Tag: Dost

The Big Ronald Koeman interview

It’s a tradition. Every last week of the year, this blog has an in-depth one on one with the most important man in Dutch football: the NT manager.

This is also my way of saying: Happy New Year and thanks for following the ramblings on here… It’s highly appreciated.

At the bottom of this blog post you’ll see a video with the highlights of this Oranje year.

I’ll follow this post with some nice predictions for the year to come.

Until then, please drink a lot of alcohol on New Years Eve and then enter an amount in the paypal option on this blog to support another year of the Dutchsoccerblog and press “DONATE” so I can also buy food and water for New Years Eve….

For Ronald Koeman, 2018 was the Year of the Resurrection. 2019 is the year we will really have to show what we are worth. Thanks to the AD Sport papers and VI Pro.

The big photo on the table shows a group laughing and cheering Oranje players. Young lads celebrating the second goal vs France, Depay’s Panenka. The goal scorer is the beaming centre of the grouphug, with Frenkie de Jong, Tonny Vilhena, Virgil van Dijk and Daley Blind as his rays. Matthijs de Ligt is seen in the background. Koeman looks at the photo and smiles: ” This is what we aimed for when we started. Have fun, enjoy yourself and radiate happiness to be part of the Oranje team. And all this, is visible in this picture.”

The photo does summarize the year Oranje had. The resurrection, the new swagger. Four wins, four draws and only two defeats in matches against top nations. And the first spot in the difficult Nations League group. “No, I didn’t expect all this,” says Koeman. “If we would have lost 6 games, it would not have been odd. That was a scenario I worked with as well.”

Koeman is at the KNVB Sports Centre, the new home of Oranje. After the abysmal results with Hiddink and Danny Blind, not qualifying for two major tournaments, Koeman decided to bring his squad to the forest in Zeist, as opposed from the holiday seaside town of Noordwijk. “I spent two to three days per week here. They had the KNVB Christmas drinks thing the other day, obviously I felt I had to be present for that as well. As a kid, 13 years old or so, I came here with the North Region rep team and also later with the Oranje squads. This is the hub of Dutch football. The facilities here are good but not as luxurious as what some top clubs offer their players. It’s quite impressive what is happening at Man City, Liverpool, Everton and Barcelona. We can’t offer that quality yet, so I had my doubts… How would the players respond to what can be seen as a step back, but the players actually loved it. There is more bonding going on, they tend to spend more time together playing games, and having fun. In Noordwijk, we had this one floor in the hotel but that place was so big, you could easily decide to be alone and not see other players. When you wanted to hang with another player, you really needed to coordinate that. Here, the rooms are closer, the communal areas are in the middle, you constantly see each other and have those impromptu little circles going on, players talking, playing cards, checking moves out, etc.”

Does this generation need that?

“Well, it’s mainly good for the image of the team. People always say “they make so much money and they don’t really work for it”, but these lads are focusing on football 7 days a week. The programs they run through, the nutritional aspects, the body work, it’s so different compared to my time as a players. In my days, we had Jan Molby at Ajax. His warming up was shooting 20 balls on goal. That’s it. Today, that would be unthinkable. So, this environment is the right one for the way the players today work, live and operate. I can’t see any other sport being more intense than football, as it used to be…”

What are your thoughts re: Memphis, the central figure in this photo?

“It definitely applies to him too. He does everything for his sports. We all had the idea, me as well, that he was a bit complacent. I met him in Liverpool when I wanted to get him in on a loan deal from Man United. And ever since that meeting, my view on him changed. I really feel a click with him. I mean, yes I see the Instragram clips and think, oh well… That cigar wasn’t needed for me, but at the same time, I think…so what? Leave him be. Players these days are constantly in the spotlight. Whenever they go out for a drink or a meal, it’s going viral on the net. So if Memphis enjoys doing those little clips: fine. Let him.”

In the past, you clashed with the young Wesley Sneijder and Rafa van der Vaart. This is now the more experienced coach talking?

“Yes, I guess. I was a young coach back then and I wanted to project my ideas, my values onto these lads. I was too rigorous in that, yes. Coaching is an experience craft. I have learned to see that everyone is different and that younger generations are different.”

The current Oranje players are of the same age as your kids. Doe that help?

“For sure! My kids love following Memphis and the others on social media. They are used to it, and it’s part of today’ sports culture. So yes, I sometimes check in with my kids to ask their opinion about things, and at times they simply tell me what they think and I can see more and more how things work for the younger generations.”

Ronald Koeman is not just the NT coach, he is now also the figure head of Dutch football and spoke at the NL Coach Congress recently, using an example of what happened at Ajax – Bayern Munich… “I used it as an example, but Bayern coach Kovac had two experienced bench players, Hummels and Martinez and he let them warm up in the second half, for at least 20 minutes. He needed something to happen, as Ajax was in front. When he finally wanted to use his third sub, he turned to Renato Sanches who was sitting on the bench. He hadn’t done a warm up. He used him, and Sanches went onto the pitch cold. I watched Hummels and Martinez, who looked at each other with confusion and a wry smile. That sort of thing has an effect. On the coach, on the vibe in the squad, the mentality of these older players, the hierarchy. Lets just say, it wasn’t smart of Kovac to do it like this. These are the little things that can work against you in terms of player support and team spirit.”

Wat did you do to re-establish a new hierarchy with Oranje?

“That happens in a natural way. Memphis doesn’t want to be the designated leader but he leads due to his way of playing. Virgil is a natural leader because of his age and his position on the pitch, his charisma and experience. Gini Wijnaldum, Jasper Cillesen and Kevin Strootman are key players as well. They play at big clubs, they’ve been around and share their experiences. And the technical staff is also about clarity. If things are unclear, we want players to speak out. If things are not clear, players get nervous.”

Was it important too that dominant personalities like Robben, Sneijder and Van Persie are no longer part of Oranje? Wijnaldum mentioned something like “a gap in the squad”?

“I guess so. But for clarity’s sake: I have asked Robben in the early phase of my role here, to come back to Oranje. He is still so good. But yes, with the big lads gone, there is space for the younger players to step into that space and show what they are made of.”

And with the rise of talents like De Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, the jigsaw puzzle suddenly seemed complete?

“Ha, I read somewhere that this coach has a golden dick, hahaha. But yes, a coach is only as good as his material and these two are really good. I actually spoke to Pep Guardiola about both, some while back. He is completely smitten with midfielders like Frenkie and he wanted to know everything about him. Frenkie has really made a contribution to Oranje. He is biggest quality, is that he can postpone his decision on the ball, just another couple of seconds so he can give that pass that another player wouldn’t be able to give. And everyone goes: damn! That was amazing.”

About the past couple of years… we thought our football was in crisis. Was that a knee-jerk response? Were we really that bad?

“Well, something had to happen for sure. We need to do more to get to the top. In Holland, we always thought that with our talent, we just need to play some good football and then we’ll get there. But the nations in Europe and beyond have learned as well, and developed. Countries like Iceland, Wales, Uruguay, Japan, Australia are no longer walk-over nations in football. It’s the same at club level. Look at Ajax in the past 10 years in qualifications of the CL tournament! It has become harder on all levels to get to the top. Belgium was a nice example for us. They can play re-action football like they used to do, and use the turnaround moments, but they can also dominate and play the “Dutch way” for lack of a better term. They are flexible within their format. I like that. And like Belgium, we have the players to do both, as well. And in 2019, we will face Germany again, for the Euro qualifications. I’m already thinking about how to approach those games.”

Oranje went from underdog to the favorite again. 2019 is a year with heavy expectations.

“I do wonder, if we can extrapolate the way we played this year, to next year. We will start vs Belarus and can we play like we did this year, against a ultra defensive team? Can Memphis be as important? Or, do we need to use Luuk de Jong as central striker and make some changes? We never had to do this as we only played strong, domineering teams but I do realise that in 2019, it really starts. I wouldn’t have minded another friendly before we start for the Euro qualifications against an opponent like Northern Ireland.”

Some players dropped in the hierarchy. Kevin Strootman seemed to have lost his starting spot. How do you deal with that?

“Well, Kevin will be part of the squad as long as I see that he wants to be. He’s important for the group, he’s in the players council. I will always check the dynamics of the players on the bench. Do they celebrate goals of the team or do the join in after a won game? That sort of conduct is taken into account.”

You once mentioned how Rinus Michels decided to take players like Hendrie Kruzen of FC Den Bosch and Wilbert Suvrijn of Roda to the Euro1988, as they were players happy with a bench role and still giving 100% at training. Does that influence your way of thinking?

“Absolutely. You have to take personalities into account. And particularly at a big tournament. You are so close for weeks. Look at Belgium again: Nainggolan wasn’t part of their squad. Judging from a distance, I suppose it has to do with hoe he deals with not starting a game. In our case, the Euros are still a bit away. A lot can change. Transfers, injuries, development of players. Take Promes, he started as a wing back at Sevilla! That could be an interesting development for us.”

Did you also ignore players in your selections to give them a sign?

“Yes, take Steven Berghuis of Feyenoord. He is a great player. With the ball. Without the ball, he needs to do more. I saw him recently play against PSV, and he was fantastic. That is what I want to see week in week out. He knows this.”

Now you’re back in Holland, after a number of years in England… Is there anything you like from what you see here, in our competition?

“Holland will always bring talent early. Recently, Orkun Kokcu at Feyenoord. 17 years old. In England I have Ward-Prowce, who was a bit older but our board said: he can’t play more than 10 games per year. In England, they see young players as a risk. We don’t. And I’m certain that in 10 years time, we’ll have the next De Ligt or Frenkie de Jong, chomping at the bits.”

You worked at the top 3 in Holland. Which club do you think is the hardest one to manage?

