After a bit of a break (and a lot of Olympics ! ) it’s time to focus on football again. This weekend, the Eredivisie starts and so do some of the competitions around us (EPL, Ligue 1, etc).
National Team Manager Louis van Gaal also presented his prelim squad for the upcoming September WC qualification games.
The news that dominated the sports papers though, was Messi’s exit from Barca. Much has been said about it. I have to admit: I was saddened by the news. The guy wants to play at Camp Nou but other people’s mistakes (and maybe some foul play by Real Madrid??) have pushed the Best Player Ever ™ out. We all saw the presser, we all have our own ideas about it. I’m sure Memphis will have mixed feelings. Would it be grand to play with Leo? Yes it would. But without Messi, there is a vacuum in leadership and star-ship (?) and Memphis will be the first to put his hand up to take the free-kicks and penalties from now on.
Wijnaldum must be giggling himself to sleep. One of the reasons why he desperately hoped on a deal with Barca was the chance to play alongside Messi. The finances weren’t good enough for Team Wijnaldum and when PSG offered him twice the deal Barcelona had on the table, he decided to go for his future generations, more than his ego.
And guess what, Gini will be super busy in that midfield now, knowing that Mbappe, Neymar and Messi are not known for their zealous pressing. Wijnaldum might well turn out to be PSG’s key player, amongst all those Hollywood stars.
In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord impress. PSV because of their rollercoaster games in the CL qualifications, with power in midfield, speed up front and goals. Schmidt and Co were able to secure the services of Brazilian Ramalho who made an impression. Boscagli bounced back from his horrific start under Van Bommel and in midfield Marco van Ginkel is playing like a true Roman emperor: back straight, always looking over the ball and playing like a real captain. With the likes of Propper, Sangare and Gotze in midfield, PSV is a formidable challenger for the title. English junior international Madueke claimed all the headlines with his goals, while we all know that Cody Gakpo is destined for great things too! Mo Ihattaren who?
Feyenoord impressed too, not so much due to the wins over Drita and Luzern (which you could expect) or the “friendly” victory over Atletico Madrid, but more due to the fact that coach Arne Slot’s ideas are being processed and implemented so easily, it seems. The addition of CB Trauner from Austria is a big plus, as Feyenoord can now play higher up the pitch. Danish RB Pedersen also adds speed to Feyenoord’s defence. Marco Senesi is impressing with his passing ability and in midfield it seems Guus Til has been able to convince Van Gaal to give him a look in, with his prolific goal scoring and work rate. Up front, Iranian Jahanbakhsh will dazzle the Legion and we also expect Sinistera to get back to his full form and fitness after his tough injury. Oh, and if goalies are key to winning games and titles: Ajax has 37 year old Pasveer, PSV has the somewhat insecure Drommel but Feyenoord has the future Oranje goalie between the sticks. That could well be the differentiator.
We don’t need to mention Ajax, I don’t think. They are in good shape. When you have Blind, Tadic, Antony, Berghuis, Kudus, Timber, Schuurs, Martinez and Klaassen in your squad, you will be the title favorite. Although for me, Ajax will most likely focus more on the CL this season.
In other news, Dumfries finally gets his transfer to Inter. Van Aanholt moves to Turkey. Donyell Malen impresses at Dortmund, Donny van de Beek buffed up in the gym and Virgil is back in action and just signed a new deal with Liverpool.
Which brings us to Louis, who explained how he works as the National Team Manager.
As per usual, Van Gaal is not afraid to give youngsters their debut. In this case, maybe also an oldster. Remko Pasveer, Justin Bijlow and Joel Drommel could all make their debut in Oranje, as could Tyrell Malacia as left back and Devyne Rensch as right back. The Feyenoord LB is the only real left back in the squad, as Van Gaal doesn’t believe Wijndal and Van Aanholt have the fitness levels currently.
Stekelenburg has ended his international career and Cillesen is still not fit.
Louis van Gaal creates a squad every week (!), usually. Even in weeks/months when the NT doesn’t play. This makes his life easier and this is how it works. LVG and his staff use three stages in their work: preparation, execution and evaluation. Execution is the match itself, obviously. The preparation consists of: 1) analysis of opponent, 2) selecting the NT squad, 3) downloading information to the players via tactical talks, video analysis and training.
The evaluation is in group processes and individual, also with video analysis.
In his first tenure as NT coach, in 2000 for the 2002 World Cup, he made a crucial mistake. He decided to trust the core of players he worked with before: Davids, Seedorf, Kluivert, De Boer bros, etc. He gave them his trust also when they didn’t perform. He stopped doing this. For the 2014 World Cup, he went with his system and playing principles and picking the players who were in form, in full fitness and mentally ready (to be coached).
He produced a profile per position in the team and that is the benchmark for picking players. Then it’s all about: form, talent, fitness. He has a group of around 60 potentials, which he follows with his staff every week. Every Monday, he and his staff gather in Zeist to discuss the games they’ve seen and in particular the performance of the players. And every Tuesday, he’d make a 23 player squad. And thus, making his final squad for a certain NT match is an easy process. The skeleton frame is there, it’s just a matter of checking which of the lads is potentially injured, or lost his spot or has issues otherwise…
In 2,5 weeks, our beloved NT is ready to rumble again. Away against Norway on September 1, at home vs Montenegro on September 4 and at home v Turkey on September 7. By then, we know where we stand…
This is my eleven for Norway away. The other line ups will have to wait (depends on result, on fitness, etc).
What is your fave line up for Norway away? In the comments please :-).