Tag: Lens

Derby of Lowlands insignificant: Oranje weakened…

The ones who have been with me and the blog for years know my stance on friendlies. I don’t like them.

I have told you many times why. Won’t go into too much detail. But this Belgium derby appears to be horrible in timing. We are lacking many players, probably will play a starting eleven (vs Luxembourg, the game that counts) that never played together before.

A coach would want to be able to use the days prior to the big game (Luxembourg!!) to practice. Get the players working together, bond, discuss tactics and roles. Instead of taking on a much stronger Belgium in a friendly. We all know what can happen. Belgium could tear us apart. They are better. As a team, most likely. Individually, surely. And as per usual, they have that inferiority complex and will want to beat us.

So in that scenario, say we lose 0-4, we need to shrug that off before the Luxembourg game. Media will hassle us, fans will ask questions and players might lose more confidence.

It’s also likely that Belgium will turn it into a real match. Which might lead to injuries.

All in all, not great. Or, our players might feel compelled to take the game to Belgium. Which might result in an ok result (0-0) or a great result – a win – but it doesn’t mean shit and we might end up with fatigue in the Luxembourg match.

line ups

And all of this, only for commercial reasons. For the KNVB to make money. As if they need it.

Danny Blind will not say it publically, but he will not be amused with the timing of this prestigious friendly.

Playing Luxembourg in a tough phase in the season is not so bad. Even if the first 22 are injured and we’d need to play Fosu Mensah, Nouri, El Ghazi, Toornstra, Denswil, Babel and Pieters, we’d still win it. Or we still should win it.

This Belgium game can be disruptive though.

Against Belgium, I don’t care who Blind uses. It will be for him to decide which player he wants to see (Zegelaar? Schaars? Lens?) and which to rest (Sneijder? Van Dijk?). We do have a number of players who are rested nicely. Daley, Wijnaldum, Janssen, Clasie…they all have had games off in the last month, so that’s not that bad.

Most will play with something to prove, but again: it might work against us.

Danny Blind remains the master strategist, who can always see positives. “The game does count for me. Winning vs Belgium means we improve our ranking. This might be key in the World Cup draw. So we will take the game seriously.”

vdijk bruma

Arjen Robben is keen to come (and play) but Bayern will only allow Arjen to sit on the stands for the Belgium game. I’m good with that. We need one moment of magic from him vs Luxembourg. Should we lead 2-0, I think Danny needs to sub him. No risk. Although, goal difference might become important in our group, so maybe he needs to keep him on.

The meeting with Belgium four years ago was Louis van Gaal’s first as Oranje coach in his second term, Oranje lost 4-2. Belgium is ranked #4 in the world, a whopping 16 spots higher than the Netherlands…

Maarten Stekelenburg will be on the team sheet, I’m sure. Cillesen lacks rhythm and so does Vorm. Stekelenburg had a screamer of a game vs Man City but made mistakes vs Chelsea and France, but overall he’s still a top goalie.

The match vs Belgium back then was Maarten’s last in Oranje, as Van Gaal picked Krul after the game. Due to the current Ajax’ goalie’s injury, Stekelenburg was offered two more games between the sticks and then it was all over. “I never watched Oranje at the WC2014. Too hard for me to watch. I should have been there.”

Back then, Van Gaal allowed De Vrij and Martins Indi their debut, while it was the last game of Sneijder and Van der Vaart together in midfield.

stekel pen

Stekelenburg came back from a dark phase in his career. “I can still have a bad day, like vs Chelsea… I had to do better on 2 goals. And yes France… I know. But I don’t panick anymore after a bad day. I spit in my hands and go on. The worst period I had was under Magath at Fulham. I didn’t even get a jersey number… Now, I can focus on my next game coming weekend and that is the best thing to do to shrug off mistakes.”

Stekelenburg knows he is not yet the Oranje #1. “Danny hasn’t said it to me or any of the other goalies. The situation is a bit fuzzy now with the injuries (Zoet, Krul, Vermeer) and Jasper’s position at Barca. But, I’m 35 years old at the WC2018, which is a good age for a goalie. The team is getting younger so an experienced goalie might be a plus.”

In 1999, Frank Rijkaard managed a Dutch side in a friendly vs Belgium which ended in a famous 5-5. Saw some amazing goals in that game….

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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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And here we go again: Oranje assemble!

There was a storm of protest, disgust, confusion and all out mayhem after Oranje failed to qualify for the Euros but a month later, it seems it all died out.

We are back to talking about Ajax’ abysmal performance in Europe, Cocu’s tactics, Memphis disappearance act and Dirk Kuyt returning to Oranje, maybe this time as a goalie.

Bert van Oostveen lacks support in the football world and will be assessed this month. The loser said with straight face to the cameras that “not qualifying is bad but we are obviously in a build up phase”… WHAT? You finish third at the WC2014 and you are in a building up phase?
More like a tearing down phase…


But….I doubt that he will go.

Like I doubt Blind will be sacked, but to be honest he is not our biggest problem.

We have lame strategic management at the KNVB, which needs to be addressed and the new management should question Blind whether he is capable of playing effective modern football with the talent at hand. Forget BS like “4-3-3” and “Total Football”. Like we have many other obsolete cool stuff in our world that we need to leave behind such as capitalism, the fact that Bill Cosby is cool, coca cola and MacDonalds and the belief that eggs are bad for you.