“I have to say Ajax. I think particularly today, with that trophy drought. Ajax invested heavily into more expensive players as well and sacrificed Keizer and Bergkamp. The pressure is on there. And Ajax always has several streams of important people behind the scenes, trying to pull strings. It’s always a difficult club. They also want to see attractive football. When De Boer won his fourth title in a row, he was criticized for the boring play. That would never happen at PSV. PSV is different. Similar top sport climate, but more a gentleman’s club. Whereas Feyenoord is hard because of the lack of resources and the enormous expectations and hunger of the Legion but the love and support of the Feyenoord fans is undying. So I have to say Ajax.”

It’s good for Dutch football to see Tadic and Blind back in the eredivisie, right?

“Absolutely. I worked with Tadic at Southampton and I saw what he did for his fitness, his rhythm. He is so fit and strong and has a great mentality. It’s so good for the youngsters to have him, for at Feyenoord to see Van Persie and before him Kuyt. The young players will learn a lot from that.”

You mentioned something you picked up from the Dutch women’s team…?

“Yes! I wasn’t even NT manager when it happened. I was invited to give them their award some while back, best sports team of the year. I said I loved to see them, and that their appeal was so broad because they clearly had fun. They played with a big smile on their face. And they are accessible and down to Earth. I think supporters like that. And when I compare that with the internationals I had at Southampton and Everton… They’d return from their Oranje stint and I didn’t see any enthusiasm.”

You turned it around quickly.

“But that isn’t my work. It starts with the players. And they are being developed and coached daily by the club coaches. By Gio, Mark van Bommel, Erik ten Hag, etc. I also realised that Danny Blind and Guus Hiddink had a lot of bad luck. And I don’t mean that Bas Dost goal vs Sweden, alone. Also all that drama at the KNVB, with the technical director, the decisions made by the board, assistant coaches leaving, there was no consistency, no positive vibe and when it storms at the top, when you’re on the ground you will feel the rain and get wet. The whole vibe around Oranje was negative.”

Did it all turn around? Or do we still need to make structural changes?

“The times we live in are different. This applies to society, but also to football. In the past Robben or Rep or whoever was our winger, could take 10 mins rest per match. Stay up and wait for that stray ball. Today, wingers are the first defenders. The physical demands are so much higher now. I am not sure if we have incorporated that into our development and you could even say, that culturally, we don’t like doing this. We seem to be a complacent and lacklustre, in general. Listen to all the players that make a move to a bigger competition. All of them, no exception, will tell you: wow, they work so hard, the training is so intense, we don’t see a single ball in the pre-season, it’s just running and weights…. That is such a clear signal to me.”

These days, the laptop coach is making his way. Using stats and simulations… do you work with this?

“Yes, you will always find ways to incorporate it, but it’s not leading for me. The interpretation is key. We had a lot of this at Everton. We played Chelsea and I took the stats and saw that Diego Costa made significantly more runs in behind than Lukaku. And we constantly had to go with him. So I used this in my prep with Lukaku: look mate, this is Costa, and this is you!”

“But the essence of coaching, is management of people. We have 20+ top players. All alpha males and they all need to go into the same direction. They all have their own ideas, they all have invented it and they know everything better. And to lead that, you can only do that by creating a bond with them, a mutual understanding.”

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Oranje bucks the trend!

And loses again vs England, for the first time in 22 years.

Now you all know that I don’t rate friendlies, usually. Particularly not when a settled team is practicing to prepare for a world cup or something. This time, it’s different. This is the first game of the new coach Koeman, using a number of new players and having to quickly forget the likes of Sneijder and Robben.

He was going to do things differently and he did. He started Zoet, he started Hateboer and he started with a 3-4-3 which at times became a 5-4-1.

The first phase of the game was for the strong English side. They kept Germany at 0-0 recently and I don’t have to remind you that they will be going to Russia. And we won’t. But somewhere mid first half, Oranje started to play a bit more adventurous. The centre backs had time on the ball, Hateboer and Van Aanholt pressed forward and at times we had good movement by Promes and Memphis, resulting in a first chance on a free kick (undeserved) when Promes ran into space in the box. His first touch let him down. Before that, some attempts by England and a distance strike by De Ligt.

There was a massive sweeper keeper action by Zoet around the 35th minute to stop an English counter, another Oranje highlight of the first half.

All in all, the interplay by the English was much better than the Dutch, but that was to be predicted, as they tend to be a settled side, as opposed to Oranje. Our defenders had time on the ball but to find the killer pass forward was still a problem. In particular Strootman and Wijnaldum could not make the turns to open up and find the forward pass. The Dutch left flank worked a bit better than the right side, with Promes coming inside a lot, allowing space for Hateboer but his attacking actions didn’t pay off in the first half. We got our first corner in the 40st minute. Great corner by Memphis but Dost didn’t seem to know how to deal with it, timing it wrong. Was a big opportunity for the struggling Sporting striker.

I can’t help but think that the 5-3-2 didn’t work vs this 4-4-2 English team. We always had an extra man at the back and without the likes of Daley Blind playing in the CB role, we simply lack good passers from the back, with De Vrij and De Ligt in particular probing but not having a lot of effective passing. In the final stage of the first half, the game became more open and end to end, but everytime we had a break the flow was stopped by a pass behind the man, or a touch to much.

England looked more composed on the ball but Oranje did show some promise. In the dying seconds of the first half, loss of possession in the final third allowed Memphis a shooting opportunity with his gifted right foot but he aimed straight at Pickford.

A good first half for Zoet, Van Aanholt, Hateboer, the back three and Memphis. A bit low key for Dost, Strootman and Wijnaldum, while Promes showed his…well…promise…in a couple of moments in the game.

Holland started well in the second half and might have scored the opener, when Memphis made a move to the goal line and crossed the ball to De Vrij who scored, but the goal was disallowed as the ball allegedly was over the line. Even in extreme slow mo it was really hard to tell, and the goal should have stood.

Not much later, the ref didn’t see a penalty in the challenge of De Ligt on Rashford. Could have been 1-1 by now.

England put the pressure on since that incident and Oranje’s defence started to look a little shaky. Even with 5 at the back, England found space and containing the ball or England became harder and harder for the Dutch.

Oranje at times tried to play out with long balls towards Dost, which definitely didn’t work too well, with Dost loose in possession and again, not used properly.

Around the 57th minute the organisation let Holland down, when Strootman was played out of position and possession got overturned. The smart Lingard found some space, the ball fell kindly to him and his low shot was too strong for Zoet: 0-1.

Oranje started to press and play with more intensity, resulting in two attempts on goal from Memphis (blocked) and Promes (row Z). Not much later, Bas Dost gets a flick on a low drive and tries to backheel it into the goal, but it was straight at Pickford. Oranje pressed more, with a long ball to Dost, heading it back to Promes who did get purchase on it, but again a good England block. Van Aanholt crossing a wonderful ball in where Hateboer flying in from the right flank almost was able to have an attempt on goal. De Light took a shot from distance.

Memphis started to get better into the game, with a nice take on the chest and a swivel and turn, but the shot lacked venom. By then, Babel and Propper were into the team to add some energy (Babel) and passing skills (Propper), shifting to a 4-4-2, with Babel deep and Memphis hovering around him.

In the 81st minute the fans sat up when Memphis got a free kick to take just out of the penalty area. Ronald Koeman territory. Memphis hit it with power but straight at the goalie.

Another Memphis instigated attack ended with Hateboer in the box, who got his shot away on the turn but the shot got smothered. In his debut game. Van de Beek and Weghorst would come on still for the final stages, where Oranje would play more opportunistic to try and get the draw. Babel from the right, Weghorst up top and Memphis floating.

Another Memphis action led to a shot from Van Aanholt ending up at the corner flag and Depay left another good mark on the game with a late side splitting pass diagonally into the feet of De Ligt, in the box. The young Ajax defender was ruled just offside.

The Koeman Work in Progress wasn’t able to get anything out of the game, but they had good spells in the game.

Strengths: desire, workrate, Van Aanholt, Van Dijk, De Vrij, Memphis.

Weaknesses: lack of flow, lack of creativity in midfield, Dost, Strootman, Wijnaldum.

I liked Propper in his short stint and Van de Beek will surely become a regular starter in years to come.

With the likes of Frenkie De Jong and Daley Blind and Marco van Ginkel added to the team, we might see an improving side under Koeman, surely good enough to qualify for tournaments.

Ronald Koeman: “We should have created more, but we weren’t as solid on the ball as I would want. But listen, it would have been silly to expect us to play England off the pitch. Defensively, I’m really satisfied. De Ligt was my Man of the Match but they all did well, including Hateboer. I won’t be making a lot of systemic changes, but I do need to see more from the forwards. I’m not depressed having lost my first game, it’s early still. And we were playing against top players. I think you could see that well at certain stages in the game.”

Skipper Virgil van Dijk was quite annoyed. “I really am annoyed we lost. We can play better, we were poor on the ball and didn’t create enough. Defensively it was ok, but we need to improve. Still, we’re playing a big nation here. It’s never easy against England, but I am not happy with the result.”


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Brave Oranje leaves sour taste….

Well, it’s over. No World Cup. Usually, qualifying for a  big tournament leaves a lot of potential for posts, but this new low we hit will also offer up heaps of opportunities for discussions… So expect more posts soon!

We will obviously honour the great Arjen Robben here (future posts) and we will analyse the sorry state of Dutch football too.

Some words on the Sweden game and the direct impact of the failure to qualify…

We were offered one last opportunity to do it. We had to score 7 goals versus Sweden. Apparently, Sweden scoring 8 versus Luxembourg was deemed “impossible” but three days later, Holland scoring 7 against Sweden was thought to be possible (by Dick Advocaat). The old sly fox didn’t come off too good out of these 5 games, I don’t think. But he was right the second time: it was possible to score 7, but sadly we didn’t really believe in it.

We “only” scored two in the first half, but for people who saw the game it was clear that we definitely could have scored four (Tete!). And when you go into half time with 4-0 on the board, surely 7-0 would have been possible!

Luck did leave us in this qualification series. It’s been mentioned before, but the disallowed goal vs Sweden in Match #1, the fumble by Strootman, the misjudgement by Stekelenburg vs France, the Lloris mistake vs Sweden, the absentees vs Bulgaria away, the tactical mistakes by Advocaat (France away, Bulgaria at home, Belarus away), it all was too much to overcome.

