Tag: Kane

Oranje’s eye on the prize!

What a season! We saw some incredible football this last season, both domestically as internationally… and we have all the right to be excited about our lads, as our season isn’t even over. Who would have thought: Ajax to progress so far in the CL and two Dutch players lifting the CL trophy, while Oranje is in the race for a real prize as well?

Ironic how the CL finals, between two exciting teams, was so terribly disappointing!

So all the focus is back on Oranje now and the Nations League. Most players are keeping mum about any transfers as they all want to deal with that first trophy first…

So what can we win?

This Nations League is a real prize and reward, for the nation that wins it, but it will not result in a Euro tournament ticket! It’s important to keep reminding people.

The qualification for the Euros is a separate competition and Holland has 3 points after 2 games (win vs Belarus and a loss vs Germany). As Holland won the Nations League group, we are entitled to play offs should we not qualify organically. That play off ticket has nothing to do with the upcoming games though.

Prestige and money are the only things at stake now. Today, the Nations League doesn’t mean a lot, but in 1960, when the first European Championship was played, that didn’t mean much either. In 1960, there were only four nations competng. And the Soviet Union won it. But, today that tournament is a big thing and the Soviets are really in the history books. This Nations League might grow into something like that too and why not win it if you can?

The Dutch FA has already made 4,5 Mio Euros by reaching this level. We can earn another 6 Mio Euros if we win the whole thing. We can also add more coefficiency points for Dutch football if we do well, that is also important!

Oranje will go into the games (England on Thursday evening and the finals or losers-finals on Sunday) with a lot of positive vibes. Ajax did ever so well. De Roon and Hateboer will be buoyant, Gini and Virgil obtained legend status, and for most players, the season prior was really good.

England will have a mix of disappointed and tired players (Spurs) and confident players (Chelsea, City, Liverpool). Overall, England might be a tad more leggy, as all their players do play in the toughest league and most also played a World Cup last Summer… That might just be the difference.

Oranje will be fresh and eager, England might be a bit more tired. We’ll see

Fact is that coach Southgate has done really well with his young squad and he’s moved away from the 5-3-2 he used against Koeman’s Oranje in the first match the former Barca Snowflake coached for us (lost 0-1). England is now all 4-3-3 with speedy forwards (Santo, Sterling, Rashford), a strong hold up player / target man in Kane and offensive full backs.

Koeman will most likely play the 4-2-3-1 to counter the Poms and it’s highly likely that Gini and Virgil will start.

Ronald Koeman was briefly the topic of a debate in Holland, when news seaped through from Spain that Barca might be eyeing the former defender as the new head coach. Koeman always said it was his dream to one day coach the Catalonians. But, he also said coaching Oranje was his dream, so… Only two days ago, he ended the debate, saying that he gave his word to the KNVB and will not abandon Oranje mid project. Good on him!

“It’s about time we start and play a match. I am getting antsy. We had time with half the squad in Zeist, we went to Portugal to prepare too. Everyone is keen and fit and we can’t wait to finally start the game. Virgil and Gini will start, they won’t feel any fatigue or knocks, not after winning the CL. And yes, I will have to disappoint some lads. That is what it is. It’s the job. If I couldn’t do this, I would be fit for a coach,” Koeman said.

And he went on: “We are looking good. I think as a squad we made progress, we play well together and we can play different systems. The players all have developed further individually as well and the spirit in the team is excellent. We are keen, we are hungry and we know who we are, again. England is a touch opponent though, as they are not much different from us. Young players, creativity and flair, they are hungry too and are capable of playing different styles and systems. I think England will be one of the favorites to win the EC 2020 actually.”

Koeman is positive. “I think we can beat them, sure. We didn’t have to lose against them two years ago, even. And we only got better and we are very eager. If you win and things go well, you don’t feel the fatigue. In 1988 I won the European Cup with PSV and we went on to win the Euros too. Yes, it’s a long season but you live for this sortathing.”

Mathijs de Ligt is constantly asked about his future. The young Ajax skipper has decided to keep his mouth shut until after the Nations League. Rumours abound, of course. Koeman: “This lad.. he’s only 19 years old but plays like a 25 year old. The sheer fact he is captain of Ajax and has players like Schone, Tadic and Ziyech who allow him to lead, that says a lot. And he’s smart. Eager to learn and to keep on doing extra work. I have talked to him about his future, yes, but that remains between us. I just hope he moves to a big club, he’s ready for it.”