Ruud van Nistelrooy said in an interview recently that the Dutch mentality is not the issue here. “I see a team like PSV beat Man United and Wolfsburg. I see Feyenoord battle Ajax. I think we have desire. But sometimes it simply doesn’t go your way. I had that too in my career. I have had moments galore where I doubted myself. It’s human. It is ebb and flow I suppose.”


We used to eat steak for sports lunch, prior to matches. We don’t do that shit anymore. We need Blind to tell us he can construct a 5-3-2 / 3-4-4 from this squad and win games with it .

If he says “no” then he needs to go. Otherwise, leave the lad.

Blind has given a stern warning to Memphis Depay, before including him into the Dutch final selection. Who else do we have with Elia for the left flank? But Blind said: “Memphis needs to be more important for the team. He needs to work harder. This is his process. I trust that he can and will.” He was left out of the prelim squad but is back.

Louis van Gaal covered the Memphis issue in his Man United press conference prior to the Moscow game. “There is no problem with Memphis. He is exactly what I said he was: a tremendous young talent with exceptional qualities but who needs to learn a lot still. His move to Man United was a big step and he needs time. I am convinced he will return and he will return even better.”

lvg memphis

Another recurring name is Dirk Kuyt’s. The team manager asked Kuyt, who retired from international duties, to see if he was keen to come and help the team out in the final two matches of the campaign. Blind: “Dirk has additional value. Both on and off the pitch. He is doing exceptionally well still at Feyenoord now, and I checked if he was keen to come and help. But he wanted to know if he would start and I cannot give players a certain starting berth, so I said no, and Dirk declined.”

Kuyt confirms the story: “Well I didn’t demand a starting spot but I did say that I wanted to help the team on the pitch. Not in the dressing room. He knows and I told Guus Hiddink this as well, earlier on.”

Another remarkable move is removing Jeroen Zoet from the keepers list. Ken Vermeer is now part of the squad and rightfully so. The Feyenoord goalie is playing really well while Zoet is having trouble. Talent enough, but needs to work on personality. Also Stekelenburg, playing regularly in the EPL is part of the squad what with Krul out.

robben back

Obviously, Robben is back – with a CL goal to celebrate the occasion but Robin is out. “He is not looking sharp, not fresh… He doesn’t play enough and needs time. I have certainly not written him off. A good Van Persie is still the best striking option we have.”

Arjen Robben is part of the squad but he himself isn’t sure about playing. “I just returned from injury and have yet to get match fitness. I came on vs Arsenal and scored and all that, but I am not sure if it is wise for me to start against Wales and Germany. We’ll see. My focus is to get a good series of games before the winter stop and we need to see if playing now for Oranje is a good thing. But don’t worry: I will discuss this with Danny Blind and the Munich medical team and I’m sure we’ll sort it out. We usually do.”

Kongolo is picked over Pieters, an enigma for me. Pieters plays week in week out well against top opponents while Kongolo is not convincing in the Eredivisie. Van Dijk is given another chance as a result of strong performances in England. Veltman had some good performances for Ajax while Kenny Tete is probably the biggest defensive talent at Ajax. Still strange to miss the name of Sven van Beek.


Marko Vejinovic

The big surprise in midfield to me is Marko Vejinovic. Good player, for sure, but slow. He is impressive on the ball and in games where Feyenoord dominates. But against strong teams, it seems like his coach prefers Vilhena over the Amsterdam born Serb. But with potential rivals like Leroy Fer, Marco van Ginkel, Ibi Afellay not playing good enough or not playing at all, it makes sense for Blind to look at options. Davey Propper for me would be more logical to pick. Blind however, sees Vejinovic as the center mid defensive man, as alternative for Clasie, while the other spots will be for Sneijder/Klaassen and Wijnaldum/Bazoer.

Upfront no big surprises, bar Van Persie. Quincy Promes impressed recently at Moscow and will be back in the squad.

persie fener

Van Persie said recently in an interview that he will work to get back into the squad. “What is there to say. Danny called to say what he had to say. I didn’t have a lot to add. I took notice of it and that’s it. I have a special feeling for Oranje and love playing for my country. So I will do what I can to come back. I am not ready with Oranje.” Rumours about his relationship with Danny Blind were waved away. “No, my relationship with Blind is fine. You have different coaches and different relationships and all that, but we are fine. We have no issues.”

I do hope Blind will take the opportunity vs Wales and Germany to test a 5-3-2. We have the players for it:

Janmaat – Bruma – Blind – Van Dijk – Riedewald

Wijnaldum – Clasie – Sneijder

Robben – Memphis

So here we go again… Let’s call this the new start.

As for the blog, I am contemplating some changes. I have asked a couple of people to maybe share the load with me and add some contributions to the blog in the form of posts. You can put your hand up to send me articles you’d like to contribute and I can increase the frequency of new posts this way. Obviously, I will edit as I see fit ;-).

Also, I am considering producing an e-book. I am in need of ways that helps me to fund what I am doing a bit more. Donations only go so far, of course.

The e-book I am contemplating is cool stories that are not so well-known, spanning from 1988 to now, the period from the last drought to the current one :-).

