As Oranje fans we had our fair share of defeats and disappointments. And our fair share of criticism for the coach. A new coach usually results in a little oomph, a motivational injection to give players the impetus to show themselves, to prove themselves.
At the same time, you’d expect the coach to take logical decisions. We missed that at times under Hiddink, Blind and Advocaat. Koeman brought common sense and realism back, both in tactics and in organisational aspects around the team.
Frank de Boer was supposed to follow the course Koeman set sail in. This is what the players requested. But in the first friendly vs Mexico it seems Frank likes to tinker to experience things for himself. The most useful friendly ever was an opportunity for Frank to test partnerships and see youngsters at work.
It showed us a couple of things: Wijndal is defensively not ready for the big games. Hateboer is great, in a 3-4-3 (or 5-3-2) system. Not as a defender in a back 4. Koopmeiners has everything to become a top international. Berghuis is the man in form.
Against Bosnia, it was a certainty that Blind and Dumfries would return into the team, but there was some hope that De Boer would use the more dynamic Van de Beek in his line up, instead of De Roon. And everyone expected Berghuis to start.
Sadly, De Boer decided to use De Roon as holding mid against a team that was known to sit back and play compact. De Roon had the most touches of the whole team (105+ or so) and you know you’re in trouble when that is the case.
Even more sadly, for some reason De Boer used Malen as a right winger (!) instead of Berghuis. Malen never played right on the wing at top level (maybe in his youth) while Berghuis is one of the few players in top form (with Luuk de Jong and Stefan de Vrij). Van Dijk is not 100%, Cillesen doesn’t play, Promes is terribly lacking confidence and form… the list goes on.
With Luuk de Jong up front you want to see crosses. It took 70 minutes for Frank de Boer to bring Steven Berghuis and with the Feyenoord captain in the team, Holland started to become more threatening.
Frank de Boer admitted after the game that he regretted not starting with Berghuis, which probably means the former Watford winger will start vs Italy.
De Boer rued the open chances we got. Bosnia wasn’t great either and did get a couple of opportunities (in particular when Dzeko came in in the second half) but Holland had a number of chances that really needed to be converted at this level. If you want to be top, you gotta score them. A free header for Stefan de Vrij. A shooting opp for Frenkie from an acute angle, Luuk de Jong’s header, the Frenkie opportunity after a probing run by Berghuis and a open chance for Babel after a great Frenkie move on the left.
Babel didn’t hit the target, and probably broke the corner flag in two.
At least one of those needed to be converted to get us the three points and the lead in the group (as Italy drew in Poland).
There were a lot of things we can pinpoint here. Low passing speed. Lack of creativity in build up. Lack of forward passing from the back. Lack of understanding between the players in the ax (Wijnaldum?) and highly disappointing performance by Quincy Promes.
But overall, I do blame Frank de Boer for this draw. It is not in my nature to blame the coach for one bad game, but I don’t understand why he played De Roon and not Van de Beek nor do I understand why Malen didn’t play from the left, with Berghuis on the right.
Against Italy, De Roon would have been needed (but he is suspended for that match). Now Frank needs to bring Donny (I suppose) and I can’t see him ignore Berghuis again.
Depending on fitness, I think we’ll see the same team, with Memphis for Luuk. I hope Malen will keep his place and Berghuis for Promes. Van de Beek for De Roon (with Wijnaldum next to Frenkie and Donny on #10).
But, it doesn’t matter who starts, if we don’t learn to read the game and spot the danger (like when Oranje played Italy at home and their left back thought he was having his birthday and Xmas on the same day!) versus Italy we will get hammered.
I hope Frank has learned from his screw up and gets this team to play to their potential. I think 1-3 again. Own goal De Vrij, and upfront Berghuis, Memphis and Van de Beek scoring.
And then, we lead the group again. As we like it.