Tag: De Boer

Louis van Gaal starts preparing… and questions system….

Louis van Gaal doesn’t doubt stuff. He doesn’t doubt, full stop! And in particular not himself.

But… Lately, with Strootman taking a big injury hit and half of the Dutch internationals under performing at their clubs, he would be a fool not to doubt stuff. Like: “who will I take along”, “what kind of midfield will I use”, “will I go for 4-3-3 for real?”, “Can I find an honourable way to get out of this job NOW?”…. ( Btw: rumours go that Man United wants to talk to LVG for a role at Old Trafford…)

In a recent interview, Van Gaal – for the first time in a long while – said he was reconsidering the set up of his midfield. He decided earlier on, on using a three man midfield with “the point aiming back”. Or one central defensive mid and two offensive players. These two would have been Sneijder and Strootman. With the latter being able to support the former. With Stroot out of the picture, the make up of the midfield might need a change, is what Louis said.

The options he has are clear. Play with two holding mids and one central offensive midfielder. Playing De Guzman and De Jong or Blind and De Jong with a more agile and moving number 10. I don’t think Siem de Jong would be the man for that, but Wijnaldum or Klaassen could be that player. Even Robben and Van Persie have played there. As has Rafael van der Vaart but he will first get back to fitness before even thinking about Brazil.

Sneijder (and Van der Vaart) might be too static for the Van Gaal midfield Mark II, mind you…. Adam Maher in form would be the ideal player, by the way…


Or LVG resorts back to 4-1-4-1. Or 4-2-3-1. With RVP the lone striker. Or even a solution with Hunter as lone striker… but I doubt that Louis will venture there.

Anyway, big question marks. Van Gaal clearly says he doesn’t see a replacement for Strootman in the Strootman style. Van Ginkel, Afellay, Klaassen, Fer…all possibilities. But none of them has what Stroot has. Some have no rhythm, some lack the skills and qualities.

Wesley Sneijder doesn’t seem to have impressed Van Gaal. Not sure what this means though…. In personal meetings? In his role as playmaker in the games he played? At Galatasaray? And is a 100% fit Immers better than a 80% fit Sneijder? Does this comment mean that Wes is not yet on the list of 23?

Van Gaal voiced concerns over Sneijder’s level of performance in Turkey and declared that only in-form players will be on the plane to Brazil.

Van Gaal told Dutch media source NRC, “You should be able to deliver at club level every week. If you can’t deliver at your club, then you most definitely can’t deliver at the national team.

“He [Sneijder] will play in Turkey until the middle of May, so I will wait and see. There is no need to decide before then.”

Sneijder’s contribution to the Netherlands team over the years has been immense. His performances at Euro 2008 saw him named in the UEFATeam of the Tournament, and two years later he appeared in the All-Star World Cup Team—with his displays in South Africa being a major reason behind his nation’s route to the final, where they lost to Spain in extra time.

In addition to his impressive international achievements, Sneijder has enjoyed a trophy-laden club career. The Dutch No. 10’s CV boasts titles in Holland, Spain, Italy and Turkey, as well as five domestic cups.

However, his crowning achievement came in 2010, when he won the Champions League with Inter Milan. Sneijder, who has previously scored a crucial goal in the semi-final, provided the assist for Diego Milito’s opener in the 2-0 triumph over Bayern Munich.

Sneijder is widely regarded as one of the greatest attacking midfielders in Europe and has returned 12 goals in all competitions for Galatasaray this term, and his omission from the Netherlands setup would be a huge shock to all.

What does this all mean?

I know Frank de Boer knows what to do. “Sneijder? I would always take him along. I don’t want to sit on Louis’ chair but I think that whatever solution you pick for the midfield, three or four in diamond or 4-2-3-1….that is determined by the quality of the players I think, but whatever system you use, you need players with that extra creative spark. That uniqueness. Sneijder has the ability to win a game for you. The venom, the will to win, the class, the persistence. He can score from a dead ball or create a chance out of nothing or play the through ball no one saw…. I would take him always.”

De Boer

This is where I think a coach has a big call to make: either the Team is the most important or you mould your team around a couple of aces. Van Gaal would normally go for the former. Make the team key. So rather three hardworking and dependable midfielders (like PSV changed its midfield and like De Boer still uses Poulsen) then one artist that doesn’t always perform and two players in his service. The teams that excel are the teams were everyone battles and fights and works their arse off. Liverpool, Bayern, Atletico Madrid, Everton…. This is where Spain will be vulnerable… Anyway, Sneijder….one needs to change the team around so Sneijder can deliver. I see him in the Cabaye/Pirlo role. Deeplying, next to Nigel de Jong. With Robben, Klaassen/Wijnaldum and Lens in front of them and RVP deep centrally.

