Tag: Kuyt

Join in the Fantasy World Cup Competition!!

Finally, he has it together. Your Blog Captain Jan Da Man has a Fantasy Competition for the World Cup.

After days of programming some minutes of uploading a plugin, we can finally play ourselves…

This is going to be AWESOME!

But before I go into detail…. I need to ask you this….

I had to pay the annual bills again re: hosting and domain names and templates and plugins and whatnots… So your humble blogger could really use a couple of nice donations to pull me through for another year of bloggin…. It is HIGHLY appreciated (and will not go towards beer, believe it or not….). Details are on the home page. I thank you in advance….

louis zwaait

And I need to ask you this too:

I am getting a lot of requests for ads and pop ups. I have always said no. As I believe you guys would hate these things on the site. But I am getting some really good offers now and want to there fore ask you:

Back to the Fantasy Competition!!

You know the drill: go to the page, fill in the scores you believe will end up on the score board after 90 minutes.

There will be different rounds and different deadlines but I believe the software will tell you how it works. I need to copy the rules of the game in here, and you can all read how it works.

I will have three amazing prizes for the top 3 of this competition!!!

So go to the menu button called “Fantasy World Cup Predictions” (as pointed towards by Johan Cruyff, who else?) and fill in the predictions. You can enter predictions until the moment the game starts. Once it has begun, it’s off limits.

I will publish the scores and the updates during the World Cup.

rvp schiphol

So the Dutch team said farewell and is on the plane as we speak. A nice group of fans waived them out loudly. Louis van Gaal: “The vibe is great. This group is solid and tight and we are having a great time. So we are in a tough group? So what. We will not plan on coming home anytime soon. In football, anything is possible. Our game might not be highly attractive at the moment, but did you see the other top nations in their friendlies? We will go for result first, and if we can do this with sparkling play, we certainly will of course, but we are not as a bad as some so-called experts think.”

Wesley Sneijder was one of the first players to arrive at the hotel to prepare for the trip. “I can’t wait to go! Obviously, we are not the top faves but we can surprise for sure!”

Ron Vlaar showed his leadership at the back against Wales and is quite positive. “Listen, we are not there yet, but we are getting there. We do play less dominant and don’t mind the opponent, like Wales, to have the ball. We scored twice from those situations and they only got dangerous due to our own mistakes. So it’s not that bad. It’s different, but this type of game will offer us benefits. I am pretty confident, actually.”

Two former center backs of Oranje, Ronald Koeman and Arie Haan, do not share that optimism. Koeman: “If Holland plays like this (Wales) against Spain, they get massacred. Martins Indi is a great defender but building up and passing is not his strength. Why play him left back if you have options? Janmaat is superb of course and I always had my faith in De Vrij, but I can’t imagine why Clasie doesn’t play. He is the smartest of the lot and great in small spaces. Against football playing teams like Spain or Chile you want to use Clasie!” Arie Haan: “I work in China and there Holland is synonymous with attractive wing play. Van Gaal struck them out. That is not Dutch football. That is a big mistake!”


Here is a nice pic from the room Louis van Gaal will most likely claim.

oranje rio

Ok peeps, I am on my way to Brazil now!! I found a cheap way of getting there. Laters….!!!!

jan the blogger


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More updates from the Oranje Camp

Van Gaal thought he had the whole squad together now in Portugal, with Verhaegh, Janmaat and Van der Vaart slowly returning to the training pitch. But the training camp was in slight shock when Van Gaal had to announce that poor ol’ Rafael is not going to make it to the World Cup. The tear in his calf will be such that his fitness cannot be guaranteed for the tournament.

It would have been massive for the 31 year old midfielder who played an important role in the qualifications but his 110th cap will have to wait.

raf dissa

Wesley Sneijder is his old confident (cocky) self. The little general did have some question marks about this World Cup earlier in the year but is quite comfortable now. “I did have my doubts in the past years. Mr Van Gaal was pretty intense in his judgements and I have to say, looking back, he was right. I was not 100%. I might have been 95%. Good enough for Galatasaray in the Turkish competition, but not good enough for CL glory or World Cup glory. I see that now. But over the last months, those doubts melted I was gaining fitness and form. And I walked into this training camp with a good feeling.”

So you are confident you’ll be on the plane? “Well no… actually, no one is apart from Robin and Arjen I guess… We’re all a bit tense with regards to this last cut off.”

Dirk Kuyt can be seen as a real veteran. The 33 year old believe he has much more years in his body. “The doctors at Fener always say I have the body of a 25 year old. It feels like that too. I will happily play more seasons in Turkey and maybe return to Holland one day. Who knows…”

Kuyt enjoys the process preparing towards the World Cup. “The actual tournament goes really quick. You’re in this haze, in this flow. But the prep phase is good fun. You grow towards each other, both on the pitch and off. Some of us know each other really well but most of the youngsters I don’t really know that well. And once you are in this pre-tournament process, it happens. You talk about other things than football, you play games, you socialise. It’s cool.”