I would be happy to know who would be interesting in this and how much you would be willing to pay for it…

For all of you losing confidence in our skills and abilities, check out this video of Arjen Robben doing a keepy uppy with Rafinha 🙂

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Do the Dutch still have Clockwork Orange material?

All sorts of things race through my mind and many new posts are being formed in my head while we still process those dreadful two games.

A question I got on the blog is “What do I think of the players we have coming through the system…”…. Well let me go into that a bit.

Lets start with some key comments:

In my view, having to have great world class players is not everything. Greece 2004 did not have world class players. Yet they won the Euros. In 1990, Holland had amazing individual players and the end result was horrific. The key is, to have a strong team. Probably with a number of world class players, but we don’t need eleven or sixteen world beaters.

Another comment I need to make is: what do we want? Do we want to play Total Football. Dutch School? If yes, what is that exactly? And if that is our objective, is qualifying or winning trophies important as well? If so, what is more important? Or…do we want to be say “forget Dutch School” and let’s just play to win. Like Van Gaal did in 2014. Realistic football, based on the quality at hand.

Van Oostveen is not looking too confident here…

Zeist - "Guus Hiddink unveiled as new Netherlands manager"

I believe Bert van Oostveen made a mistake in giving Hiddink/Blind the charter to “return to Total Football”. Return to 4-3-3. We don’t have the players for this and most teams these days do not play 4-3-3. They play 5-3-2 (which makes 3-5-2 or 3-4-3) or 4-2-3-1…  Somehow, Hiddink and co. wanted to move away from Van Gaal’s “anti-football”. It was the purists complaining (Cruyff, Van Hanegem) but maybe it is important to be realists. I didn’t complain when LVG went 5-3-2. I didn’t complain when we almost made it to the World Cup finals.

If we want to play at top level, competing for trophies, we need to create a system that fits our players. Louis did this…

keep calm

As for talent, I also want to point out the typical categories we have seen in the past (and present) and what we can expect in the future…. And let’s not forget: we don’t need eleven super world class players to win trophies. We need a healthy mix….

1. Super talents and became real consistent quality players

2. Super talents who never really converted their talent at the top level

3. Overlooked players who became world beaters

So lets look at some players we know today and see what can happen…

1. Super talents who became real consistent quality players

In my book, players like Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank & Ronald de Boer, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben spring to mind. Players who were spotted as young talents, both by their coaches, the media, the public and the KNVB.  Usually, these kids have the spotlights on them at a young age and manage to work and develop their way to greatness. At this stage, we are looking at lads like Vilhena, Bazoer, Stef van Beek, Jairo Riedewald, Jetro Willems, Memphis Depay, Nathan Ake and Davy Klaassen… I think Daley Blind, Willems, Memphis and Bazoer will make it. From what I have seen…

The jury is still out of course. Memphis played approx 6 serious games for Man United and only impressed against Brugge, which is sort of the level Memphis was used to at PSV… I haven’t seen him dazzle against the EPL opposition as yet. Willems had his little setback season already but from what I have seen since, I think he is the real deal. Bazoer impresses me every week but with all these talents it is a matter of 1) will their bodies be able to withstand the pressure, 2) will their mentality be strong enough, 3) will their management do what is best for them and 4) will they make the right choices in stepping up from their current level… Royston Drenthe comes to mind… A huge prospect, who left too early, to the wrong club and Royston probably also did not have the mental strength to deal with all that stuff.

When all worked….

Spain v Netherlands: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

In the past, Rijkaard was almost led astray (PSV, Sporting Lisbon) and Dennis Bergkamp had trouble at Inter…. Robben suffered physically and Wes also got lost in the desert for a spell.

Ricardo Kishna and El Ghazi are also seen as “sensational talents” but Kishna didn’t really prove to be one at Ajax while El Ghazi is just starting to deliver on the promise.

2. Super talents who never really converted their talent at the top level

Here we get to the level of Cedric van der Gun, Frans van Rooij, Mario Been, Jantje Peters, Marcel Peeper, John van ‘t Schip, Gerald Vanenburg, Edwin Gorter, Ryan Babel, Hedwiges Maduro, Royston Drenthe, Kyle Ebicilio, Quincy, Peter Hoekstra, Bryan Roy, Ibi Afellay, Richard Witschge. All these guys had super reputations when they were playing for the youth teams. Most of them played rep football for the Dutch from a young age and most were compared with the great Johan Cruyff, the great Willem van Hanegem or the great Ruud Krol (depending on their role in the team). They were all brought carefully into the first teams at their clubs and most of them made their way into the Dutch team… But somehow, they never delivered on their promise. Some had the bad luck of physical problems (Van der Gun, Pepper, Peter Hoekstra, Afellay), others made the decision to leave their club too soon or go to the wrong club (Royston Drenthe, Richard Witschge) while others simply lacked the mentality to make it big…

Johnny Rep, Ruud Krol and Jantje Peters


They seemed uncoachable ( Quincy) or lacked discipline or simply couldn’t be bothered to be team players. Some players excelled at youth level but couldn’t make it work for them at senior level (Vanenburg, Babel, Gorter, Been). At this stage, Holland has a number of these lads. I think Adam Maher currently is in this category. I think Boetius might be the same and players like Fer, Wijnaldum, Davy Klaassen, Siem de Jong, Luuk de Jong and Martins Indi might end up in this basket. Exciting players when they’re young. Highly impressive in the Dutch league when they first make their appearance. But when the surprise factor wears off, they appear to be mediocre… Not that there is anything wrong here… Players like Vanenburg, Van ‘t Schip, Roy and Afellay have had good runs at their clubs and country but they simply never made it to the level that was expected of them when they were young… At this stage, Bruma, Klaassen, Wijnaldum, Narsingh, Promes, Lens could all end up in this category.

