Tag: Kuyt

Dutch resilience with Feyenoord and Ajax victories

Note: I don’t get to post pictures like this often, ok? Please let me enjoy this 🙂

Have we turned a corner? Even slightly? After a dreary period of Dutch club football (and a shorter dry spell for the NT) both Oranje and Dutch club football seems to be making their way up again.

Overall, Ajax missed a huge opportunity vs Rostov to get back into CL football. A couple of reasons: 1) signing Peter Bosz as head coach, 2) being too frugal with funds.

Bosz is known to be a head strong football idealist, who was signed by Ajax for that reason: strong philosophy, able to build attacking teams. On the downside: he needs time and he will not budge to change his ways just for the result.

Vs Rostov, he gambled and lost. Not just the game, he lost 15 mio euros for the club and lots of prestige.

As a result, the fans demanded something. And they got what they wanted (and Bosz didn’t need): Hakim Ziyech.

With the Moroccan playmaker, Ajax will have a chance in the Eredivisie to get back on top but lots of work needs to be done to make Ajax great again. They have the Academy, they have Bosz and they have funds. So it is doable.

psv cl

PSV led the way last season with their tremendous displays and results in Europe. The knock out game vs Atletico last season could have been won. They got so close.

In this CL group fixture vs the Leticos, PSV deserved more. Again, the home team fought with spirit and conviction. At no stage in the game did they look overwhelmed, even with the bright start by the visitors. The disallowed goal was a disgrace. De Jong’s goal was legit and PSV should have been up. You could even debate that Atkinson should have disallowed the Atletico after the clash of heads with Propper. Some PSV players clearly got distracted, but then again…play the whistle… The first push in the box on Narsingh should have been a penalty too. This probably prompted Atkinson to be lenient when Narsingh stumbled later. Penalties unfairly rewarded have a higher percentage chance of being missed, is my theory. Players subconsciously know the pen was unjust and goalies muster extra motivation to undo the injustice. I might be wrong.

propper EL

But fact is, PSV has a dreadful record re: penalties. Luuk de Jong has his qualities, but taking spot kicks is not one of them. This time around, Davey Propper was the designated shooter. But he was being treated on the side line for his head wound and when he wanted to come on to take the penalty, he was denied by the ref. Mexican midfield motor Guardado stepped up and followed his captain in failing to convert. Mediocre penalty (height!), good save.

Ajax did the business away in the Greek Hell. A tough place to go to, although the Ajax with Litmanen did great business there in the 90s. Ajax fought back after conceding and Riedewald ended up being the match winner after Klaassen fudged his penalty as well.

bosz hakim

AZ disappointed vs Irish battlers Dundalk. An unnecessary draw. AZ is currently the freshest team to watch in Holland. Free flowing football, by players with a constant smile on their faces. They enjoy themselves on the pitch and the duo of Wuytens and Vlaar give this team backbone. I rate John van de Brom as a coach and I’m sure they’ll fight themselves back into it, even though this is a tough group and the 2 points lost vs weak Dundalk could well be the points AZ will come short to stay in Europe past the group stages.

The biggest challenge was for Feyenoord. The group with Fener and ManU looks pretty tough and I’m sure Gio would have made his calculations based on two defeats vs the Red Devils. I’m sure Feyenoord would have considered a draw at home a good result. In a disappointing set up in the De Kuip stadium (only 31,000 fans vs 46,000) and big nets around the pitch and blacked out stands close to the field, Feyenoord expected a strong ManU, but after 10 mins everyone watching the game could see Man United wasn’t able or willing to force the issue.

vilhena mu2

Everyone at Feyenoord showed up on the night. And the 31,000 demonstrated that they could compensate for the missing fans easily, continuously supporting the team and chanting their battle hymns. Feyenoord has made “You’ll never Walk Alone” theirs in Holland, in the past decades and the Man U fans were a bit rattled hearing it, as it obviously also is the trademark tune for arch rival Liverpool.

Dirk Kuyt being the man with the hattrick vs United from his Liverpool days was the least impressive man on the pitch. The years are showing. He wasn’t instrumental throughout the game, but for some solid hard work. His passing was off, his ball handling off pace, but all in all the whole team did well. The defensive four were excellent even. Botteghin looked like he could be yellow carded three times in this game, as he started clumsy, but he set the tone for a strong performance by the team. With Karsdorp and Van der Heijden using their physical strength and Kongolo powerful with his runs (forward and back). El Ahmadi was the boss in midfield. Constantly nipping at Pogba – in particular – and in possession making the right choices. Vilhena was lively and Berghuis had his moments, particularly in the first half, with Rojo becoming more and more erratic.

memphis zlatan

The win was flattering for Feyenoord who only had a couple of distant shots and a flubbed chance for Toornstra created by Kongolo. The goal – nicely put away by Vilhena – came from an off side situation. Man U on the other end, only had one real chance and Martial picked the wrong corner for his attempt, missing the target.

A good start for Feyenoord, and with Fener drawing vs the “other club”, Feyenoord looks solid in this group, for now. PSV here we come!

A quick word on Memphis. I think he played well. He started with some intensity and desire. Passed forward all the time. Went straight into space to make himself available again. Played with composure and confidence and in the way he talks with/to Zlatan and Pogba on the pitch and off, it seems he’s settled.

Yes, he tried to do too much. Free kick overhit, volley hit in the stands, some more attempts to score. But…that is what you get if the coach doesn’t use rotation and then puts players like Memphis in the team with the message “this is when you show me what you have”, while lacking rhythm. It’s a given that a player like Memphis will not pass the ball when he has a shooting opportunity. Hitting it in the top corner is the message Mourinho can’t ignore.

el ahmadi el

This Man U performance is on Mourinho. Not on Schneiderlin, Rashford or Memphis. Give a player 30 minutes to “prove himself”, what can you expect?

Mourinho needs to create a system with a preferred line up and players in the squad who know whose understudy they are. Clarity. Now, Pogba is trying to do everything (running with the ball, dribbling, shooting) whereas he needs to pass and go, pass and go. He feels he came to Man United to be Messi. Also, Mourinho shouldn’t play two central holding mids. Against Feyenoord? Really? He probably doesn’t need two of these guys ever. Rashford was isolated and their never was a flow in midfield because somehow Schneiderlin and Herrera was set up to cover Dirk Kuyt (37 years old).

If Man U plays weak vs Watford, I’m sure the pens will be sharpened yet again.

kuip mu

As for the Feyenoord Stadium. Yes. It always was the home of Oranje. The reasons: capacity, super pitch and atmosphere.

This is one of the few perfect pitches in Europe, 100% made of real grass. No synthetic stuff. The Feyenoord groundsmen win award after award internationally and we lost some in the past to the likes of Arsenal and Barca.

The reason why the KNVB doesn’t use De Kuip anymore is money, basically. This stadium is merely that: a stadium. Hardly and sponsor homes, meeting rooms, presentation rooms, no museum, no shops, no commerce going on bar the Feyenoord restaurant. There are urinals from the 1930s and the safety / security infrastructure is obsolete.

The Ajax Arena is a terrible place to play football if it’s not at full capacity. The pitch is horrific. They change pitches more than I change underwear! But, they have a parking garage, an Ajax museum, shops, many restaurants, talking toilets, elevators, escalators, sliding doors…

The everlasting debate in Rotterdam is: 1) do we upgrade De Kuip or build a new one, 2) who will pay for it, 3) where do we want it.


Still no answers.

The Feyenoord die-hards (fans, sponsors, ex-players) want De Kuip to stay where it is and to have it renovated. The project development sharks and the local government want a new site for Feyenoord and a completely new stadium.

Traditions vs Commerce. I wonder what will come out on top?

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What are your best Oranje Euro memories?

Time now to stop bickering about whether Kuyt is a headless chicken, Memphis has thunder thighs (all that erotica!) and whether Tiju is a better coach than Van Gaal and Hiddink…

Time to swallow our pride and start this Euros 2016 experience with fond memories of our lads in past tournaments. The Euros are usually a hot and cold event for the Dutch. When expectations are high we fold, and when no one expects it, we perform…

The glorious World Cup wannabees at least won one EC trophy, although some of us here won’t have real memories of that day. Not yours truly though. He was there when we basked in glory. Partying with the players in Hamburg and Munich… But more of that later…

In the modern game, we played a fair number of exciting games and weather a few storms too… Let’s look at our past and share memories here.

Euros 1976 Yugoslavia

The first Euro tournament of note for Holland. On the back of a sensation 1974 World Cup, beaten by the Germans and more specific Sepp Maier, Oranje was ready for revenge. We had the bit in our mouths and the adrenaline pumping. The best forward in the world, the toughest playmaker ever and the bull running rampant in midfield (Messrs Cruyff, van Hanegem and Neeskens of course), with supporting role for Golden Dick Johnny Rep, snakeman Robbie Rensenbrink and Mr Cool Ruud Krol, we went to go, see and conquer. 1976red

It didn’t go as planned though. Coached by new manager George Knobel. By then Nees and Cruyff played for Barcelona together. The team impressed with a 5-1 friendly win over a strong Sweden. In those days, qualification games and quarter finals were like today’s group games, but played in the run up, in a home and away game. The actual Euros were only played with four nations and started with a semi final. Holland was in a group with Poland, Italy and Finland. The squad was divided into two camps: the Ajax and Feyenoord players vs the rest (PSV and other clubs). The big name players of Ajax and Feyenoord (and Barcelona) were given some extra privileges. Due to their European club efforts, they were given the option to join Oranje later than the rest. PSV stars Willy van der Kuylen and Jan van Beveren objected to this special treatment and this resulted in the two icons to leave the squad. Van der Kuylen had scored a hattrick for Oranje in the win over Finland.

Oranje started really well but got beaten severely vs Poland away. Due to results in other games, Holland won the group and faced Belgium in the quarter finals.  Robbie Rensenbrink and Johan Neeskens played a top game and Holland won at home for the first time since years in a 5-0 win. Three Rensenbrink goals sealed the deal. The away game was won 1-2 and Holland went to the Euro semis with high spirits. The semis against Czechoslovakia was supposed to be a formality. But things panned out differently.

The Czech provoked the Dutch, in particular with rough challenges on Cruyff and Rensenbrink. In typical Dutch style, Neeskens and Van Hanegem retaliated, resulting in cards and erratic referee behaviour. Cruyff in those days, used to talk to the ref a lot and when Neeskens got red carded and Cruyff was yellow-carded for debating, something shifted in the team. Rebel rouser Van Hanegem decided he didn’t want to come over to the ref when asked to do so.

“I’m not a dog” he explained later and he refused to kick off after the Czech’s scored as protest. Which got him a red card too. Holland ended the game with 9 players and lost in extra time. We played for the 3rd place and won it versus Yugoslavia in extra time 2-3 thanks to two Ruud Geels goals. Obviously, Van Hanegem, Neeskens and Cruyff were suspended.

In those days, Oranje players were considered serfs to the federation and the three Oranje starts were highly criticised for their behaviour. Cruyff and Van Hanegem lost interest in Oranje and would both not travel to the World Cup 1978, for different reasons. But one reason was the KNVB’s lack of support for their icons. Neeskens did go to Argentina.

Euros 1980 Italy

The big guns Cruyff and Van Hanegem had quit international football. The apprentices were supposed to take over. With some new names, most from European sensation AZ Alkmaar. Hugo Hovenkamp, Kees Kist, Pier Tol, Jantje Peters supplemented by Feyenoord defenders Wijnstekers and Van de Korput. Ruud Krol and Johan Neeskens and Johnny Rep were also still wearing their jerseys. zwartkruis

Coach Jan Zwartkruis (John Blackcrotch)

Team manager Jan Zwartkruis (former Dutch Military team coach… this tells you how important Oranje was in those days) found himself in a group with West Germany, Greece and Czechoslovakia. Holland started vs Greece in a 4-3-3 with Martien Vreijsen and Rene van de Kerkhof on the flanks. The team didn’t create a lot and Dick Nanninga of Argentina 1978 fame replaced Vreijsen, who’d never play a game for Oranje since. A soft penalty was awarded to Oranje and Kees Kist (AZ Alkmaar) scored what was to be the only goal of the game.

The second game was against West Germany, with Hansi Muller, Rummenigge, Schuster and Stielike. Oranje with an insecure Piet Schrijvers in goal and with Rep on the flanks for Vreijsen. West Germany was boss with Klaus Allofs scoring a hat trick. A soft penalty yet again gave Johnny Rep the chance to score and late in the game Willy van de Kerkhof scored the 2-3 but it wasn’t enough. Holland couldn’t reach the finals anymore but could still get in the losers final. An early injury to Rene van de Kerkhof had Oranje playing with 10 men for a while and the Czechs scored in that phase of the game. Kees Kist came on and he scored the equaliser in the second half but it wasn’t enough.

Euros 1984 France

One of the best tournaments I’ve ever seen without Oranje (the World Cup 1982 was one of my faves too by the way). With the Danish Dynamite, France of course… Many good games. But no Oranje.

Euros 1988 West Germany

I’m sure most people will know this tournament well. The period between 1980 till 1988 we missed three big tournaments. I won’t bring the mood down by explaining what happened, but I can assure you I was very close to all these events. Nuff said for now. Still hurts…

But with a new generation players (Gullit, Van Basten, Rijkaard, Koeman, Vanenburg, Van’t Schip, Kieft) we were going for it with Rinus Michels as head coach. Michels was keen to play 4-3-3 again and like Van Marwijk was struggling to find a good spot for everyone. We have Gullit, Van Basten, Kieft, Gillhaus and Bosman fighting for the central striker role and we have a couple of good right wingers but no left winger of note. Van Basten was recovering from a bad injury which kept him sidelined at AC Milan. Gullit had a great season in Milan like Koeman, Van Breukelen and Vanenburg with PSV winning the Europa Cup that season. Wouters and Van’t Schip had a good period at Ajax. Van Basten was close to calling it a day when he noticed Bosman was picked ahead of him in the line up and he felt he’d be the third striker. Cruyff implored the headstrong striker to stay in the squad and make it hard for Michels.