Although I would love to use Robben as the number 10. Centrally. With Depay on the left and Lens on the right.

This does look like a very offensive line up but why not. If you go down, go in flames!!

It seems like Oranje is in a spot of bother.

Johan Cruyff spoke about Oranje recently. And was quite clear. “Listen, I don’t want to interfere with the work of Van Gaal and I don’t want to say things that people can then use to put pressure on him. But….fact of the matter: it will be very tough in Brazil. Surviving the group will be quite an achievement. Spain and Chile in the draw, aaargh…. Just two very good sides. And attacking sides too. Our problem is not that we lack quality. We have a lot of great talents. But this is the problem: most are just talents. They need a couple of seasons extra to be ready for the World Cup. In 1974, we had one talent in the team, in Rijsbergen. Our goalie was already experienced and so was the rest. Both Ajax and Feyenoord had just won the European Cup 4 times in a row, amongst them. De Kromme, Jansen, Nees, Rensenbrink, Krol, Rep…all experienced lads. World Class. Now it’s different. Our key players are the forwards. When midfield or defence can’t play themselves out of pressure, it will not help too much who we have upfront. We could have Messi and C Ronaldo as well, but if they don’t get the ball, we won’t score.”

LVG training

When the interviewer suggested we need to play ultra defensive football, JC exploded. “No! Wrong! I hear people say this. It’s the dumbest thing you can do. If your defence is your weakest link, don’t play defence!! It’s simple. We want the ball to be with RVP and Robben and those lads. Also, play your strength. If our lads are young and quick, play unpredictable football. Put the pressure on them. Sure, we’ll concede, but we need to make sure we score more than they do and it’s all good.”

May 7 is the day LVG will start with his formal prep work. A big group of Eredivisie players will join in and he will most likely also invite players of Young Oranje, to keep the numbers interesting.  Van Gaal has three periods of three days planned. He will announce his first squad list on May 2. Van Gaal will go for short but intensive sessions. After three days, the lads can go home for a bit. The second session will be with the players from the English and German competitions.

After returning from Portugal, Holland will prepare for a friendly against Ghana on May 31 in Rotterdam. Holland will play a last friendly in Holland in De Arena against Wales. On June 2, Van Gaal will announce the 23 players who’ll take the flight on June 5 to Rio.

In Brazil, Oranje will training on the Flamengo facility, on walking distance from the players hotel at Ipanema beach. The facilities are authentic. Maybe old fashioned. But the pitch got priority and is exactly the same in terms of blade length as the official venues: 1,8 to 2,0 mm.

Oranje will fly from Rio to the venues where it has to play in Salvador, Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo.
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Jan's Predictions for Season 2013/14

Do you feel the tickling sensation already?

The competitions has started already….

Time for predictions.

I will offer up mine here.

Dutch Competition

If Ajax will keep Eriksen, they will be a strong contender for the title again, but I don’t think they will hang on to him.

And therefore, I believe Ajax’ hegemony will be broken. By PSV. I think PSV have bought the right players and I think with Cocu they will be able to snatch the title. We will see Wijnaldum and Depay shine and I hope Park will sign soon as he and Schaars will rule midfield. I am not a big PSV fan as you all know, but hey…Narsingh, Depay, Maher, Wijnaldum, Rekik, Willems… pfff…


Ajax will lose Eriksen before Sept 2 is my believe. Once Suarez is gone from Liverpool (he will go to Arsenal) Eriksen will go to Merseyside. Ajax will have a good year in CL but no prolongation of the title.

Feyenoord will be number 3, but will win the National Cup. AZ will establish itself high in the ranking, as will Vitesse. FC Utrecht will not sustain their level of last season.

The Dutch internationals in the Eredivisie will all do well. Janmaat, Blind, Maher, Clasie…no problems.

English Competition

Man United will not extend their victories. Robin van Persie will have a good season, but not phenomenal as Man U will struggle to find it’s rhythm under Moyes. Man City will not have a great season either. I expect Arsenal to win the title and Chelsea will be the fiercest opponent. Spurs will do very well as well, as will Liverpool. Swansea, Norwich and Newcastle will be favorites due to the presence of the Dutch players there. I see Arsenal win the title, Chelsea second, Man City United third, Spurs fourth and Man City will be fifth. Fulham will have a decent season with Stekelenburg in fine form. Pieters impresses at Stoke as does Vlaar at Villa. Pieters plays center back for the Potters. Heitinga stays at Everton but doesn’t get a look in.