3. Overlooked players who became world beaters

This is an exciting category. Philip Cocu, Arthur Numan, Jaap Stam, Jan Wouters, Dirk Kuyt, Roy Makaay come to mind. This is the category of players that suddenly catch your eye. I saw Jaap Stam coming. I remember him at Cambuur and Willem II. And after a couple of weeks, you hear this name more often in highlight reels and you realise that this unknown lad is a powerhouse. Cocu, similar story. Brought as flegmatic talent at AZ. Went to Vitesse as a left winger and mixed good games with invisible games. PSV took a gamble, he ended up playing in midfield and became one of Holland’s best midfielders ever. And the somewhat complacent left winger became a mentally strong leader, who captained Barcelona! Jan Wouters is another example. Overlooked by many clubs and brought to Ajax by Cruyff when he was already a tad older… Marco van Basten highly criticized this signing until he realised that with Wouters behind him, his job was easier… And in West Germany, in 1988, it was Wouter’s pass in the semi finals that led to Bassie’s winner… Arthur Numan was a big fish in a little club (Haarlem) until he became a smaller fish in a big team (Oranje!). Dirk Kuyt made steps from Katwijk, to Utrecht, to Feyenoord, to Oranje, to Liverpool. And with every step, people said “he’s not going to survive that level” and everytime he did! Kevin Strootman is in this category as well, as is Jordy Clasie. The latter was told time and time again by his youth coaches at Feyenoord: “laddie, give it up. It won’t work for you. You’re too small for top football.” In the past, the Dutch team saw players like Winston Bogarde, Michael Reiziger, Peter van Vossen, Adrie van Tiggelen, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Nigel de Jong become important, on the basis of their mentality, grit and personality. In today’s team, I rate Strootman and Clasie of this level but also Dost and Ron Vlaar.

Jan Wouters, FC Utrecht, vs Lerby Ajax. Both would become midfield captains at Bayern Munich

wouters lerby

My point with all of this, is that in every successful team in the past, we had players that were known to be bright stars and we had players that came from nowhere. We had players that were essential to the team but they weren’t considered great talents.

The 1974 team won silver in West Germany and had usual suspects such as Cruyff, Van Hanegem and Rensenbrink, but Wim Rijsbergen was a nobody. Slow and definitely an ugly player. But tough as nails. Young upstart Arie Haan played as center back. And Johan Neeskens was quite an unknown playing for HFC before someone tipped Ajax to sign him.

Top dogs Piet Keizer and Sjaak Swart didn’t get a look in. And Michels only found the winning line up days before the Tournament started. Oh, and did I mention that Oranje actually had a terrible qualification series? And actually shouldn’t have qualified as they scored an offside goal against Belgium, which when disallowed would have meant the exit for The Netherlands? Freaky, no?

Fußball-WM, BRD - Niederlande 2:1

The 1978 team got silver in Argentina. Big name players like Cruyff and Van Hanegem were not present. Young upstarts Brands, Poortvliet and Wildschut impressed, with Haan and Krol as the leading players. The three PSV youngsters were not rated as hot talents but they fitted perfectly in the team.

In 1988, in West Germany, Holland won it’s first and only trophy. Playing 4-4-2. With under rated Erwin Koeman in the team to cover for Arnold Muhren. Limited players like Berry van Aerle and Adri van Tiggelen completed the team, while wonderboy Gerald Vanenburg was working his ass off for Gullit and Van Basten.

The 1998 Oranje was very close to playing the finals. Looking back on that performance, players like Bergkamp and Cocu admitted that they never really considered themselves good enough for the finals. They didn’t play like they had a chance to win it. In hindsight, they can kick themselves.

My point being…the whole debate about 4-3-3 being the “Dutch School” is silly. The whole point about talent and skill and experience is silly. It is about Team. With capital T.

Team. Tactics. Tenacity. Skill and talent and experience are very handy. But without team, without desire and without a clear idea as to how to play, we will never win anything. This is what made the Greeks win 2004. And what fuels the Germans always!

So sure, our lads can all play. Outside foot passing, pannas, dribbles, cool step overs… all nice and dandy. But the Mark van Bommel / Edgar Davids / Johan Neeskens will to win, is essential. Because at a Euros or at a World Cup, every player can play football.


Piet Wildschut in 1978

With the players we have, I think we should be able to 1) qualify and 2) win trophies.

As the past has demonstrated: a team full of super players doesn’t necessarily mean you win trophies. And vice versa, many mediocre teams have won trophies over the years. From Greece to Germany (1996) to Atletico Madrid and FC Porto.

If we, for the sake of discussion, simply accept that all the Dutch players are capable in handling the ball. And we accept that they all are fit enough to play top football, then the aspects we need to focus on are: 1. tactical strength, 2. mental strength and 3. desire.

