Today was the presser pre-Turkey. The fact that Gakpo and Nathan Ake had to leave the trainings camp. Gakpo due to injury, Ake for ‘personal reasons’.
Van Gaal was disappointed, as “we don’t have a lot of wingers in the first place”. Gakpo would probably have played against Turkey. Van Gaal didn’t want to make the Turkey coach smarter, but he did say that Daley Blind returns into the team.
Memphis Depay was Van Gaal’s colleague representing the Dutch, explaining how playing against a compact shaped opponent works. Less space, lots of physical challenges. But Memphis demonstrated his usual swagger and confidence in his response: “We are confident, we know what we need to do. We will get our chances.”
Van Gaal furthermore lauded the Turkish coach, for his smart and his ability to turn the Turkish egos into the team. Van Gaal expects a counter-attacking Turkey and will analyse the way Turkey find their space moving forward.
Furthermore, Van Gaal expressed his belief that the Turkey match is not “a finals” but it is a key game for us. We play at home, and should have that extra to make a difference against Turkey. Van Gaal thinks the Turkey match will be the toughest match for the Dutch.
The question how Van Gaal and Depay were able to mend their relationship was answered in a balanced way by Memphis. “I think I was a different player and a different human being back then. We didn’t have a lot of success together but that doesn’t mean there was a lot of drama. That was magnified by the media.” Van Gaal added: “I can’t say it better than him. I recognised his talent when he was 20 years old and took him to the World Cup. I also took him with me to Manchester United, but that didn’t work too well. But that was partly also the team. I positioned Memphis on the #10 position! Not as winger. I think he, as an intuitive player, is at his best on that position, like he plays with us. As a false striker. The team couldn’t carry him and when I placed him as left winger, he started to get blockages. And my analysis, he didn’t have the orientation qualities he has now. He had trouble with the activities around him, to scan it fast enough. Now, he has developed and he is now as good as I knew he would be. He has unbelievable qualities.”
“Team work is super important. That was the case for Memphis at Man United but also for instance, Berghuis and Dumfries. By playing Dumfries, Berghuis will be able to play better. When I play Klaassen as a box to box player, this will help Memphis.”
Speaking of Memphis: he always cops a lot of criticism. Is it his rapping? His fashion style? His tattoos, or his swagger? No matter, because he just scored goal #29 and 30, getting close to the top 10 of top scorers in Orange. And only one player was younger than Memphis in that top 10.
After the Norway game: “I expected more from myself. I wasn’t able to make a difference, but I do need that ball quicker. I only have half a second of freedom and that is when the ball needs to be played in. Otherwise I have a big defender on my heels and I can’t turn that easily.”
Against Montenegro, this worked better. Although Memphis did start as a striker, but was everywhere on the pitch, except for…the striker position. That was the area where Klaassen and Wijnaldum ended up. The partnership between Gakpo and Memphis is developing rapidly and they both were involved in several goals. The penalty kick Memphis converted is his sixth and he now only had Koeman (8), Van Persie (7) and Neeskens (7) ahead of him. More coming, I’m sure.
Memphis played 70 internationals and was involved in 53 goals. That is superb. Only eleven Oranje platers scored more than 30 goals. Memphis is part of that list now. Only Kluivert was younger than Memphis. Kluivert did need less games though, as did Huntelaar and Bergkamp.
Faas Wilkes in the late ’50s needed 33 matches. Cruyff only 38. Of the modern era, Huntelaar needed 48 matches. Record holder Robin van Persie need 69 matches, just one less than Memphis.
It seems clear that Memphis will topple Van Persie and grab the record. He’s only 27 years old, so should he score 5 goals per season and has another 5 years on the clock, he’ll add 25 goals to his tally, reaching 55 goals for his country. Robin van Persie has 50 goals from 102 matches.
In terms of assists, Memphis is the #5 on the all time assist list behind Sneijder, Robben, Van der Vaart and Bergkamp and #6 on the combined list behind Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder, Bergkamp, Huntelaar. Great company to be in.
I think it is time for all of us to realise that Memphis Depay is becoming another Oranje legend, in the same way Cruyff, Van Hanegem, Neeskens, Gullit, Van Basten, Bergkamp, Van der Vaart, Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder are Oranje legends…