What kind of games? “Well, we are all winners I guess. So we play games like cards, or table tennis or playstation games… There is a lot of rivalry happening and its always fun to try and beat certain lads. Arjen Robben has tremendous fits of anger when he loses, hahahaha. And there is nothing more fun than watching him…. But I’m the same, to be honest…”

Jordy Clasie is the table tennis king at the moment, as the lads have an internal competition. The little Feyenoord playmaker analyses his perfect pass on Van Persie below:

“I had a little bit of time, looked up and saw space behind their defence and Robin was already moving in that space. A pass like that needs to be firm and have enough speed. So you gotta put your laces through the ball, to keep it flat and to have the ball beat the defenders. And Robin is wonderful to play with, as you can do anything with him. He can have it in his feet, or in his stride, high, low, doesn’t matter with him.”

Here are some highlights of the training sessions:

Tomorrow, LVG will announce the final squad for Brazil.

Without Van der Vaart, it seems Wijnaldum has a real chance, although Louis might actually consider Depay or RObben for that role too or even Vilhena depending on how well the PSV midfielder is doing…. He is lacking rhythm too, so with a 5-3-2 LVG might decide to take an extra midfielder like Fer or an extra winger like Promes who impressed against Scotland….

We’ll find out soon!!

De Vrij LVG training

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Prelim Squad announced

We are going to focus on the Prelim Squad!!

Yesterday evening LVG announced his prelim squad and poor little me in Oz is probably the last one to get it :-). What a breaking news story for the blog. Anyway…

Biggest surprise: no Gregory van der Wiel.

Biggest disappointments for Van Ginkel, Afellay, Vermeer and Pieters.

Van der Wiel is struggling with an injury and Paul Verhaegh takes his place. Van Ginkel and Afellay are in the “haven’t played a single minute” category and Vermeer – who is LVG’s fave goalie – could not be justified on the basis of one good cup semi finals.

So it’s Feyenoord being the so-called Royal Supplier with seven players, for now, incl the young Kongolo. PSV is second with four (Zoet and Wijnaldum are still in it) and champions Ajax brings three players to the mix.

The total prelim squad:
Goalies: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Michel Vorm (Swansea City) en Jeroen Zoet (PSV).
Defenders: Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse), Daley Blind (Ajax), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Karim Rekik (PSV), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Joël Veltman (Ajax), Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg) en Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord).
Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Tonny Trindade de Vilhena (Feyenoord), Rafael van der Vaart (HSV) en Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV).
Forwards: Jean-Paul Boëtius (Feyenoord), Memphis Depay (PSV), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04),  Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahçe), Jeremain Lens (Dinamo Kiev), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Quincy Promes (FC Twente),  Arjen Robben (Bayern München).

His next deadline is June 2. On June 5, the bus to Brazil is leaving….

Only 28 days to go and Louis van Gaal managed to get his mug on a little vine video viral on the next. “Zatsastoepit kwestiun!” he said to the BBC. This was not about Oranje, but about his – potentially – future employer Man United.

And we saw another little clash in the media. LVG had had a heart to heart with his defenders telling them he’d go for another defensive option (5-3-2) during practice. Joel Veltman decided to mention this to the media. And they turned it into a the sinking of the Titanic! No more Dutch Total Football????

Poor Veltman had to face the wrath of Louis in a private conversation and has learned his lesson: do not spill beans in the media!

As if playing 5-3-2 is a big deal…

We still have 30 days to go and it’s heating up nicely.

But, we are now in the zone where Louis van Gaal does his best work. In the run up to a big event. This is where he reigns supreme. This is where he hones his craft. This is where Louis shines. Chest out. Firm look. Ass in. Chin up. Loud booming voice on the grounds and in the press conference. ZIS IS A ZTUPIT KWESTIUN!!!

But, I am going to contradict myself now it seems… I think now is the time to stop ridiculing the man. Now it is time to stop watching him hoping for another stupid excessive burst of arrogance. AD column writer Sjoerd Mossou says it well.

This is the time to celebrate the fact that we have this colourful coach at the reigns before politically correct and somewhat boring and conservative Hiddink comes in.

I have always said I am not a big fan of Louis. Sure, he is a great coach but he also has a self destruct addiction.

But where we are now (30 days to go!!!), we see Louis in his greatness. This is where he starts to mould his young talents. And Louis knows we don’t have a lot of world beaters. We are not Brazil, Germany, Spain or Italy. Louis knows this.

He is a horrific diplomat, but he is a world class coach. A phenomenon, which keeps developing and re-inventing himself every day. I say, let’s enjoy him while he lasts. We have entered the most fascinating period EVER in Louis’ career.

And it only takes a couple of weeks. And it will be over with a bang. So strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. It will be on your telly every day now. And he will be annoying, cocky, arrogant, hard to follow and amusing. He will speak to you in his best English (the English tabloids are in on it!) and you will hear him speak about himself in the third person.

oranje LVG 2

In his column, Mossou suggests we celebrate this time. Instead of criticising him. Because whether we will be glorious or whether we crash like a weatherballoon, it will be a ride to enjoy. Unique. And we might miss Louis, once Guus has started….

And I have to say, of all the things Louis does and has done, making a wonderful team from a group of young and gifted players is his forte.

He did this with Ajax. He did lay the foundation for Frank and Pep’s Barca. He was successful with AZ and he laid the foundation for Jupp and Pep in Munich.

So, in this same line of thinking, Guus will win the Euro 2016 and Danny the World Cup 2018 thanks to grumpy ol’ Louis.

Anyway, not a lot of news yet. Or it must be that Turkish champ Dirk Kuyt has joined the camp ( Sneijder still has one important game to play with Gala to secure second spot and direct access to the CL).