Van ‘t Schip played relief left winger and Gullit played right wing. But in the first game vs the USSR, despite dominating and creating pressure, we fell in the knife of the Russian counter and lost, 0-1. Michels decided immediately to turn the team around, also taking into account our next opponent: England playing 4-4-2. Van ‘t Schip and Bosman were the sacrificial lambs with Michels re-enforcing our midfield bringing Van Basten for Bosman and Erwin Koeman – a midfielder – for winger Schip. bassie gullit88

Oranje got lucky vs England. An offside goal (one of three scored by Van Basten) and two balls on the post by the English helped us to the victory. The Ireland game was scruffy and it took Vanenburg’s hand to stop a header from going in, before sub Wim Kieft misheaded a deflected Koeman shot from an offside position past the Ireland goalie.

Next up, host West Germany. And we had an axe to grind with these guys. In what is probably one of the most memorable Oranje games ever, Oranje overcame a 1-0 score from a soft penalty vs Rijkaard by fighting themselves back into the game. With a MOTM performance by Jan Wouters, it was Koeman scoring the spot kick after a fair tackle by Kohler on Van Basten (who was as surprised as Kohler when the ref pointed to the post) and Van Basten scored the winner late in the game after a superb through ball from aforementioned Wouters. The party afterwards in the players’ hotel is still strong in my memory. This was the infamous game with Koeman wiping his arse with the Olaf Thon jersey, something he later regretted… Allegedly.

The finals was against USSR again. Oranje was buoyant but USSR was much better than us in the first half. They missed some opportunities and a cross in from a defended Oranje corner ended up on skipper’s Ruud Gullit’s head who’d score his first and only Euros goal in 1988 with a thundering header. The Oranje skipper looked tired the whole tournament and couldn’t repeat his hero role as he had for AC Milan that season. But he was the Oranje mascotte and lightning rod, allowing Van Basten (in particular) to take center stage. The former Ajax #9 would grab his definite place in football history with arguably the best Euros goal ever in the second half. Right in front of yours truly, enjoying the game live, the overcooked Muhren cross seemed wasted but Van Basten – who had no support – realised he could only do one thing. Dasaev never even stuck a hand out. 2-0 was the final score, also thanks to Hans van Breukelen who stopped a penalty, which he handed the USSR himself first with a rush of blood to the head dive.

The Party in Holland would go for days and many a house boat in Amsterdam is still recovering…

Euros 1992 Sweden

The World Cup 1990 was the biggest WC disaster ever, for Oranje. The Euro 1988 squad plus Richard Witschge on their way to glory in Italy. The story of what happened there is well-documented and I will again ignore it. But Beenhakker obviously was out so Rinus Michels, by then management at KNVB, decided to take the coaching role himself again for this tournament. Ironically, with Dick Advocaat as his assistant coach. marco mist

Oranje had a good qualification campaign and Michels went back to a 4-3-3 system with Gullit and Bryan Roy on the flanks. Barca libero Koeman led the defence but brother Erwin missed this tournament, as did the injured Richard Witschge. His brother Rob Witschge had found his second wind at Feyenoord and played a starring role this tourmament, scoring vs Germany. Dennis Bergkamp played his first big tournie for Oranje, as did Frank de Boer. National team manager Danny Blind was stand in for Koeman and new Ajax coach Peter Bosz had a sub turn this tournament. Aaron Winter and Wim Jonk had cameos as well, as did former PSV striker Eric Viscaal (now in Belgium).

First game was vs Scotland and a late Bergkamp goal sealed the deal. The second game was against the former USSR, now called GOS, and a goalless draw meant Oranje had to get a result against Germany. Last tournament, Germany had ousted Oranje from the event, with the infamous spitting incident between Llama Rijkaard and Rudi Voller. It was Rijkaard who took revenge with an early goal, followed by two more goals. The aforementioned long distance strike by Witschge and a beauty by Bergkamp, created by Marco van Basten without actually touching the ball.

In the semis, Holland had to play Denmark. The beach team. The Danish didn’t qualify, but as Yugoslavia had entered a civil war, they were disqualified from competing and the Danes were called from the Spanish and Greek beaches. Twice Oranje conceded and twice they fought back through Bergkamp and Rijkaard. The extra time didn’t bring any goals and during the penalty shoot out, 1988 hero Van Basten was denied by Peter Schmeichel. The Danes would go on to win it.

Euros 1996 England

Like in 1990, the players yearned for the national team management by Johan Cruyff, but like in 1990 the KNVB couldn’t get “a deal sorted with the headstrong Cruyff”. In 1990 they never tried as Michels felt “the players can’t be given what they want, as they can’t think they call the shots”. In 1994, Cruyff had the audacity to claim the right to pick his own technical staff. Something which is pretty normal these days. But the KNVB insisted Cruyff worked with their assistant coaches. Cruyff said “you must be joking!” and said his goodbyes.

So Michels decided to push his former assistant Dick Advocaat forward for the World Cup in the US which didn’t end too well for Oranje. Lots of bad management decisions off the pitch and too much complacency when Advocaat came back after losing the quarter finals, claiming “it was a very good result”. Oranje needed a new strong coach and Guus Hiddink was selected. Oranje finished second in the qualifications and had to play a play off game vs Ireland, at Anfield. Patrick Kluivert sealed the deal with two goals.

This was the generation of Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids, Danny Blind, Marc Overmars and Patrick Kluivert.

Like in 1992, Scotland was our first opponent. The usual central backs, Frank de Boer and Danny Blind were not able to play. Suspension for Blind and an injury for De Boer. Hiddink used Edgar Davids and Johan de Kock. Davids had played there successfully for Ajax at times and Guus picked Bergkamp as central striker, with Jordi Cruyff and Gaston Taument on the flanks. Ronald de Boer played in midfield with Richard Witschge and Clarence Seedorf.

Holland dominated and in particular Dennis Bergkamp had many opportunities to score but failed. Pat Kluivert came on but he couldn’t find the net either, resulting in a goalless draw: 0-0.

Against Switzerland, in the second game, Hiddink expected them to play the tall striker Grassi. Davids was considered to small for the role so Hiddink decided to play Seedorf as center back. Davids was benched. Witschge kept his spot and Ronald de Boer would take Seedorf’s central role in midfield with Aron Winter coming on for Davids. Cruyff played on the right this time around. After 26 minutes, Seedorf was subbed by Hiddink, who saw he had made a mistake. De Kock came on to play alongside Blind. Edgar Davids, on the bench, was highly tempted to knock the lights out of Hiddink and had to be restrained.

Jordi Cruyff scored for Holland and Dennis Bergkamp scored the important second, securing Oranje’s win. After the game, Davids was interviewed and said “the coach should do well to take his head out some players’ asses!”. Hiddink had to send  the Ajax midfielder home. And a rift was born. The media made it about race. The coloured players (Kluivert, Bogarde, Davids, Seedorf, Reiziger) vs the white boys (De Boer 2 x, Blind, Van der Sar). A whole thing came off it. But the players were adamant it had nothing to do about race. But about culture. The food the KNVB had organised for instance, was typical Dutch food (potatoes, veggies, meatballs) while the players with a Suriname background preferred rice and more exotic food. But their preference was ignored. More importantly, it seemed all the coloured lads at Ajax had lower contracts than the white players… It wasn’t about race per se. But race did seem to have had an effect…

In the next game vs England, Hiddink again used Seedorf as central defender (he had De Kock and Stam on the bench) next to Blind. The strong England forwards had a field day. Blind conceded a penalty, Shearer converted. Sheringham scored two in the second half with Shearer adding a second, putting England 4-0 up. Holland at that time was out. Hiddink kept on making weird decisions, bringing De Kock as left back for Witschge and putting Winston Bogarde in midfield. Kluivert was brought in at the 72nd minute and he almost immediately scored a consolation goal. But that goal got us to the number 2 position in the group and we were able to play the quarterfinals. France was the opponent. seedorf96 With players like Blanc, Desailly, Karembeu, Deschamps and Zidane. Hiddink finally made some logical choices. Seedorf on the bench. De Kock in the center with Blind. Kluivert in the starting line up with Bergkamp as number 10. And Phillip Cocu still playing as left winger in those days, replacing Peter Hoekstra. A goalless game, yet again, over 120 minutes. Seedorf would come on and ended up on the list of penalty takers. Not for the first time, he failed to score, Blind, De Kock, Ronald de Boer and Kluivert did score, but all the French players did as well.

Exit Oranje. This is a documentary about the alleged racism situation, of the Suriname players vs the white players. The name of this group of Suriname players is De Kabel (“The Cable”).

Euros 2000 Netherlands & Belgium

This was to be the one. Hiddink learned from his drama in England. He made up with Davids and with him, Hiddink got close to reaching the finals in the World Cup 1998 in France. His assistant Frank Rijkaard was promoted to team manager (as suggested by Cruyff) and Holland was spared from playing qualifications as Holland and Belgium hosted the tournament. Rijkaard played a massive number of friendlies with Oranje, including three matches vs Brazil. One of these ended up in a red-card festival. In Rotterdam, they played a sensational game vs co-host Belgium, ending in 5-5 with a special Edgar Davids goal. With one of the best squads ever, Rijkaard was destined for glory.

Against the Czechs in the first game, Holland did need some referee help in the final stages when a soft pull on Ronald de Boer’s jersey was enough for a penalty, to be scored by younger brother Frank. Rijkaard used Co Adriaanse’s xmas tree system, 4-3-2-1 but Bergkamp kept on running inside while midfielder Seedorf didn’t use the right flank and the team seemed to choke the space out for themselves, leaving them toothless.

Against Denmark, Rijkaard went back to 4-4-2 with Zenden and Overmars as wide players. Kluivert scored the first, Ronald de Boer had a tap in for the 2-0 and a break with Reiziger presenting Zenden with a free shot on goal resulted in the 3-0. Denmark missed a penalty. In this game, the injured Stam was replaced by Bert Konterman, while Seedorf was benched. The third match was versus world champions France, but both teams had qualified for the next round. Coach Lemerre left most of his star players out (Zidane, Blanc, Deschamps) and in an open game, Holland won the match 3-2, with a stunning free kick by Frank de Boer.

For the quarter finals against Yugoslavia, Bosvelt and Numan played as full backs. Oranje was on fire, with Kluivert scoring four, although one goal was taken off him as a Yugo defender deflected the ball into the net. Overmars scored the other two. This got Kluivert the golden boot for the tournament.

Red hot favorites Holland played Italy in the semis. Probably one of the most memorable losses on a Euros ever by Oranje. We did everything right. Bolo Zenden was on fire. Zambrotta saw red in the first half, and Oranje created chance after chance (Bergkamp!) but failed to find the net. Late in the first half, Holland got a penalty. Frank de Boer saw his attempt blocked by Toldo. In the second half, Davids was impeded and Kluivert stepped up. To hit the post. Still 0-0. Italy defended, battled and stalled. And got to the penalty series. Toldo became the hero. Frank de Boer the zero. He missed again, Jaap Stam’s attempt is somewhere on the bottom of the river Maas and Bosvelt missed too. Straight after the match, a crying Rijkaard was filmed sitting in the bus and not much later he resigned in disgust and shame. penalty2000

Euros 2004 Portugal

After the deception of failing to qualify for the World Cup 2002 under Van Gaal, the KNVB decided to pick two “warm” coaches to bring Oranje back up to top level. Dick Advocaat and Willem van Hanegem, two friends, took the role, with Willem as assistant.

Holland started the tournament vs arch rival Germany. The Germans took the lead but a late Van Nistelrooy goal got Holland a draw. The Czech game was next up and via Bouma and Van Nistelrooy, Holland got an early lead 2-0. Jan Koller scored for the Czechs and with an hour played, Advocaat decided to “spare” the slightly injured but excellent Arjen Robben for the defensive midfielder Paul Bosvelt. One of the worst substitutes in Oranje’s history (Van Gaal does take the price for this with his Portugal away substitutions in the WC2002 qualifications game). Holland didn’t have any teeth left and the Czechs celebrated the sub by firing on all cylinders and ended up winning the game 2-3. After the game, Advocaat was universally ridiculed for his decision and assistant and friend Willem van Hanegem quipped at the press conference: “Next time if he starts to make silly sub decisions, I’ll simply knock him out!”.

Oranje seemed out of the tournament, but the Germans had a shocking draw against Latvia and when the Germans got in front against the Czechs Holland needed a miracle. And it happened, as the Czechs again turned the game around and won the match, giving Oranje a life line for their Latvia game. It was a tough game versus a defensive opponent but two Van Nistelrooy goals and a late Roy Makaay hit sealed the 3-0 win. Next up, Sweden in the quarter finals. In an even game, neither team found the net. The penalty series would end the Oranje penalty trauma. Despite Cocu’s miss, Holland won it with Van der Sar stopping a Swedish attempt, after Ibrahimovic missed his spot kick. robben2004

The semi finals was versus host country and favorites Portugal, with a young C Ronaldo, Deco, Luis Figo and Maniche. The latter would score the winner in an even game. C Ronaldo scored Portugal’s first, while Andrade scored an og for Oranje. Greece would end up upsetting the hosts with their miraculous win in the finals. After the tournament, both Advocaat and Van Hanegem quit their jobs. The two friends wouldn’t talk to each other for years…

Euros 2008 Switzerland & Austria

Again, advised by Cruyff, the KNVB decided to go with a young, untested coach for the 2006 WC. Marco van Basten was John van ‘t Schip’s assistant at Ajax 2 when Johan Cruyff suggested to the KNVB to pick him as national team coach. Van ‘t Schip, who had agreed with San Marco to switch roles in the next season, took the assistant job. Van Basten lacked experience as a coach, but Cruyff was adamant that for a top player like him, this wouldn’t be a problem. “He has a good vision. All players respect him and he’ll let them play adventurous football.”. Van Basten saw the WC2006 as a development step with a new generation of youngsters (Robben, Van Persie, Sneijder, Heitinga) and hoped to peak at this Euros.  The qualification series went well, but Holland finished second after Romania. This resulted in Holland having to settle in the group of death, with opponent Romania, France and world champions Italy.

Oranje played with flair and dazzle and beat a stunned Italy with 3-0. A contentious first Van Nistelrooy goal, seemingly off side but ruled in favour of Holland, due to an Italian player lying behind the touch line. No offside. Sneijder finished a tremendous counter attack, after a superb Van Bronckhorst pass and a nice little Kuyt cushioned header. Van Bronckhorst finished the game off with his goal in second half. The France game was exhilarating as well. Kuyt with a header from a corner, Van Persie with a good finish after a wonderful attack, but Henry put France back into the game. At that stage, France equalising seemed more likely, but Robben got Holland back on top with a sensational goal in the near corner, taking some of Barthez hair along. Sneijder scored another beauty in the dying seconds of the game, 4-1 win for Holland.