Leroy Fer will have a cracker season at Norwich, as will De Guzman and Vorm in Wales. Anita will still struggle as will Van Wolfswinkel. Krul will have a great season too. I think Van Ginkel will see some action in the beginning but he will warm the bench in the business end of the season as such a move from Holland to the EPL is a lot to handle.

fer uk

I think Fer will take Van Ginkel’s spot in the WC squad.

Stijnis created a fantasy premier league for us on the barclays premier league website


Bleed Oranje classic league code: 355721-91979

Bleed Oranje head to head league: 355721-92311

with all the latest group off Dutchies moving in to the premier league v.Ginkel, Fer, v.Wolfswikel, Steks, Pieters

sure to be a great season and great way to keep tabs on there progress

German Competition

Bayern will win it again. Pep will have a tremendous season again, with Robben again in a main role.

Werder, Schalke, Leverkusen and Dortmund to challenge. Elia will resurrect his career and Huntelaar will simply do what he always does: score. Dost and De Jong will also impress. I can see Van der Vaart having a decent season at Hamburg but he will have a serious injury. Helping him to be fit for the World Cup.

Italian Competition

Ola John will move to AC Milan and have a cracker of a season for Milan, alongside Nigel de Jong. Milan misses the title, which will again go to Juventus. AS Roma will have a decent season but Strootman will not excel as he drowns a bit in the Italian fighting style of midfield football. Strootman doesn’t have the time he needs in Italy and it takes time for him to get adjusted.


Spanish Competition

Barcelona disappoints this coming season and the new coach will leave after this season. It’s too loose, not disciplined enough. Ancelotti on the other hand, wins the title and the CL with Real Madrid playing result football. Ozil loses his spot as Ancelotti goes for 4-4-2 and Modric gets a key position with Gareth Bale as free man on midfield.

World Cup Preparation

Van Gaal will pick Vermeer, Krul and Vorm as his goalies. Stekelenburg doesn’t convince him.

Van Gaal picks Blind as left back (knowing he has Pieters and Martins Indi as understudies) and Janmaat and Van Rhijn as right backs. For the centerback positions he picks Pieters, Martins Indi, De Vrij and Vlaar.

For midfield he picks Nigel de Jong and De Guzman for the holding mid spot, and Leroy Fer and Strootman as box-to-box players. Maher and Sneijder are selected for the playmaker role.

Robben and John are the left wingers, RVP and Huntelaar the central strikers and Narsingh for the right wing (knowing John and Robben can play there too). Van Gaal picks Van der Vaart as the wild card.

No Clasie, no Lens, no Willems, no Douglas, no Kuyt

clasie ginke

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How do the Dutch coaches do?

In a week in which I had some pleasant Dutch football surprises and some Dutch football shocks, I think it is time to look at the future of Dutch football. Yet again :-).

But this time from the coaching angle.

But lets first pick up the little tidbits of the week.

In which Alexander Buttner impressed (last week), Arjen Robben started in the 9-2 HSV whipping and came on quick against Juve for Kroos. And Wes Sneijder underwhelmed vs Real Madrid and got subbed. While Van der Wiel didn’t even play (for PSG vs Barca).

Alex Buttner is seen as a “fresh” player, by Sir Alex, in the business end of the season. And the way he played last week makes it clear that Evra can rest assured he can be missed. Strong in defence, working hard, and always a factor going forward. Buttner even showed he had a good right foot as well.

A high. And Arjen Robben was impressive too. Although not always for the right reasons. He works hard, he is keen to show Heynckes he belongs in the starting line up and against HSV he clearly did.

Against Juve though, he could have two goals in the first half of the game, but the CL curse keeps on bugging the former PSV winger, as he two shots were not well placed. With Kroos injured, Robben might see more action this season but one does wonder whether he needs to use that to play himself in the picture for a lesser team (Galatasaray? Inter Milan?).

Wes Sneijder looked forward to meeting his old chums in the Bernabeu but was sadly subbed after a mediocre first half.

Truth be told, I don’t think Sneijder played that bad. I watched him intensely and he does a lot of good without the ball. He is constantly available for the quick pass. Which would allow him to turn and find space for the forwards. But the rest of the team isn’t equipped to play like that. The Altintops of Gala are all keen to run with the ball themselves, till the cows come home and then they look up. Leaving a sad sack figure – Sneijder – in midfield. Chance gone.