Today is the last day for LVG and his 30 man prelim selection. The deadline is approaching. There will be no time for him to explain himself before he announces it as he wants to talk to all players individually first. He was being himself again on the pitch. Yelling, booming, being in Veltman’s ear (“More direct Joel, be more dominant”) and giving Martins Indi a pat on the back. It is expected that 10 out of the 20 players can stay. The rest can go on a summers holiday or joins Young Oranje.  The international playing internationals will join the camp in Portugal. There is more and more agreement in the followers’ camp that Sneijder will make the cut as he has been improving a lot in Turkey and he is an ideal player to have in a 5-3-2 system, behind the two strikers. Virgil van Dijk won’t make it as he would have been called up already if Van Gaal would actually consider him.

Memphis Depay is having a lot of fun at the camps. He enjoys working with the detail oriented Van Gaal. “I am a perfectionist and so is Mr Van Gaal. I learn a lot and enjoy it when he has an eye on me. There is a lot to improve, I am sure. It doesn’t bother me as I am pretty strong in the mental department.” Asked if the 5-3-2 change would be detrimental for his chances, the PSV trickster says: “Why? I can be one of the two forwards and I can be a midfielder. I am not worried.”

janmaat oranje wc

Another player who is happy under Van Gaal is Darryl Janmaat. The Feyenoord full back’s eyes lit up when the 5-3-2 change was debated. “But not because of the weather,” he laughs while Oranje is again working hard on a wet pitch. “I’m guessing Brazil will be different. But I’m not complaining. I’m with Oranje, and we’re kicking a ball around. How cool…” The popular player will see his family soon for a last extended time before he boards the plane to Portugal and then Brazil. Everyone seems to be convinced of that. “Well, thanks…but I am not yet convinced, hahaha. I need to show it first. I have some stiff competition.” About the 5-3-2 system: “I played it with success under Koeman. I’m the kind of player who revels in that system. I am strong, fit and I love to go up and down the flank and defend and attack. It’s my strength I believe, so bring it on.”



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Wesley Sneijder's decision to move to Turkey…

Gobbledegook…. Turkey time…

28 years old. Skipper of Oranje. One of the best playmakers – if not the best – on the planet. Won titles. Won Champions League trophy. Played for Ajax, Real Madrid, Inter Milan… Next stop…. Manchester? Nope. London? Nope. Liverpool? Nope. Munich? Nope. Barcelona, Valencia, Moscow, Paris….Nope.


Why, a lot of people will say….. WHY? WWWWWWHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY????????

Well, simple. There were no other takers. Man United sniffed a bit. Liverpool made some moves. Man City hesitated. Anzhi made inquiries. But Galatasaray was the only club putting a concrete deal on the table.

Wes even waited for Liverpool to come with a serious offer… but it wasn’t to be.

So Wes had the option to stay at Inter, make a lot of money (still) but not play. Lose his spot in Oranje. Lose fitness.

Or, go to a club where they will revere him, where he will play CL football and where he can prove his fitness. My idea is, that he has a limited transfer sum in his new deal with the Turks.

Galatasaray paid 8 Mio Euros for the playmaker. If Wesley plays a great second season half (based on his limited transfer sum of say – 15 Mio), a club like Chelsea, Man City or Man United might decide to have a bite.

Time is tough for big transfers now. No club is capable of spending mega-bucks at the moment, and Wesley is picking the best option for him and his international career.

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The Big LVG Interview – Pt 2

This is where we proceed with the Big Louis van Gaal piece, from De Voetbaltrainer.

Still no pictures (other than the main one) and no way to augment fonts :-(.

So, after all those staffing steps, it was time to select the first squad?

LVG: “No. I first went and looked at our regular hotel. The one where we have been putting up our camp for years now (Oranje Huis ter Duin in Noordwijk). I felt the players were dispersed too much. Across several floors and all that. I want the whole squad together on the same floor. I also wanted a central room on that floor for the medical staff. And I wanted a bigger room for the players to hang in. You know, for entertainment. Or to just sit and talk and be sociable. Players love to play table tennis or air hockey or pool or play cards. Now, after the renovations, we find approx 15 players there at all times. In the past, players went to their rooms to play games or play cards… Call it a player home. I also heard that the players got agitated with the internet speed for their online gaming. So we went to the hotel management and told them about their wishes and they promptly executed all of it. We needed fast internet for our video analysis too, by the way. Not just for gaming, but in general. Webstreaming, etc.”

Ok, so then finally the first squqd for the Belgium game?

“Yes, and it was not hard. Bruno Martins Indi played very strong in Feyenoord’s CL qualification game against Kiev and I was happy to select him. I took the core of Bert’s group and Danny came up with most of the other youngsters. We didn’t spend too much time on this. Was quite easy, actually. We spend more time on the planning of our first get together. Every step, I thought through. What will I say? When will I say it. Where will I say it, etc. What is the best tone of voice. How do I create the right mood? When do I talk and when do I let my assistants take center stage. Which order of individual talks. How do we pick the new skipper. How do I manage the media attention? Which video clips do I want to show them?”

Can you tell us the program?