If I have to judge our current players on this, then for me the jury is not too positive on the following players:  Klaassen, Promes, Narsingh, Martins Indi, Lens, Van der Wiel, Afellay, Boetius, Maher.

Players that get the benefit of the doubt are: Wijnaldum, Van Ginkel, Fer, Bruma, Riedewald, Tete, Berghuis, De Guzman, Bacuna, Van Dijk, Van Beek, Vilhena.

Players that I believe have what it takes in this particular department are Daley Blind, Luuk de Jong, Clasie, Bas Dost, Pieters, Janmaat, Willems, De Vrij,

The good thing is, that the question marks are all playing in the EPL or at top level in Holland (so we can spot them well). Playing in Holland is not necessarily a good thing. I am certain Bruma developed well with Terry and Lampard and Drogba as training buddies while at PSV it is all bit more laissez-fair. The ones that make it in the EPL will most likely have what it takes in the work rate department…

barca witschge

The ones that demonstrate the right development path – such as Blind, De Jong and Willems – will definitely be the backbone of future Oranje squads. I just wish some of them would lose that “lets play some nice football” attitude and develop a “over my dead body” mentality…

All in all, I am not negative about our potential futute. We certainly have the quality. We now need to pair the quality with the grit and pick a coach who will use what he have in a tactical system that works…

Danny Blind can still be that guy, if he leans more to Van Gaal and less to Cruyff. If not him, the likes of Ronald Koeman, Frank de Boer, John van den Brom or Ron Jans come to mind as future national team coaches.

Danny Blind with son Daley Blind

danny daely


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Turkish Delight or Drama for Oranje….

My dear friends, let me start this blog post by showing you something that will fuel your hope for the future. Dutch football is not dead. When you have players like Vincent Janssen, Nathan Ake, Bazoer and Tannane there is a future. Let’s see how far these guys can go. And I know, it was only against Young Cyprus and all that, but you can see what kind of talent we do have.


The seniors were on a mission to win four games. They lost the first, as you probably will have noticed, and now a draw against Turkey is enough to finish third… Well, I don’t believe in “a draw is enough”. There are more games to play and who tells me that Holland will win the last two? Therefore, we need to play to win!

I have watched the press conference and some of the interviews and it really is not that inspiring. “Yes we will try and win.” “Yes we want to silence the crowd”. “Yes we are full of confidence.”

Whatever. We need to see it tomorrow I suppose. The Turks aren’t that good but they definitely aren’t shabby either. They play with intent, with a sense of urgency and they can play. They might be erratic at times, or undisciplined but hey…so do we.

conf blind sneijd

We need to realise that we are not that great team (at the moment). And I am not referring to 1974 per se. We are also not that great team of 2014. Even if we almost have the same players. The team simply isn’t there.

I watched the first 30 minutes of the game again and despite what some say, Van der Wiel wasn’t the problem. Sure, he created the penalty and that was absolutely ridiculous, but the first 30 minutes, when we played 11vs11 and it was 0-0, the problem we had was created by the lack of movement by Klaassen and Wijnaldum. Our defence did not have an outlet. And when Sneijder got the ball the movement around him was absent.

Not, with Robben out, we have a mediocre team. Which is ok. We have four outstanding players. Two used to be World Class (Sneijder and Van Persie), one will be (Memphis) and one is a goal scoring machine (Huntelaar). The rest are all ok but need to play in function of these four.

press sneid

With RVP not 100% match fit, it is only predictable that Hunter will start. When Oranje is in front, expect a like for like change with RVP. If Oranje is trailing, Blind will bring RVP to play next to Hunter…

I have my personal ideas who Oranje should play but I don’t think Blind shares my ideas. I do believe he will start Van der Wiel again. He has no options. If he’d play Tete he would basically have to send Wiel home and get Janmaat in his place. Lots of loss of face.

So Van der Wiel will start, alongside De Vrij and Bruma and Blind, most likely. I imagine Blind will keep the midfield intact but add Lens on the right as a false winger. He’ll play Depay left and Hunter centrally.

I think.

I would have made many different choices. I would have had Janmaat with De Vrij and Blind as left center back (like he plays for Man United) and Pieters as left back. Blind can build up well from behind and speed up the game.



Virgil van Dijk

I would have Sneijder, Anita and Wijnaldum in midfield with Memphis and Hunter upfront and Lens as false right winger (allowing Janmaat his runs in the channel).

You’d have Blind and Memphis on the left hand side, who know each other. You’d have Janmaat, De Vrij, Wijnaldum and Anita who sort of know each other.

Klaassen for me is a left midfield player. Not a defensive mid.

Should you need more fire power you can always sub Pieters for Van Persie.

Anyway…we’ll see. It will be a nail biter.

I hope we get a sensational win but it could well be a chess game ending with 0-0 or something like that…

sneij turan.jog

We played Turkey eleven times before and won five times. We lost twice. Last game in Amsterdam was a draw with Huntelaar’s last minute equaliser.  We lost our last game against them in 1997. The infamous Seedorf penalty miss game…. The Turks have a scoring issue at the moment. They haven’t scored more than once every game for a while. Yilmaz, team mate of Wesley, is the man in form in terms of goals. With Turan their bearded leader and playmaker.