England midfielder Declan Rice caused some controversy when he said earlier in an interview that he will stop Frenkie de Jong from playing “even if he has to get dirty”. Koeman doesn’t think England will resort to negative play though. Koeman: “I think he didn’t mean it literally. I think he simply talks about maybe man marking Frenkie. There is no real opportunity for dirty play anymore as there will be a VAR anyway. But if he means physical, I think Frenkie won’t mind, as it will give him opportunities. And we have players who can hold their own in that kind of play.”

It is going to be interesting to see who Koeman will use… He usually sticks to the core he has. As we saw with the squad… A player like Weghorst will have to do a lot, to replace Luuk de Jong. That is part of how Koeman works.

With Donny van de Beek having such a sensational season, a lot of people expect Koeman to replace De Roon with Van de Beek. I am not sure. Playing England will probably mean Ronald will want to make sure the balance is right. I can see Van de Beek starting from the bench, and once we reach the finals vs Portugal, he might decide to use Van de Beek. Portugal will probably play reaction football and we might not need the extra “destroyer” in midfield.

On the other hand, hardworking and dynamic Donny might be the right man to cover the left flank, should Sterling play there. To assist left back Blind.

I think we’ll see Cillesen in goal, De Ligt and Van Dijk centrally in defence. We’ll probably see strong, tall and quick Dumfries on the right and Blind on the left. We might see Donny left on midfield, with Frenkie centrally and Wijnaldum on the right… Upfront, I’m pretty sure Promes will play on the right (more in a controlling role) and Babel and Memphis a bit more forward.

Next post will be about the England game… I do have quite some good stuff awaiting you: interview with Donny, interview with Ten Hag and some more goodness…

Below, the interview with Koeman before the England game we lost, 2 years ago… With some old footage and subtitles..

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Courageous brilliant Ajax crumbles under pressure

Well, I REALLY needed to take a day extra before writing this… It was such a rollercoaster with all these amazing emotions floating through the body… From sheer exuberance (first half) to fear, horror, terror, disbelief in the second half and complete and utter shock at the final whistle.


What was I watching?

How was this possible. Was Tottenham so amazing? Were they so good? Did we just see another English club smashing it, like Wijnaldum Liverpool smashed Barca?

You know what? NO!

Ajax didn’t lose against Spurs. They lost against Ajax. Ajax was Ajax toughest opponent.

And the boys who became men suddenly looked like boys again.

I was distraught. I was disappointed. And I was angry.

Not at Moura. Not at Pochetino. I was angry at Tadic. At Ziyech. At Ten Hag. Schone and Onana.

What on Earth were they thinking???

I will not give you a clear match report or anything. Forget about that.

Ok, I will. But briefly. Open Game. End to End. Ajax on the counter, Tadic forcing a corner. Great block (and terrible defending Spurs) and De Ligt heads 1-0. Great.

Spurs pushing probing shooting etc but another break got Ziyech in position. Magnificent left foot. Magnificent goal: 2-0.

Second half, yadda yadda Llorente yadda yadda long balls yadda yadda route 1 yadda yadda fight football.

So in the second half, Ajax has free kick. Blind and De Ligt move up. The rest defence looks vulnerable. Ball is turnaround, long ball is passed on to Moura. Schone doesn’t have the speed. Onana decides to stay in his goal. Easy goal. 2-1

Hmm… Was it really necessary to push so many players forward? For a free kick with a bad angle to get a real goal scoring opportunity?

Ajax is rattled and 2 mins later, their whole defence is split apart, with two Spurs players free in the 6 yard box. Onana saves miraculously but Schone decides to kick the ball away from Onana’s hands, giving Moura another opportunity. The Brazilian has 5 (!!) deft touches in the box before he buries it. WHAT? 2-2

And then: Ajax starts to play again, and Ziyech gets opportunities, Tadic too. But to no avail.

So with 2 minutes on the clock in extra time. 2 minutes! TWO!! Tadic decides to go for glory and the top corner. Curling it in. But the ball is wide and high. Lloris bring the ball back into the field and with a hail mary, the ball ends up with the Brazilian yet again. De Ligt is wrong footed and out of balance, he can’t block the shot. Tagliafico should have put his body on the line but stayed on his fee: 2-3.

End.Of.Story. End.of.Dream. What a bloody waste, what a missed opportunity.

Even when Ajax mourns the loss, their positioning is still great!

And YES: of course, reaching the semis was great. And yes, we all love these guys. And yes, they entertained us to the hilt. And yes, De Ligt, Ziyech, Neres, Van de Beek, Mazraoui, they will all get fat deals somewhere and some stage. Sure.

But they could and should have reached the finals and they can only blame themselves.