“We knew there were some issues after the Euros. The KNVB had issues they wanted clarity on, so did I and obviously the players had their own issues. Some of the relationships had turned sour. I normally would have started with a group talk. But in this case I didn’t. I wanted to ask the question: Why do players keep coming back when called up to Oranje, even after such an abysmal Euros tournament? The answer: because they all want to play at the highest level. They want to win trophies at the highest level. So, for me, it was logical with fantastic videos from the last 40 years. All the top notch games, the classic moments…. Then we followed this up with a video in which I presented my football vision, which is not unlike the way Barcelona plays. This is the hardest style of playing and most people say “you can do that at club level, not at national team level”. I don’t agree. We used to play like this. Spain plays like this. In Holland, we do think a bit differently about attractive football. We do not like all the extensive passing and passing that Spain does. We want to do business. Score goals. Be more direct. So we will not “copy” Spain, that is not my intention. We want to play Dutch. And we can. I explained what I want to do with our tactics and I explained the move back to 4-3-3. After that, I sent the players to their rooms. To rest. I wanted them to have it all sink in. Lying on their beds and visualising what this would mean for them.”

And then the group talk?

“No, then we did a media-genic training session, led by Blind and Kluivert. Lots of fun, lots of rondos, lots of playing with the ball. Good for the media. The media got some time to question the players and they were keen to hear about all the problems. But the players couldn’t say more than “we spoke about the football vision and we watched videos and put our objectives out there”. Then we had dinner and after dinner, we had the group talk. I didn’t want all of the players in it. Only the ones who had played at the Euros. I’m sure I would get all the insights from that group and it would have been manageable to do it with 23 players. So, with the fact that some players were missing, we ended up doing this with 13 players.”

So, what room did you use for it?

“A cosy room. Like a cigar bar, but without the cigars. Open fire, soft chairs, lights a bit dimmed. We were in half a circle. No one could escape it. Everyone could see the other ones in the eye. And I had a table at the head of the circle for myself and my notes. I started with video clips, again. The documentary about the Oranje 1996 campaign, under Hiddink. Lots of trouble. And 2 years later, he almost wins the World Cup with the same players. And funnily enough, Pat Kluivert was in that doco and also in the room with us. Which helped. Then we looked at the tremendous WC2010 campaign. And I had an interview with Wesley Sneijder, right before the 2012 Euros, in which he says “With this squad, we need to go for gold”. And then I said: How is it possible that this squad got sent home with zero points? I also asked them if they wanted us in the room (the staff- Jan) and I’m happy to say that they were fine with us there. We talked for two hours. After the talk, I handed out my manifest. The new rules. I have added a couple of rules but also deleted some of my predecessor. I supported our new rules with video images again. One rule is “no more headphones when you are in a public area”. In the bus? Fine. When you walk from bus to dressing room, not fine. It doesn’t look good, is my opinion. After all of that, we asked Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt to come and talk individually, to discuss the captaincy. They both accepted their roles after talking about it and we concluded Day 1.”

On to Day 2…

“We woke up at 9.15 am. That is standard. I don’t like different schedules. I don’t want players to have to look on pieces of paper all the time. We also have the matra: “slow down, take it easy, haste is not good”. That second day we had two individual meetings. One with Robin van Persie, as he wouldn’t start against Belgium and one with Arjen Robben, as he would have to play on the left, and not on the right. I figured those two could have been intense and difficult meetings but they were both very positive. I explained my motives and they accepted it. Both players can talk very intelligently about football, so they were both very pleasant talks.”

And then you do something extraordinary. You are the first team manager to rotate intensively between the two games in a double match weekend. Andorra and Romania. Totally different squads.

“Well, if you consider that both games will be different, you can utilise different types of players. Huntelaar is a different striker than Van Persie. Huntelaar is the best killer in the box. Van Persie is the better football player, who can also create. You can look at all positions and utilise the best player for that game. Some players have more skills in a narrow space, others do better with space ahead of them. I can explain all my decisions to the group and they seem to accept my motives. And I am very clear. And I am also sharp at training. If I tell a player I pick him for a reason and at training he doesn’t prove to the squad that I was right in my decision, I have a go at him. I say “I picked you because you hardly ever lose possession and now you start giving the ball away?”. I coach very personally. Up close and personal. In their face. I try to reach inside of them.”

But are you motivating or criticising?

“Everything I do and say is to motivate. To make them better. More aware. Every time I see the players, I give them an evaluation moment. I tell them where they stand, in my book. And so do Patrick and Danny. I need to make them better. Or I need to make sure they perform better. And I tell them: I am giving you tools to become a better player. It’s not personal. I am not angry or negative. I see that there is room for improvement. I explain all players how I want to use them. Last time, Gertjan Verbeek of AZ was annoyed that we told Adam Maher we see him as a number 10. In Verbeek’s system, Maher plays right midfield. So what? Verbeek has different players at his disposal and has a different vision. I say it like I see it. In our midfield, we have one more static defensive midfielder, who is the anchor, we have a more penetrating player who can go from box to box and we have a creative shadow striker. I see Maher as that player. Verbeek uses his midfield differently.”

But what if Alex Ferguson decides to use Van Persie as a leftwinger? Will you then do the same?

“It depends of course, but theoretically: yes. If Robin would play a whole season in that role, we’d have to put him in the left winger category and he would have to compete with the Arjen Robbens of this world. But…it’s silly speculation. Which I normally don’t engage in. I leave that to the media.”

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Happy New Year :-)

Hi all,

I’d like to wish you a very happy New Year…. And a big big thank you for being part of this blog.