The Romania game didn’t matter anymore, but with the second-tier players in the line up, Holland won 2-0. A dramatic incident would have a lot of impact on the Oranje squad. The players in the squad were all close and they all had small children and babies at that time. After a win, players like Kuyt and Van Persie would proudly take their kids onto the pitch to celebrate. Khalid Boulahrouz’ partner was pregnant but was rushed to the hospital as the baby was about to be born prematurely. The little girl didn’t make it. Most of the players spent two days with Khalid in hospital and this disrupted the preparation and focus for the Russia game. Van Basten allowed the players to take their time and as he was also good friends with Boulahrouz, he allowed the former Chelsea man to decide whether he wanted to play vs Russia or not. The defender wanted to play, which sadly ended up in him getting a muscle injury in the game. robben2008

So the next knock out game was versus Russia, managed by one Guus Hiddink. The sly fox knew how Oranje would play and had a tactical plan to frustrate our game. Despite some narrow chances for Holland, we never were able to score. The team looked sluggish and without focus. Most of the chances came off Rafael van der Vaart’s gifted free kicks. It was a weird game. In the second half, a Russia player was yellow carded for the second time. Inexplicably the ref decided to put the card back into his pocket, adding to the frustration of the Dutch players. Russia scored twice in extra time, sending the revelation of the group stages home.

Euros 2012 Poland & Ukraine

On the back of a glorious World Cup 2010, where Bert van Marwijk’s men grabbed silver (and almost gold), the expectations were high. Again, the qualification campaign was a smooth ride, with Holland dropping only 3 points. A tough group to face, with rugged Denmark, strong Germany and sly Portugal. We had some bills to settle with all three. In the run up to the tournament, Van Marwijk made Huntelaar and Van der Vaart believe they’d get a fair chance to get into the line up but the seasoned coach had his line up in mind and was only providing lip service. Erik Pieters was Holland’s left back after Gio retired but the defender had to undergo a foot operation. Lost for options, Van Marwijk decided to use 18 year old youngster Jetro Willems from PSV. In the first game vs Denmark, Willems gave his calling card by thumping a ball from 40 meters almost onto the cross bar.

The solid holding mids Van Bommel and De Jong were part of the plan, despite their dminishing speed and agility. The first game against Denmark went really well. Holland created chance after chance and Robben hit the post. But, the chances went begging. And Denmark in typical style scored a goal where everyone expected Oranje to score at least a couple. Several penalty shouts for Holland went unnoticed and stunned, the team left the pitch with the first defeat of the tournament.

Against Germany, Holland started on the front foot yet again, with Van Persie getting a glorious early chance to score. But he missed. First opportunity for Germany ended up in the net. 14 minutes later, the Germans repeated that feat. Holland fought back into the game, with a goal by Van Persie in the second half. With 15 minutes to go, Holland created more half chances but wasn’t able to get the draw. Second defeat and Huntelaar and Van der Vaart started to look more and more unhappy. persie

This summed it up

Holland had a chance to qualify if they’d beat Portugal and if Germany would do its job. Van der Vaart got a start and in typical fashion scored the first goal for a strong Holland vs a counter-attacking Portugal. The former Real Madrid man hit the post quick after the goal but couldn’t become the hero of the day. Two sharp counter attacks later and Portugal grabbed the victory, with Oranje taking an early plane home. Three losses. Zero points. Lots of frustration and golden wonder coach Van Marwijk having to resign from the job.

Euros 2016 France

In a parallel universe, Oranje made it to the 2016 Euros. Blind went with a team of youngsters, with Memphis, Berghuis and Propper in the line up. Playing 3-4-3 in possession and 5-3-2 without. The starting line up:


Bruma Blind Van Dijk

Janmaat   Propper   Strootman  Sneijder  Willems

Robben  Memphis

With Berghuis as super sub. Oranje sailed through the group stages and beat every big team they came across on their way to the finals. Belgum was our opponent. The game ended 5-5. Penalties needed to decide the winner. For Belgium, Hazard missed his penalty. Well, he didn’t miss it, but the silly Belgian took the penalty at the wrong goal and it was disallowed. Memphis took the final spotkick and delivered the Cup to Oranje…. (this is enough nonsense. End of post)

memphis euro

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Analysis Oranje failure to qualify

Let’s look at the way we had to operate during qualifications.

And allow me to first draw your attention of the Pre-Qualification period.

1. WC 2014

Van Gaal decided to change the 4-3-3 tactics of Oranje drastically, to not get obliterated by the likes of Spain, Mexico et al at the Word Cup in Brazil. He worked diligently to get his players to get this game plan under their belt.

It didn’t work too well. Oranje’s best results came when he abandoned 5-3-2 at half time to play 4-3-3. The key thing for us though, was the quality of players like Robben, Vlaar, Sneijder and Memphis. We also got a bit lucky. Spain had a 2-0 opportunity (Silva), Australia had a massive chance to 2-3 which they missed and Oranje was given a soft penalty later in the tournament (was it Mexico?). The Costa Rica game, we couldn’t put to bed and we didn’t create much vs Argentina.


Our 3rd spot was achieved thanks to Germany’s trashing of Brazil earlier on. The home team looked dazzled and rattled and gave up after Holland’s quick goal.

Coming out of the World Cup, several players made big moves to Portugal, Italy and England. Highly disruptive in the flow of a player. And most players would focus fully on their club, once back in action for qualifications so early in the season against less attractive opponents in less attractive circumstances. It happened to us, to Spain, to Germany, Italy and Portugal too.


I do believe we were quite complacent too. We reached #3 at the World Cup and entered a qualification group that many felt was impossible not to win. This was subconsciously taken into the game. “We can play on 80% as we are Holland. No way Iceland can beat us!”. That sort of thinking. I’m sure players will deny this but I am positive this played a part too.

2. Guus Hiddink vs Louis van Gaal

After Van Gaal’s straightjacket approach, the KNVB in their glorious wisdom, decided to go totally the other way, appointing Loose Guus to manage Oranje. He also was instructed to return to 4-3-3. As a result of massive criticism from the media, fans and ex-players. In the Italy friendly, this failed and as the Czechs also play 5-3-2, Hiddink decided to go back to 5-3-2 for the first qualifications game. He couldn’t use the same team as Van Gaal used though and the team never looked like the Brazil team in execution. Danny Blind was caught between a rock and a hard place. Danny is a Van Gaal adept and uses analysis and thorough preparation, like Louis, while Guus is more a “enjoy yourselves out there” kinda coach. Body language of the two sharing the bench at times was telling…



3. Available Players

Czech Republic away

Against the Czechs, Hiddink missed key players from the World Cup. Vlaar and Robben were both missing. We played alright, created chances but failed to score more than one. And Janmaat had that atrocious back header in the last minute which cost us the draw. (Hiddink punished Janmaat immediately for this, which didn’t go down well in the squad. A faithful soldier who played well for Oranje was axed for one mistake… The players who failed to score up front were not held accountable).

Nederlands tegen Tsjechië

Kazachstan home

A must win game. And we did. Not pretty, but who cares (especially now). Afellay and Van Persie scored and Afellay had the assist on Huntelaar (Tiju, paying attention??). No Janmaat, but Van der Wiel. No Vlaar either. Robben was back, as was Lens. Martins Indi played alongside De Vrij.

Iceland away

In October, playing in Iceland… Not a lot of inspiration. But, despite conceding (WC2014 hero De Vrij giving the spot kick away) Holland had opportunities to score. But didn’t. One Arjen Robben for instance, missed a good chance. A dead ball situation (back then already…. nothing new under the sun) gave Iceland the 2-0. We tried to get back into the game but couldn’t. This game was played with most of our top guns available: Robben, Sneijder, De Jong, Hunter, Van Persie but without Vlaar still. Clasie, Klaassen and Memphis are not to blame for this loss (TIJU!!!)

ijs uit

Lithuania home

6-0 win. Huntelaar, Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder all in good form. Good goals. You will be happy to know that Clasie, Memphis, Afellay were all involved in this game. Van der Wiel played again, for Janmaat and Bruma played for Martins Indi.

Turkey home

A draw, after conceding yet again. A late Sneijder shot, deflected by Huntelaar got us the point. Memphis and Afellay played the whole match. Van der Wiel and Martins Indi in defence. Nigel de Jong, the captain in midfield according to Hiddink, got subbed and would later on be silently phased out by the same Hiddink.

turk thuis

Lithuania away

Tough but decent win away, with Wijnaldum and Narsingh scoring for Oranje. No Robben again, no Vlaar. Daley Blind in midfield. Van Persie with Huntelaar in the team. More tinkering… Janmaat coming back in the team as a sub. Van der Wiel still in starting line up.

4. Hiddink out!

With only 4 games to go (and in need of at least two if not more wins), the KNVB decides to stop working with Hiddink. The experienced coach doesn’t get on with Van Oostveen. Hans Jorritsma, team manager and as such reporting to Hiddink, plays a double agent role. The three meet to talk about their differences in Hiddink’s Spain home and the end result is Hiddink being sacked, with Daley Blind thrown in the deep to secure a Euro spot. The home game vs Iceland is next up, in September 2015. Basically, early in the new season and as per usual, some players haven’t settled in yet… Martins Indi and Van der Wiel in particular didn’t see a lot of action.

exit guus

Confidence was low at this stage. Some of our top players were struggling. Van Persie wasn’t happy. Van der Vaart disappeared. Martins Indi lost his spot. Memphis was struggling. The soul was gone from the team. The belief was gone. Guus Hiddink demonstrated this in his post match interviews, where he looked lost.

Danny Blind had to gamble.  Four games to go, four victories needed. He decided to go with players who are used to big occasions and puts Robben on a pedestal. Sadly the more experienced lads disappointed and Robben blew his engine up.

Iceland home

Arjen Robben is all pumped up as new skipper to lead Oranje to victory. In 33 minutes, all changes. The Bayern winger is too pumped up and tears a muscle. Martins Indi gets provoked by an Sighthorsson (Feyenoord vs Ajax)  and retaliates and gets red. Holland creates opportunities but lacks belief so it seems and poor Van der Wiel has an error that leads to a penalty. In this game we lost Robben and we were already without Vlaar, Van Persie and Afellay. Van der Wiel played as Afellay wasn’t available and Van Rhijn was no longer starting for Ajax. Tete was spotted as top talent but considered too early to call up. Oranje struggled in the matches with eleven players, in this game with 10 (for an hour) it simply was too much…

robben ijsland thuis

Turkey away

The pressure is on. We copped an early goal again, in a must-win game. And again Blind needed to make changes. Bruma came in, Riedewald made his debut and Robben wasn’t fit to play either. Turkey scores after a brilliant through pass. Holland’s team dynamics and pressure doesn’t work. Not much later, Narsingh gets a similar chance as Turkey and he misses… Memphis creates a tremendous chance for Klaassen who misses. Memphis finds Van Persie who offers Sneijder an amazing shooting opportunity but the Gala midfielder aims right at the goalie. Three good opps, none taken. Then Blind makes an error and Cillesen looks horrible when Turan scores the 2-0. De Vrij leaves at half time with knee injury. Memphis creates another chance for Oranje in the second half. An unmarked Wijnaldum can score with his head, but uses his shoulder. Memphis is hacked down again by Turk with yellow. Ref doesn’t care but should have given a red. Luuk de Jong misses big chance as well and late in the game, Turkey scores their third after a foul committed by Caner.

turk nl uit

Kazachstan away

A must win game for Oranje and we do. Again, lots of changes: Krul, Tete, Van Dijk, Riedewald, El Ghazi and Huntelaar are in. Artificial pitch. Holland attacks and has a good phase. Memphis and Blind combine well but the winger misses. Wijnaldum scores not much later. Sneijder scores a beauty in the second half after a wonderful passage of play. El Ghazi has a wonderful chance to 0-3 but misses.  Oranje has to win and wins, in a sometimes pretty good performance.

Czech Republic home

Zoet in goal as Cillesen and Krul are out. Riedewald, Tete, Bruma and Van Dijk are back four. Probably never had a back four consistently for two games and 1,5 years after Brazil we play with a totally different defensive line. El Ghazi for Robben again and Huntelaar instead of Van Persie again. The Czechs have qualified already, and you can tell. They play really well. But, counter attacking style. Inviting Holland in. Memphis with first opportunity, Oranje has good start. But the game is slowed down too much and Sneijder sits deeper and deeper. Van Persie is warming up as Holland needs more creativity and pace. Our defence fails twice. Incl Zoet. He didn’t look good with the 0-1 and the whole defence failed for the 0-2. Van Dijk and Zoet aren’t dealing with cross. Czech’s get red card for tackle on Memphis. Van Dijk very close to scoring. Tete is one of the few decent players. And to add insult to injury, Van Persie scores own goal. The same van Persie deserves a penalty later but is denied. Huntelaar and Van Persie get Oranje back into the game, 2-3 but we needed more but we didn’t get more.

rvp own goal

Everything that went right for us in Brazil, went wrong in this qualification campaign. Injuries, bad luck, bad decision making, loss of form. So many chances missed, so many unlucky and unlikely situations. Van Persie own goal, Sneijder missing chances, Memphis missing chances, penalties conceded but never received, etc etc… As if the Devil had a say in it.

5. Perfect Storm

Overall, we also lack quality. If quality is defined as a the total requirements to play top football. Sure, technique, they all have. They all have tactical smarts. But leadership, desire, mentality, physical presence…this is where we lacked the most.

Add it all together – wrong coach, wrong tactics, individual mistakes, key players missing, no team dynamics – and even the best football nation can lose against Iceland and Turkey.

guus balt

Something to add here, is the pretty crucial element: our lack of European top clubs. In the past, coaches were always able to draw from the key players of good performing clubs. Most teams in the 1970s and 1980s used Dutch players. When Ajax and Feyenoord ruled Europe in the early 70s, Michels used the top players from both teams in Oranje. They both played 4-3-3, no sweat. In the early 80s, the coach tried it with the AZ Alkmaar top players (Peters, Jonk, Tol, Kist, Hovenkamp) and in the mid 90s Guus Hiddink went with the Ajax talent pool. That effect slowly died out. But today you’ll find that Spain is making use of the Barca framework, which enables Spain to have a recognisable playing style, just like Germany has Bayern Munich and Italy have Juventus. England has a couple of top teams, mostly with non English lafs and hence, there is your England hangover. The Dutch have failed to impress in Europe at club level for some time, with this season a notable exception with PSV doing well in CL. For this reason, lots of people push Blind and his staff to go with the PSV skeleton for Oranje. Zoet, Bruma, Willems, Propper, Van Ginkel, to be supplemented with top players from other clubs like Sneijder. Robben, Bazoer, Van Dijk and Tete for the remaining spots. Obviously, some people believe the combination Willems, Propper, Luuk de Jong should be utilised. But this PSV core might well drift apart. Van Ginkel is still owned by Chelsea, Willems and Bruma might make a move and Luuk de Jong might lack real quality… The fact that Dutch clubs underperform in Europe will definitely have its impact on Oranje. But that is a fact of life. For now.