RVP is our top goalscorer with 49 goals. Huntelaar is behind him with 41 but the Schalke man is prolific in qualification games, so who knows. For superstitious people, Promes shouldn’t play today. The former Twente winger never won a game with Oranje. He lost five.

The best number 3 is qualified directly, by the way. If we have to play play offs we are most likely the best ranked “number 3” and we will have some protection and probably will get an opponent like Norway, Slovenia, Israel or Ireland.

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Horror scenario Oranje vs Iceland

Any coach will go through potential scenarios in his head, when preparing for a match. All different angles are being talked through. What happens when we concede early? What happens if it stays 0-0 for a long time? What do we do when we score very early? What will Iceland do? What if we lose a player due to a red card? What if Arjen Robben gets injured…

But I do think that even Danny Blind didn’t come up with the scenario that hit us like a hammer. “What if we lose a defender in the first half on a red card, what if we also lose Robben to injury and on top of that Iceland gets a penalty in the second half…” If Van Nistelrooy would have suggested this, Danny and Marco would have said “Shut up Ruud, you’re not funny!”

blind bassie

But this is exactly what happened. And sadly for all of us, for the supporters, the players and for Danny Blind: the choices the coach made have come to bite him in the butt. Not that he made obvious blunders, but his choices didn’t pan out. And as he is end responsible, he will have to take the blame.

It starts with the selection of the players. He took BMI and Van der Wiel along, two players who lack rhythm. Both players let the team down. Coincidence? Maybe… BMI couldn’t control himself and had to smack Sigthorsson in the neck. Not smart. While Bruno actually started relatively well… Greg van der Wiel was cocky before the game and said with a wry smile “who said you need to have a starting birth at your club to be able to play for Oranje?”. Well, Greg… You made the point. The sliding tackle in the box on a player who was going into a cul de sac was unnecessary and foolish. You simply stay on your feet and block his passage to the goal…


These are childish mistakes. Mistakes you’d expect Tete and Riedewald to make… Bind must have gone crazy but he has to look into the mirror. The loss of Robben can not be blamed on Blind… Or can it…?

Danny Blind decided to make a big thing out of the change of skipper’s band. As if the new coach wanted to make a point to the world. “I am now in charge!!”. He gave Robben the band, but had to send out a press release to emphasize the fact. Why? As a result, the Dutch media were focusing on this aspect more than necessary. It was all about the extraverted manner in which Robben led the team and was actively cheering everyone on. Robben was at the press conferences and Robben fielded questions. Blind could and should simply have said “Oh by the way, Robin is not 100% fit and since he might not play, I passed the armband on to Robben.” Done.

de vrij

But with the additional focus on Robben and the energy all this took, it might have contributed to additional stress in Robben’s body. The groin injury came out of nothing and Iron Man went back to being Man of Glass…

I was also not impressed with Blind’s changes. Iceland didn’t come to score goals. When BMI left the field, he could have decided to bring Daley more in to the left center role and have Klaassen drop back a tad to cover the left flank. Just see what would happen before you decide to sub a striker.

Subbing Huntelaar was contentious to say the least. Hunter keeps two defenders busy, just by being Huntelaar. Oranje also would have a target man to focus on and Klaas Jan can hold on to the ball, usually. Without him upfront and soon after without Robben as well, the danger would come from two players coming in from the flanks. Memphis known for his skill, Narsingh (brought on) only known for his speed. For which you need space. Which we didn’t get.

penalty ijsland

I would have kept Huntelaar on and would have instructed De Vrij, Daley and Klaassen to sort it out. I would have brought in Afellay for Robben. A player who can shoot from distance, create something with a dribble and have the ability to pass and move. More options than Narsingh offers. I would have had Wijnaldum play more controlled and used Van der Wiel as a wing back to bring the ball into the waiting Huntelaar. Afellay and Sneijder would loved to have picked up the lose ball. At that stage, it was still 0-0 and one goal would have been all we needed…

But Blind made a different decision. He chose to go for mobility and movement. Instead of long balls towards Huntelaar. After the game, he acknowledged that the Hunter option was definitely an option but he decided against it, and he didn’t regret it. “We create a number of opportunities with my game plan, sadly we couldn’t finish.” He wan’t wrong, but I think we would have had more dominance and power with KJ Huntelaar op front and a more pragmatic and opportunistic approach.

Blind baalt

Obviously, it is too easy to blame it all on Blind. His game plan could have worked but most players in Orange weren’t able to reach their usual level. De Vrij was decent, Sneijder worked hard, Memphis had his moments and Cillesen made no mistakes but too many players were bland. Wijnaldum and Klaassen in particular looked out of place while Narsingh offered not enough either…

Despite the gloom, Holland still has options. We can still finish third and play offs will be available to us to make the cut. But we do have to keep Turkey behind us, which we can realise coming Sunday. The Turks seemed to be winning but a late goal resulted in a draw for them and a lifeline for Oranje.

After the game, Blind calmly analysed what went wrong and did mention Martins Indi and Van der Wiel specifically in their foolishness. The BMI action, he called “bad” and Van der Wiel “should no better by now. You never go down in the box. Lesson #1”.