It’s been a tempestuous year for the blog (relatively speaking 🙂 ). For starters, we made our move away from the Blog Gods of the Worlcup blog to go it alone.

And we created this wonderful home for all fans of the Clockwork Orange, right before the 2012 Euros and wouldn’t you know it: we had the worst Euros ever :-)….

In the last months, I had serious challenges to get a post happening every two days due to busy-ness. But I hope that will change soon.

But, 2013 looks great already.

Why? Well for starters, because we can’t be humiliated at a big tournament!


I think it will be top year, because Robin van Persie can’t stop scoring… because it’s the year of the snake and Robben earns the Rensenbrink nickname Snakeman…. because Van der Vaart will be fighting fit…..Heitinga, Stekelenburg, Vorm are well-rested…because Ronald Koeman finally does what he is good at: delivering talent…because Louis van Gaal will definitely qualify this year…Sneijder will make a move to a real football club….Elia will find his mojo…Clasie will grow a little….Fer will never look back….we have the best full back talents (Buttner, Blind, Janmaat, Martins Indi, Willems, Pieters)….

I am SURE you can come up with much more reasons… 😉

Best reason gets a cool gift!

My predictions:

RVP = Golden Boot

Feyenoord = Champ of Holland

Sneijder = Back to Real Madrid

Robben to win the Champions League

Ronald Koeman to take over from Tito next summer at Barca

Benitez to be fired, to be succeeded by Martinez, to be fired two months later, to be succeeded by Dick Advocaat to be fired in the coming summer to be replaced by Michael Laudrup….

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Sneijder looks back and into the future

Van Gaal: “Look Sneijdertje! Those tattoos! Totally wrong. That is not how you do it?! Bring me a pen! I will draw you a good tattoo…”

Wesley Sneijder looked back at the abysmal EC while his team mates almost secured the ticket for the next big tournament. Wes was looking at the Romania game on his laptop in LA – where he is being treated for his injury – and feels the need to explain – as a true skipper – what happened last summer.

He was the guiding light in a team that had lost it. Dependable Mr Everton John Heitinga seemed to be on a summer holiday, Huntelaar left Dr Jekyl at home but came as Mr Hyde while Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel seemed to be playing futsol. And Van Persie was practicing without goals.

“There were so many excuses brought forward….already after the Denmark game… But there are no excuses. We played a World Cup finals against the best team of the world with these lads… And now we can’t score against Denmark? With all the quality we have?”

Sneijder doesn’t believe the EC squad was “over the hill”. Are you mad? Of course not! You can see how dominant and committed players like Heitinga, Van Bommel and Van Persie were for their clubs, right? How can you say they’re over the hill? I’m only 28 years old. Rafa only 29…”

So what went wrong? “A lot… Somehow, the automatisms we developed in 2010 were gone. It hadn’t even to do with form. Jeez, players like Huntelaar, Van Persie, Heitinga, Vlaar, Van der Vaart, Willems….almost everyone came out of a strong season. Every team manager would have had saliva if they could play one of these lads… And at times, we did play well. Really well. But we could keep that going. Something happened…as if a fear-switch was flicked, and half the team tracked back while the forwards wanted to push up. And what happens to your midfield then? They drown…”

Sneijder is on a roll… “And it’s the things you do or don’t do without the ball that matter. Your positioning. Fans always look at where the ball is. They only see part of the picture. But when Van Bommel builds up, what do the full backs do? What do the center backs do? When we lose possession, who do they respond? What do the wingers do? All these things… In 2010, we immediately went for the ball when we lost possession. Even 35 year old Van Bronckhorst or Van Bommel. We pushed forward and we were at their throats. Now, we tracked back…or some of us did. So when Denmark is offered space, sure they can play…”

Against Germany, 2-1 down, the whole world saw Sneijder walk over to the side line yelling at Van Marwijk: “Let’s play 1 on 1…”

“Yes, well… I thought we had them! We started great. Allowed them to score to cheap goals. We got back into the game and I swear to God, in the last 20 minutes or so, they were spent. I thought we would equalise. I wanted Bert to support me and he did. But the team didn’t respond. But we made the same old mistakes. Well…at the end of the game, yeah….Germany outclassed us. But in the first 20 minutes, they didn’t touch the ball…”

The Dutch team got a lot of criticism in the tournament and a crying Sneijder had to be told there still was a chance if they beat Portugal. “Seriously…people criticised me for not knowing this. But I simply don’t “do” calculations when you lost. I want to win. That is all I think about. So I didn’t know this. Didn’t even want to know, I guess. So when we lost versus Germany, I thought it was all over. And when it wasn’t, I was sure we’d beat Portugal. I remember talking with the group and with the coaches in the run up to the game. Let’s be at their throats! Let’s make sure we hit first and keep them down for 90 minutes…”

Holland did score the first goal. A pent up Van der Vaart unleashed a brilliant shot but to no avail. When it was 1-0, Holland started to allow Portugal on the ball. And C Ronaldo pulled the trigger twice when Holland showed lack of confidence yet again. With a pleading, working, leading, screaming, Sneijder… On the left flank this time around, to allow Van Persie the “10” position.

“I had to drift more to the left side, but I’m ok with that. Whatever the team needs, seriously. Robin needed to play centrally, I can easily play on the left. I will always look for and find free space to operate in.”