The good thing is, the Euros will be over and done with in 4 weeks or so. It will be history. And we will be facing Sweden without Zlatan, who will have trouble getting worked up for the qualifications so soon after the Euros. While Holland will pull a “Czech Republic”. We will want to eat the opponent and we will start our flow with a good solid win over the Swedes.



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Dutch football cameo for Euro 2016

It is quite annoying to take too long to write posts. Before you know it, things change and Louis van Gaal is out. Propper is staying with his pregnant girlfriend and Steven Berghuis is in…. Read on… This is the time when Oranje fans dust off their orange gear… Wigs, hats, trumpets, jerseys, sun glasses, flags… But not this time around. Most Oranje fans are still debating whether to support Belgium, England or even forfeit the whole bloody thing and focus on Max Verstappen! With the EPL and the Eredivisie coming to an end (almost done… FA Cup Final just behind us, relegation / promotion play offs and EL play offs finishing soon, Copa del Rey in Spain (not that we have any players in that)) and of course… the Euro 2016 warm up games! Sadly, we are the sparring partner. Nothing more. Playing nations that do go. With players keen to prove something to their coaches. So it will at least be competitive. LVG out

Louis through the exit

Let’s look at the finish of the season, here and in England (and Italy and Germany, but otherwise there are not a lot of Dutch world beaters active). So Ajax lost it in the last game. No Bazoer in the starting line up. Something is up between him and Frank de Boer. The team choked, it was playing lethargic and nervous. The 1-0 seemed to calm everyone down, but when De Graafschap equalised (horrible back tracking by Ajax), the team choked. Young Czech talent Cerny did have a sensational open chance at 1-0 and if he scored that, Ajax probably would have snapped up the title. Frank de Boer had some erratic subs at 1-1 and took of top scorer Milik, resulting in El Ghazi playing striker, who made a mess of it. PSV played like we’ve seen them before. In the CL for instance, and mostly in the competition as well. Cocu said it weeks ago already: “If we win every game, we’ll get the title” and he was right. Good stuff, as PSV can now look forward to millions from the CL and maybe try sign Ziyech and Vilhena…. bosz ajax

Peter Bosz back in Holland   Things at Ajax aren’t looking great at the moment. Frank de Boer will go. Peter Bosz (ex-Feyenoord, ex-Vitesse, now at Maccabi Tel Aviv) will come in. Dennis Bergkamp will probably never leave and Hennie Spijkerman will stay on as well. Both assistant coaches clashed seriously with Orlando Trustful, the former Ajax and Feyenoord playmaker who was added to the staff by Frank de Boer. The former international worked at the KNVB for a spell and brought his modern vision of coaching to the mix. Frank de Boer adores Trustful and already said he’ll take him with him to his next adventure. This will probably ease the pressure. Ajax might miss out on millions if they don’t qualify for the CL and the team needs a shot in the arm, as Younes, El Ghazi, Van der Hoorn, Gudelj and Fisher seemed to have peaked. Youngsters like Bazoer, Tete and Riedewald will be definite future stars but the team misses leaders and creative players. Klaassen, who took the leadership role in the beginning of the season, also faded away at the end of the season. Milik might have a good Euros and Ajax might sell him with a profit, to get Huntelaar back in as the striker. willems   PSV will most likely see Narsingh leave, while Willems could be on his way out to, if PSV wants to make some money before he leaves transfer free. Marco van Ginkel’s future is still in the hands of Chelsea and apparently there is a lot of interest in Jeffrey Bruma. Feyenoord had an ok season. Great for them to win the National Cup but their Eredivisie campaign was disappointing with then dropping points in 7 games in a row. Next season, Gio and his lads will get European League group football which is excellent. With players like Kuyt, Elia, El Ahmadi, Karsdorp and Kongolo in the mix, the frame of the team is solid. Vilhena even stated that he actually might be convinced to stay. Ziyech and Vincent Janssen might be good additions for Feyenoord in order to go for the title, but does Feyenoord have the 15mio or more to spend? Probably not. I can see Ziyech play a bit longer in the Eredivisie, with PSV or Ajax, but Janssen will most likely move to the Bundesliga. FC Utrecht and AZ impressed with their run this season and good things might come in the future. Ramselaar, Letschert and Barazite caught the eye, as did AZ’s Joris van Overeem. Ron Vlaar will sign on for two more seasons with AZ and small clubs like Heracles and NEC impressed with Bel Hassani the key man for Heracles (potential target for Feyenoord) and Foor and Santos (sadly not Dutch) impressing for NEC. In England, Van Gaal missed out on CL football with Man United, which is quite a disappointment after a weird season altogether. Small time Leicester snatching the title and Spurs almost finishing second put pressure on Arsenal and City, while United and Chelsea took the brunt. Daley Blind can look back on a very decent season, while Memphis underperformed. Good news of course, is the arrival of Timothy Tofu-Mensah. He was dropped from the Oranje squad by Blind, however, due to fitness issues. memhpis tofu

Memphis and Timothy Fosu Mensah  

Man U did win the FA Cup after many years. A good performance by Man United.  Winning the FA Cup didn’t keep Louis in his job though. Missing the CL qualifications and the disgruntled fans made the board decide to release Van Gaal, with Mourinho coming in. Van Gaal is now holidaying in Portugal but has already said he won’t go for the KNVB job. The Technical director job is too boring for him. He doesn’t want to coach a club per se, but might. But taking a national team to the World Cup, that is definitely on his radar… Two notable Red Devil legends opposed. Ryan Giggs doesn’t see it in The Annoying One and will most likely turn his back on the club. Louis wanted Giggs to take over and I think Ryan one day will. Eric Cantona also doesn’t believe in Mourinho: “I think Mourinho is an excellent coach, but not for Man United. His playing philosophy is even worse than Van Gaal’s. The big mistake of Man United is that they didn’t go for Pep Guardiola. The football son of Cruyff, who is the architect of Modern Football. And now, Pep is going to manage the rivals. Bad situation. Maybe Man United should sign me to take Guardiola on!” koeman

Other notable EPL Dutchies, are Pat van Aanholt who was impressive all season, while Leroy Fer seems to have found his way out of the quagmire. Steven Berghuis had to be happy with a role in Watford 2 but whenever the winger did play for Watford he had something to offer. Nathan Ake developed into a solid EPL player, while some Dutch Toons were highlights in Newcastle’s season, despite their relegation. 11 goals for Wijnaldum, a good run for Anita but a disappointing one for Siem de Jong, while Janmaat missed the games in the business end of the season due to a groin injury. I can imagine these players might wanna stay in Newcastle should Benitez decide to take on the project long term. Jeremain Lens had a couple of highlights this campaign, but was overall disappointing for Sunderland. The Southampton contingent did very well, as did the whole club. Koeman is a sought after coach and Virgil van Dijk made it into the European Team of the Year! Clasie struggled with injuries and is again not with Oranje as a result. But when he played, he did his job thoroughly. Stekelenburg took over from the injured Forster and held himself well. hunter ier   Huntelaar had a hot-cold spell at Schalke and will most likely leave. The Augsburg lads also did a decent job and in Turkey, it was pleasing to note that Robin van Persie is playing close to his usual level, scoring, moving well and enjoying his game. Both Sneijder and Van Persie play the Turkish Cup Final this weekend and as a result, among other reasons, are not with Oranje. Then some more on Oranje. Danny Blind was the guest of Kees Jansma in De Tafel van Kees (Kees’ table). On Oranje’s disastrous campaign “It is devastating not to be there. But we need to move on. Look forward. We can work towards a new team that will get us to the World Cup. In 2014, people thought we were weak and shouldn’t go, but we went and finished 3rd. We finished 2nd in 2010 and had a disastrous Euros in 2012. This is not uncommon for a small football nation. Too many things went wrong in this campaign, but we also have some bad luck. Players like Robben, Vlaar and Strootman are key players for us and we lose quality when those kind of players are not there.” nistel dick   On Blind’s decision to add Dick Advocaat to the Technical Staff: “Ruud van Nistelrooy wants to work regularly with players on the training ground. Where he’s at in his coaching career, that makes sense. Usually the KNVB opts for young up coming coaches to assist the head coach, but as I am myself not overly experienced, I actually wanted to go for a man who has seen it all before. Dick has been at 5 major tournaments and has done so much as club coach as well. Funny, now I am team manager with two former team managers as my assistants. That is pretty unique, I believe.” Whether the KNVB pushed an experienced coach onto him: “No, it was my decision. Bert van Oostveen (KNVB general manager) even had to get used to the idea. I met Dick weeks ago by chance in Manchester and we had a chat and I left with a good feeling about him. There was a click. I gave it some thought and we talked some more. He wouldn’t want the final responsibility anymore but he is a football animal and he wants to work with talent and players still. I think with his passion and focus he can surely add something to the fold. I don’t think ego clashes will be an issue. If I had any ego in this, I wouldn’t have made this decision, would I? And Dick is all about the game, he is like he always was.” blind ier   On the decision to not select Sneijder, Huntelaar and Van Persie? “Both Wes and Robin play the cup final this weekend. I think it’s not that handy to get them to come in for friendlies after that. And to be honest, I know what both players can bring. I am keen to see some others perform on those spots now. Sneijder wasn’t fit in the last weeks, but Robin played very well in the last months and I won’t look at age or anything like that. Whether you’re 35 years old or 18 years old, when you’re good enough, you’re old enough… Huntelaar, similar story. We know what Klaas Jan can do. This time, I won’t use him but want to see the younger lads play. So I rather have him take a nice break and prepare for next season. In September we play a serious qualification match, so I might well need him then.” van_persie_mi_sneijder_miHN   On Ziyech and the role Blind and the KNVB played in that… “Why do we have to talk about that yet again?? This is now 10 months old. I won’t go into it. He was selected for Oranje. Due to an injury he never made his debut. We didn’t select him for the next game coz he played central striker for Twente, and we had Luuk and Klaas Jan and Dost for that role. I told him this. The next thing I know, he decides to play for Morocco. That is his decision. If he wanted to play for Oranje, he could have made contact and ask us about our plans with him. I would have gladly told him. But he made his decision. After playing for Young Oranje and after accepting our first invitation.” On Strootman: “He is a key player for us. I have been in touch with him a lot in the last months. Whenever he feels it’s good to come back, he’s welcome. I have also spoken to the club. As long as we stick to his program for his recovery, he can come and join us and make minutes. I am very keen to bring him in again.” stroot   On the Eredivisie level vs Championship in England: “The Championship is a serious competition. Probably on par with Eredivisie. Different in tactics and physical impact but none the less a serious league and we do follow the players at that level as well. Kieftenbelt (Birmingham), Chery (QPR), Ola John (Reading)… we follow them all and for some players, a stint at that level could be really good. Some EPL clubs rather sign players with Championship experience over Eredivisie experience.” It does seem Strootman can look forward to a starting position in Oranje against Ireland. Memphis, Janssen and Promes play upfront, Wijnaldum and Bazoer alongside Stroot and Willems, Blind, Bruma and Veltman in defense with Cillesen on goal. Most likely. Just to remind you: Ireland is on 27 May, Poland 1 June and Austria on 4th of June. Klaas Jan Huntelaar said in an interview recently that he asked Blind not to be called up. “I will never give up on Oranje. I am not bigger than the national team and if they need me, I’ll come. But it felt like the best thing for now. The young lads can have a go. And asked Blind for some time off and some time to think about my future. But playing for Oranje is always a big honour for me so I hope to be part of the future, still.” berhguis   Steven Berghuis back in a New York minute Steven Berghuis only played 222 minutes for Watford this season, but while on holidays in Manhattan he got the call from team manager Hans Jorritsma. “I never counted on anything anymore. I mean, this season was a disappointment and I thought I was off the radar. Holiday is nice, but playing for Oranje is super. I caught the first plane back and love to be part of it. It’s great to be with the group and to be able to show the coach I’m still here.” Blind called Berghuis after Locadia had to retract injured. “Steven hasn’t played a lot but we followed him and he two impressive turns as a sub. He is fast, has vision and he is a threat. With the fact we are not equiped with many wingers, I’d love to see him up close and personal for a spell.” The little general, Dick Advocaat. Got his nickname as assistant of the General Michels. And now, the experienced former team manager is back in that spot. Assisting Blind… He was not as present for Oranje at practice as he was at Feyenoord. But he will still be the same. “It’s new for me, now. I have to observe a bit and take it all in. But I am always going to be me. And Danny is cool with me expressing me. I think it will be a good trio, Marco, Danny and me… I look forward to helping Oranje going to the World Cup, but after that, I will call it quits.”

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The Future of Oranje and Dutch Football



Our Netherlands World Cup Facebook page was taken down by Facebook! I am not sure why, they don’t get back to me and I’m a bit done with them, so sadly, we’ll need to start that again. In case you were wondering….

bad FB


I still highly enjoy the work and Dutch football (or football in general) but due to my busy days and circumstances (partly also the disappointing Dutch results) I will not post weekly anymore, as you will have notices. I love it that you keep coming back and appreciate it. I can say I don’t enjoy all the comments all the time, but that is my problem. I offer free speech here.


I struggle with Tiju. I find his comments abrasive and sometimes offensive. His black and white views are pissing me off regularly and his inability or unwillingness to spell people’s names properly annoys me too. Saye can’ing Memphis can’t play football for shit, but he himself can’t spell Willems??? If Memphis doesn’t belong on the pitch due to his lack of skills, Tiju should look in the mirror and see if he belongs on a blog if he can’t be bothered to show respect to players. Saying you don’t like Memphis is fine with me, but saying “Blind is weak” is sacrilege. He plays for Man United and skippered Oranje for God’s and Jesus’ sakes!! No Oranje fan would say something like that about one of their most professional players. Go to the Dutch Oranje game in the 1970s and say Krol is weak, or in the 1980s and say “Muhren is weak” or in the 1990s to say “Rijkaard is weak” and you’d end the evening with orange testicles… Just sayin’. But do keep on commenting please Tiju, but take a hint when you can…..