I am not sure if it is just the team or also the coach who don’t see how to utilise Sneijder. I do know that if Galatasaray wants some yield from the former Ajax midfielder, they will need to play the ball to him early and they need runners who will explore the space for the through ball.

I have yet to watch Benfica play Newcastle so I will refrain from commenting on John and Anita (if they played), but I did see Feyenoord this morning with their clumsy and doubtful win over a fresh VVV.

Koeman used some harsh words after the game (Pelle wasn’t working hard enough and Boetius was subbed “because he was rubbish”… When the interviewer asked him what Boetius said about it, Koeman bit: “Nothing of course! An 18 year old is supposed to keep his mouth shut against the coach…”…. Well, well, well….

So lets look at our coaches. We do know by now that in terms of playing talent, we need not worry.

But in terms of coaches, we do have a category of top coaches, but they are all getting on age-wise.

Cruyff and Van Hanegem don’t coach anymore. Co Adriaanse is also in semi-retirement. I can’t see him moving down the Austrian mountain for just any club. Guus Hiddink is most likely working on his last gig, while Louis van Gaal might have the ambition for one more big gig after the Dutch team.

I don’t rate Dick Advocaat, as you might know, but he does belong in some list of coaches, but he will not be active too much longer either. Martin Jol doesn’t “have” it either, while Henk ten Cate is also back at the Jupiler level of Sparta Rotterdam.

The 1988 generation has a couple of active coaches left. Van Tiggelen, Muhren, Witschge, Vanenburg all seem to work at youth level and enjoying it.

Van ‘t Schip had his adventures in Australia and Mexico and is currently in between jobs.

We won’t mention Ruud Gullit, I guess…

Marco van Basten is impressing with Heerenveen, this second season half, but the jury is still out on him, I guess. He had a good spell with Oranje – despite some personnel issues with RVN and MVB – but a not so good experience at Ajax.

Frank Rijkaard won the CL with Barca but is now relatively anonymous in the Middle East.

It leaves Jan Wouters (Utrecht), Ronald Koeman (Feyenoord) and non-1988 Oranje player Fred Rutten (FC Twente) at the (sub)top of the Eredivisie.

Rutten was an exciting up and coming coach at Twente, but he didn’t deliver at Schalke 04 and didn’t win big trophies at PSV either. He is making an impression as Vitesse coach though.

Jan Wouters, a similar trajectory. Was hailed as the next big thing. Took on Ajax in a dreadful period. His demise there was documented in the Ajax documentary “Daar hoorden zij Engelen zingen…” ( “And hark the angels sang…” ). He left Holland for a spell and went to work for Glasgow Rangers, as the assistant coach. And the players and staff at Rangers couldn’t say enough great things about him, just like his mentors Cruyff and Van Hanegem did. After 5 years in Scotland, he returned to work as assistant coach at PSV, before returning to his first club FC Utrecht. First as assistant, and from 2011 onwards as head coach.

And Wouters is doing exceptionally well at the moment.

Ronald Koeman likes to see himself as the crown prince of coaches, but after somewhat questionable tenures at Ajax (clash with Van Gaal), PSV (exit during the season to hop on the Valencia train), Valencia (fired after abysmal results and clashes with key players) and an explicable early exit at AZ (“I still don’t know what happened…”) he is back in the limelight.

Koeman is leading a young Feyenoord potentially to the first title in 14 years. And as he likes to say “One day Oranje, one day Barcelona…”.

But, in all honesty, Feyenoord is waivering the last weeks. Playing with fear. Playing slow. No confidence and certainly not enough goals…

In this stage of the competition, it is key to see how the coach is able to keep the team together, motivate and take pressure off players and make sure they keep playing football.

After the VVV win, yesterday, he said “I don’t get it. They play as if they afraid.”

Well Ronald, this is the problem. This is something you should get. It’s your job. In this particular stage, to take your team by the hand. To keep the pressure away. To talk to them. To understand what is going on… Saying “I don’t get it” sums it for me. Koeman is not of the same level as Van Gaal or Hiddink.

Then there is the 1998 generation.

The man who shines brighter than anyone else, is currently Frank de Boer. Cool, calm and collected. Passionate on the byline, like he was on the pitch. Always in control. Always there for his team. And non withstanding the pressure of an Ajax organisation out of control, he won the title twice now, and is likely to be the first Ajax coach to win it three times in a row!