How different this tournament ended for Sneijder, who can’t stand losing. His analysis. “In South Africa, everything clicked. Everything worked. Every little detail was there. The tactics, the atmosphere, the confidence, the fun factor, the fitness and it was all supported by the results. Everything is connected, but it starts with results. And a little luck. We had some luck in South Africa. We didn’t get any breaks in 2012…”

Holland seemed to be on a roll in the EC qualifications, however. With the Sweden game as peak, with Raf van der Vaart as holding mid… Since that game, Oranje’s performances deteriorated. Also for Sneijder in person. Inter went in free fall and Sneijder got injured. So badly that the nation worried about his fitness. The friendly against England didn’t help. A clearly unfit Sneijder asked for a substitution and could hardly walk to the byline.

“Man, I had a fever. I wasn’t well. But I wanted to play. I shouldn’t have played that game, but who doesn’t want to play Wembley? For a player like me, in Italy, there are only so many opportunities to play Wembley… And I wanted to. But running for 20 meters was a chore already. Not smart. But I was top fit when the EC started.”

And Sneijder was the only player who impressed a former top player like Diego Maradona. The rest of the team grossly disappointed. How…why?

“Pffff…we all came together differently. In 2010, we all were eager to play. Robin had a tough year with injuries. I had won everything with Inter. Hunter wanted to prove himself. Rafa same. We were all keen to play and to make ourselves inferior to the team interest. And there were no discussions about how to play. This time around, there was that debate… Two big goal scorers… Rafa had a great season with Spurs, he wanted a starting birth… This all made the start was different. The dynamics had changed. This makes its mark. One player was not himself as he came back from a long injury. Another player felt insecure as another player was hunting for his spot. Another player had domestic issues. These things all work through. The dynamics were off. Sometimes we do have these issues in a group, and normally we deal with it. We are a strong and tight group. We are one team. Still. But the issues were too big for us to deal with in that short timeframe. And the coach suffered through that too. He got so much criticism so early on already… Uncalled for… But…that is how it is.”

Sneijder and Van Marwijk had a close bond. “Well… sure. He was our manager. He led us to the finals. I supported him 1000%. He was the right man for the right time. And I want to help and support. I want to be important. So I fed him with ideas. And gave him my insights. Like Mark did, and Robin and others… And he treated us as adults. Gave us confidence. And he allowed you to come up with alternative ideas. Bert is a modern coach, just like Louis van Gaal.”

Rafael van der Vaart is less subtle. He felt Van Marwijk was too rigid. “When you are a starter, it’s cool of course… But when you are dropped, it’s tough. You sometimes don’t know what to do to get into the team.”

Sneijder: “Yes that is true. I get that. We had unrest with Kuyt, Hunter and Van der Vaart having trouble accepting that role, but you have to show it on the field. Simple. But I had to tell Klaas Jan and Rafa to cool it a bit, but Kuyt was really super professional. This guy played almost everything the last years. And was important for us. And suddenly, he is on the bench. That is really tough. I couldn’t say I would be so professional about it, hey….?”

Wesley being treated for his injury

Wesley Sneijder was a bit of a rebel when young(er) and playing for Ajax… “Een mannetje”, was the Amsterdam term for someone like him… But he’s grown wiser and more responsible. “I feel mature now. I think I’m starting to become more of a leader. I always had a big mouth and used it. But now I am more responsible in how I use it…. I think I’m now deserving of the band… I’d love to be the skipper for the coming period. I think I can carry it.”

At the start of the Euros, Sneijder felt that this was the last chance for this generation for a big trophy. Now, he disagrees. “Well, you say those things to motivate yourself. But clearly, most of us are still in top shape. Only Mark retired… And maybe some others will have more difficulty playing as starters…. But I think the core of this EC squad could still be important for at least two years. Lets not look past the the World Cup. The Euro squad could have gone all the way, no….should have gone all the way!! But we didn’t. And we all know Van Gaal won’t change the whole team in two years. With Van Persie, Van der Vaart, Robben, Heitinga, De Jong, myself, Stekelenburg….there still will be a core of players under 30 in 2014. We will need to demonstrate that we can still do the job. If we can’t, Van Gaal has the younger options as well.”

On the new generation. “I am totally impressed with some of these lads. I remember when I started with Oranje, I had to really work my ass off to keep up at practice. These lads, Maher, Clasie, Martins Indi… Amazing how easily they adapt. Has everything to do with the high level of the academies of Ajax, AZ, Feyenoord, Twente, PSV and even Vitesse and Sparta. Really impressive and really cool to have these lads in the squad.”

Asked about the difference between Van Marwijk and Van Gaal, Sneijder smiles. “Well…seriously…Van Gaal is a breed apart isn’t he? Van Marwijk is a very professional modern coach. Would work everywhere well… To me, he is like Benitez, like Ancelotti, , Koeman… He is a modern coach. Strong personality. Good people manager. Van Gaal is unique. So driven, so focused on details. Coaches like Hiddink and Van Marwijk expect players to take responsibility. Bert didn’t care what you ate or how much you slept… Van Gaal is totally involved with everything. I like that in him. Plus, he is a tactical wizard. So interesting to work with him. He does remind me a lot of Cruyff (funnily enough) and Mourinho. I worked with him at Ajax and knew he would be great. In a way, a nice progression after Bert van Marwijk, who taught us to that winning is important, taught us to operate as a unit. Play with grit. He instilled some “German” football in us. Now, with Van Gaal, we might add some icing on the cake.”