Tiju when ready to post….


I just want to say here that the story that Ajax snubbed him is untrue. I am not sure if the article quoted Tim, but in Holland, pro clubs are not allowed to sign contracts with players until they’re 17 years old. It is a big no no. Ajax will not do this. Man United does (all other European countries bar Germany I think, do) and this is why Man City, Chelsea, Man U etc rob young players from Ajax, Feyenoord and the like. I am sure if Ajax could have, they would have…


I do fully agree that he is the real deal, for now, but as we saw with Donk, Drenthe, Maduro et al, let’s not put too much pressure on the lad.


I will not debate that he had a disappointing season. But I will defend Memphis to the death re: his ability, his will to succeed, his workrate and seriousness re: the game. When people watch football (Tiju??) they usually watch the ball. I suggest that people (Tiju??) spend time watching the players play without the ball. And watch their movement. And watch the team dynamics. Whenever Man U played with Memphis, Rooney, Martial and Mata, you will find that due to hierarchy and “custom” the first ball from the back will be played into Rooney or Mata. When Rooney wants the ball, he gets it. That is how hierarchy works. Rooney will normally put his head up and either dribble, pass short or find the direct route to goal. Usually, Martial would be the next target (now Rashford, but I mean the central striker). Mata is a similar player and in my view also a #10, like Rooney. Driving the ball up, watching for a run. Memphis was often crowded out. Once the ball came in the final third, Memphis had 2 defenders marking him. At PSV, it was Memphis who would get that first ball. He was the go to man for PSV. He is not at Man U.

man u passing

Against Villa, the through balls and the focus was on the right hand side again. Rooney and Martial drifting left a lot, opening to the right

He is used differently. The number of time, for instance vs Aston Villa, that Memphis was open but the first ball would go to Rooney, couldn’t be counted on one hand. Man U’s style of play and Rooney’s movement has more impact on Memphis’ effectiveness than Memphis individual quality. Against Midjeland, he showed what he can do if he gets space i.e. the ball earlier. Now, versus Aston Villa, he ended up the central striker in the box, as the ball would be moved to the right (Mata!) who would cross with his left towards Memphis who is not a header of the ball. Memphis plays better when Rooney is not in the team and Herrera plays in the hole. I’m not saying it’s Rooney’s fault, per se. It’s just how the team dynamics are. Remember the discussion in Oranje in the 1980s? Can Kieft and Van Basten play in the same team? Or in the naughties? Can Van der Vaart and Sneijder play in the same team? Or Sneijder, Van Persie and Huntelaar?

man u crowded

A good example of four ManU players all going for the same ball!

Man U has four players who all want the ball in their feet to go and make something happen: Martial, Rooney, Mata and Memphis. The only two players who go beyond the back four as runners to get the ball in their stride are Rashford and Lindgard. If you want to know why Lindgard gets the nod over Memphis, I’m 100% sure this is why. Man United needs diversity up front. Rashford is a real striker. Memphis is not. Martial is not. Lindgard is a runner. But then again, Lindgard is not a killer/finisher. Misses many guild-edged chances. Memphis? Memphis is an artist. He needs to be the key player in the team. This is how it worked with PSV and this is why it doesn’t work (yet) at Man U and Oranje.

I do agree, that Memphis might still end up a fluke (I doubt it, he is sooo talented) but there is the same chance that after one disappointing season he will flourish under another coach, with another group of players around him or at another club. For every Drenthe, there is a Bergkamp. For every Daniel de Ridder, there is a Huntelaar. And for every Tiju, there is a Jan….


The news hit hard last week. The KNVB – Bert van Oostveen – declared that Oranje should be world class again by 2026. WHAT??????? Is he a moron? What do we pay him for??? What the F!! Not 2026, Bert! 2018 please!!! For crying out loud. If I was a KNVB director I’d sack him on the spot. Because if it takes 10 years to reach the world top again, he has clearly not done his job in the last years. What an idiot. And the plan they presented makes me cringe. “We need to develop better defenders”. Yeah right. Well done Sherlock! But….how???? They don’t say. And so it goes on.

oostveen chair

“Look Mr Chairman, that is the goal where Oranje needs to kick the ball”

Like with any organisation, any industry, any business…. if there is a problem, look at management. It’s not Tim Fosu Mensah, Stefan de Vrij or Jordy Clasie who are at fault here. It’s management. Development. Vision. Leadership. Bloody Louis van Gaal demonstrated that with the right tactics and a bit of luck, you can finish 3rd in the world! This man has no clue. In a way, it would be good if Man United decides to let LVG go. He would be an awesome technical director. Talking about leadership and vision. We missed out on the Euros not because we have a bad team. Or bad players. I don’t even think Hiddink and Blind are terrible managers. I think mostly we missed the Euros as a combination of 1) post WC issues (Robben, De Vrij, Vlaar, Van Persie), 2) under estimation of the campaign, 3) bad luck.

teleurstelling oranje 6 anp_1_0

Quality is not an excuse. And qualifying for the World Cup 2018 should NOT be a problem. Sure, France is the tits but Sweden? Come on!!

Obviously, if we miss Robben, Sneijder and – say – Vlaar we might be in trouble again, but with players like them and Memphis, Wijnaldum, Propper, Klaassen, Strootman, Afellay, Janmaat, Willems, Van Ginkel, Bruma, Van Dijk, Cillesen, Zoet, Krul et al we should be able to get there!


Systems is what you put on a piece of paper (or blog). Football is what you do on the pitch. I don’t believe in systems, but in players and a football philosophy. Our philosophy should be to use our core skills (tactical smarts and technical skills) to play the sort of football that will enterain the fans and win games. Ergo: possession, dominance, front foot, forward pressing. The way Barca, Bayern and Arsenal play, with other words. That should be the standard. However, when you play an opponent which is stronger and has more of the same skills than we do (Spain? Germany? France?), then it is ok to leave possession to them, play more compact and play for the break.

van gaal tactics

I believe you determine your actual system on the players you have. The quality you have. So, this style of football you can play with 4-3-3 (traditional Ajax, Feyenoord) or with 3-4-3 (Oranje 1974) or with 4-4-2 (AC Miland 1980s/90s) or even with 4-2-3-1 (Arsenal). Doesn’t matter. The players at hand determine the system, eventually. At this time it is too hard to say “This is the ideal line up!” as it is unclear how Robben/Van Persie/Sneijder will hold up, how Memphis/Janssen/Bazoer will develop and what surprises we will see come forward (Letscher, Fosu Mensah, De Rooy, Maher)…. More on this topic once the qualifications start.


Our troubles won’t be over soon! The fact that Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord are playing with teams 5 years younger on average than 10 years ago, says a lot. But we keep on developing talent. As you know… Bazoer, Karsdorp, Vilhena, Propper, Ake, Janssen, Fosu Mensah… We’ll keep the faith. The competition is too hard. The other countries make more money and spend more money. Players are offered sensational deals at 20 instead of 24 as in the times of Bergkamp and Jonk. Would you say no if Man United wanted to pay you 5Mio per year? Compared to 500k at PSV?

justin kluivert

Justin and Patrick

I’ve said this before, we still produce talent, but as a result of the development steps made by Germany, Spain, England even and France, we are not the unique developers of talent anymore. Heck, look at Belgium! Watch Man City play Spurs and you see Belgian players, Danes, French guys and England talent but no Dutch. Or see Atletico play Bayern and you see French, Belgian, Austrian but no Dutch lads involved (granted, Robben was injured). We do have the talent but we don’t develop them well enough. Too much focus on skills and tactics, no focus on physical strength, mental strength and  focus. A new generation of coaches has stepped up though and in line with the new style of management (Flores, Guardiola, Emery, Klopp, Simeone), Dutch coaches like Erik ten Hag (Utrecht), Fons Groenendijk (Excelsior), John van den Brom (AZ Alkmaar) and Gio van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord) you see a new style of working and thinking making its way. Erik ten Hag, like Pep, demands the presence of his players all day. Like a 9 to 5 job. Spending time together, for video analysis, physiological work, tactical team talks, individual training, nutrition guidance etc. Louis van Gaal, despite being of the old guard, has adapted his work methods as well. Potentially a good step forward.

ten hag pep

Erik ten Hag with Pep at Bayern (now at FC Utrecht)

Lets hope we can see some positive changes in the way clubs manage and work and lets hope FIFA will start working on Financial Fair Play as well. If PSV, for instance, gets in the CL again next year and is able to hang on to Luuk de Jong, Guardado, Propper and Van Ginkel they might be able to do what they did this year. And Ajax? Well, let’s hope they start spending some of the 100mio euros they seem to have in their vaults and lets hope Huntelaar comes to the Arena. And let’s hope Ajax signs Hakim Zyiech from FC Twente…

In the meantime Feyenoord won their first big trophy since 2008. The National Cup is a big trophy. Holland only has two prizes that can be won, so the Cup definitely counts. Feyenoord currently has a 45 mio euro budget compared to the 70+ of PSV and Ajax, so there is still room to improve there. The Youth Academy works well, but a new stadium (or a re-furbished De Kuip) will be needed to up the ante. If players like Kramer and Elia develop more into next season and Kuyt keeps his form and new blood is found to replace Vilhena (who will most certainly be out transfer free), they might finally challenge for the title.

knvb coolsingel

Van Bronckhorst and Kuyt celebrating with The Legion in Rotterdam

Feyenoord will play Europa League group stage football next season, while hopefully both Ajax and PSV will make it into the Champions League. Step by step, we will recover… Tonny Vilhena has been playing strong in midfield for Feyenoord, pushing and tackling and running and scoring. His long distance shot is impressive, but now he will need to work on his tactical awareness and positioning. Sadly, he will walk away from De Kuip for free and even more sadly, he might end up warming the bench at some European sub top team like AC Milan, Atletico or AS Monaco…

And, if Leicester can finish top in the EPL with their budget, at some stage, Ajax or PSV might actually get to the last four in the CL. I can see PSV do it.


He is stil sorely missed. During the days/weeks of his mourning, every person who ever had anything to do with JC was dragged in front of the camera to tell stories, anecdotes, opinions… One man, was absent. Willem van Hanegem. Johan’s partner in crime in Oranje 1974 and his rival playmaker at Feyenoord. The perfect #10. Who was instrumental in eventually luring Cruyff to Feyenoord. In a column he said he wasn’t going to go into all the invites for the talk shows, at it simply was too hard for him to talk about Johan. Last week, he finally made his return to a sports talk show. Jack van Gelder had to ask him the question. See this video to witness how Willem van Hanegem is processing the loss of the Legend.


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Oranje stunned by French, stuns English…

What a week we had!

We lost the greatest Dutchman of the last 100 years. The most famous Dutchman, actually. Step into any taxi on the planet and when the driver realises you’re from Holland, he’ll say some version of Cruyff’s name. “Croeff!” Or “Croif”. Or YohanKruf”. But they all talk about the number 14… When he passed away last week, the Oranje players were stunned. Some of them knew him, all of them were influenced, directly or indirectly by him. Team manager Danny Blind and assistant coach Marco van Basten owe their careers to him and both are heavily influenced by his thinking.

A day later, Danny Blind did what the media, the fans and probably the players and the Federation expected him to do. Change the playing system from 4-3-3 to 5-3-2 ( 3-4-3). Cruyff turned around in his grave, if he wasn’t still above the ground. On the day Oranje faces France in the future Cruyff Arena, in Johan’s city of birth, Blind reverted to a more defensive playing style.

blind france

And to add insult to injury. the French scored in the 13th minute, making the 1 minute tribute applause for JC sounds ironic.

Shifting to 5-3-2 was a mistake.

We can safely assume that we have learned that lesson. But, I hear you say…. Louis van Gaal managed it quite well at the WC2014!!!

Yes he did. After weeks of straightjacket practice. With Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie on top. And with luck.

Spain could have been 2-0 up at half time. Australia could have beaten us. The penalty vs Mexico was a 50/50 and another ref might not have given it… We weren’t short of luck. In the losers final we played a totally deflated Brazil…

This time around: Blind didn’t have 3 weeks to practice, he had 2 days. And he didn’t have Robben.

Playing 5-3-2 without Robben or a player of his calibre is ridiculous. Who is making the difference up front? Promes? Not yet… Luuk de Jong? Never!

afellay france

When Oranje shifted to 4-3-3 we got more control. More clarity. More width. Depay played horrendous, yes. But he kept Evra at bay and he assisted both goals. I’d be happy if I was Blind.

And I know, France could have led by 0-5 at half time. They missed opportunities but you could also say we defended well. Cillesen stopped a certain goal and Bruma in particular played a good game.

But Veltman is not a 5-3-2 wing back. He did everything wrong, while Clasie in midfield was outnumbered by all these darting French midfielders who played a 4-5-1, really.

They do have talent to burn, the frogs and I do believe they’re a level up from us at the moment. But to come back to 2-2 was not a bad effort. Sad that their #14 got the winner…. And sad Sneijder had to leave the pitch. Daley Blind succeeds him now as skipper. The only player from the Spain victory in 2014 to start in the England match…

danny daley

And the goals fell cheap… The free kick was a very soft one to be awarded to the French. Klaassen didn’t do much wrong. Cillesen got tricked and moved to the left, while the ball came to his right. His corner. And he couldn’t even come close. The corner kick resulting in the second goal was badly defended. The second ball was hardly challenged by Promes and Veltman lost Giroud out of his sight: 0-2.

Memphis was partly responsible for the 1-2. He got fouled and his inswinger was scored via De Jong’s arm. But he got a big push in his back and if that wouldn’t have happened, he probably would have headed the ball in. I’m not a huge De Jong fan, but I can see him score from that cross. The second goal was good vision by Memphis and a nice finish by Afellay, who was unmarked. France’ winner should never have been scored, in the dying minutes of the game, but heck…. France deserved the win!

So, Blind decided to fix it for the England game. Back to 4-3-3. With Depay and Promes sticking to their position and with a better football player leading the line. Vincent Janssen played a Kuyt style game. Running, working, being annoying, using his body and with a very cool head indeed!