Young coaches to watch, are Jaap Stam (assistant at Zwolle, but joining the Ajax staff next season), Phillip Cocu (most likely taking the reigns at PSV next season), Alex Pastoor ( now at NEC, most likely the new man at AZ next season), Patrick Kluivert (asisstant coach to Louis van Gaal), Ajax youth coach Alphons Groenendijk and John van de Brom (Anderlecht).

Alfred Schreuder has been named as potential top coach but he has yet to prove at Twente that he is actually better than the man he replaced ( McLaren).

Another name that comes up is Nebo Gudelj, the Bosnian ex-NAC player who currently is guiding NAC out of the danger zone.

Enough options for the Dutch, I suppose. With JP van Gastel at Feyenoord even, ready to take control once Koeman moves to Barcelona.

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The Magic of Santiago Bernabeu

Tonight, Ajax will play in one of the most impressive venues in the world, the Santiago Bernabeu. What is the magic of this particular home of Real Madrid.

“The stands, the pitch, the name even….”.

Leo Beenhakker is walking through the stadium and feels at home, clearly. Hands in pocket, talking in fluent Spanish with people he knows for a long time. He shares photo opps with unknowns and lights a little cigar.

Don Leo switches between Spanish, Dutch, English… And says “a beautiful house is not always a home… But Bernabeu is all of that. Look at those stands. Even empty it’s a beauty to behold. Once 100,000 people start breathing in your neck, you’ll go berserk,” says the former Ajax and Feyenoord coach who led Real as coach twice, from 1986-89 and from 1991-92.

Don Leo is back in Madrid, invited by Ajax. “The magic of Bernabeu is obviously the massive history. This stadium was the home of so many great players, big games, finales, ECs, WCs… And you smell it, you feel it, you can taste it. And once that stadium explodes the players get a kick and opponents feel intimidated. It’s like Broadway for actors or Madison Square Garden for musicians. It’s the top.”

Beenhakker returns home

Leo isn’t alone. With him, a number of great ex-wingers from Ajax are present. Mr Ajax Sjaak Swart, Bryan Roy, Johnny Rep… The latter: “Wow, this is something eh? I’m happy we are seated on the lower stands. If you need to climb to the third tier now, we’d be broken before the game even starts,” the former Golden Boy winks. “Did you know I scored a hat trick here, once? It was a friendly…”.

The Bernabeu was built in 1947 and club legend Alfredo Di Stefano has his own seat in the stands. Rep played here often, with Ajax and later with Valencia. “The seats are so close onto the pitch, it feels as if the people come up to you.”

Bryan Roy, John Rep, Sjaak Swart

Young Ricardo van Rhijn is visibly enjoying himself. Last year, when Ajax battled Real Madrid, the right full back played with the C-team but today he is a firm starter in Ajax and close to being one in Oranje. And he can “add” the Bernabeu to his list of big venues, with the stadiums of Man United, Man City and Borussia Dortmund. “The Bernabeu was on my list, for sure. I think you can proudly say you played there…”

Gerrie Muhren became famous thanks the Ajax away game against Madrid in 1972. He kept the ball high on his foot for a bit. “The Real players didn’t dare to attack me. The people gave me an ovation for it,” the Ajax midfielder says. His picture is still to be seen in the Real Madrid Museum in the stadium. “It’s like a temple and is part of that infamous list of sensational venues… Wembley, Azteken, Maracana… The name itself… Santiago Bernabeu… Sounds so good. I hope they never break this down.”

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Year of Truth for PSV

PSV seemed to join the ranks of Dutch behemoths Ajax and Feyenoord over the last 15 years with a huge string of titles. The last years, however, PSV had to allow two non-Top-Three clubs (Twente and AZ) to snatch the title while Ajax won it twice in a row now.

Fred Rutten had to make way, just like 95% of the squad was renewed over the last two years. The designer behind this renovation is Marcel Brands. With Martin van Geel (ex Willem II, ex AZ, ex Ajax and currently Feyenoord) the most “visible” of technical managers in the Dutch Eredivisie. And like Van Geel, he has a history as a player in the Feyenoord jersey (Van Geel also played for Ajax).

Brands succeeded Van Geel when the latter left AZ for Ajax and PSV was happy to snatch the former Feyenoord and RKC midfielder to reconstruct the PSV squad.

You used to be able to find cheap players with a lot of potential, but at PSV it is as if you are throwing big money to young and coming talent?