Erik ten Hag might have done better. Experienced Tadic and Blind should have managed the game better. Ziyech should have scored. Onana should have raced out of his area with that first Spurs goal. All true. But at the end of the day, Ajax gave it away.

And now, Ajax has two league games to win. And they will have to win them, otherwise their season – despite the national cup – will be a big disappointment in terms of silverware.

Sadly, this Ajax will not win a Champions League anytime soon. It’s likely that De Ligt and De Jong and Ziyech will leave. I do have faith in Eijting, I think he is a great player. He will take Frenkie’s spot I think, but there will not a second De Ligt of course.

Thanks for the memories Ajax, but really… you did end up breaking our hearts…

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The Best of the 2018World Cup

The best of this 2018 World Cup is definitely this wonderful Neymar Alphabet typeface. Some Brazilian went creative and made this and it’s just too funny (and smart).

I didn’t like this World Cup much, to be honest. Sure, partly due to Oranje not being there. And we lost in the qualifications against the eventual World Cup winners. Nice excuse. But we wouldn’t have done so badly in Russia, I don’t think. The only team to really impress from day 1 to the end was Croatia for me.

And yes, Modric does look like Cruyff. And like Cruyff in 1974, Modric didn’t win the World Cup but he will be remembered mostly, like our Johan was back then.

Please challenge my opinion below if you must. Belgium was hot and cold. Lukaku was good in the group stages but wasteful in the knock out stages. Mertens, invisible. Dembele sadly unused.

It’s fun to make fun of Neymar, but truth be told: he clearly wasn’t 100% fit to play

France played negative football. You had the most impressive players (Lacazet, Audambayang, Rabiot weren’t needed for instance, Payet wasn’t missed) paired with a defensive, fearful coach. MBappe’s speed was sacred and France got some help from te VAR here and there too. Won’t go into the history books as a great winner (like the 1998 French team). Their striker Giroud had no shots on goal in 500+ minutes of football. The Dutch satire newspaper De Speld even broke the news Giroud actually missed three hi-fives after winning the World Cup….

The rest? England? Clueless with the ball. Russia. Nice, fun, underdogs, like Wales and Iceland at the Euros2016 but quality? Not really? Spain, Argentina, Germany, Portugal, woeful really.

VAR ref Danny Makkelie

And then the VAR! Messy to say the least. Lack of consistency, lack of clarity. Who takes the decision at the end? The ref or the VAR ref? When is hands hands? Why can two players pull a Serbia striker down to the ground? Why can Sweden’s Berg be tackled from behind in the box? Too many question marks.

So, no Mr Infantino. It was not a great World Cup.

Yes, the tv coverage was great. The stadiums were full. The vibe in Russia appeared to be awesome. But the quality of the football was below par.

Back to the season prep for the national competitions then.

I won’t go into all the different transfer news items, as it’s an ongoing thing and I don’t post enough to keep track and all of you abreast of the situation.

But there are some nice things to share:

Ajax is bringing some top quality to the Eredivisie! Dujan Tadic, Daley Blind… Nice one. Labyad from FC Utrecht is coming in. Per Schuurs is in Amsterdam. And Ziyech hasn’t left yet. Yowza!

But Frenkie de Jong’s transfer to Barcelona is an ongoing topic in the Spanish papers, while Mathijs de Ligt might also still be lured away, now he’s with super agent Raiola.

Feyenoord is losing some key players. Karim El Ahmadi is gifted a free transfer to Saudi Arabia, but it seems Sven van Beek is on his way to Cocu’s Fenerbahce. Sadly, only for 5,5 mio euros, for some reason. Unbelievable really. De Ligt is worth 50 mio apparently? But Van Beek only 1/10th of that?

But Feyenoord is planning to have Jordy Clasie come back, on loan from Southampton and is hoping to get Leroy Fer back as well.

PSV is still scoping on a new midfielder, now Marco van Ginkel is out with a heavy knee injury again and back in London. Mark van Bommel is the real big signing for PSV of course.

It’s good for the Eredivisie to have some European top players return. A stronger competition is good for everyone.

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Oranje back in action…..

If you start writing a post but don’t have time to finish it you can punished! The prelim squad becomes definite, new players come and existing players get injured…

Never a dull moment. Please accept some “old” news in this post but I will make it current as I write (and you read) along….

Coach Danny Blind gave his prelim squad and happy to see he went for the usual suspects and gave Davey Propper the highly deserved nod.

The PSV midfielder is one of the revelations of this season and reminds me of elegant classy midfielders like Phillip Cocu and Kevin Strootman. More technician than breaker but always on the move, and never to lazy to throw in a tackle or two. Like Bazoer of Ajax, it seems time slows down when he has the ball and he shows great composure.