NL sweden


But, you do make your own luck and therefore also your own bad-luck. It seems we didn’t have the belief and the iron will to make it happen.

The first half vs Sweden was a positive to build on towards the future, but also left a very bitter taste. Why couldn’t the team play with this conviction and mentality away vs Bulgaria? Or away vs Luxembourg?

Many questions to be answered…

I do believe we have talked ourselves into a big depression in Holland. With the lack of talent of the level of Vaart/Sneijder/Van Persie/Robben it seems the whole football world was resigned to the fact we were not good enough anymore… This is a mistake. It’s not true. Yes, it’s true that we lack super talents and world class players, but we all know that you don’t need world class players to qualify. Does Sweden have a Sneijder or Robben? No. Does Iceland? No. Switzerland? No!

We could and should have qualified despite not having top notch talent.

We might not have won the world cup in Russia, but we should have been there at least.

Myth #1 – Holland doesn’t have the quality players

Well, this is simply not true. A cheap excuse for not qualifying. It’s true that we lack the talented generation this time around compared to the 1974, 1988, 1998 and 2010 tournaments, but we should compensate this with mentality, team tactics and work rate. Back in 2010, our defence copped a lot of criticism. This time around, it seems we have ample options for the last line (De Vrij, Van Dijk, Blind, Ake, De Ligt, Hoedt, Karsdorp, Kongolo, Janmaat, Tete) but maybe less so in midfield and upfront.


Nathan Ake and Karim Rekik

Myth #2 – Blind needed to leave, experienced success coach Advocaat is needed to rescue the nation

Well, Blind couldn’t be faulted for the result vs Sweden away. Holland didn’t do too badly vs France at home but failed miserably away to Bulgaria. The decision to sack Blind as a result was a knee-jerk decision. Made in panic. I do admit that Blind probably shouldn’t have been given the job in the first place, but with him in the role and on a journey with the group, sacking him was disruptive. Clearly, there was no successor, there was no plan B. The whole trajectory of replacing Blind was a public display of incompetence. Hans van Breukelen blundering through the process, with him lying about the Ten Cate appointment and the KNVB ending up having to plead with Advocaat to please take the role. There were no other options. Koeman said no. Ten Cate pulled out. Van Gaal wasn’t interested. Adriaanse wasn’t interested. Dick’s minimal objective was to win four games (Luxembourg, Belarus, Bulgaria, Sweden) and hopefully get a result vs France. But winning 4 and losing 1 would have still gotten us to Russia. We all though. Well, we did win 4 but didn’t score enough. And we did lose against France, but with too many goals conceded. Tactically, Advocaat’s approach left a lot to be desired. He didn’t do too badly, but he definitely didn’t make the most of it. The Bulgaria and Belarus games were simply not good enough. Lacking conviction, lacking a tactical plan, not enough tactical changes during the game, resulting in disappointing results. When Sweden beat France, it was clear that goal difference would be key and Dick failed to even realise this. The France away game being the absolute low, when we were 2-0 down with 12 minutes on the clock and no response from the bench. We conceded two more…

Dick now came out with quotes saying “We already lost the qualification before I started” and “Sweden is playing like a team in a firm and clear system. Holland should be doing this too”. WHAT THE FFFF??


I get sick of those sort of statements. We were still in it when Dick got appointed. We needed to concede less (France, Bulgaria and Belarus: that’s 4 goals too many!!) and maybe go for a draw vs France away? Why play 4-3-3 with Sneijder in midfield??? Stupidity.

And Holland should be playing a firm system in the future? What bullshit! Holland has been playing in a firm 4-3-3 all the time! And it’s Dick’s role to implement that system. That is what he was paid for. It’s as if the chef of a restaurant where 12 people died from food poisioning says “maybe the next chef should try bring in some more hygiene”. Pisses me off.

In hindsight, I think it’s clear that without the two conceded goals vs Bulgaria and Belarus and without the two late goals conceded vs France, we only needed to win 3-0 vs Sweden…. That was very possible.

Myth #3 – This is part of the cycle, we will be back on top soon!

No we won’t. It’s not about waiting for a new Robben or Sneijder to get up. The scene has changed a lot! Sheer talent is not enough. As Iceland and Sweden and other nations demonstrated, and as we can see week in week out in the big competitions, it’s not just about talent and skill. It’s also about physical strength, mental strength and tactical smarts. We need to quickly sort out our big issues in training intensity, in scouting, in youth development and coaches’ development to be able to compete. Just compare Frenkie de Jong (20 years old!) with Dele Alli (just turned 21) and you know enough. Frenkie looks like a kid. Dele looks and plays like a man. Frenkie is not a starter for Ajax, Dele is a starter for Spurs for 2 seasons already.

blind sweden

Daley, strong as central midfielder

So, until we have our act together (will take years of course) we need to quickly make some “tough” decisions to forge a team and a game plan that works in today’s football world and with our current players at hand. The developments in international football are quite clear: the role of the wingbacks, the role of the deep lying playmaker (Cesc, Matic, Pirlo, Vidal, Kroos), the role of the false #9. And in order to play a role internationally, it seems our clubs will need to – probably – lead the way. Bosz did it with Ajax, last season in Europe, and it worked. Gio and Feyenoord are experimenting with it (win over AZ without central striker) and I’m convinced Cocu is working on new tactics with PSV. Cocu is also abandoning the model with the static #9 (Luuk de Jong)  and is playing more in a 4-3-2-1 model with dynamic forwards (Lozano, Bergwijn, Locadia) to have more movement up front.

I was horrified to hear that Dick left the door open for the KNVB to appoint him as the new national team manager. We don’t need him. We don’t need the old guard anymore. We need new blood.

It’s key that the KNVB board of directors in conjunction with the new general manager (Eric Gudde) appoint a strong Technical Director soon. Fred Rutten would be my ideal candidate for the job. He ticks all the boxes. And with Rutten in place, the next step will be to appoint a young, astute national team manager. Someone like Joachim Low 12 years ago. Some people even think Low would be the right man for the job. I don’t think so. He would probably even laugh at the job (he gets paid 6 times what our NT manager gets), but a Dutch Low-type manager (the Low 12 years ago, I keep stressing) would be the right option. Erik ten Hag would be my candidate.


Fred Rutten

I would also check if Rene Meulensteen (ex Man United) would be interested in becoming part of the team, with a focus on player development and coach development maybe with someone like Wim Jonk.

The final step, we do need to have a man in charge who can overrule the club interests. It is high time we develop a competition where all the pro clubs can bring in their B-teams. At this point in time, clubs like Feyenoord do not have the option to have their Feyenoord 2 team play competitively. It’s a disgrace. And we also need national youth competitions where the top of the crop from the south can play weekly matches vs the youth of Ajax, Alkmaar, Groningen and Heerenveen.

Myth #4 – The Future is Bright

YES! This is no myth. It’s Truth #1. The future is bright. We do keep on developing players with vision and skills. But we need more than that. So the foundation is there, it’s the way we develop the talent that is in need of a thorough revolution.

In the past decades, every nation was keen to come to Holland and learn and listen. Today, they laugh at us. They don’t listen anymore. They know enough. And they’ve integrated our way of working with what they themselves did right already. So the Germans now develop players with great skill and vision, but they also have that iron mentality and physical strength. It’s time we start opening up and learn from what they (France, Belgium, Spain, Iceland, Germany) do well. And come down from our high horse and be humble and integrate the missing elements from the game into our protocols.


Frenkie de Jong

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Oranje: Russian Roulette

While Abba plays in the background, Dick Advocaat is enjoying a smorgasbord of questions at the press conference. All the country’s mathematicians and statisticians joined in to calculate Oranje’s chances and the different scenarios, but the 70 year old still doesn’t seem to realise it’s about goals. “I don’t get that fuss about scoring. As if we can simply decide how much we’ll score. The criticism after the Bulgaria game also went over my head! A 3-1 win is a good result. You can’t expect to score x times. I also don’t believe Sweden will score a lot versus Luxembourg. Nonsense. We will focus on winning our games. And during the game, we’ll find out what is possible in terms of number of goals.”

The nation is baffled. Surely, Dick will understand he simply needs to instruct his players to go out and get as much as possible? We won’t settle for 3-0 vs Belarus with – say – 25 minutes to go? And surely, Dick will field a team with goals in them? Janssen. Dost. Robben. Memphis. Klaassen. Wijnaldum. Propper. Van Dijk. Or…?

The main punters out there are not too positive. Willem van Hanegem is adamant. “We won’t get to Russia. I’m sorry. I do hope I’m wrong, but we simply aren’t good enough. Let’s rebuild after this World Cup.”

Most of the players tend to excel in wishful thinking. They all come to the camp with bravado and bold statements. Except for Arjen Robben. He happens to be experienced, world-class and the skipper of the team. “It will be very very hard. I will not say “never” but it will be a tough job. The odds aren’t great. But, we are in it still, so we will need to do what we can. But winning three games in a row has proven to be hard for us, so I don’t share all that optimism.”

Robben made his debut for Oranje in 2003 (with Sneijder) and has had mainly good times in the orange jersey. Should Oranje not qualify in the coming two matches, it’s highly likely that Robben will retire from the NT. “This is not a topic for now. I want to focus fully on the matches.”

arjen dick

Robben did have a certain “oh geez” moment. “I’ve been coming here for 14 years. And I thoroughly enjoyed it and still do. Man, I get goosebumps when the national anthem plays. But it’s strange. I made my debut with Wesley and we sort of went on this journey together all this time. The high points and in retrospect, we didn’t have that many lows… But now Sneijder isn’t here. And that hit me. Because if we can’t qualify for Russia… is my career in Oranje over? His as well? That sort of hit me. And I’ve seen the downturn, and felt it. We used to win all our qualification games. Like routine. Now, we struggle… Things have changed.”