Marcel Brands: “That has to do with the club where you work. At AZ, we had less means. We had to buy smart. PSV has a higher yard stick. We want to win titles and play along in the CL. This means you have the buy quality. And quality costs more money. At PSV, we need players who can immediately settle in. We used to get players for the future, like Stef Nijland, but that doesn’t work here. Jetro Willems is an exception. He was signed for the C team and immediately made his way in. But players like Narsignh and Wijnaldum are players who are expected to deliver immediately.”

Narsingh was also on Ajax’ hit list. Did you outbid them?

MB: “No. He could make more in Amsterdam. He simply wanted to play for PSV. That is a strong factor, which is often overlooked. We wanted to sign Sighthorsson as well, last year but he picked Ajax. Not because we didn’t offer enough. But because he always dreamed of playing for Ajax. You can’t fight that.”

Don’t you fear that clubs will make use of the fact that PSV is willing to pay top dollar?

MB: “But we aren’t. We set the norm for players. If a club doesn’t want to negotiate, we walk away. We wanted Moisander from AZ, last year. They over-asked and we walked. Same with Jorgensen from Kopenhagen. We are prudent, even though out budget is bigger than other clubs.”

Proof that Brands played for Feyenoord ( standing in the mid row, next to Martin van Geel)

So you changed the squad and technical staff over two seasons. Is this the Year of Reckoning for PSV?

MB: “You can name it what you want, haha. The point is that we have certain expectations. And sometimes, the media share this opinion and then they proclaim us to be the title favorites. But you can only know if this is reasonable when you’re a couple of weeks into the new season. Players need to settle, tactics need to fit, etc. Once it’s August 31, the market closes and it’s up to the coach to work with the material.”

The current squad has three PSV talents (Depay, Locadia and van Ooijen) in it. Is that satisfactory?

MB: “We are starting to see talents. I am satisfied about the progression. We can also see it in the Oranje youth teams. We didn’t have starters in those youth teams. We have more and more starters now. We have some huge talents in Eindhoven.”

Were you shocked by the level of the PSV Academy when you came here in 2010?

MB: “The density of talents in Eindhoven is less than Amsterdam or Rotterdam. That is fact. Plus, our competitors spend much more than we do on their Academy. Viktor Fischer of Ajax, has cost them 1,4 Mio euros! We have never paid a fee like that for a youth player! We only invested 700k euros per year on the whole academy! So, the low return is not that strange, considering those facts.”

PSV had a tremendous number of Belgian talents in the youth academy. None of them ever made it through?

MB: “I know. Belgium is part of our service area. It’s only 30 car minutes and you’re in Belgium. But we have now deployed the rule that the further a talent lives, the better he needs to be. We have three quality levels (A, B, C) and players who live further away, like in Belgium, need to be A-level players. We now have a Belgium player in our midst, 16 year old Bakkali, who is definitely A-team quality.”

It was quite a battle to keep him in Eindhoven, right?

MB: “Yes it was. That is today’s football world. Someone from Anderlecht simply stood at the door of Bakkali, to try and get him to sign. And one day before we would sign our contract with him, some unlicensed agent invited him to come and see a Manchester City match. Man City!! The lad is only just 16. Luckily he was strong enough to ignore these people. But there is only so much you can do. We hope to be able to keep a good relationship with the kids’ parents. They are the ones that can be counted on, to take the wellbeing of the kid into account. But, we lost Perreira, who went to Man United. He was 16 years old and it was his dad who forced this move…so…”

Jetro Willems

And now, PSV sold two players to the two Sevilla clubs and is owed 5 Mio euros. Which are not forthcoming…

MB: “this happened before my time. I don’t know all the facts. It’s the Spanish federation that is at fault. In Holland, Germany or England this would never happen. When at AZ, I sold Medunjanin to Valladolid. For 450k. We’d get half in cash at signing and half a year later. That second half was never paid, but Valladolid sold him on to Tel Aviv for 600k and still AZ didn’t get paid. That is just crazy… Only in Spain.”

Remarkable, Dick Advocaat had allowed you to cut away a full time equivalent in his staff? He only works for Ernest Faber and sometimes Cocu as assistant?

MB: “That is result of Dick’s philosophy. He doesn’t want to work with line-coaches. One for attack, one for midfield and one for defence. He rather has one assistant for the whole week, than 3 assistants for 2 days in the week. We also want to invest more in youth academy coaches.”

When is PSV able to invest in a serious way in youth?

MB: “That has to do with our CL qualifications. Once we get acces to the CL, the income stream will increase and we can make some delayed investments. We are still making investments. Narsingh is one example. But we also invested in a heated practice pitch, we renovated the the first floor of the main stands…we do what we can.”