Davey Propper, elegance and class

Also good to see Jetro Willems back in the selection. The PSV man was out for a while but has demonstrated his form and class in the matches he played for PSV since. What a left foot! Timo Letschert is one of the key players of FC Utrecht, which is aiming for a #3 or 4 spot in the Eredivisie under coach Erik “Pep” Ten Hag. The former Twente player worked as a coach for smaller clubs and worked as assistant for Pep Guardiola at Bayern. His style of coaching and training is similar to Pep’s and it is starting to work wonder for the Domstad club. Ayouteb and Ramselaar are also players close to Oranje, while Nassar Barazite is showing his class on a weekly basis after been in the jungle for years since leaaving Arsenal. French striker Haller will also be on the short list of many a big European club, with his goal scoring antics.

AZ Alkmaar is also impressing with Ron Vlaar strong in their defence and one Vincent Janssen scoring like there is no tomorrow. Two years ago, Feyenoord sent him away. Via the Jupiler league, Janssen came to AZ and after a slow start he made his way into the squad. In the last months, he can’t stop scoring. He’s not the quickest, not the tallest, doesn’t have a Marco van Basten style technique but he’s a killer in the box. Left, right, head, distance, tap ins, he can do it all. But make no mistake, Janssen is not the only striker to make it big after starting in the Jupiler League. Huntelaar, Van Nistelrooy, Hasselbaink, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Bas Dost all made the same journey.



Vincent Janssen, 20 goals in the league

Then there is Mitchell Dijks. The Ajax left back. Tall, strong but also fast and with a gifted left foot. If Willems has the best cross of the Eredivisie, Dijks comes second. Sent away by Ajax and making his way back to the forefront via Willem II. Ajax signed him again, something they hardly ever do and he is a consistent threat on the left flank, with a good early cross, but despite his body shape also has the speed to dash past defenders.

And there is more to come. Danny Blind is confronted with disappointing turns by his usual suspects. Arjen Robben is still going strong at top level, but Sneijder’s Galatasaray is disappointing this season, Van Persie is struggling at Fener, Huntelaar lost sharpness and speed, Nigel de Jong is off to LA, while Van der Vaart doesn’t even play anymore. Ron Vlaar is another 30+ player who is making his way back to full fitness at AZ.

So Blind is looking at a number of players to come in. Kevin Strootman is fit and needs to play games. Promes is still doing well in Russia, but other names pop up on the list and have seen either Blind or Van Basten visiting them in the past months. Bazoer and Propper are no-brainers, but others are knocking on the door.


25 year old Patrick van Aanholt went to Chelsea at a young age and via several loan spells, one of which at Vitesse, the left back is now a firm fan favorite at Sunderland. The relegation candidate might struggle in the EPL but not as a result of Van Aanholt’s exploits. He scored 5 goals (of which two were consideren own goals) and had 5 assists, which is the highest combination for a defender in the EPL. Strong in attack, lively, fast and a gifted left foot. Defensively vulnerable, but that applies to all our full backs, incl Janmaat and Willems.

21 year old Nathan Ake is a favorite at Watford, which is placed above Chelsea in the EPL standings, the club that owns Ake. He can play left back, center back and defensive mid and has been exceptional going forward and even scoring goals for Watford. He looks like Gullit but plays like Edgar Davids. He himself hopes and believes he will return to Chelsea and be offered a shot at a spot in the squad.

Riechedly Bazoer is considered one of Holland’s biggest talents. Ex PSV defender turned midfielder under De Boer. Composed, great vision, all round qualities and a good distance strike. Napoli and Wolfsburg have been brushed off by Bazoer but Chelsea has started talks. The Utrecht born player has his hopes set on Barca. No lack of ambition… We all hope he stays at Ajax for another two seasons at least.

Robben Bazoer


Bazoer in his first game for Oranje, hamstring problems. Robben is an expert on the topic

29 year old Ryan Donk was part of Foppe de Haan’s successful Young Oranje almost 10 years back. The AZ defender made his way to Belgium where he was hot and cold but his good season last year got him a transfer to Galatasaray. He plays a lot but hasn’t been able to stop the rot in Turkey. Still, with his length and experience, he could be a candidate still.

23 year old Marco van Ginkel had a tough three years, since leaving Vitesse for Chelsea. Ajax offered more than Chelsea but Vitesse didn’t want to see him go to a competitor in Holland. Poor Van Ginkel got injured at Chelsea and since played for AC Milan, also injury stricken, and had a spell at Stoke City where he couldn’t get in the team. The dynamic midfielder seems to soft for defensive mid in England and not good enough for offensive mid, but in Holland, at PSV, he already demonstrated his worth with goals, passes and tackles.