Later on he evening. Blind announced that Jeremain Lens and Virgil van Dijk will be added to the squad, which leaves for Turkey today. Martins Indi wasn’t available for comments as he avoided the media. Arjen Robben however was quite furious. “I do blame him for this. This was not smart. He let the team down. There is a lot riding on this.”

Wesley Sneijder, currently the skipper for Oranje: “It was terrible. A horror scenario indeed. But we have to pick ourselves up now. All is not lost. We simply need to work hard to get our sights on Turkey. That will be a tough game, but they have something to play for, so I do assume we will get more space to play football.”

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Oranje secures crucial points but will change coach….

The Dutch overly cricital analysts said it before the game: “If we really need to lose sleep over an away game against Latvia, than we have sunk really deep…”. And obviously they are correct… Holland needs to play all finals now, to secure enough points to reach the Euros. For the current #3 in the World, that is actually quite disappointing.

But, at least we are still in it. Guus could breath relaxed after the game, as I am 100% convinced he would have been fired with any other result.

The team did what it had to do. Put pressure on. Create opportunities. Win. The Latvians played pretty solid actually. Their positioning was excellent and their will and desire was present too. Paired with a Dutch team as opponent which wasn’t able to fire on all cylinders. Depay on the left was very active and involved in the first half, as was Wesley Sneijder. But Luciano Narsingh and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, in contrast, were sub par. Huntelaar did not get an inch in the box and didn’t get good service while Narsingh simply seems to lack form (or quality). He is particularly strong when he can explore space and against Latvia away, obviously there is not a lot of space to be found. This is where Promes or even Berghuis would have been a better option.


The pairing of Sneijder and Blind in a 4-2-4 set up worked fairly well although Clasie with his fast passing and vision would have added a dimension to the game, I’m sure. Depay could have scored a couple in the first half (should have even?) and that would have opened the door to a strong victory for sure. But lack of sharpness, and a good goalie prevented a bigger loss for Latvia.

It was one moment of briliance from sub Wijnaldum that sealed the fate of the Latvians. A good turn, a Kluivert style toe poke and Oranje was 0-1 up. Another good moment of Blind finding space (!) for Narsingh and the winger did the only thing right in his game. Hopefully the goal will help him shrug off his burden. Interestingly enough, Narsingh jumped into the arms of his rival Promes while Wijnaldum sought assistant coach Van Nistelrooy who had instructed Wijnaldum where to look for space and how to time his run. Van Nistelrooy had told the PSV midfielder that he would be the one scoring the crucial goal. Four minutes later, he did.

devrij bmi

And so Oranje did what it had to do.

Having said that, the 67 year ol sly fox will probably make way for Danny Blind, this summer already.

Lucky Gus seems to have lost his touch. There are grave concerns within the KNVB while the players also shared their confusions in small circles about some of his decisions and communications.

Now, I think Guus deserves a respectful farewell as I don’t think there is more work for him after this. And he has had a sensational career. Quite good as a playmaker but not good enough for the big guns. He played for PSV for 1 season but preferred to be a big fish in a little pond. He coaches PSV to the European top and since that feat he has done really well for himself, coaching all over the world, with a mixed bag of success.

The team manager’s stint for Oranje from 1994 to 1998 was a highlight for sure. Rising like a Phoenix to the semi finals in France after the 1996 ashes with Davids as co-star.

Letland - Nederland


But this time around, Guus thought he could do it half-arsed. He figured that with 1) the top 3 progressing to the Euros and 2) a mix of talent and experience he would be able to bring the Dutch School back into existence while winging it a bit. Well, he made a mistake. For starters: the World Cup as per usual left a negative inheritance for Oranje’s Euro qualifications’ start. This seems to happen always. Players are either tired (the young ones), overly extended (the older ones) or maybe a bit complacent (the rest).

So a series of mistakes, lack of desire and absence of big star names resulted in a horrific start of the series and all through this first year, Hiddink was vague and somewhat mentally absent during press conferences. Deer in the headlights comes to mind. He wasn’t consistent and his communication was questionable. After the second loss against Iceland, the KNVB general manager immediately pulled the power card which probably didn’t help in the relationship department with Guus who normally would refuse to deal with minions like Oostveen.

And if you are in a rut, things don’t go your way. The many missed opportunities against the Czechs and Iceland, the Janmaat mistake, the defensive uncertainties, the Robben injury, it all seemed to be a logical result of the Law of Attraction.



He is not longer the fearless leader. Her accepted too much and was too weak in his communications and directions. He has been changing and shifting players. De Jong in center midfield… Two months ago, he called him “my captain in midfield” and now De Jong wasn’t even needed. Clasie gets the nod. But suddenly Clasie is sacrificed for Blind. Van Persie and Huntelaar cannot play together against strong opponents. Fine. But which of the two will need to go? I think Huntelaar will know that it will most likely be him. So the Schalke striker is playing less for the team but more for himself. Janmaat in, Van der Wiel out. Van der Wiel in, Janmaat out. When the US came to play a friendly, Hiddink said quite resolutely he wouldn’t play Sneijder (who just arrived from Turkey) but the little playmaker wants to break van der Sar’s record and convinced Hiddink to allow him to come on as a sub. Or the game against Mexico. Hiddink had said Robben would be used only for half the game. But Robben enjoyed himself and decided to stay on the pitch.  These are all not too smart things to do for a coach.

blind latvia

Obviously, there is no guarantee that Danny Blind will fix this all. But at least the players highly respect him for his craftmanship. And it seemed in the run up to the Latvia game that this decision was already made. The 53 year old ex Ajax coach was coaching dominantly at the practice sessions while Hiddink kept his distance. During the game, Blind also made a passionate and driven impression, coaching actively, while during the first matches, he sat next to Hiddink, somewhat apathically. But it is his big ambition to coach this team, and he decided to not join Van Gaal at Man United after the World Cup for this reason.