Dickie, always happy to save PSV some money…

PSV also wanted to decrease wages cost in the A-squad. Did that happen?

MB: “Yes, we have a salary cap. 1 million euros gross and no one is paid beyond. When I started here, we had 7 players above that level.”

And suddenly we here in Eindhoven that the title must be won. Must?

MB: “Yes, that is Dick Advocaat for ya. He is the one articulating the objectives loud and clear. THis is also the difference between Rutten and Advocaat. Advocaat is not happy when he doesn’t win anything. Our squad is ready, we have experience and talent in all lines. We are ready.

In the first weeks of the Dutch competition, the hand of Advocaat is not yet too visible.

He has had his run ins with big name players such as Mertens and Wijnaldum and he has also put Matavz and Narsingh on the shame bench. Matavz was too heavy and Narsingh didn’t deliver enough.

Advocaat means business, but he still needs to rule out the lack of consistency of his team.

Dickie: “So I said to De Kromme… I have ball this big! I will demonstrate it to you. In the second half, I’ll sub Robben!”

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Football, here we come….

Above: PSV skipper Mark van Bommel celebrates with Mr PSV, Willy van der Kuylen

The Olympics are on the last stretch, towards the finish. As ever, I highly enjoyed all that sports on telly. My goodness…. After the disappointment that was the Euros and the Tour I got tears in my eyes watching Marianne Vos win gold, seeing Ranomi slicing through the pool, Dorian humiliating his competition and Epke Zonderland win the first gymnastics gold for Holland ever!!

Wonderful sports… And the hockey boys and girls are in it too, still….

But….I am ready for the football to begin!

And with the JC Plate game of last Sunday and Feyenoord’s CL qualification game yesterday, it does feel that we are back in business. So expect the frequency of posts to go up soon :-).

So lets start with Feyenoord. My team. But my oh my, how they fumbled it. They played well. Good enough, at least. Creating massive opportunities. A ball on the post, a free header (should have been a goal) and most shockingly, two players (Cisse and Guyon) going towards goal after a dramatic throw in… If Feyenoord was ever going to beat Kiev it was yesterday. With the 2-1 from the away game, 1-0 at home would be enough. But Feyenoord simply didn’t score. Immers had a close range effort, straight to the goalie in the second half. And of course, Dynamo would chuck salt in Feyenoord’s wound by scoring a late goal themselves.

And having witnessed Koeman’s young team play, one has to say that the CL is probably a couple of levels too high. Sure, the money is great but the team will be butchered by any conceivable opponent and maybe, just maybe, it’s better for the talented youngsters to play Europa League.

Ajax and PSV played their JC plate game, last weekend. The first prize of the season. And taken seriously, at least by PSV. With Dick Advocaat at the reigns and Mark van Bommel back in the jersey, it seems PSV wanted to show Ajax that it means business this season. 2-0 up after 12 minutes, against an Ajax not ready to compete. PSV seems to be eager to start, having signed all the key players they wanted ( Narsingh, Van Bommel) while Frank de Boer of Ajax is still uncertain what will happen with Van der Wiel, Anita and Theo Janssen. The latter is flirting heavily with Vitesse and expects De Boer to really want him to stay, while the EPL is chasing Anita and Van der Wiel. Christian Eriksen was not fit yet so he missed the JC Plate game (and it showed) but all in all, Ajax simply didn’t want it that badly.

It will turn into a massive battle this season, between Frank de Boer’s youngsters and PSV. Dico Kopper, Van Rhijn, Fischer, Eriksen, Blind, Ozbilic… It might take a while, but I love to see them play.

Obviously, PSV is interesting too with Willems (played well!), Wijnaldum, Narsingh and Strootman. And Mark van Bommel of course…

The Eredivisie can start as far as I am concerned.

I will give you my predictions for the Title:

I see PSV win it this time. I think Ajax will lose some players before August 31 and Frank will have to struggle a bit to make it all work, the national competition and the CL.

I do see Ajax finish second and do well in the CL this season.

Feyenoord finishes 5th, as they can’t replace Guidetti and Vlaar and have a decent but not spectacular season.

AZ and Twente occupy 3 and 4 and Heerenveen is knocking on the door still, to enter the top 6.

I think the season will be key for Feyenoord’s future. Do they pay off more debt and get more cash in from sponsors, so they can build on the current talent pool… Or will they have to sell the next lot of talent (Clasie, De Vrij, Leerdam, Martins Indi) to make ends meet?

