All the most wonderful season’s greetings to all of you, loyal fans and followers of Oranje and this blog!! Whether you celebrate Christmas, or Hannukah, or the winter/summer solstice… I wish you a great time.
But I wish Memphis Depay, Donyell Malen and Daley Blind even more good wishes! In case you forgot who Memphis is, I put a top video with his skills below at the end of the post. Goosebumps. Boy, that kid can play!
Memphis Depay has been operated on, and at first glance, successfully in Rome. The optimistic noises are that he might be ready for action in 5 months. But that is when everything goes well. And that is not always the case with these knee ligament operations. Some players can easily be out for a year… Also, even if Memphis makes it in 5 months, he’ll have to work his ass off to be ready for a top match. And then I’m not even talking about the risk he will run for the rest of his career. He wouldn’t be the first to risk it all for one tournament. 25 year old Memphis might be best off to stay on the sideline for the Euros and come back with a real vengeance to win us the World Cup in 2022.
Memphis in hospital, in Rome
Doneyll Malen’s injury is not 100% clear, at least not the severity of it. First indications are that he might be out for 3 months, but again, it can easily make a turn for the worse… For him, the same consideration works… Working really hard to get back into fitness might derail his career further down the track.
And Daley’s injury (inflamed heart muscle) is the most vague one. He says he’s feeling really good. But he’s not training and playing. Some doctors became talking heads on tv and a number claims it’s really nothing, while another sub group of experts claim he might never play football ever again. Stressful days for the Blind family, as the uncertainty must be hard. At least Memphis and Donyell’s trajectory to fitness are clear. Tough, but clear.
Malen off the pitch with a bad knee injury
In the days of joy, gay times and Christmas cheer, most news sources will give you nice insights and stories about the past year or even decade (as we’re moving out of the ’10s).
This post will not do this. We’ll look forward, to the upcoming 2020 summer, the Euros. Holland did ever so well to qualify, and also in a way inwhich we get to play 3 home games in Amsterdam! How good is that.
The fact we might miss our attacking leader, our young talented mercurial goal scorer and our brains and visionary at the back puts a big cold, wet blanket over it all.
How will we replace these three (if we indeed need a replacement for Blind)…?
Start with Memphis. His contribution? Brilliance. Power. Leadership. Assists. Goals. His movement, his unpredictability means opponents need two players to guard him. For me, Bergwijn or Promes are the only players that could take that role. They both have experience, are strong physically and can do all Memphis can do, except maybe for the leadership part. For this, others will need to step up (Wijnaldum?).
This is leadership: taking the initiative to remove a negative banner from a Lyon (!) fan
As we now have Stengs making an impression for the right wing, we could well use Promes as central striker (as Spartak did for many a game) and move Bergwijn to the left.
Donyell Malen’s qualities? Goals. Assists. Speed. Runs. And lots and lots of runs. In behind. Dummy runs. Dirty yards, on and on.
I think Malen might not have been a starter in Koeman’s ideal XI, so for Malen we can pick an alternative that – like him – is still considered a youngster. A player with speed and the willingness to leave it all on the pitch. Dilrosun comes to mind. Danjuma comes to mind (even though he is struggling with injuries himself now, too), and as Willem van Hanegem commented: Joshua Zirkzee comes to mind too! Why not.
(Zirkzee is only 18 years old, but you know what you could expect, when Bayern Munich uses him as the super sub with 5 mins to go, to force something. And twice he did already. When you’re old and good enough to play for Bayern, surely you are good enough for Oranje…)
Young Zirkzee at Bayern
Myron Boadu would be a sure fire option of course. Yes, he’s a central striker but he can also play from the left. He’s good speed and good work ethics. His conversion stats need to go up, though.
Some outsiders for the position are Cody Gakpo and Noa Lang. Gakpo is a PSV gem. A player with the right foot of David Beckham, work ethics and speed too. He can score a goal, and assist a goal. Used as a left winger in PSV, he can also play from midfield. Noa Lang is a player Ajax has tremendous faith in. He’s also unpredictable, fast and can score and assist a goal but recently his strongheadedness came to the fore, and Erik ten Hag had a right and loud go at him during a national cup game. Also, Lang doesn’t make the runs he should be making, but instead wants ball to feet a lot.
Our hope for a good world class striker: Myron Boadu
Lastly, Daley Blind. Probably the hardest player to replace. Top passing. Vision. Build up skills. Leadership. Positioning. We simply do not have any other player like him. So replacing him at left back will result in Koeman having to rethink his shape. We do have some exciting options for the left back spot. I personally rate Owen Wijndal high, but I think Van Aanholt would be the first option to replace Blind. Feyenoord’s Haps could be an option too as is Robin Gosens of Atalanta.
Whichever player gets the spot, none will do what Daley does, so we’ll have to find another solution for his role in the build up. We will probably play with two typical full backs, players with lungs and legs more than brains and passing. So another Dumfries type on the other flank, meaning a midfielder (Frenkie) will have to drop back a tad more often, to allow for “3 at the back” and to allow the backs to push up. Which would work well with a player like Bergwijn on the left flank, as he can then move into the half space.
Daley on the turf, vs Valencia in CL. Really strange that Ten Hag didn’t take him of…
This might result in a role for a “playing” holding mid, like Davy Propper or Donny van de Beek next to Frenkie, as opposed to a more defensive blocker such as Marten de Roon or Kevin Strootman.
In the meantime, fingers and toe crossed for De Ligt and his position in Juventus. For Rick Karsdorp coming back to full fitness and form fast.
My squad, based on the knowledge of today and without Blind, Malen and Memphis…
Goalies: Jasper Cillesen, Tim Krul, Marco Bizot
RB: Karsdorp, Dumfries
CB: De Ligt, Ake, Van Dijk, De Vrij
LB: Van Aanholt, Wijndal
Midfield: Frenkie, Wijnaldum, Propper, Van de Beek, Ihattaren, De Roon
Forwards: Stengs, Promes, Bergwijn, Danjuma, Weghorst, Boadu
Obviously, all three players (Blind, Malen and Memphis) will be welcome in my squad when fit. I would take out Van Aanholt, Boadu and De Roon if these three end up being fit.
Robin Gosens of Atalanta… dark horse for LB?