munich and (almost) Ajax most recently, showed himself from his worst side, yet again.

When Louis was appointed at Ajax as Technical Director, back in the mid 00s, he read out a poem to the press. This time around, he made everyone believe he would do so again. Thinking that the assorted press would be breathless, he then quickly said he did NOT have a poem, as the KNVB “is a tougher employer than Ajax”. A silly comment to make. It’s not a joke, as it is not funny. It’s not a wisecrack, as it has no profound message or ironic depth or whatever. It was embarrassing really. The words of a man who really thinks that everything he says is important. It does not bode well.

When, during the press conference, a reporter asked him about the future “home” of Oranje ( Van Gaal changed it during his first tenure from Noordwijk to Hoenderlo… Advocaat changed it back to Noordwijk in 2002…), he immediately responded with cynicism.

One has to wonder… If that question invites a biting response, we are in for quite a ride…

But…as promised, I will remain positive…

Louis also presented his team to the media. Danny Blind is Louis’ first right hand man (“Danny knows every talent in Holland”) while Patrick Kluivert is picked as the second assistant. Frans Hoek will be Oranje’s keeper’s coach. Van Gaal worked with Hoek at Ajax and Barcelona before. Edward Metgod is added to the group as scout, although Ron Spelbos will remain the head scout. Van Gaal also added physiology coach Jos van Dijk to the team and computer analist Max Reckers. Reckers worked with Van Gaal before at AZ and at Bayern.

Hans Jorritsma remains the team manager and Kees Jansma stays on as press manager.

Van Gaal wanted to add Gio van Bronckhorst to the mix, but the former skipper can’t combine the job with his assistant role at Feyenoord ( Gio is also coach of Feyenoord’s C youth team).

His squad for Belgium does have some surprises. The new Oranje coach did not pick Vernon Anita, Jordy Clasie or Ola John, but instead chose Bas Dost, Martins Indi and Ricardo van Rhijn. Schaars, Vlaar, Boulahrouz and Luuk de Jong are also not present in the squad. Van Gaal picked 24 instead of 23 players. “I did this as not all key players are match fit. Van der Vaart and Van Persie have hardly player for instance. I have invited them as they are key players, normally, but in the future I will not select players lacking match fitness.”

De Vrij and Martins Indi (“He played impressive against Dynamo Kiev”) replace Vlaar and Boulahrouz while Emanuelson is back as well to replace Bouma. Bas Dost replaces Luuk de Jong and Lens seems to be an extra striker in case Van Persie can’t play. Maher is in the squad in place of Van Bommel.

Van Gaal has not yet picked a new skipper. With Van Bommel no longer part of the Oranje squad, a new leader is needed but Van Gaal won’t select a name, just like that. “The skipper needs to have a good chemistry with me in terms of vision and philosophy. This is really important to me.”

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Long Live the Coach!!

Ok, so now we had a couple of days to get used to it. And to vent our frustration and criticism.

But… Bert has really resigned. Frank and Guus never made it clear they wanted it and Co is as controversial as Louis so…let’s simply accept the fact that King Louis the Sunking has the job.

And let’s make the best of it.

At the end of the day, it’s not Louis who will stop the shots, give the through-pass or score the goals…

Although it does look like Nigel de Jong took a page from the Louis van Gaal book of flying karate kicks… (see above).

So let’s get on with business.

If Louis is courageous enough to take on the job again. And if the KNVB is courageous enough to take on Louis again… We should start rallying behind them/him, as most of you said already.

And it is true. We do know he knows a thing or two about football. He does have some form of charisma when he walks into the dug out. And he will be able to control the egos. So let’s hope for the best and simply enjoy these press conferences.

I will however, follow his shenanigans closely and will report without prejudice.

And with Ajax-man Danny Blind as his right-handman and most likely Feyenoord-man Gio van Bronckhorst to the left, he might well have himself a strong team. Only a PSV lad to add to the mix and all blood-types will be pleased.

After a first uproar of suspended belief ( Van Basten) and mockery (Ronald Koeman: “Van Gaal first choice? He was more sixth choice, wasn’t he? They came to Frank (de Boer) and me first, then Rijkaard, Hiddink…hahaha, but please add that this was a joke, otherwise Louis gets angry again….), the nation seems to have accepted him. Even Johan Cruyff responded with lots of positive vibes to the news.