Blind skipper

In the 6th minute, we deserved a penalty (Veltman played great this time around and was clipped by Rose). England didn’t have shot on goal until the 25th minute. By then we had 3 attempts on goal already. Depay didn’t dazzle yet again, but he played with more discipline and if one of the throughpasses into space would have been better, he could have been in on goal two times at least.

But the key was Blind’s game plan (4-5-1 without the ball, 4-3-3 with) and the way midfield pushed forward. Sacrificing Bazoer to hassle Barkley worked really well too.

England had more of the ball, but Holland was in control. One moment of lack of focus got England their goal. Narsingh allowed Rose to get away, Stones pass reached him, Bazoer got pulled away from the center of the pitch and Lallana had time and space. Depay forgot to track back to cover Walker and Bruma was too late to block Vardy’s run. Good goal. Bad defending.

Otherwise, Oranje’s defence looked solid with Daley Blind playing as a real captain, and Bruma putting his body on the line. Willems still doesn’t look fresh but he needs time after 6 months on the sideline while Veltman played like a man.

cruyff wembley

Wijnaldum was the only one looking out of sorts. He has a form issue, like Depay, but they’re both so talented, that will come good.

Janssen was key in our attack. He pushed Stones back who slipped and he could have done better in finishing, but the cross was on and Narsigh hit Rose’ hand. The Spurs defender sort of slapped at it and the penalty was justified, in my view. We should have had one earlier as well. While the England players protested you could see Janssen going for the ball. Blind would later admit either Janssen or Promes were the penalty takers. Promes was out already, so Janssen took it and buried the ball high in the roof of the goal. His body check on a loose ball vs Jagielka kept Oranje in possession and Janssen had all the composure to find an unmarked orange jersey. Not an easy finish for Narsingh but he did very well.

With 14 players missing (Robben and Sneijder obvious losses but the lack of Vlaar, De Vrij and Strootman is also key) I am not pessimistic about our future at all.

janssen pingel

We have good goalies (Cillesen was at fault with France’ first goal), good center backs, and with Tete, Janmaat on the right and Pieters and Van Aanholt and even Ake on the left, our defence looks alright.

I rate Bazoer very high and I think Propper will make big steps as well. Afellay and Clasie are useful and Van Ginkel might still work his way up too. If Strootman reaches his old level, we will be spoiled with choices for midfield. We also have Fer, Klaassen, Hendrix, Wijnaldum… Not too shabby. Upfront, Robben will remain key. I can even see us play with a false #9.

I personally don’t see it in Locadia and De Jong. Fine for top of Eredivisie, but lacking technical ability and handling speed in big matches. Luuk de Jong was painful to watch vs Atletico and France and Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Bas Dost to me are better players to use as pinch hitters.

Vincent Janssen needs more time. He’s just broken through and he will need to prove himself a bit more. But he did demonstrate work rate, a cool head and a fighting mentality. He could be our next Dirk Kuyt.

janssen career


Vincent Janssen’s career in pics. Youth of Feyenoord, move to second tier Almere City and back to the top via AZ….

I would play a 4-5-1 with Robben in a free role on top. Depay left, Promes on the right and a midfield with Bazoer, Strootman (fingers crossed) and Propper or Wijnaldum or Klaassen. If Strootman isn’t available, Clasie can play in that role. And don’t rule Sneijder out! Afellay is a good utility player. He gave Oranje some oomph when he came on in the second half vs France. He can play anywhere in midfield.

Willems would always play in my team, and on the right I’d play Tete if the opponent has a strong left winger or Janmaat if the opponent doesn’t.

Blind is proving to be a strong CB and at his side you simply pick the man in form. Vlaar, Bruma, De Vrij, Van Dijk…whoever….

This summer, I hope Blind will take his squad on a trip to work on 5-3-2. Provided Vlaar, Janmaat and Robben are fit, this system can work well against tough opponents.

As for Danny Blind, a coach is as good as his material. Poor Danny is not responsible for the fact we don’t have strong world beaters at the moment. I don’t think Koeman or De Boer would do much better than Blind. He’s a good communicator and I think he has a good football vision.

oranje eng scoort

After the France game: “Playing 5-3-2 means you have to work more. It’s hard. We only had 2 days to practice and we didn’t perform a couple of essential tasks. That was clear. It was not good enough. But, that is what a practice game is for. I was asked if it wouldn’t have been a good tribute to Cruyff if we’d played 4-3-3….  I think we can play this, and I want to be able to play more systems. But, against a top team like France, we did come back into the game. That final winner should never have been scored of course.”

Blind, after the England game: “I am positively surprised. You don’t expect to beat England at Wembley with 14 players absent. We beat them with Cruyff, with Jan Peters, with Koeman and Van Vossen and once with Robben in form. Now we needed to rely on Janssen and Zoet. Very pleased about, although… we won’t get any points with this game and it will still be a long long summer….”

Blind Eng

The WC 2018 campaign won’t be easy. But France will be vulnerable, as they always are in qualification games. They’ll probably do very well at the Euros, most teams get a dip after a bit tournament (duh!!). Sweden will not be too hard for us. They’re good but beatable. We’ll probably finish second in the group, maybe even first. Mark my words.


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Oranje: A New Beginning (Blind leading the pack)

It is time to get positive again!

Yes, we are frustrated. Yes we should have gone to the Euros. Yes, mistakes were made.

But we can keep on moaning about it and withdraw support etc and where will this leave us?

I do believe the players were partly to blame, but I also believe they tried to do well. Their intentions were good. But the post WC blues, the shift from LVG to Hiddink etc may have caused them to underperform.

I do believe the coach was to blame as well. Inconsistent, vague, old-school…the contrast with Louis was too big.

And the Federation is to blame for the silly decision to follow up LVG with Guus and to also give him the charter to play “Total Football”.

But…all in all, looking at the amazing talent on show in the Eredivisie at the moment, I think we can safely say “We’ll be back!”.


I watched Feyenoord – Ajax in the Classico in De Kuip and was impressed with some of our youngsters. It was also great to see they can battle and tackle. Good to see a ref allowing some manly football. Impressed by Bazoer… Easily Holland’s biggest talent. Will be a world class player in 3 years. Composed, highly skilled, fast, smart, and mature. I loved Rick Karsdorp too. Venom, speed, good vision… Elia was alive. Working hard and making problems constantly. Vejinovic has something Pirlo-esque. Sven van Beek was strong again and finally scored in the right goal. Tonny Vilhena is reviving his career (even if he is still super young). Tete and Riedenwald played well for Ajax and Davy Klaassen showed to all (incl Frank de Boer) why he needs to play in midfield.

PSV did ok too, with Luuk de Jong impressing even if he did miss a penalty. But PSV fans disgusting me with the way they treated Adam Maher, forcing Cocu to sub the youngster as he was constantly booed. Locadia is showing his progress on a week by week basis and if you take into account the likes of Clasie, Jetro Willems, Van Dijk, De Vrij, Marten de Roon, El Ghazi, Dost, Memphis and Wijnaldim, all is not lost.

Daley Blind is even developing into a great field captain, like his dad. Didn’t miss a beat in Man U’s win over West Brom. Composed, highly skilled, great vision and courageous in the duels.


Marten de Roon

Marten de Roon deserves a special mention. He is from my hometown (Hendrik Ido Ambacht) and played for the club where I started (ASWH). In case you are wondering: I stopped there as well. Not Marten. He moved to Feyenoord’s youth system, then Sparta. Made it to the first team and played under Van Basten at Heerenveen. Went on to Atalanta Bergamo and his first months were hell, apparently. Young de Roon only speaks Dutch, German and English while all his team mates only speak Italian or French…. He is now starting to speak the language and two later additions to the team speak English and translate for him. Against AC Milan this weekend, the defensive midfielder (Strootman style) was named MOTM.

At this stage, Blind wants to have two defensive mids in his squad and as he has Clasie and added Vejinovic, it seems Daley will be a center back, most likely in a 5-3-2 set up.

daley man

Asked about the reason why a non playing RVP was ditched while a non playing Memphis was actually selected, Blind said this: “I know what to expect from Robin. He had 100+ caps and 50 goals. Once he is match fit and playing well, I have no qualms putting him in and I don’t need to worry about him. Memphis isn’t playing a lot either, but he is fit and I don’t have too many left wingers. Also, with Memphis being young and inconsistent, I love to have him in the group as I can assert some influence over him. Otherwise I’d see him again 5 months from now. Feels like a long time for a young turk like him.”

Meanwhile, in Eindhoven, young PSV back Brenet was tricked into saying silly things in an interview with PSV tv. The anchor clearly wanted to make some anti Ajax points and basically coaxed Brenet into saying that Blind oversaw him (Brenet) in favour of Tete. “And everyone in the squad here feels that way…”

Blind was obviously flabbergasted and said in his press conference that there is no reason for him to focus on Ajax players only. “I want to win games. Why would I select players that are lesser than others? What do I have to gain with that? Ridiculous…”

vince jansen

Vincent Janssen of AZ and Young Oranje

So much for Brenet being called up.

Vincent Janssen of AZ scored another real strikers goal. He is not the quickest but he has a good touch and uses his body well. Him and Locadia…you never know…. Heracles, FC Utrecht, Vitesse and AZ also have some interesting young players at hand, as does FC Groningen. All too early for now, but the coming 2 to 5 years don’t look shabby at all.

I personally see Berghuis develop under Flores at Watford and hope to see Leroy Fer and Marco van Ginkel shine still as well. Afellay had a sub turn against Chelsea last weekend and he was highly involved in Stoke’s win. In the meantime, Davey Klassen had to pull out of the squad due to knee complaints.

jonk over

Wim Jonk and Mark Overmars

This is not the worst Ajax news coming out. The worst being that the Cruyff Velvet Revolution is in jeopardy. Two of his proteges at Ajax are out. Former winger Tscheu La Ling left at board level and Wim Jonk was sacked on the spot as head of development.

The former felt no one cared about his opinion and left. The latter couldn’t work with De Boer, Overmars and Bergkamp and refused to communicate with them. General manager in waiting Edwin van der Sar tried to talk sense into him but decided to sack him as Jonk wouldn’t budge.

With Johan battling lung cancer, who knows what will happen with the JC philosophy.

While on international break, the current football news made news for transfers rumours. Man United is linked with Graziano Pelle and Ajax winger El Ghazi for a winter move. Juventus also wants to sign the former Feyenoord striker.


Virgil in EPL team of the month

In the meantime, Blind is working behind closed doors to get his defense and midfield shored up for the upcoming games. Oranje conceded 23 times under Hiddink/Blind. “This is one of the key things we need to address,” Blind said at the press conference. The general opinion is that he will implement 2 holding mids in the team. Hiddink worked with one deep lying central defender and two more offensive midfielders (Sneijder, Klaassen, Wijnaldum). Clasie, Blind or Klaassen were used mostly in the center of midfield and they are not real destroyers like Nigel de Jong.

The way Man United plays, with two defensive mids and one forward midfielder behind the striker is most likely the way to go for Oranje. The 5-3-2 seems unlikely against Wales but might be used against Germany. Wales plays defensive football and will accept a stronger Oranje to dominate the game.


Another topic was still the absence of Robin van Persie. Wesley Sneijder: “I feel for him as I experienced the exact same. First the band is taken off your arm and then you hear you are not fit enough. You can do two things: tell ‘m to put it where the sun don’t shine or work you arse off. I did the latter, but it was hell. Robin will do the same. And I’ll tell you this: a fit Van Persie should always be in the squad. Whether he is fit now? I can’t tell you this.” Sneijder didn’t talk to Robin. “This is how it goes. He’s not here so we don’t bother us about him. Was the same with me. The squad focuses on the game not on the ones not here. Whether it’s Strootman, Van Persie or Willems. I’ll see him in Istanbul some time, I’m sure. I texted him when I heard and that is all.”

Memphis Depay talks to the press again. Donning a new hat he opened up to the media. At practice the youngster scored every ball he hit on target. “It’s going well. I feel it. But I need to show it in matches again. That is where it counts. I had some set backs this season. I started well but the shift was big for me. New country, new city, new club. But I am working my ass off. Not everyone sees this. I even pay for a chef to make me proper meals and advice me on nutrition.” The ex PSV winger gained 5 kilos in the last 4 months. “I was a bit shocked when I weighed myself recently. It’s all muscle, but it is more than 5% increase and I need to work on my explosivity and speed. It’s due to the practices at Man United.”

memphis hoed

Asked whether his flamboyant appearances were a statement, he said: “It’s just a hat. A hat! Is that what keeps people intrigued. People say “what do you do with the hat?”. I say, I wear it hahahaha. Listen I don’t have any star behaviour or anything. I just like wearing hats. I am still the same football fanatic. But the media see me come at the hotel and get out of a fancy car and wearing a hat. And that is the big topic. No one sees how hard I work to get better.”

Blind had a conversation with the Man U talent regarding his work ethics. “We did talk. Was very positive. He didn’t mention any hats or anything. I really want to bring something special to the team and I do what I can. The criticism doesn’t hurt me. The people who judge don’t know what I do and who I am. It’s not my problem.”

Lastly, check out the website of kaassoldaat (cheese soldier). This wonderful Soldier of Orange is publishing the Eredivisie match replays online!! And Dutch language sports programs. Good fun!!

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Dutch football needs make over. Fast!

My friends, I would like to start this post with expressing my support and sympathy to the Greatest Football Player Ever, Johan Cruyff. The Catalan Salvador announced that he is battling lung cancer at the moment. Johan was a chainsmoker most of his active life and quit in 1991 after serious heart problems. Johan is a fighter and will do what he can to win this match as well, I’m sure. Still, our thoughts are with him and his family….

Johan Cruyff smoking on the touchline - 06 Dec 2006

Historically, we have had numerous amazing quotes from famous people that were so completely wrong, it isn’t funny anymore.

In 1962, some Decca head honcho didn’t sign The Beatles. “Guitar bands are out. The Beatles have no future in music.”

Some banker in 1903: “The horse is here to say. The automobile is a fad. Don’t invest in Ford Motors.”

Variety magazine in 1955 on Rock & Roll: “It will be gone by June.”

Politician in England, 1969: “Never will we see a female PM in England!” (Margaret Thatcher, anyone?)

Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer in 2007: “The iPhone will not succeed. They will not get marketshare.”

William Orton of Western Union at Bell’s presentation of the phone, in 1876: “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be ever considered a serious means of communications.”