Beauty and the beast, Wes and Yo happy in Italy

The little big man enjoys working with youngsters too, realising he’s turning into a veteran almost. “Well, I’m close to 100 caps. That is quite something eh? And yes, I enjoy working with younger players. It’s a challenge and a responsibility. But I think we’re in good shape with all the talent.”

How did he experience the first games under Van Gaal? “Clearly, we have a newly found resilience, coupled with changes in tactics. And the new players have added something extra. Both in terms of football options as in pressure on the older players. It’s good. It seems that most of us are doing well. Robin settled in nicely with ManU, Rafa is happy in Hamburg, Kuyt is happy in Turkey, he’s scoring goals and is important there. Players need that. And I don’t worry about the youngsters. They will all get a great carreer if they keep on developing like this. And 12 out of 4 is great! We are getting used to those qualifications now, aren’t we? But it’s good. I will have to fight my way back into the team, haha…”

Sneijder suffers an injury and is ruled out for weeks. He was being treated in LA last week and expects a quicker recovery as a result. Here is a pic of Wes watching Romania – Holland on his laptop.

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Kuyt: "Turkey won't park the bus!"

This weekend the WC qualification circus starts. for the World Cup Brazil. Holland is in group D and needs to battle Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia and Andorra. Friday, Holland plays Turkey at home in De Arena.

Holland and Turkey played each other eight times before. Oranje won three, we had three draws and the Turks won two.

Holland and Turkey met before in the WC qualifications for the 1994 and 1998 tournaments. In 1994, it was 3-1 twice and Holland finished second after Norway. The Turks finished fifth and only kept San Marino under them.

Four years later, Hiddink’s Oranje had it tough against the nation he’d later coach. In Bursa Holland lost 1-0 (with that Seedorf penalty miss) and that was only a small year after his expensive miss against France at the Euros.

The home game ended 0-0. Holland did win the group and Turkey finished third behind Belgium. Turkey didn’t qualify yet again.

Turkey beat Holland in The Netherlands only once: in 1958’s friendly game. The first between Turkey and Oranje: 1-2.

Louis van Gaal played Turkey with Oranje before. In 2001 Van Gaal practiced against them and played 0-0 in De Arena.

Oranje lost it’s last four games. That is as bad as the series in 1954. In 1950, Holland lost five games in a row. They ended up losing eight back then.

Holland never lost an official game in De Arena. It won 12 games and drew 4. Bert van Marwijk lost one friendly in De Arena. This year, against Bulgaria.

He smiles now…

Oranje didn’t lose one game in the last 22 World Cup qualification series. The last one we lost? Under Van Gaal, against Ireland. We missed out on the 2002 World Cup back then.

Spain is the only nation with a longer list of won WC qualification games in one row: 10. The 22 games without defeat is a record for Holland. The world record is in hands of Spain, as they were once 45 games without defeat.

* Klaas-Jan Huntelaar needs one more goal to equal Johan Cruyff and Abe Lenstra on the top scoring list of Oranje. 33 goals are now good for a fifth spot on the all time goal scoring list.

Dirk Kuyt meets seven new team mates in the Turkey game from his new club Fenerbahçe. The Turkish team manager Abdullah Avi called on defenders from the Istanbul club, in particular.
Goalie Mert Günök, right back Gökhan Gönül, central defender Egemen Korkmaz, left back Hasan Ali Kaldirim and Bekir Irtegün and midfielders Mehmet Topal and Caner Erkin are currently Kuyt team mates.

Kuyt: “Mert Günökis our second goalie at Fener. The experienced Volkan is number one but injured. My biggest opponent on practice is defender Egemem, a killer with a beard… Strong in the air, great timing and tough as nails…”

“The full backs are very attacking minded. They take risks, and leave space behind them. These guys all play passionate football and try to get out of trouble with football solutions… They won’t park the bus in Amsterdam, I’m sure. That is their strength and weakness. If they trail, they start to make mistakes as they become hasty and rushed.”

Leroy Fer always smiles…

Kuyt knows his team mates are looking forward to the game. “They have a re-start too after the Hiddink period. They had good practice games but also lost a couple suddenly. I think that is in our advantage.”

For the first time in years, there is a lot of speculation again on who will start. It seems that only Robben, Sneijder, Huntelaar and Stekelenburg are starters.

But after the Belgium, even Huntelaar has to worry a bit. Robin van Persie impresses at practice and walks around with a lot of bravado. Van Gaal might favour Huntelaar now but for how long?

The midfield line up is going to be interesting. Over the last three years it was either De Jong, Van Bommel and/or Van der Vaart. All three are absent now.

It makes sense now that Van Gaal will pick Clasie as holding midffielder and maybe Leroy Fer, a type of player Van Gaal adores. “Fer is a pretty unique player. He has penetration without the ball. This is something our current midfielders are lacking. Johan Neeskens style runs into the box. I can’t use a midfield with all players who want the ball into the feet.”

Dirk Kuyt is currently vice-skipper under Van Gaal. He recognises the fact that opponents will have lost their respect for Oranje. “That is gone. If you lose against Denmark, Portugal and Belgium, you are back down on the ground. And we lost confidence too. Under Van Marwijk, we did have that feeling of “we will win this” whenever we walked onto the pitch. We need to find that again.”