Share your thoughts with me, good people and let’s prepare for an amazing new season…

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Looking ahead to the new season….

Well my friends, the debacle that was the Euro2012 is wearing off a little bit for me.

I actually came out of bed today and tomorrow I will definitely shave, I promised my wife. There is more to life then football, I realised and I hope to find out what exactly, soon…

So, with poor Bert trying to forget his sorrows on some far away island ( with a hefty exit fee in his bank account) and Louis van Gaal scheming and preparing the humiliation of Belgium next month, I am starting to focus on the coming football season.

And I’m not sure I like what I hear/read….

The latest rumour is that Inter and Anzhi have agreed the transfer of Wesley Sneijder to Russia. Now, I don’t care how much he gets ( 15 mio per season?? Really???), I personally want to see him ( and Yolanthe) in England, Spain, Italy or Germany. Not in Russia! Is it all about the money, Wes??

Another rumour says that Raf will have to leave Spurs. Sure, he has hinted at it himself, as Sylvie is making her moolah in Germany but it would again be a bit of setback, being sent away from Real Madrid earlier. Spurs new boss AVB apparently wants to play 4-3-3 and sees no room for Van der Vaart at White Hart Lane. Another disappointment for me.

Van Persie’s future is a bit unsure but we do know he won’t go for Chinese yuans or Russian rubels. I do hope he stays at the Emirates but he will most likely join Man City.

The EPL is getting less interesting for me. Vorm and Krul will keep me interested, but with Kuyt leaving Liverpool and Man City spending money like there is no tomorrow I’m not sure I will focus as much on England as last season. Sure, De Jong and De Guzman will interest me and Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen will be cool to follow but other than that… I do hope we invade Belgium soon… Vermaelen, Kompany, Vertonghen…aaaarrrggh… We would have had one World Cup and one more Euro Cup in our trophy cupboard for sure.

With Dost in Germany, maybe Rafa there too and Robben and Huntelaar in the Bundesliga, I might switch a bit more to the East, giving me a chance to check out Dost and Luuk de Jong too, who might sign for Monchengladbach (if Twente treats him well). Don’t forget, we have Bruma in Hamburg and Elia in Bremen, so heaps to look out for.

Portugal and France don’t offer leagues I’d be following but Ola John, Ricky Wolf and Stijn Schaars do happen to be players I love to watch, so…who knows…

The Dutch Eredivisie might well be the place to hang… Ronald Koeman at Feyenoord and Frank de Boer at Ajax play real Dutch football. Karim El Ahmadi, John Guidetti and Otman Bakkal may have left, but Feyenoord did sign former AZ talent Vormer, ADO marathon man Tim Immers and Heerenveen right back Daryl Janmaat, while the Norwegian/Indian Singh has impressed already.

Ajax will lose Vertonghen and Assaiti and who knows, Vernon Anita but Frank de Boer doesn’t panic. He refuses to pay ridiculous amounts of money for players (like Narsingh) and expect his new recruits to really want to play for the Sons of Gods. If not: see you later.

Bassie getting the Heerenveen suit measured to fit

PSV has new skipper Mark van Bommel in da house, alongside coach Dick Advocaat and is seriously eyeing Luciano Narsingh and Adam Maher. The AZ talent wants to move up a bit and doesn’t believe he’ll play for AZ again.

Gertjan Verbeek at AZ did sign Rasmus Elm brother Victor Elm from Heerenveen and seems to be comfortable with the exit of potentially Maher and Benschop, who left for France.

It’s pretty quiet in Arnhem (Vitesse presented Fred Rutten as their new coach), Groningen ( Robert Maaskant takes the helm), Utrecht ( Jan Wouters stays on board, with potentially Co Adriaanse joining in) and in other places but in Heerenveen the eyes are focused on new coach Marco van Basten, who will need some magic to replace the golden forwards Assaidi, Narsingh and Dost.

Despite another exodus of talent, it’s most likely going to be another exciting season in the Eredivisie, where coaches like Van Basten, De Boer and Koeman will stick to the Dutch school and present some open and attacking football…

And to finish this post off: interestingly our neighbours in the south ( Belgium) have decided to sign a number of Dutch coaches. Mario Been is doing really well at Genk, while former Club Brugge coach Adrie Koster will be active in Belgium as well. Ron Jans signed for Liege/FC Luik and Dutch crown prince coach John van den Brom left the snakepit Vitesse to coach the Belgium top club Anderlecht.

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