Now we can add: “This qualification group for Euro 2016: it will be harder for Oranje to not qualify, than it is to qualify…”

oranje fans balen

So let’s analyse…

1. Inheritance of Louis van Gaal

I think Louis is partly to blame. Halfway through the qualifications for Brazil he already said he didn’t like the job and basically only did it for his own ego and resume. He would only do the job for 2 years and when Oranje was done in Brazil he ran to the exit, which took him to Man United. He never did any knowledge transfer, neither has he taken the responsibility to hand over the team. Any team that worked and played under Van Gaal has been forced into a straight jacket. Any successor to Van Gaal will find a team that is used to being told exactly what to do. His club teams usually consist of mature players already fed up with him when he leaves (Barca, Bayern, Ajax) but this Dutch national team owed a lot to Van Gaal and his way of working. De Vrij, Blind, Depay and BMI all made lucrative transfers thanks to LVG. Some players will have had a breath of fresh air when he left (Robben, Sneijder, De Jong) others were probably a bit at a loss without Louis (BMI, De Vrij, Depay).

blind verliest

2. Installing Guus Hiddink as LVG successor

Bert van Oostveen is responsible for this decision. It would have been perfectly acceptable to pick a coach to follow up Louis van Gaal who understands the Van Gaal vision and can work on that basis. Co Adriaanse was an option. Danny Blind would have been a good pick as well. Unknown Joachim Low took over from Klinsmann after 2006 for Germany, in the same vein Blind could have taken the baton from Louis. But no, the KNVB selected the one and only Dutch coach who is totally opposite of Van Gaal. Van Gaal is in your face, intense, tactically disciplined and driven… Hiddink is arms length. Loose, not really strong tactically, “come on boys, enjoy!” kind of coach. No wonder Blind and Hiddink couldn’t see eye to eye. On top of that, Hiddink lost his swagger a bit. He became soft and a doubter.One match, Nigel de Jong was the “captain in midfield”, the next game Nigel wasn’t selected… The worst decision, picking Hiddink. Too big a change for a young and not so incredibly talented squad. What Louis did in Brazil worked, but somehow the KNVB wanted to break the trend…

oranje qual

3. Instructing Hiddink to play “Total Football”

The biggest joke. Total Football. What is it exactly? Bert van Oostveen doesn’t know… Is it playing a right footed player on the left wing? Probably not. Is it playing square balls in defence at a slow pace? Probably not. Van Oostveen describes it as “attractive”, “dominant”, “attacking” and “using wingers”. And it is being translated as “4-3-3”. Hellooooooo… If that is Total Football or Dutch School, it appears that many nations play this. And probably not because of some egotistical “Dutch School” brand, but because they 1) have the players to do so and 2) because all the other terms are subjective… The only time Holland won anything was playing 4-4-2. We tend to forget we had a lot of luck against the Irish, against the English (off side goal Van Basten), against West Germany (our penalty was not a penalty) and against the USSR in the finals (the first 25 minutes were for the USSR). It is being sold as if Total Football in 1974 was the result of strategy. It wasn’t. The center backs were picked by chance due to tremendous injuries (Hulshoff, Israel, Laseroms, Drost and Mansveld were all out) and we happen to have two amazing world class players in Cruyff and Van Hanegem. Oh, and in case you forgot: we played Total Football but we lost the finals… Playing 4-3-3 when you don’t have the players is silly and suicidal. Playing 4-3-3 for the hell of it with a right footer on the left and a left footer on the right is different from the 4-3-3 we played in 1974. Which may have been 4-3-3 on paper but one Johan Cruyff was always everywhere on the pitch, except for the center striker position. Van Gaal picked 5-3-2 for a reason. Finishing third at the World Cup did not change the reasons why he went for 5-3-2.


4. Overestimating our qualities

We beat Spain at the World Cup, but not because of our great play, but because they let themselves down. Re-watch the first half. They were cutting through our defence like a hot knife through butter. We got lucky with that super goal by Robin van Persie. Spain only has one game plan, so they kept attacking and we kept counter attacking. Australia deserved to win against us. The Chile game was less relevant and Mexico was hard done by. A close game, if there ever was one. Costa Rica simply lacked quality but held us at 0-0. Argentina tried hard but didn’t succeed. And Oranje was putting it all towards Robben who couldn’t find the gap between Argentina. Obviously, by then, Brazil was already in severe depression and it wasn’t hard for Oranje to rob it in, nicely. But it didn’t mean a thing. But we came back with Bronze. We silenced all criticasters. Some of us went to play for big EPL or Seria A or Portugal Liga clubs. And we were the Kings of Europe (Germany was the Emperor).

spelers balen

5. Frail Foundation of Players

After finishing third it can’t be helped that players (and staff, and fans, and media) believe we are really something. The start of the campaign – seen as an easy one – was devoid of real desire. It took two games or so for people to slowly “wake up”. In the meantime, trouble had hit the squad, in the form of injuries and form issues (Vlaar, Van Persie, Robben, Janmaat). We suddenly realised that without the 5-3-2 and without some players in top form (Vlaar, De Vrij and Robben in particular were outstanding in Brazil), we are not that great. During the qualifications, we lost a number of important players to injuries, and the frail foundation of Dutch talent came to light when others didn’t get the playing time we hoped (BMI, Huntelaar, Van Persie). The tremendous gap between 30+ year old top class players (Sneijder, Robben, Huntelaar, De Jong, Van Persie, Van der Vaart) and the potential top class players of around 20 years (Depay, Rekik, Willems, Klaassen, Berghuis, Veltman, Van Beek) wasn’t filled with leading players in the age-group 24-28… Daley Blind, Georginhio Wijnaldum and Darryl Janmaat are probably the only ones fit (Strootman being the only real top class midfielder, and his return to that level is questionable) and they are probably nothing more than good team players, nothing more, nothing less.

RVP zit

6. Defensive qualities

LVG noticed it in his qualification campaign. The Dutch don’t have strong defenders. The problems started already in 2008. Ooijer, Mathijsen, Heitinga…they were criticised from the off and a lot of people never expected Holland to do well in the WC2010 with those defenders. Van Marwijk needed Van Bronckhorst as left back and replaced him with 18 year old Jetro Willems for the Euro2012. We used to develop good ones. From Krol and Israel and Laseroms, to Spelbos, Van Tiggelen,Wijnstekers to Jaap Stam, Michael Reiziger and John de Wolf but around 2004 the qualities started to fade. We do develop them. In spades actually. Bruma, Vlaar, Rekik, Veltman, Denswil, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Gouweleeuw, Viergever, Kongolo, Van Dijk, Van der Hoorn, Van Beek…. but none of them (maybe Van Beek) has the ruthlessness and commitment we see in Italian and English defenders. Is it lack of defensive DNA? No, it is not. It is lack of development.

hunter buik

7.  Lack of desire

It is a given that mental strenght, focus and desire can add a significant level of quality to any team. The Greek national team in 2004, the Germans in 1996, Atletico Madrid, Leicester City, Liverpool 2005… There are so many examples. Barca and Bayern have it. Last season, Chelsea had it. Oranje had it in 2010. It was mistaken for “ugly football”. You have to really really want it. Today, in modern football, football skills is not enough. Barcelona demonstrates the work ethics and discipline needed to really rise up. Our Oranje doesn’t have the football skill and finesse of Spain. If we do not match the desire of the opponent (yes, Iceland away, Czechs at home, Turkey away), our lack of quality means we will lose the game. It is again, something that needs to be added in the development of teams and talent. It’s youth development, but also scouting and selecting. Over the last years, Holland developed lots of tantalizing talents, who can play football, but don’t seem to have the desire, the iron will to succeed. Adam Maher, Royston Drenthe, Ryan Babel, Ricardo Kishna, Ibi Afellay, JP Boetius, Eljero Elia….

Wesley Sneijder said something telling, only a week ago. When a reporter asked an innocent question about Playstations, Wes said something profound. “In my time, when I came to Oranje, the older players played cards. As young players you were taken in to the game and you created a bond. Today, players come to the hotel with their PS4 and go to their rooms to play FIFA. A bit childish, I think. You won’t see me doing that.”

Oostveen czech

Who is responsible?

Obviously, the man who appoints the coach and the man who instructs the coach is end responsible. Going from LVG to Hiddink was a big mistake that someone with football expertise would have spotted. The decision to go back to “4-3-3” or Total Football was pedantic. A proud Dutch national team wanting to show the world that the rest of the world is doing it wrong. On what basis? Van Oostveen needs to be replaced by a more football savvie experienced CEO. Gaston Sporre (ex PEC Zwolle and ex Heerenveen) is an outstanding candidate. As would Ruud van Duyvenbode (former Ajax and Feyenoord defender and long time Ajax board member). Or Toon Gerbrands, former AZ Alkmaar and current PSV general manager.

toon lou

Toon Gerbrands and Louis van Gaal

For talent development and overall KNVB football strategy, the KNVB need to appoint a Technical Director. Someone with extensive development and football management experience. Wim Jansen might be too old, but someone like Co Adriaanse would do. Foppe de Haan comes to mind. Martin Jol, maybe? Once the KNVB establishes the direction to take, the coach can be appointed…

I personally believe Danny Blind is a good man for the job. I don’t buy the “he lacks experience” rhetoric. Blind was captain of the best Ajax of the last 40 years and has worked in football in every role thinkable, incl head coach of Ajax and assistant to Van Gaal at Oranje. Joachim Low of Germany and Prandelli of Italy did not have big coaching jobs prior to their national coaching jobs. A national team manager coach is a totally different role than club coach. As Louis van Gaal blatantly put it. “I hate this job.”

Blind is a good builder, I think. Great with young players, a good and steady personality, strong communication skills and an eye for talent.

jan and jc

The two iconic Dutch football legends: your humble blogger and JC


In terms of development, the Dutch have always focused almost exclusively on ball skills. If you control the ball, you control the game, was a motto often heard. But these days, the game has changed. Every player on top level now has excellent ball skills. A workhorse midfielder these days can play like the best of them. Polyvalent players is the term. The Strootmans, the Pogbas, the Busquets, the Pastores and Modrices of this world can do it all. Score, assist, tackle, pass, run… Physical improvements have been made. Tactical improvements have been made. By all nations. The Dutch don’t lead on skill or tactics anymore. What will be a key differentiator, as said before, is the will to win. The ability to focus fully. These are elements that need to be brought into the development program. Venom on the ball and off the ball. The intensity that we see in C Ronaldo, Messi, Thomas Muller, Lampard, Eden Hazard and Yohan Cabaye. Furthermore, we need to focus more on playing without the ball. The Dutch grow up wanting the ball and when we do, we are not bad. But once we lose the ball, we are horrific and all over the place.


Young talents at Varkenoord (Feyenoord)

We have been forcussing too much on playing with the ball. The youth teams of Ajax, Feyenoord, AZ, Vitesse, Sparta, NEC…they know how to win their games in the Dutch leagues. But as soon as the Bazoers, the Berguizen, the Klaassens and Vilhenas are confronted with international opponents (for instance in Europa League games, in CL qualification games or Euro or World Cup tournaments for rep teams), eventually they “run into the knife” as the expression goes.

Financial Fair Play

The situation at European / Global level has impacted football life in smaller countries. The Bosman ruling is another aspect. As long as Dutch clubs get a fraction of the tv income that other nations get (England, Spain, Germany) it will be hard for Dutch clubs to compete on quality. On top of that, in Spain and England, clubs can have negative equity on the balance sheet. Whereas Dutch (and German clubs) have to balance the books. This means that Ajax – Real Madrid is per definition not a game played on an even playing field. If the UEFA really aims to produce a “fair and equitable” European competition they should make sure the rules are the same pan European.

uefa money

Johan Cruyff made a strong case, not just for Holland but also for Spain, England and other national teams to have a rule that forces clubs to field at least six homegrown players (as in: born and raised in the home country). This will put countries with strong development cultures on a more even keel. It will force countries with an overflow of import players (England!) to develop more “own” players and as a result strengthen their national teams.

High horse

Clubs, like the KNVB, will need to get off their high horse. Ajax in particular. They have the so-called Ajax house style. That house style is still held as sacred although it has been forfeited years ago. But no one wants to admit it. The Ajax style is: fast ball circulation, pass and move, wingers (Keizer, Swart, Ling, Van ‘t Schip, Roy, Overmars), a number 10 behind the striker (Bergkamp, Bosman, Litmanen) and a libero (Vasovic, Krol, Blind, De Boer)  who moves up to midfield whenever possible.

That is not how Ajax plays today. Co Adriaanse was sacked for abandoning the “Ajax style” but every coach after him has done the exact same thing.

ajax tactics

The Ajax Housestyle

Ajax (and the others) need to determine what their identity is. Do they want to dazzle and impress (which they fail to do in Europe)? Do they want to showcase great players and sell them with a fat profit (which they do)? Or do they want silverware? Because the way Ronald Koeman played with Feyenoord and copied by LVG for the WC2014, I am talking a fortified defence to deal with stronger opposition, might well be the only way for the weaker Dutch clubs to present themselves in Europe.

Lots of work to be done.

And it should be led by the KNVB. With a clear strategy for football identity and development. We need to stop allowing a lawyer to determine that. We need wise men to come together. We need to get a development strategy to support the clubs and we need to learn to use systems in our teams that are based on the player material we have.

In my view, we need to go back to 5-3-2. It worked. And with reason.

We have weak and inexperienced defenders, so we need some more bodies back there. We have good players for the flanks, good passers in midfield and some exceptional talents upfront.


Co Adriaanse suggests 5-3-2 with Groningen right back Hatenboer

No problem with goalies. I’m a Krul fan, but Cillesen, Stekelenburg, Vorm and Vermeer can do the job too. Zoet for me is too unproven.

At the back, I like De Vrij – Blind – Van Dijk. Bruma, Rekik, Van Beek, Veltman are candidates as well, as  will be Ron Vlaar and Martins Indi, if they show their strength.

Wide on the left, Willems is key. But Pieters, van Aanholt, Kongolo and Riedewald normally should be able to manage as well.

Wide on the right, Janmaat is my man. But a Van der Wiel with rhythm or a Tete or Bacuna can play there too.

The three man midfield needs either Sneijder or Clasie. Great passers of the game. I’d use players like Wijnaldum, Strootman, Fer, Klaassen or Van Ginkel as the other two midfielder. Some length, some legs/lungs and some power is good to have. Upfront, I’d use Robben always, and pair him up with the man in form. Could be Van Persie. Or Memphis. Or Promes. Or El Ghazi. Or Berghuis. Or Sneijder even… (with Clasie behind him in midfield).