The first training session was a bit of a jolly event. Dick Advocaat let his two assistants (Fred Grim and the physio) deal with the group, jostling with tennis balls, a game of handball and a silly mini match with the small goals facing the wrong way. Some light entertainment, while Ruud Gullit was in deep conversation with Karik Rekik and Dick Advocaat spent time with skipper Robben.

oranje training

Virgil van Dijk was called up as a late replacement for Stefan de Vrij. “I’m so happy to be back. Seriously, I needed this. It was a tough six months but I’m 100% fit and motivated. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy playing for Southampton, but like any athlete: if you can better yourself and play at world top level, you want to make that step. I don’t regret my actions and I also don’t blame Southampton for their stance. My aim is to be important for the club again and for Oranje and my next chances will surely come. I’m ready to play, although I’m not sure what the coach wants to do. I may lack rhythm but I’m top fit.”

Stefan de Vrij’s absence was frowned upon. The central defender played an hour for Lazio vs Sassuolo and scored even. “But it’s not good. I can’t play without pain. The groin is not good. I left the pitch after an hour and the groin stiffened up and it’s now impossible to play. I probably need a week of rest and treatment and then after the international break, I might be able to train with the ball. Every pass I gave hurt. It’s not good.”

People in Holland now doubt whether you’re motivated to play for Oranje?

“Nonsense! People who know me know better. It’s quite simple. I got the call from the KNVB re: my fitness, last week. I told them I wasn’t 100% but that my coach was keen to use me in the Sassuolo game. If that would go well, I would be ready for Oranje. But I was subbed due to the injury and I don’t think I would be able to train until Friday. So the coach decided not to use me and I can totally understand. You don’t want a player who can’t practice all week for these key games.”

De Vrij

You didn’t even want to talk about the whole thing?

“Because it shouldn’t be about me or my injury. It should be about the players who are fit and available and it should be about the Belarus and Sweden matches. That’s why I avoided the questions, but it became such a thing that I simply had to come out and explain it all.”

Kevin Strootman will join the group on Wednesday, if all goes well. Strootman got injured too after a collision and is in Rome for observation. He might have a concussion or other ailments which might stop him from joining Oranje.

A player who is fit and in form and eager to play is Ryan Babel. He hasn’t been with Oranje since 2011. Introduced to the world stage in 2006 by Marco van Basten and a benchwarmer in 2010 under Van Marwijk, Ryan Babel is now in the autumn of his career. “Boy, I still knew the way to Noordwijk (where Oranje usually has its trainings camp, but I had to introduce myself to most of the players! I know some lads, the Ajax lads like Cillesen and Blind of course and I replaced Arjen Robben in my debut, but the other players I only know from television. But I’m proud and humbled to be back. In all honesty, I came home to play for Ajax partly to get back on the radar with then coach Van Gaal. He gave Eredivisie players a chance and I felt it would do my career good. I did have a good season and won the title with Ajax, but I never made it back in Oranje.”

Babel had a spell in Spain before moving back to Turkey, where he’s been a key man for more than a season, even scoring in the Champions League. “I’m in form, yes and fit. I’m not saying I will save Oranje and all that, but I can play my part. I’m also now one of the older players, so maybe I can even help some of the younger lads. It’s an honour to be back.”


Babel played in the Middle East (sand pit) for a while but devised a plan with his dad to return to the European (sub) top. “That move to the Middle East was really purely for the money. I’ll be honest. That paycheck, I couldn’t resist. But when Spain came a-calling, I did want to move back into a serious competition. And now back in Turkey. I’m loving it.”

Babel credits Advocaat for his judgement of the Turkish league. “I think I’m lucky with the fact that Advocaat worked at Fener. He knows that the Turkish league is tough. And he’s seen me play a lot. Any other coach might have overlooked me.”

The players who are fit and available all have some sort of baggage to deal with. Jesper Cillesen is definitely one of the best Dutch goalies, but warms the bench in the Camp Nou. Surely, he will have improved just by practicing with Messi, Neymar, Iniesta and Suarez and a goalie doesn’t need the rhythm of match play like an outfield player. I hope.

Kenny Tete does will with Lyon but doesn’t play every match. The same applies to Janmaat. Yes, he has experience in Oranje and lungs and legs of a horse, but he hasn’t played more than – say – Frenkie de Jong at Ajax.

Welsey Hoedt and Virgil van Dijk both lack rhythm and might be rivals for the same spot at Southampton.

Daley Blind does play his regular matches and always reaches a high level at Man United but he will never be beyond criticism.

Gini Wijnaldum is a favorite of Jurgen Klopp but Liverpool only won 1 match in 8 games in all comps and the criticism is coming. Wijnaldum’s effectiveness will be judged seriously.

Janssen bulgaria

Kevin Strootman is not without criticism either and we all have witnessed his lack of form in Oranje recently.

Davy Propper went from a dominating team, playing possession football on the front foot (PSV) to a weak team that doesn’t have the ball often and when they do, play the long ball over Propper’s head. The gifted technician is a holding midfielder at Brighton and has yet to make his mark.

Davey Klaassen is seen as a huge mistake in England. The agile midfielder hasn’t made any impact for Everton yet and wasn’t even among the used subs in the last match in the EPL (which Everton couldn’t win).

The good news is: Vince Janssen is playing and scoring for Fener, Babel is on fire (for a while already) and Memphis Depay shows his class when he plays. The latter also made an impact in Oranje’s first training on Tuesday.

Bas Dost, lastly, is still a goal scoring machine in Portugal but his coach doesn’t use him in big games. Dost has never impressed wearing the orange, although he did score a 100% legal goal versus Sweden, which was disallowed.

line up

There might be one player key for Oranje in the coming matches. And he won’t be wearing orange, by the way. Gerson Rodrigues, he plays for Telstar in the Jupiler League in Holland and he’s a forward of Luxembourg. The quick attacker is keen to help Oranje qualify for the World Cup and he is eager to prove his worth by intending to hurt Sweden. Against France, he was close scoring a late winner, but his attempt hit the post. “I’ll try and get a least a point for Holland. And I’ll return here to join in with the festivities!”

In the coming days, we’ll learn more about the shenanigans of Oranje on their mission to qualify.

Until then, we finish with a nice news flash re: Louis van Gaal. The former NT coach’ name is mentioned as one of the candidates to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich. Yep, you read it properly: the arrogant Dutchman who was axed at Bayern by his nemesis Uli Hoeness might be asked to come back to the club.

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Update: Oranje back in Action!!

Well, the Janssen-Dost debate is settled. By the flu!! It seems Kevin Strootman and Vince Janssen exchanged some saliva maybe?

The Spurs bench-warmer stays in Holland and Luuk de Jong is ordered to come to Sofia to be the designated pinch hitter (behind Bas Dost and Jeremain Lens, who arrived late from Suriname).

The key question now is: will Stefan de Vrij be fit enough to play?

And it doesn’t look like it. Which means, Oranje will most likely play with a debutant as center back: De Ligt or Hoedt.

De Vrij has had a big knock and an internal bleeding in his leg. Yesterday, he wasn’t able to move his feet. But, as Blind said at the presser: “These things can improve massively overnight, so we’ll see.”

More Danny Blind: “I don’t like to play with two left footed players centrally (Hoedt and Martins Indi) as the build up will be slower than when you have a left and right footer. But it is an option.”

Blind: “There’s always something. First Van Dijk and Bruma and now De Vrij. But luckily Strootman is completely recovered. It seems Janssen has it bad, a throat infection and high fever. Not good at all.”

As for Dost: “Well, it makes my job easier when players fall away, in terms of decisions, but I rather have it hard. I want to have all our positions doubled up. And Dost is a different striker than Janssen, so we’ll need to make some tactical changes.”

training bul

Gini Wijnaldum was asked about the knock on his head: “It’s all good. I can head the ball, I am painfree, no dramas. And yes, it’s a bit disappointing dealing with all the injured players but we can’t keep on moaning about it. Other players will need to step up, it’s as simple as that.”

Blind: “I do have a very good feeling about where we’re going with the squad. I’m confident, even with those injuries… It’s simple: we need to get six points in the coming two matches. We know what we need to do and I’m confident we will.”

The last training session did not give a lot away in terms of set up.

It will be a 4-3-3:


Karsdorp – De Ligt – Martins Indi – Blind

Wijnaldum – Strootman – Sneijder

Robben – Dost – Promes

Some Bulgaria stats: Holland lost the so-called farewell match in 2012 (before that dreadful Euros) under Bert van Marwijk at home against the Bulgarians. An omen of what was to come… This actually was the first and only “farewell” match before a bit tournament that the Dutch lost. Jetro Willems made his debut in that game, at 17 years old. And now has 22 to his name and if he goes on as he does, he might well become the Dutch record international.

Humphry Mijnals made his debut against Bulgaria as well by the way and was the first “coloured” Dutch international back in the 19whatevers.

Holland played Bulgaria 10 times and only won 4 matches…

Tonight’s game is played in the Sofia Savili Levski Stadium. Oranje never won a match there. The Dutch only “didn’t win” more matches in one other venue: San Siro in Milan. We played there five times and never won.

Bulgaria is tough to beat anyway. They didn’t lose at home in 14 qualification games! The last country to win in Bulgaria were the Czechs.

Dost bul

Bulgaria’s biggest claim to fame was reaching the semi finals in the WC1994, beating Germany spectacularly in the quarter finals. Current NT coach Hubchev was in that team.

Currently, Daley Blind has as many caps for Oranje as his dad Danny. If he plays tonight, he’ll surpass him and will have 43 international games for Oranje.

Bas Dost is 2017’s top goal scorer. He has 15 already, this year, with one Lionel Messi on second spot with”only” 13 goals.

Our Dutch Lions are up for two matches in the coming week and strangely enough, the first match is the WC qualifier vs Bulgaria and three days later we have a practice friendly, versus Italy… That really confuses me? Why would you program this? Isn’t it logical to do the practice game first and then the official one? Must be me.