Cruyff: “I think the Federation acted very swift with the new team manager. A bit too quick, as far as I’m concerned. You need to take time to make the right decision and talk to the right people. This might end up being a gamble. But, Van Gaal has demonstrated to be a good coach and he might have feelings of revenge and lets hope he takes those feelings and turns them into a ballsy and adventurous football style. That is what Holland needs.”

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Van Gaal revisited?

So, apparently all the other candidates said no. Hiddink was number 1, supposedly and with Cruyff public plea for Rijkaard, one has to expect him to be in the top of the wishlist too. Co Adriaanse was never a real candidate, apparently, and Ruud Gullit was most likely never seen as a serious option.

Louis van Gaal has all the right ticks behind his name, according to some. Experience…? Check. Success as coach? Check. Understands Dutch school football? Check. Dutch nationality? Check!

What the experts at the KNVB overlooked, unfortunately, is Louis’ track record as national coach… No results. Not really effective as figure head. And although the players never speak negatively about him as a club coach, he definitely pissed off the media and the supporters.

His “experience” also shows that he hardly ever leaves a club the normal way. Sure, Ajax 1995 and AZ 2010 were two situations where the expectation levels were low. He was the underdog. But every time he was presented with fanfare and champagne, every time we actually expected him to perform: he imploded. He can’t handle criticism, he can’t handle a board or management looking over his shoulder and he doesn’t know how to look in the mirror.

Louis’ ego has always been the problem.

So while our Oranje team seems to buckle under the pressure of players’ egos, the KNVB decided to put some extra weight on.

Did we forget the two Portugal games, in the 2002 qualifications? Wasn’t it Louis’ ego that helped the Portuguese snatch the key points against us?

And wasn’t it his sensational ego that prompted him to organise a press conference to blame the media about his disastrous results?

And the current KNVB management feels it’s time to give Louis a second chance?


Why not give him the U21s first?

Back in the day: Rinus Michels, Hans Kraay sr and a young but grumpy Van Gaal

“The Dutch team manager needs to be an ambassador for Dutch football.” Apparently the KNVB has reasons to believe Van Gaal has learned from his many mistakes in the past. Based on what exactly?

When Van Gaal got the job in August 2000, he actually promised the nation the World Cup. In those days, he also was the technical director at the KNVB. He basically fired himself? Or he gave himself a resignation letter…

KNVB manager Henk Kesler said: “We know who we put in power,” back then. His successor Bert van Oostveen says something similar now. “A tremendous amount of experience, very dedicated, very driven…” But, this time not a 6 year deal but merely a two year contract, until the 2014 World Cup.

With Van Gaal, we have the return of the last team manager who failed to qualify for a World Cup. Leo Beenhakker was his predecessor.

Holland played 14 internationals under Van Gaal, of which 10 in the World Cup qualification. Right after the Euro2000, Holland drew against Ireland, 2-2, and lost at home in De Kuip against Portugal, as a result of two incidents. One, the infamous line up change, with right back Reiziger as left full back. “He can do that,” Van Gaal said, who missed all his left backs as a result of injuries. Reiziger made a crucial mistake, offering the Portuguese the 0-1. When some idiot blew a whistle, some time later, Davids stopped playing, allowing Figo to steal the ball and prepare the 0-2.

Holland was able to take revenge in Portugal and was 0-2 up when Van Gaal decided to bring more attackers, with only 10 minutes to go. This lack of balance in the team resulted in Portugal equalising. A play off against Ireland was supposed to get us our ticket, but despite big opportunities for Kluivert and Zenden, Ireland won it: 1-0.

Holland didn’t qualify and Louis resigned. Louis played 14, won 8, lost 2 and drew four times.

Van Gaal forgets to win in Portugal: 2-2. The end is nigh…

Danny Blind will be Louis’ assistant. The former Ajax and Oranje libero worked with Van Gaal at Ajax and shares his football vision. When Blind supported Van Gaal’s return to Ajax, Cruyff and Co decided Blind had to leave Ajax.

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