22 year old Wesley Hoedt only played 28 games in AZ Alkmaar when Lazio decided to offer him a deal. Against the advice given, he went. No one expected him to make a big impact any time soon but partly due to De Vrij’s injury, Hoedt started to get games and is now playing like an experienced defender in the land that invented defending.


So the definitive group got announced and pretty soon after a number of players had to give their thanks… Daryl Janmaat got injured, Ron Vlaar got injured, Propper got injured. Locadia and Erik Pieters won’t be available either, so Ibi Afellay is back as is Patrick van Aanholt and Feyenoord back Rick Karsdorp made his debut into the squad. Arjen Robben was already off the list, so Danny Blind will have to go for a team without the danger man upfront and with heaps of players missing out.

Despite all this: Robin van Persie is still not part of the plans.

Blind “I haven’t written Robin off, but he needs games and he needs fitness. He knows this. He is exceptional when he is fit and I would love him to get back to his full form, but he knows he’s having a tough season.”

Asked about the significance of these games for Oranje: “Listen, we need to start winning again. For us, this is the start for our WC campaign. Simple as that. Two tough opponents and it’s good to see where we stand. The fans need something back now, from us. And it gives me options to use a different system and to see if some younger players will step up.”

Timo Letschert is one of the new names. The Utrecht defender was developed at Ajax where he failed to make it into the senior team. He wanted playing time and moved to Groningen, after which he signed for FC Utrecht. Under Erik “Pep” Ten Hag he has been impressive. Blind: “Timo is a modern defender. He has it all. Length, power, speed, balls and he can even score. Good to have him.”



Timo Letschert

Oranje will have a good series of games in the coming months. France and England now of course and later on we play Poland, Ireland and Austria in May and June. Blind will also go on a training trip to Portugal with the team after the season ends.

In September 2016, we’ll play our first WC qualification game vs Sweden.

Blind: “We might not have a group of world class players at the moment, but it is always about the team. We have a good enough team to compete and I still believe we should be able to qualify for the World Cup, even if it won’t be easy.”

He is keen to go back to 5-3-2 but only to regain composure and confidence. “I don’t want to be pinned down on systems. 5-3-2 can work with the players we have, as we have demonstrated. Both Memphis and Robben fit in that system, as does Sneijder and we have flying wing backs like Willems and Janmaat so it does fit. Once we gain more consistency I still want to be able to switch to 4-3-3 but the system is not sacred for me.”

oranje training

Asked about Robben’s importance: “Arjen is still world class. He’s important for Bayern, that says enough. But we still have players with that unpredictable character and loads of talent. Memphis, Quincy Promes are two of those players. We have an exciting young striker in Janssen and ourmidfield is actually quite promising, with Propper, Wijnaldum, Clasie, Klaassen and Bazoer. We can’t rely on one player, we need to focus on the team performance. PSV demonstrated this vs Atletico Madrid and there are many examples like this.”

Wesley Sneijder (32) is adamant to keep on going. He wants to play the WC2018: “I would be so proud to somehow be involved in a young team that will win the cup one day. And I would be able to say I played my tiny part in that. We have good young talents coming through and I enjoy my role as the old player, hahaha.” And on top of that, Sneijder is keen to take the record of most capped Dutchie from goalie Van der Sar. Currently, Wes is number two, with 12 matches to go.

I believe the coach will start with 5-3-2 vs France and hopefully 4-3-3 vs England.

I think the 5-3-2 vs France should be:


Veltman  Bruma   Blind   Van Dijk   Willems

Klaassen   Wijnaldum     Sneijder

Promes  Memphis

Veltman is playing really well as right back, with Bruma making big steps at PSV. Blind and Van Dijk are no brainers and Willems isn’t 100% fit but needs games, so why not use him. We need Klaassen and Wijnaldum in midfield as they form an aerial threat, without a real striker.


Against England, you want to play 4-3-3 to keep their full backs in check and they’ll play with four at the back so I’d go:


Veltman   Bruma   Van Dijk   Blind

Bazoer    Afellay    Sneijder

Promes     Huntelaar    Memphis

Or something like that?

Your views?

Anf for the fans, the German media found this old clip of a teenager Arjen Robben at FC Groningen, where he played in the youth academy. It’s in Dutch, with German subs. But it basically says: “Hi, I’m Arjen Robben and I’m going to teach you a cool trick.”



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