And we do live in confusing times… I will not go into Trump vs Hillary, Trump vs Putin, Erdogan vs Wilders, Wenger yes or no or anything like that.

We have our hands full with Dost vs Janssen and who-will-be-our-goalie…

The AD newspaper poll says 90% of the people voting, feel that Dost should start. The former Heerenveen striker can’t stop scoring in Portugal and will well be on his way to bigger things, if he keeps going like this. Janssen scores as many minutes in the first team as Dost scores goals per month.

dost oranje

But super striker (and also super sub) Pierre van Hooijdonk, who knows what it is to be in the “Bas Dost Position” remarkably say: “stick with Vincent”!

Pierre: “You pick a certain style of playing and for this you need certain players. Janssen is different to Dost, and if using Dost means you have to change the whole tactical plan, I’d say: don’t do it. Use Dost for additional power coming off the bench.”

Van Hooijdonk had to endure Kluivert and Van Nistelrooy in pole position. Easier to swallow for sure. “Yes, the difference between them and me was different to the Dost-Janssen situation, I can see that. But Blind sees Dost in training, he follows him in Lisbon… And Dost failed against Luxembourg. That will count too. If he would have left a smashing impression, it would be different now.”

It does seem like Blind is on the same page as the former Feyenoord man. The mantra is: let Janssen do it in Oranje, until he fails in Oranje. As long as he doesn’t, leave him be.

janssen oranje bul

Blind: “I am sorry but I don’t take the public’s opinion into account. If I would do that, because I can limit the criticism on myself, I wouldn’t be worth this job. I would have to be polling and checking twitter trends daily to make a line up. That is not going to work, of course. And as for the striker, I have made up my mind. I don’t see it as a hard decision to make, it is what I call a luxury decision.”

Blind also has hard data to use for fitness purposes. “I can easily see if a player is mentally and physically fit. We measure this and we have data from the clubs. And Janssen is top fit. He trains daily and hasn’t had major injuries, so that is not a drama. He lacks match rhythm, that is all. But we all know that Janssen and Wijnaldum probably have the most demanding physical programs of all Oranje players. They’re top fit!”

Van Hooijdonk: “The key thing is, will all this have an effect on Janssen’s style of playing. If he plays, I’ll watch his behaviour closely. If he gets through for instance, and has a chance but Karsdorp is totally free before goal, what will Janssen do? He’ll need to pass it to Karsdorp, but sometimes strikers under pressure will go for their personal glory. No matter how big the desire for some success, he’ll need to think of the team.”

oranje training

Matthijs De Ligt on the left

By the way, Dost will only join Oranje today, as he was at the funeral of his grandfather this week. Same as Jeremain Lens who is in Suriname as his dad actually passed away. He will join Oranje Thursday as well.

Today, Stefan de Vrij and Gini Wijnaldum left the practice early with some issues. De Vrij with a sore ankle, and Wijnaldum got a boot against his head. Robben trained in full despite some smaller issues. Kevin Strootman spent his days in bed with the flu.

Danny Blind: “Everyone is fit, it seems, at least for the game starts. The usual little knocks and things. De Vrij’s knee is dry, as the medical staff calls it. He’ll play and I have options next to him of course. Martins Indi is doing well at Stoke, Hoedt plays next to him at Lazio, Viergever can play in that role, Daley as well. And Promes can play on the wing, on the #10 but also as striker. He plays at a very high level and luckily Memphis is playing really well as well. We’ve got choices again.”

Blind won’t say much about the goalie choice. “We have good goalies and I’ve made up my mind, but you’ll need to wait for that one.”

de vrij terug

Stefan de Vrij is back!

Martins Indi left the Oranje squad after his red card vs Iceland. Is the relationship Blind – Martins Indi repaired? Blind: “Well it was never broken. We have discussed this immediately after Iceland. And when he returned to Oranje we have had a good conversation as well. He’s playing now, he’s got rhythm, he’s making the move from Porto to Stoke. All good. And it’s good to have choices. We’re missing Van Aanholt, Van Dijk, Bruma, Kongolo… But we don’t have to panic as we have options.”

Blind is mostly impressed with Wijnaldum’s development. “Gini is becoming a very important player for Oranje and I don’t want to mis-use him like I had to do vs Belgium, when he played right wing back almost. I need to use him like Liverpool does, in that key role in midfield. He’s been excellent.”

Matthijs de Ligt will make his debut in the Oranje squad. A lot of people criticised Blind for that selection. “I know him, I have spoken with him. I’ve spoken with Peter Bosz and Marc Overmars. He’s very mature and learns really fast. I think he will be a full fledged Oranje player and probably a top class defender. But he won’t start. He needs to listen, learn and digest. People felt I should have gone with Van der Heijden (Feyenoord) but I have enough lefties in defense, I really need a right footed player behind De Vrij and that is De Ligt.”

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Wesley Hoedt battling with Janssen

It would make sense for Wesley Hoedt to get his debut in Oranje. He plays next to De Vrij at Lazio and faces top teams and strikers every week. “I think I earned my spot in Oranje, based on the 52 matches I played in the Serie A. I have definitely become a better defender compared to my time in the Eredivisie. And here with Oranje, I feel good too, even though it’s my first time. But I do know some of the lads of course, so that helps.”

Next week, Oranje faces Italy, with a number of players Hoedt faces weekly. “Yes, I played against Belotti last week. I think people in Holland look down on the level in Serie A, but the teams in the top half are really good. And Juventus is a class apart even. The way they are organised. A player like Chiellini for instance. I’m sure he would never make it through the Academy at Ajax or Feyenoord. They’d send him away. But in Italy, they see defending as a pure quality. I like that.”

The friendly vs Italy is 5 days before the Classic, which will most likely decide the title. Blind: “I have not made any agreements with the clubs about the players and how I use them in the Italy game, no. They still have 5 days to recuperate. This is professional football.”

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Debutant Wesley Hoedt

About the strikers: “I have three good options. Lens can play centrally as well. Dost is hot which is great. I think we have a luxury issue, which is nice for me. A couple of good strikers, I can’t complain about that!”

Arjen Robben came later to the Oranje camp with a swollen foot. “I thought OH FUCK there we go again, in bed after the Gladbach match. But it all came down nicely and I have no problem. Saturday, I’ll be 100%. I want to show everyone I’m still here but I won’t do anything silly or over the top to prove myself. But I feel shit that I have to cancel many matches due to injuries. Last time vs Luxembourg I was back and again had to leave the pitch injured. I am so done with that! I really want to play every second for Oranje but I’m 33 years old. I do have to monitor my fitness but as long as it feels like I can, I will….”

robben bul

Yesterday, Oranje had a so-called open training day at Quick Boys in Noordwijk, but a closed off training session in De Arena today. On Friday, they fly to Sofia with a practice session and press conference in the late afternoon.

On Saturday, the match. Sunday, flight back with late practice at Ajax’ youth centre (closed off again) and on Monday a partly open session in the AZ Stadium in Alkmaar, with another presser. Tuesday evening we take on the Italians in a friendly, in the Amsterdam Arena.

vilhena memphis

Memphis is happy again

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Oranje 2016 in six stories….

March 2016: Oranje built on quicksand

This was supposed to be the year of Oranje’s renovation. France was the first opponent. The media was devastating after the 3-2 loss in the friendly against the Euro’s hosts: “In the first half, team manager Blind opted for the 5-3-2 and everything that could go wrong went wrong. Whenever Oranje lost possession the spaces between the lines were so huge that pressure on the ball was failing all the time. In the turn around, Oranje was constantly second best, while in possession Oranje seemed clueless. In the break, Blind returned to 4-3-3 and got Oranje some honour back and we even created a couple of decent attacks.”

This inconsistency in tactics resulted in the conclusion that Oranje was devoid of ideas even after 6 international games under Danny Blind. “This international week was supposed to be the symbol of a new phase of hope and opportunity, but this game versus France demonstrated our weaknesses to the max. The framework is gone, mediocrity rules and we will be confronted with this for weeks if not months to come.”
Typerend beeld voor de oefenwedstrijd van het Nederlands elftal tegen Frankrijk.

Typical shot from the France friendly

The final conclusion was that Oranje hadn’t learned a thing from the friendly vs France. And the media asked questions. “In the recent months, the 5-3-2 system was declared holy for the future. Is that still the case if the players aren’t able to execute it? Are we playing with 4 or 5 at the back? No player can answer it and clearly the team manager doesn’t know either. Cruyff’s motto – stick to what you know and improve on your own identity – offers some handles for the future. If not, than using terms as building is a courageous and ambitious thing, but know you are building on quicksand.”

On the day the media presented this analysis, Blind decided to forget the 5-3-2. In a 4-3-3 Oranje got a strong victory over England on Wembley, which gave new hope. Striker Vincent Janssen became the new symbol. As Van Persie was still absent, the AZ striker became the new leader of the line.

May 2016: ‘I will never say no to Oranje’

At the end of the season, Oranje continues the new look with three friendlies against Euro participants. A draw away against Ireland (1-1), a win in Poland (1-2) and a win in Austria (0-2) are the result and Klaas Jan Huntelaar watches the game from his sofa in the living room. The 33 year old Schalke striker gives an interview. One of the topics: his refusal to come on as a sub against England. “I always want to play and I don’t mind coming on as a sub, but I couldn’t do it for two minutes. I was sitting on the bench all the time and hadn’t had a warm up. Other lads were doing their warm up. Danny needed a player to help out in the last minutes and disturb England’s flow. The risk was simply too big for me to come on cold. I’m 33 years old now, I’m not 21 anymore. I couldn’t take the risk for myself and for Schalke. So I said: “Use one of them. It’s fun for them, so they can add a cap to their name.”

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar traint met Oranje op Wembley. Tot een invalbeurt in het legendarische stadion komt het niet, op zijn eigen verzoek.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar training on Wembley. He won’t play that night. At his own request.