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Oranje ready for Kazachstan!

The tension is mounting. Also in the Dutch players camp. The media love to interview the big name players before a game as some of them still have it in them to say something remarkable.

Most young players are afraid to speak their minds and copy the words of the press officer… “Yes it is an honour”. “No the coach decides and I play where he wants me to.” Etc etc

Memphis Depay today is such a big name. But the Man U winger decided to scoff the press and said “I am not talking to you guys!”. And marched on. Louis van Gaal would not accept that kind of behaviour when he was in charge of Oranje, as opposed to his predecessor Van Marwijk and successor Hiddink, who were a bit more loose with that behaviour.

Klaas Jan Huntelaar is always a good target for interviews. The former PSV talent, who had to make his way into the big league via AGOVV and Heerenveen before Ajax picked him up had a horrific spell under Blind. In the first game vs Iceland he had to make way after getting a start when BMI saw red and against Turkey Blind suddenly didn’t need him at all.


The Schalke top scorer doesn’t want to dwell too much on this. “I wasn’t happy but hey, it’s football. The coach decides. I was happy to start of course and the coach explained his tactical views after the game, the reason why he subbed me. The Turkey game was a huge disappointment of course and again, the coach had plans that didn’t include me but I love Oranje. I love playing for Oranje and whenever the coach needs me, I’ll be ready to play. I will focus fully on the future and don’t dwell on the past. It is not about me either. Oranje needs to qualify. And whether I play and score or someone else…. ”

Wesley Sneijder was the key man against Scotland in 2004 when he helped Oranje qualify for the Euros 2004 in Portugal. “That is a long time ago. I’m still here, hahahaha.” Sneijder laughs when he realises his buddies Rafa van der Vaart, John Heitinga and – currently – Arjen Robben don’t have the level of fitness or form to play for Oranje at this stage. “And I’m not done yet. I have much more in me. I am happy where I am, my wife is expecting, life in Turkey is amazing and now we will need to give it all to qualify. Bring it on!”

The cocky midfielder realises his role in Oranje has changed. “When I came into the squad I had someone like Jaap Stam having a go at me and putting me in my place. Today’s young players are a bit different, it seems. I do sense I am one of the older lads and like Stam, most likely, I feel like they kids don’t always listen to me. In my early days, the senior players played cards. Always battling over klaverjassen, and the young lads tried to get into the game. Today, they sit in their rooms and play Playstation. I think it’s childish. Not manly at all. I don’t do it, hahahaha.”


Asked about the odds of Oranje not qualifying. “I don’t want to talk about it like that. I simply cannot believe we won’t make it. But whatever the result, I do believe Blind should stay. He is perfect for this group. He deserves to get more time. With new players, old players, whatever. As long as I am part of it hahaha.” Wesley’s wife Yolanthe is at the end of her pregnancy and Sneijder said many times he will go home if the baby comes. “This is priority. I have played football for too many years and have put my family on the second spot for years. This time. I want to be there. I want to support my wife and see my baby being born. Once I am on the pitch, I will play the match but if I get the message before the game, I’m off. Sorry.”


Oranje will play the away game vs Kazachstan in Astana, the futuristic capital of the nation. In the past, a big steppe where nomadic tribes lived and lingered. Today, a new sort of Vegas or Dubai with a highly futuristic football stadium, Sneijder: “It is very science fiction. I never saw this before, and believe me, I have seen a lot of stadiums.” With the new oil and gas revenue, this former USSR state (became independent in 1991) has re-invented themselves and are ready for the big games. The Astana cycle team has done well, the Astana FC made it to the Champions League and the nation’s dreams go further.

As to be expected, the pitch in the Astana Stadium is made of artificial grass. This is a first. Oranje never ever before played a match or a friendly even, on artificial grass. Robin van Persie: “The last time I played on astro turf was when I was in the Feyenoord youth. Maybe 16 years ago?”
Wesley Sneijder played their recently with Gala in their CL match against Astana. “My muscles are still sore. It’s not good.”


Huntelaar despises fake grass. “For me, it is a reason not to go back to the Eredivisie in the future. There’s like 4 clubs now with this fake pitch. Not for me. I hate it.”

The younger generation of Oranje players, however, is used to it. Elia: “I don’t mind it. When you are fast, it is more reliable and you can pass the ball well too.”

Blind trained with a fully fit squad in the Astana Stadium and as opposed to the earlier games, where he picked Hunter without RVP for Iceland and RVP instead of Hunter against Turkey. For the Kazachstan game, we will most likely see both players leading the line.

El Ghazi will most likely start on the right. The Ajax winger is seen as show pony but realises it doesn’t all have to be brilliant. “We need to win. As simple as that. Even if it is ugly. My job is quite clear and this applies to all players. We’ll simply have to do it.”

Georghinio Wijnaldum went from heaven to hell. Picking up the bronze medal in Brazil, winning the title with PSV and as a result a big transfer to a sleeping giant in the EPL. But his team is last in the standings and his Oranje might not get to the Euros. “It’s crazy. People in England ask me all the time, what is wrong with Holland…. It’s hard, we haven’t played our best football but that flow can come back just like that. I am personally happy with where I am. The situation in England with Newcastle isn’t great but we are a young team in development and we play world class opponents all the time. The pace is amazing and they all want to attack attack… Against Man City, we started great and got in front but then Aguero has 5 amazing touches: 5 goals. And we gave the goals to them….”


The Spanish papers were all about a Dutch player who isn’t important for Oranje anymore…. Although some feel he should be part of this current squad… Dirk Kuyt. Apparently, FC Barcelona made up a short list of players they could get to the club to allow them to bring on a super sub pinch hitter. The statisticians were told to look for players with international careers, over 30 years old with good stats in scoring off the bench and who haven’t played CL football this season (and thus are eligible to play). A list of four players, among them Feyenoord’s Dirk Kuyt. The only one on the list without Liga experience though… The same Dirk Kuyt that was mentioned by an influential sports analyst in Holland as a potential call up for Oranje. Janmaat wasn’t replaced by Danny Blind and according to Sjoerd Mossou only Dirk Kuyt would make sense. He would be the talisman, he would definitely make an impact in the dressing room and he would be able to start at right back and end up playing fourth striker and scoring the all important winner in the dying seconds….


With Janmaat out and Dirk Kuyt wearing his Messi PJ’s it seems Kenneth Tete is about to make his debut in the Oranje team. The young Ajax right back has caught the eye of many Dutch experts, not just Blind and Van Basten. The 19 year old will be 20 this coming Friday and has a bright future in Orange. As opposed to youngsters like Janmaat, Van Rhijn, Van der Wiel and Willems, Tete is a real defender. Not unlike Terence Kongolo, Tete is happiest after a strong block tackle. Where Van Persie dreams of the perfect assist and Huntelaar of the perfect header, Tete is all about the perfect challenge. Tete grew up in the same streets as Narsingh and Assaidi and played street soccer with the older lads. “I had to really grow up fast and become tough as they’re all so good and quick and older as well… I was like a kamikaze pilot in the youth… running and flying and tackling. I am the product of an African dad and an Asian mum :-), My dad was Dutch champion kickboxing and I think I have his power and my mum’s agility. I always wanted to be a defender. Jaap Stam is my role model. I love it when the Ajax fans applaud an interception or a tackle. The Ajax supporters are critical but can really appreciate good defending too.”

And back to Memphis… The young winger is talking to the media, but on his terms. “We only talk about the Kazachstan game. I don’t want to talk Man United or working with Van Gaal or the EPL or the World Cup Brazil. Most football fans like the arrogance of the top player. Sneijder has it, C Ronaldo has it. The amateur kids know Memphis could be the one playing Oranje out of prison.
“Asked if he feels the pressure to be the man who changes things around, he says: “I understand this. I am one of the players that can win a game with one move. So I will have to deal with that pressure.”

bassie blind

So…people…. it’s time to give you my ideal line up. Although this time it will not be much different than Danny’s, as the injury list is bigger than I would like to see it.

I personally am not a big Cillesen fan and would always go for Krul. But Blind won’t.

So for me it will be:

Tete – Van Dijk – Riedewald
El Ghazi – Wijnaldum – Blind – Sneijder – Memphis
Huntelaar – Van Persie

I expect Holland to win 0-3 against these cats. I think Huntelaar will score the first one. Van Persie will score one and Memphis or Sneijder will score from midfield position.

Gimme your ideas!

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Oranje 3rd of the World after 3-0 Brazil win!

What an amazing end to an amazing campaign!

The Dutch National Team has knicked the 3rd spot of the 2014 World Cup, against all odds, in the process beating World Champions Spain and hosts Brazil! And brushing aside Mexico and Chile and beating minions Australia and Costa Rica. Without suffering defeat in open play.

What an achievement!

cill toilet

I think it is quite something…. In 1974 we finished second after a disappointing loss in the finals but also after teaching the world to play. In 1978 we got unlucky and we might even got screwed as Argentina might have paid their way to the finals back then… In 1998 we could have gone all the way but lost the consolation finals versus Croatia and in 2010 that frickin’ toe stopped us from winning.

In ’74 and ’78, expectations were low. In 1998 and 2010 we knew we had a chance. Now, in 2014, most experts felt we would be extremely lucky and successful if we made it out of the group!

A bunch of oldies (but goldies) and a bunch of youngster, led by an intense and highly strung coach.

And we were a split second decision by Robben away from a place in the finals…

That moment in the last minute of the Argentina game…. let’s not go there.

So, Holland vs Brazil. A classic poster! Played 11 times against each other. Holland winning 3, Brazil winning 3. The rest you can guess.

robben robin

Last time we lost, was with quite some drama (1994, 1998). Last time we won, we cruised to the WC finals in 2010.

The Canary Yellow agains the Orange.

There are many cool stories and angles to pick when talking about this match, but in this case it was all about: will Brazil be able to win the fans’ hearts back after the abysmal loss against Germany, 1-7?

Some said “expect a totally fueled up and foamin’ at the mouth Brazil”, while other said “Brazil is simply overrated and will be needing diapers when they come up on the pitch vs Holland”.

I think the truth was in the middle. But I also believe this is one of the worst Brazilian teams ever. The 1974 one was quite shabby, and this one, sans Neymar, is not much better.

sneijder brazil

Sneijder: “I was really annoyed I couldn’t play. I first was bummed out we missed the finals, and then my hamstring gave way during the warming up.”

Fred? Jo? Hulk? Seriously?? Willian and Oscar are very decent players and as a simple defender, Thiago Silva is pretty good too. But once David Luiz thinks he is Beckenbauer and Paulinho thinks he is Socrates you know you are in trouble.

Against Germany, the defence was absent. Against Holland, they weren’t much better.

In the first minute, Maxwell and Maicon and Luiz were a bit too lacklustre when Silva had to check a run by Robben after Van Persie launched the former Groningen man into space. Robben one v one the goalie is not a good idea in the first minute so Silva did what he thought was the best solution: pull him back outside of the box and pray he’d get away with it. Well, he did. He was allowed to stay on the pitch, but the ref did point at the spot.

robben penalty

With only 2 mins on the clock, captain Van Persie took the opportunity to do what Vlaar failed to do in his place versus Argentina (or did he…..). The Brazilian fans – to their shock – saw their team behind once more and when Oranje pounced again in the 17th minute via a beaut by Blind, the fans surely felt it was one of those days again!! Would their team again get trashed? The horror was visible on the faces of the onlookers.

RVP Brazil 1-0

And I have to say, being biased and all…. Holland was on top of the Canaries all the time. Sure, they had their chances and their spells… As they are surely no slouches going forward but in terms of team cohesion and discipline and tactics they played 1970 style football against a team that took a page from the Barcelona Dutch book of gameplay and the Atletico Madrid book of gameplay.

Holland had to deal with a setback when Sneijder grabbed his hamstring in the warm up and Jon De Guzman was told to prepare for the match, which saw us play with Robben an Robin upfront, De Guzman, Clasie and Wijnaldum in midfield and a five man back line with Blind and Kuyt out wide and De Vrij, Vlaar and Martins Indi as the three central defenders.

daley brazil


Blind hardly scores. And now he gets on in the consolation finals vs Brazil

That central block played tremendously well. De Vrij and Vlaar grew into the Men of the Match while Martins Indi, Wijnaldum, Clasie, Kuyt and Blind fought for what they were worth, with Blind regularly offering the team an outlet on the left and Clasie and Wijnaldum being crucial in midfield dominance, against players who play for European top teams ( Bayern, Spurs, Chelsea, Man City).

Sure, Brazil had some opportunities to get back into the game but for me it seemed more likely that we would get a third, as opposed to Brazil getting back into it.

Unlucky Daley Blind had to be subbed in the second half, which brought attacking full back Janmaat to the mix and Holland was the most likely to score the next goal. It seems like Brazil wanted it to end while Janmaat and Robben in particular seemed keen to get their names on the score sheet as well. Wijnaldum was also playing more adventurous, and even clashed with Robben at a certain point in the Brazilian box trying to dish out the final goal. And it would end up being the former Feyenoord man Wijnaldum who’d get his goal, finally, with Janmaat again delivering the assist (like with Gini’s buddy Leroy Fer vs Chile).


By then, Joel Veltman was given his final minutes to replace a cramped up Jordy Clasie while Van Gaal allowed Michel Vorm, the only one without minutes, his claim to fame. The Swansea man was allowed the last 5 minutes and had two goal kicks to his name when finally the ref put Brazil out of its misery.

Van Gaal’s mission has been accomplished. He reached the semi finals with Oranje and was able to do so without having suffered a defeat and using all 23 players. The Dutch have scored prolifically and with the most different goal scorers while we only conceded two goals from open play (Australia and Mexico, both crackers of goals).

I actually believe that we would have beaten Germany in the finals but hey…. I’ll take this.

The best thing for me, is the vindication of the Eredivisie. Many people, national and international (and here too) believed the Eredivisie is a crap competition.

dutch youngsters


Some Eredivisie quality (and Villan Roncrete Vlaar)

I think the facts speak for themselves: the player development and talent development in Holland is still top notch, if not better than ever. We now clearly also develop defenders! With a good coaching staff and a clear football vision, these lads can get somewhere.

Where Dutch clubs get unstuck internationally is the sheer fact that clubs in France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, England, Germany have more money to spend. So they can assemble more good players. That is why Dutch clubs suffer outside of the Eredivisie. But in terms of development, we clearly hold our own!

LVG Robben Brazil

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