Jordy Clasie wins the silver boot and receives it from his idol Willem van Hanegem

Kuyt doesn’t want to talk about the past anymore. “The issues that we had have been discussed. The meetings and talks were very good. The noses are pointing into the same direction. And we agreed not to share the information with the media, haha.”

“But the key thing is, to realise you are a part of a bigger thing: the team. If you as an individual can make that happen, you can win. Even if you’re Greece, like in 2004. We were WC finalist in 2010 as a result of this. And we can do it again in Brazil. We still have tremendous quality. Players like Sneijder, Van Persie, Huntelaar are in their prime. And players like Fer, Clasie and Narsingh will only get better.

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Big test for Oranje and LVG

Only 4 days to go and Oranje will have to play their first WC qualification game for 2014’s World Cup, under LVG’s reign.

The Big Test.

After losing a series of games and the dismal Euros, it seems another loss in this new series might trigger knee-jerk responses no one needs…

LVG needs to renew his team, while at the same time some of the old hands are struggling to find their form (or worse: minutes) at club level. While others who do perform wonderfully at club level (Robin, you know who you are!) disappoint in Orange.

Sturdy and ballsy Louis van Gaal doesn’t seem to be phased. He leaves Nigel, Rafael, Ibi and Greg at their new homes ( in Milan, Hamburg, Gelsenkirchen and Paris) and decides to use some untested group of players (Fer, Clasie).

If it works: good on Louis. If it doesn’t…then what?

Robin van Persie decided to not talk to the press at the Euros (allegedly because of consistent questions about his future) and has grudgingly decided to pick up the pieces in the prep towards Turkey. “You have to ask the trainer” or “I can’t comment” is still his most popular statement though. What happened to the cocky and open lad he used to be?

He did have some good quotes too, though. “I am still honoured to be invited to play for Oranje, of course! Even if I don’t play. The coach makes the decisions and I will do whatever he wants me to do and I’ll play where ever he thinks I should play.”

He smiled generously when asked if he indeed had a good talk with Van Gaal, as the latter suggested. “Yes, we did. Was a very good talk.” Leaving the press to figure out if he was using irony or not…

Van Gaal in the meantime, repeated his mantra: “Robin didn’t bring as much in Oranje as Klaas Jan. So I have picked Klaas Jan for the role, over Robin. Simple.”

John Heitinga was surprised to be part of the squad and unknowingly fueled the first discussion around Van Gaal’s decisions. “I was really fearful of losing my spot. At Everton, I was left on the bench for the first game and we did very well against Man United, so the coach left the winning team intact. I only played a couple of minutes, which doesn’t really count.”

Other players were left out of the squad because of their late moves, like Raf van der Vaart to HSV. “Raf moved last week already and the Turkey game is coming Wednesday. I’m sure Raf would be ready for that,” mused Heitinga.

Bas Dost had to leave the preparation with a lingering injury. Van Gaal called upon Luuk de Jong, as a replacement.

Arjen Robben didn’t train with the group, as he is recovering from a flu attack. He didn’t play with Bayern last weekend because of that, but he expects to be able to play coming Friday.

Darryl Janmaat is one of the newcomers in the squad. The offensive Feyenoord right back received a welcoming text from captain Wes Sneijder. “I thought that was really cool! I never met Wesley and don’t know his mobile number, so I had to check from who it was, haha. I think the staff gave my number to him, but I truly appreciated it.”

Vice captain Kuyt send an sms too and this is part of the strategy to make sure the youngsters feel at home at Oranje. Martins Indi, the big Rijkaard like defender who can play left back and center back spent the first day analysing his game against Belgium with the help of video analysis. “Really helpful. I do this at Feyenoord too. The analyst showed me some situations where I made the wrong choice. Very helpful indeed.”

Feyenoord right back Darryl Janmaat

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Louis van Gaal won't change much….

This week, new Oranje coach Louis van Gaal got presented to the press. His first working day got squashed in between much more important news: Olympic news from London and the first preliminary squad for Oranje.

Van Gaal will make the definite selection known on August 10.

The former Ajax and Barca coach decided to not rock the boat too much.

“I think Bert van Marwijk can not be faulted for his team selection choices. He clearly picked the best players at his disposal so I can not really make too many big changes, nor do I want to.

Mathijsen and Kuijt are still part of the squad, as are so-called rebels Huntelaar and Van der Vaart. They only players not longer in are Wilfred Bouma and Mark van Bommel.

Van Gaal did give the same signal as Van Marwijk before him towards the youngsters in the Eredivisie: Clasie and De Vrij of Feyenoord and Adam Maher of AZ are called back into the frame, as are Bas Dost (Wolfsburg) and Ola John (Benfica).

I personally believe Louis is taking the wishes of the people into account, but Bas Dost will not make it to the final squad, with Van Persie, Huntelaar and Luuk de Jong all present as well.

Erik Pieters is not part of the selection as he is still injured. Ricardo van Rhijn’s inclusion is pretty remarkable as he hasn’t played too much since Van der Wiel is back at Ajax, but with Vertonghen in London, chances are that the talented defender will see much more action.

As mentioned on this blog, Van Gaal loves defenders with build-up skills and both Van Rhijn and De Vrij fall into that category.

Jeffrey Bruma ( Hamburg) and Douglas (Twente) will both be on Louis’ radar as well.

PS Louis visited the Dutch hockey women at the Games, hence this pic 🙂

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