People feared Huntelaar had enough of his cameo role and might even close the door on Oranje. “Ha! People who say this don’t know me. I will never close the door. Sure, I had my tough time in Orange but I’d never walk away. I am not bigger than the National Team. No player is. It’s always a joy to be there. The feel, the national anthem, the fans, that is what drives me. My sharpness is a result of this. I am really touched, every time I play for Oranje.”

But those three friendlies in May/June were too much for Huntelaar. “We are now sparring partner for nations that did make it to the Euros. No player enjoys those games. You are not the focal point. You are not playing for anything. That is tough. It’s an open wound for me, not qualifying. I’ll watch some of it, sure, but I’ll be happy when the Euros are over.”

July 2016:  Dick Advocaat supports Danny Blind 

Oranje’s good results in May and June coincide with Dick Advocaat’s role as new assistant. The veteran coach will take the role of Ruud van Nistelrooy for the WC campaign. “Danny called me and it didn’t take a lot for me to say yes!”.

Advocaat speaks highly of Blind: “His approach, his tactical talks, the way he informs the players about the opponent, that is truly professional. He’s strong verbally and has a natural dominance of the team. As an assistant, you always hear what players think or feel about the coach or the vibe in the team and the players didn’t complain or had anything negative to say. It’s a motivated group, ready for a new start. I played with Blind (at Sparta) but never experienced him as a coach. Some people are really negative about him… I don’t get that at all.”

Wil de échte bondscoach opstaan? Dick Advocaat neemt de coaching op zich in de oefenwedstrijd tegen Ierland.

Assistant coach Advocaat the most animated. Friendly vs Ireland

But the alert reader knew this might not be for the long haul. “I do have a clause in my contract. I want to help Oranje, but if a dream club comes I want to be able to go. If a club wants to sign me, I can go just like that. There’s always offers from Russia, Belgium could be an option.”

In September, Dick got a call and decided on the spot. Fenerbahce called and he packed his bags. Additional mayhem for Oranje, as Marco van Basten left for a cushion job at FIFA.

July 2016: ‘One of our best is ridiculed as a clown” 

The continuing troubles re: Oranje’s technical staff results in a lot of criticism for the new technical director Hans van Breukelen. Former PSV and Oranje goalie Ronald Waterreus gets more and more agitated and supports De Breuk in an article: “I read that Advocaat has a clause in his contract, allowing him to jump a passing train, should this happen. That is something Hans would never do. He commets, with passion, and wants to do his job. And I am convinced he will.”
Hans van Breukelen krijgt veel kritiek als technisch directeur van de KNVB, maar VI-columnist Ronald Waterreus vindt dat onterecht.

Waterreus is angry about a column by satire writer Dijkshoorn, who ridiculed Van Breukelen. “Criticism is fine, but focus on someone’s plans or actions or results. But no, Dijkshoorn tries to make a fool of one our greatest goalies ever. Without any foundation. Turning him into some clown. Dijkshoorn probably never even met Hans. He usually speaks in his columns about scared deers, but I think he is one himself. He is able to be really funny and critical sitting behind his typewriter (sic), but whenever he is on TV in the studio, he is always showering people with compliments. I have 1000 times more respect for Van Breukelen. If he doesn’t let the people around him get under his skin, Hans will lead us to the World Cup.”

 September 2016: ‘Oranje is your annoying friend’

The Dutch team starts the new season with a friendly against Greece. Another nation that didn’t make it to the Euros. And loses at home 1-2. The media: “I think we all had a friend like this. One who would tell you that they hadn’t even start studying yet, the day before the exams. Or who would tell you after the exam that they failed miserable, only to have scored straight As. And you actually didn’t do well at all, because you actually started studying too late. That is exactly what Oranje is doing now. I feel it. It has to be. Holland is the annoying friend. Because how else can a nation who finished third of the world in 2014 suddenly be number 26?? We don’t make it to the Euros and then we lose against Fucking Greece!! It has to be this.”

Griekenland juicht, het Nederlands elftal treurt.

Greece celebrates, Holland in despair

“So, at the start of this WC campaign, we are the Loser Nation of the Football World. And that is the plan, the whole set up. Sweden and France already book tickets for Russia and relax. And they will pay for it.”

But the flying WC campaign start doesn’t happen. Holland is stuck on a draw (1-1) in Sweden. We do win 4-1 versus Belarus but France is again too strong in Amsterdam (0-1). These results mean we’ll have to focus on becoming second in the group.

November 2016: ‘I would have gone crazy’

The year of re-emergence of Dutch football ended with a 1-1 draw vs Belgium and a 3-1 win over Luxembourg. This last win was not a really smooth one. Pierre van Hooijdonk: “It was quite clear what kind of circumstances we’d face, but somehow Danny Blind took the toughest road to victory.”

The way Bas Dost, the Oranje striker, was used annoyed Van Hooijdonk to the hilt. “Dost has had one decent ball to his head. One! From Bruma, in the second half. As a striker, I would explode with anger. With this tactic, Blind could have put Ramselaar in the striker role or any other player who can pass and move.”

Tot ergernis van Pierre van Hooijdonk werd Bas Dost tegen Luxemburg nauwelijks op maat bediend.

Bas Dost vs Luxembourg, never a decent cross

The conclusion of the former Uefa Cup winner was that Oranje is still getting used to this new reality. “The 1-1 in Sweden was unnecessary. Unlucky. But upfront, a draw would have been logical. And to lose against France, based on the differences of quality was also not a surprise. I have gotten used to the fact we are currently not world class. The number of top players is getting lower and lower but also the quality depth is going down fast. Despite that, we’re still in it. We’re second in the goup after a period of injuries (Robben, Strootman, Vlaar, Van Persie, De Vrij) and changes in the staff. If they are able to remain second in the group, it would actually be a top result.”


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Weak Oranje does the job: secure 3 points

I knew the day had to come. The day that Memphis got (some of) his mojo back. It would have been unthinkable that a lad with so much talent would just waste away. Yesterday, Danny Blind needed him. And told him “Memphis, I need you to make a difference!”. And he did.

Earlier on, when Blind was questioned for selecting Depay, he said he trusted his talent. After the Luxembourg game, he added: “I’m not surprised by his turn today. He’s training well. He still has it. I think the difficult time at Man U has made him better.”

It was all about Robben’s return. The 32 year old super winger was missing in action for Oranje for a year (to the day). Our talisman was needed to turn Oranje’s self doubt into swagger. And he does and he did. Whether it was in interviews, press conferences or just that all important difficult look on his face when stepping out of the players’ bus. Robben brings professionalism. The Bayern man was alive in the first half and could have scored 2 or 3. That it was him to break open the score was not a surprise. Passing the ball with his gifted left foot past the goalie. Klaassen had tried it before, Sneijder had an attempt, it was crowded, hasty and nervous. But whenever Robben had the ball, it was all pure class.

arjen scoort lux

A little muscle twitch in the final stages of the first half, however, saw Robben walking off with a grimace on his face. The former Groningen man wanted to keep on going, but the Oranje medical staff advised against it. “Don’t take the risk!”. And he listened. Wesley Sneijder had a tough match too. He was struggling with the abysmal pitch and couldn’t put his stamp on the game. Danny Blind: “I felt the need to go play with two real wingers. Taking Robben off (Berghuis) was a disappointment for us and Arjen, but I wanted to bring Memphis for Wesley to have a better positioning on the field.”

So, the two veterans who were supposed to lead Oranje to success were subbed and two question marks were brought on. And it was Memphis in particular, who took the game by the hand foot. And head. As the little mercurial forward scored his first goal (Oranje’s second) with a C Ronaldo like header on a cross from his ManUnited buddy Daley Blind. The second Memphis goal was a free-kick. After many failed attempts to hit the target from a setpiece in the famous George Best jersey, he finally got it right in an Oranje shirt.

gini memphis

At that time, Luxembourg was already done for. The minions defended like..eh… lions and in particular their goalie had a field day, refusing the likes of Robben, Klaassen and Wijnaldum earlier in the game. The 0-1 was supposed to have come earlier, so Oranje could work on the goal difference. But the goalie and his ferocious defenders – aided by a horrible pitch – stopped Oranje from opening the flood gates. And when we finally got the 0-1, a bad judgement call by Joshua Brenet got Luxembourg on the score sheet. Stekelenburg was able to thwart Man City twice from the spot, but Maxime Chanot did the job: 1-1.

They key for Oranje was to win. And they did. We hoped to see more goals, more flair and more flow but the circumstances were not helping. A bad pitch, a mixed up line up, ferocious defending and a good goalie didn’t help. The Oranje performance was well below par, but with the three points in the bag, it gives some breathing space to the Oranje staff to try and get things right. And Arjen Robben will definitely be at hand to help.

During Holland – France in March, when he wasn’t playing, he was seen debating the tactics with the technical staff during the match. Against Belgium, when Holland was forced to play 5-3-2 with Wijnaldum playing right wing back, again, there was footage of Robben moving in to talk to Hoek and Blind about what was going on. Robben might be our playing captain/coach… He is also the man who reaches a top level whenever he’s fit and shows the confidence and aims for the level we fans are so longing for.

robben sneijder

Arjen Robben, after the match: “I’ll be honest with you, I was a bit shocked when I saw our level today. We were not good. Stray passes, not enough movement, bad decision making. Not what I’m used to and definitely not good enough. We will need to improve. A lot!”

There were mitigating circumstances of course. For starters, Luxembourg parking the bus. Secondly the pitch was dramatic. Thirdly, we played in a new line up yet again, with two debutants as well. I also believe that a goal in the first 15 minutes would have helped. Now, we scored late and 8 minutes later, Luxembourg got their penalty, lifting their spirit.

Joshua Brenet had mixed feelings. “I am happy with Memphis’ two goals. Otherwise I would have felt like shit. I’ll thank him for this. I don’t think it was a penalty though. It happened outside of the box. He didn’t it smartly. Ran across me and then slowed down so I would bump into him. Then he went down as if he was shot. The ref saw it differently. He said I pulled him down. That didn’t even happen! But that guy did it smartly and I was fooled.”

Bast mist luc

Bas Dost is another player with mixed feelings. The Sporting striker is known for his ferocious fighting mentality and self criticism: “Listen, I’m happy. Of course. This is a team sports and our team won. Great, but I would have wanted to do better. I really wanted to score and be important. I can do much better than this. But, sometimes the ball doesn’t get to you and you need to work for the team.”

Just like Luuk de Jong is not good enough for Oranje’s aspiring top level, the same applies for Bast Dost. He is just a good super sub. It’s surprising that Danny Blind still doesn’t want to use Robin van Persie in games like this. He’s smart, experienced and has the quality – like Robben – to decide games with one action. The return of Robben showed a similar approach by the Oranje players as we saw with Argentina-Brazil a couple of days ago. All balls on Robben! And with Argentina: all balls to Messi! Sneijder was isolated on that left wing and I think if we want to utilise Sneijder he should play on the #10 position. I can imagine Blind will play 5-3-2 or 4-5-1 vs France away, but against Bulgaria and teams like that, surely Sneijder can play as shadow striker behind Janssen?

oranje lux

Ramselaar was breath of fresh air. His movement, workrate and forward thinking is needed in this midfield. With Wijnaldum, Bruma and Van Dijk, he was the one of the positives.

Wijnaldum has become a real workhorse in his current role (just as with Liverpool), a long way from his trickster game when playing for Feyenoord as a dreadlocked Gullit wannabe. The spotlights are less on him now, but his role is invaluable. Daley Blind played a mediocre first half but with Memphis in front of him, the ManU player could combine more and penetrate. His cross was the assist for the 1-2 and he also put Memphis one v one with the Luxembourg goalie. Marten de Roon was watching Oranje vs Belgium in England, on the couch, but made his debut late in the Luxembourg game. Pretty proud to mention that he is the first player of my own old amateur club ASWH to reach Oranje! (Started at ASWH, left for Feyenoord youth and then Sparta Academy. The rest is history)

de roon

De Roon: “I got chills when the coach said I had to prepare to go on. It’s a dream come true. When I went to Feyenoord I hoped to reach the top. Some players go the direct route. I had to go via Sparta, Heerenveen, Atalanta and now Middlesbrough. I don’t care. I played 3 minutes in Oranje and I’m happy as can be. The coach did give me some homework. He said I need to be a bit more domineering. Asking for the ball, not just destroying and passing into others. He believes I can do much more in possession. I know this, he’s right. I will work on it. This experience is fantastic and I long for more.”

Danny Blind was realistic: “I know we didn’t play great, but the circumstances weren’t ideal. Missing around 10 players never helps. And Luxembourg has gotten better through the years. This is their best team ever. You don’t win 0-7 just like that anymore. I think we could have scored earlier and if you then score the 0-2 in the first half, you can play yourself to more in the second. But we didn’t take the chances and one mistake puts them back in the game. It has an effect. Luckily we did the business in the second half, and we have the 3 points we needed.”



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Oranje getting ready for Belarus and France w/o Robben

Amidst all the shenanigans at federation level, Danny Blind is keeping his focus on the games ahead. He shrugs off the problems with management, the influence of new Tech Director Van Breukelen and shows confidence for the matches vs Belarus and France.

Danny Blind is not to be envied. Key players missing, overall quality below par, lack of support of his management. But he still finds time to joke. At the press conference last week, Hans van Breukelen was missing due to a wedding party. Blind: “I told Hans he should go nice and early to be ahead of traffic.” Which invoked laughs from the media present.

Asked if he felt the pressure: “I know there is pressure. Just like with any other game. We need wins. Whether I’m working for Oranje, or coaching Ajax 2. Also as a player, we wanted to win every game. That pressure is normal for me. I don’t feel the pressure of needing to win to keep my job. That is counter-productive pressure and I’m fortunate not to have that stress. I don’t do anything for this, it’s just how I am.”

Blind bela

One of the key talking points is Arjen Robben’s fitness. “We all want a fit Robben to play for us. But you have to be realistic and we also have a responsibility towards Arjen. I need him for the full qualification series and for the World Cup. I don’t want to take risks, and neither does his club.”

With all the attention going to the missing Robben, the return of Stefan de Vrij is almost overlooked. It was basically one year ago almost to the day that De Vrij stayed behind in the break with a knee issue.

The Lazio defender is impressing again in the Serie A and is keen to get minutes in his former home, De Kuip. “I am so happy to be back. I so missed this. My first focus was getting fit for Lazio and now I can play without pain, I’m top fit and keen as. Playing for Oranje is amazing and to be able to play on my favorite pitch in my home stadium gives me the goosebumps just thinking about it.”

And here is probably the best news football fans in Holland can get, apart from Robben being 100% fit and ready. Oranje is back in De Kuip. In 2012, KNVB general manager criticised the Feyenoord home as being outdated and obsolete. He copped a lot of criticism from the fans, as De Kuip used to be the home of Oranje for decades. The more sterile and theatre like Arena in Amsterdam was chosen as it has more VIP rooms and restaurants for the sponsors. But De Kuip is a true football temple and one of the most intimidating stadiums of Europe. The fans are close to the pitch, the pitch is arguably the best in Europe –  100% grass, no synthetics – and somehow, De Kuip is always full when Oranje plays (in contrast with half empty Arena and Phillips Stadium experiences).

kuip bela

Youri Mulder: “I scored the winner vs Belarus in the 90s in De Kuip and it is indescribable what happens when you score in De Kuip. It’s like you’re in a cyclone. The energy, the noise, the whole experience. I can only describing it to making love to the girl you have been in love with for years and she never really noticed you. Until suddenly, she does and you meet and fall in love and…magic happens…”

Former Feyenoord striker Peter Houtman: “You enter the stadium from the tunnel and the energy grabs you by the throat. Immediately. Players can’t hear each other. Coaches can’t reach their players. It’s loud and all encompassing. Even now, coming into the stadium, without playing yourself, it’s massive.”


It’s fitting that De Kuip is the new home of Oranje. Feyenoord is the leader in the Eredivisie and was victorious versus Man United in the EL. Rick Karsdorp was part of the Oranje squad twice before, but hasn’t broken his duck yet. “It’s great that we are doing so well with Feyenoord. We are in good shape and the team manager will take notice of that. My career is going from strength to strength. I’m grateful to Fred Rutten for this. He recognised a right back in me, whereas I played playmaker in the youth. But the game has changed and they demand a lot from full backs these days. Build up, speed, tactical awareness and assists.” Karsdorp believes team spirit is the secret for Feyenoord and hopes this can channel into Oranje. “We are like family at Feyenoord. We enjoy playing together and are tight. This is how new players like goalie Brad Jones and striker Jorgensen can adapt so easily. It is not the sum of the individuals, it’s more than that. I hope to get that feeling with Oranje as well.”

oranje bela

Despite the fuzzy warm feelings Karsdorp and co are hoping for, Blind approaches the games very business like. The coach: “Belarus is a tough opponent, yes. Most players are in the Russian league and it’s a tough league to play in. But, we play at home and we have players playing in the EPL, the Serie A, the Bundesliga, Turkey and Portuguese league. I demand a win and I think I am allowed to. The players need to cope with that pressure, because they can. Belarus is a tightly organised, defensive thinking team. They won’t give a lot away, but we need to be on the front foot and win the second ball. Snuff out their counter and keep pressure on. At home, we always want to win and that is the mission.”

For the France game, Blind doesn’t have a different aim. “Again, playing at home, you need to be gutsy and confident. I analysed the friendly against France and they were better. It will be different than playing Belarus. France wants the ball and wants to play. This will give us opportunities.”

wes bela

The former Ajax captain doesn’t wanna give much away regarding the line up, but it is clear that De Vrij, Dost and Karsdorp are making it hard for him. Veltman didn’t impress earlier and seems not in great shape for Ajax either. Dost scores as if he played for Sporting for years and Stefan de Vrij impresses in Italy again. Janmaat being injured, Karsdorp might start. “He is playing well and it’s an advantage to play in De Kuip for him. It’s his home and he’ll feel confident.” He is not planning to use both strikers. “Dost is not a Plan B player alone. He could easily start. I will pick one or the other. I did take Siem de Jong along for an all or nothing hail mary end of the match, if need be.”

Wesley Sneijder didn’t come to the Oranje camp without issues. A muscle injury in his thigh got him subbed for Gala. “Sneijder seems fit now, but with muscle issues, he could actually be in trouble after 10 minutes. It’s a scenario I need to keep in mind. And prepare for that.”

Oranje in training

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Crucial win in friendly for Oranje…

wales elf

Never thought I’d write that sentence… But… Holland needed a win. Blind needed a win! The Dutch media claimed Danny might lose his job after another defeat. Not that I believed this….

But after an abysmal series, we did it. We won. And it was good to see Arjen Robben back on the pitch.

I started this post hours ago and my computer crashed. I usually write my best posts off the cuff so you might miss some wisecracks I won’t be able to repeat….

Note to self: save posts regularly….

Danny Blind decided to go back to 5-3-2. Something Hiddink should never have abandoned. His son Daley organised the defense and played a sturdy solid game at the back. Wonderful in his cut outs and always composed on the ball. Van Dijk played in the center, Bruma too the right. Janmaat got his spot back and celebrated it with an assist. Kongolo played on the left and was clearly less confident on the ball but did have some good passages of play, including the first real cross for striker Dost to attack.

Blind wales

It was a 3-4-3 more than 5-3-2 as Wales sat deep and played how they were able to get their Euros ticket. They missed Ramsey and Bale of course and have a horrible record against Holland, never winning a game ever. Also, Oranje never lost on Brittish soil so Coleman’s team was happy for Oranje to make the play.

We started slow. Partly due to the bad conditions. The pitch looked like a Dutch cow paddock and was s l o w .

Our first real good one touch passage of play got us our first goal, thanks to a wide Janmaat run and a solid cross, allowing Dost his first senior Oranje goal: 1-0. The first change we created as after 15 minutes when the left wing back Kongolo found the Wolfsburg striker for his first attempt at goal.

It looked like we would control the game but Wales did find a way back, in a fortunate way. A late corner in the dying seconds of the first half and a shot blocked by Kongolo in the box with his hands. He did block the shot, but it would have hit his head otherwise and I found the penalty a bit harsh and the yellow card a bit ridiculous.


Cillesen is known to not be a penalty killer. He even got ridiculed in Holland for celebrating extensively recently when a penalty  was hit on the post. As close as he’ll ever get to stop a spot kick, the media laughed. But he did stop this one, only to be let down by his defenders. The upcoming Wales player scored the rebound and we had start all over again in the second half.

Blind’s tactics worked against Wales, although it was the crucial contribution of Sneijder and Robben in particular what won us the game. Promes had promising runs and shows intelligence in his movement. Clasie played solid but at times was caught out. Kongolo and Janmaat were not as effective as they could have been and Dost doesn’t have the Van Persie touch. But all in all, it wasn’t that bad.

robben sneijd wales

In the second half, Robben demonstrated that he can change and win games by himself. He should have scored 4 but ended up with a brace. A typical Robben move from the right coming inside finding time and space for the left foot curler… Everyone knows what he’ll do. That he’ll do it and still there is no stopping him. His movement was quite good, drifting like Cruyff in his best days, with Clasie and Sneijder always having their heads up to find him.

We did concede a second goal and again from a set piece. The team switched off when Wales took their corner quickly and short, no one picked up the players moving in and some Oranje players even had their backs to the ball. A fine header meant 2-2.

It was obvious that one more chance would finish Wales off though and a fine Dost pass into space found Robben, allowing him his 30st goal and allowing Oranje the win.

Virgil wales

I think we – and Danny Blind – can be happy with the performance. Defensively, apart from the two set pieces, we looked alright. Bruma has his wild moments, but Van Dijk and Blind did well. I particularly liked Joel Veltman in the second half, coming on for the injured Van Dijk. The Saint got a knee problem and is out for Germany, but the Ajax man – hailed for his build up qualities – demonstrated he can be tough as a defender as well. He had numerous break ups and went in like a man.

Kongolo needs more confidence but the youngster will come good. Janmaat played well and had his assist, offering more runs and crosses in the second half. Clasie was a bit subdued and doesn’t look 100% fit to me. But he did ok. Dost had an assist and a goal so we can’t complain about him. All in all, better stuff from Holland. For what it is worth.

I think we have the ideal players for a 5-3-2. Against tough opponents, we can play counter attacking football, from a tight defensive organisation, using the speed of our forwards and the intelligent passing from the likes of Sneijder, Clasie and Blind.

In games like these, we can switch to 3-4-3 or any other version ( 3-3-4) in a jiffy with the likes of Willems, Kongolo, Riedewald on the left flank and Janmaat, Tete, van der Wiel on the right. A fit Van Persie could be replacing Dost and with Bazoer, Wijnaldum, Klaassen in midfield we have legs, duelling power and football intelligence in midfield.

Robben Bazoer

We are ok for goalies and as long as Sneijder and Robben can play like this we have a good chance of returning to the top of world football in 2 to 4 years.

Danny Blind was happy with the team performance: “I think we showed grit, we showed creativity and patience. I am very upset about the two conceded goals though. We shifted to 5-3-2 to stop the onslaught of goals, but switched off twice to allow Wales back into it after set pieces. That has to stop.”

Ajax midfielder Bazoer made his debut for Oranje late in the game, replacing Jordy Clasie but he won’t be traveling to Germany with team as he has a slight hamstring scare.

Arjen Robben was delighted to be of importance. The former Groningen winger said repeatedly that he wants to follow Ryan Giggs in his footsteps and play as long as possible, focusing on nutrition and yoga to keep his body fit. “I am happy to have had an impact, although I should have scored four tonight.  But yes, Giggs got a different role in the autumn of his career, playing more from midfield. I like to think that my experience and vision will help me do that to when I need to. But the tests at Bayern Munich show I still am as explosive and quick as two years ago, and that gives me great confidence. I want to play another World Cup.” Asked about his Bayern colleague Philip Lahm, who recently retired from international duties. “Lahm has won everything. He won the World Cup in 2014 so that makes a difference. Once I win the World Cup in 2018, I might retire as well, hahahaha. But anyway, I’m happy with this game, at times we played really well.”

dost scores

Bas Dost is over the moon. “I am really happy, I have to pinch myself. I have players like Van Persie and Huntelaar usually in front of me and for me to finally start a game was a dream come true. When Janmaat whipped that ball in, I knew I had to score. That was my ball. I am so happy.”

Wesley Sneijder was quick to say that this system should be used from now on. “We are not good enough for 4-3-3. We conceded too many goals. You cannot qualify if you concede 23 in 10 games, or whatever it was. It is simple. When Danny asked us (Robben and Sneijder) about the change of system we both said yes… We need to. And like this, we can get ourselves out of the rut really quickly I think.”

23 wales

Asked if the 5-3-2 would have resulted in qualifications for the Euros: “I am not sure. It’s too easy to say this now. We missed a fit Arjen Robben and a fit Robin van Persie. We have great young talents coming through but these two are world class players. Without them it is hard. Take C Ronaldo out of Portugal or Zlatan out of Sweden and you have different teams. We are not a Germany or Spain with heaps of top class players and this series we were vulnerable. Most of our goals conceded were not the result of 4 or 5 at the back, but has to do more with sharpness, with focus. The two goals we conceded here as well. You can four Robbens and we’d still have conceded them. It is never just one thing….”

Cillesen: “Stopping the penalty was good but still conceding put a wet blanket on it. But I am not too concerned you know. The media made it into a thing. I never did. You stop a penalty, sometimes it’s just luck. I did well to punch it but I wanted the ball to go more to the side. Let’s hope next time it all goes well.”

cillesen pen

Blind: “It is a bit ironic. We have tremendous length in our squad now, with Virgil and Dost. Usually, we have the likes of Vlaar, Van Persie. We should not concede header goals. This sharpness, or lack thereof, needs to be ironed out. Against Wales in a friendly you get away with it, but against Germany or even Iceland when it matters, it is not enough. You can see we still need the smarts and vision of the older players too, going forward. Wesley and Arjen were instrumental for us. I wish we could use Arjen against Germany.”

With Robben, Bazoer and Van Dijk out, we will most like see the following line up vs Germany:


Janmaat Bruma Veltman Blind Pieters

Wijnaldum Clasie Sneijder

Huntelaar Memphis




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Oranje keen for some Turkish Delight

And we’re back!! After a long pause, in which yours truly had to muster the energy to keep on going as well.

A long spell without Oranje and some serious side effects getting used to an Oranje sans Van der Vaart and sans Van Persie. With Van Gaal gone and Hiddink not yet having a handle on the team and with our former heroes struggling with fitness (RVP, Fer, Strootman), relegation (Van der Vaart) or even playing time (Afellay, Stekelenburg, De Zeeuw) I really loath watching EPL games with not enough Dutch names in the teams. Janmaat, Krul, Blind… That’s about it. I will have to make do with semi-Dutch players like Bony, Eriksen, Vertonghen and Chadli.

But, it’s starting again. And I’ll give it one more go.

Guus Turk

I do ask for your support yet again as I can use it very well these days. The cost are always there before the benefit (traditional Dutch saying)  and times are lean. So please find it in your heart to drop me some coins to sustain this adventure.

Two major topics, as far as I’m concerned!! The game vs Turkey and the Future of Dutch football.

Oranje has a good balance against Turkey. We played against them eleven times and won five, while we only lost two. We blocked their qualification for the WC Brazil in 2013. Arda Turan, Turkish playmaker in Atletico Madrid’s service is suspended. For Holland, De Jong, De Vrij and BMI are in danger of missing the next game when booked.

Arjen Robben had to take a break the last week due to a slight injury but Hiddink does expect the Bedum winger to play and carry the team.


Team manager Hiddink has added Bas Dost to the to the definitive squad, along with De Guzman and Klaassen. The latter two were not part of the prelim squad. RVP is not part of it, neither are Van Beek, Elia, Promes, van Rhijn, Vlaar (injured) and Jeroen Zoet.

Oranje will perform their away games in a classic tribute to the seventies. All white jerseys with the iconic lion on the chest. The shorts are very contemporary though. Orange with white stripes, resembling speed, according to Nike. “This new style is a tribute to Oranje’s style of play and is symbolic for speed, movement and energy”. Oranje will not wear this versus Turkey though, as Holland plays at home in the usual Orange kit. The friendly against Spain on March 31 will be the first opportunity for us to showcase the new kit.

Until De Kuip is renovated, the Amsterdam Arena will be Oranje’s home ground and the KNVB has sold 48,500 tickets for the qualification game. As per usual, there will be a lot of Turks living in the Netherlands cheering their team on.

Robben turk

Hiddink will not link his future to the result vs Turkey. “I did that against Lithuania. That is a small football nation. We should always win that. But Turkey is different. This is a big nation. Any team can lose against the Turks. But losing against them means we do lose grip on our qualification and that will be bad. But I am convinced we will get the result. ” Hiddink was a bit vague about his future after the last qualification game. “On purpose. For me it’s not just the football. I needed to get a better handle on things around the team. The broader organisation. I had to have a number of talks internally. And we did. I’m currently really pleased with my situation and the circumstances of the team.”

With Ajax’ exit from Europe, Guus was quized about his views on the Dutch clubs in Europe. “It’s a disappointment becaue we can do better. Sure, Zenit has a higher budget and AS Roma is a big club, but you can compensate that with effort, energy, spirit and smarts. It’s about taking those opportunities and giving it the extra 10%. But having said this, we have tremendous talents still coming through and if you see players like Van Beek, Bazour and Kishna, it’s ok if they make some mistakes. They’re still young. Oranje is still being carried by players playing abroad. Our next generation of players there, like Fer, Dost, De Vrij, De Guzman, will need to grow to the level of players like Robben, Sneijder and Van Persie.”


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