Despite the lack of satisfaction concerning Hiddink’s performance, the KNVB will most likely not sack the seasoned coach. The former Real Madrid coach will probably step into a mentoring role or advising role which will lead to Blind taking the reigns and most likely a new assistant coach being added to the mix at Oranje.

rvp latvia

And while Hiddink immediately went on holidays, Blind and the KNVB will get together to find a modus to give the former success coach the ending he deserves. It will be a busy summer in Zeist, but also for a lot of the Oranje internationals. Some of whom are not yet certain where their next home will be. Depay is home and hosed at Man United. Huntelaar will remain at Schalke 04. Usually, Janmaat, De Vrij, Martins Indi and Blind will not move away (although De Vrij might be snatched up as he had a tremendous year with Lazio). But Jetro Willems has signalled he is ready for a next step. “If a good club in a big competition comes, I might be tempted.” There is rumour that Paris St Germain might be that club.

wiel hidd

Van der Wiel is most likely on his way to AC Milan. The Italian behemoth is looking at re-establishing themselves and hope to get Zlatan back to the fashion capital. Jordy Clasie is ready to move away from Feyenoord and both AS Roma and Southampton seem to be the most likely candidates for him. Sneijder has a solid contract in Istanbul, where he makes 6 Mio euros per season and lives like a movie star in a penthouse overlooking the Bosporus. He will play CL next season and any board member at Galatasaray suggesting to sell the midfielder might want to hire some bodyguards. But… it’s football. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is tempted to play in the EPL for once. Liverpool could be a candidate. Wijnaldum is another player whose name is on many scouting lists. He had a good World Cup and this last goal will definitely help his status. I think Narsingh will be happy to stay at PSV, but Promes and Lens are both in demand. Lens would love to join Advocaat at Sunderland while Promes might have different clubs to choose from. Robin van Persie is a question mark. The 31 year old is probably too old to make a big transfer although AC Milan and Juventus are mentioned through the grapevine as well. In an interview recently he said that his family’s needs will be very important in his next step. And from more recent quips it seems that the Man United striker might stay at Old Trafford and battle for his position.

hunter jetro

Steven Berghuis is almost certainly on his way from AZ to PSV which might bring more pressure on Narsingh, as Jozefzoon is also an option for Phillip Cocu on the right flank. Leroy Fer got relegated with QPR but is too expensive for the Championship and might be on his way, finally, to Everton. Karim Rekik might either be loaned by Man City to a club in France or Italy or he will be sold to PSV. Ron Vlaar is at the point in his career that any offer from a big club will be appreciated… The veteran defender is injury prone and will not yield a return from an onsell, so it is questionable whether a big name club will actually come for him. This is different for Virgil van Dijk at Celtic who actually has the clubs to pick from. Sunderland, Arsenal, Southampton… which ever it will be, it seems Van Dijk will play EPL football next season and will aim for a spot in the orange jersey.

Lastly, it seems the keepers carrousel will commence soon too, with De Gea moving to Real Madrid and Cillesen being touted as a potential successor. Interestingly enough, people close to Van Gaal say it is a nonsense story.

Sorry guys I could not find a decent video of highlights….

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Preview Latvia – Oranje

Tonight is the big night for Oranje. Another finals to play. Oranje will face Latvia in Riga with a new defence and mostly a new midfield, with Jordy Clasie a shock absentee for the game, as the Feyenoord player returned to Holland with a bowel syndrome situation. He won’t be playing against the Latvians and Daley Blind will now definitely play in the central midfielder role.

Hiddink does not seem to have many secrets. “We need to attack and score goals, so we’ll play Robin and Klaasjan together. It works well enough and with those two we will definitely keep their defence busy.”

Depay will play on the left and Narsingh on the right. The back line will consist of Depay’s team mate Jetro Willems, former partners BMI and De Vrij and Greg van der Wiel on the right. Van der Wiel is a surprise for me. I felt Janmaat was a better option, as he has played well with De Vrij for quite a while. But Janmaat and Hiddink seem to have lost it in their relationship ever since the former Feyenoord man was blamed for the loss against the Czechs and was even ignored by Hiddink for a number of games.

oranje riga

It’s quite interesting that last time around, when Oranje played two matches and Clasie was surprisingly ignored in favour of De Jong, the little Feyenoord midfielder also bailed with an injury. Now, after he played in the starting line up in the US friendly, he has to make way for Blind again and suddenly he is injured again. And returning home. Coincidence? Or is Clasie fed up with the antics of his coach?

We’ll find out some time I suppose.

Hiddink did not mention a rift at the press conference and further confirmed that in his eyes, the defence (and defensive midfielder) were not the only ones to blame for the defeat against Team USA. “Defence starts up front. If the forwards and midfielders don’t join in, any defence is helpless.” But…despite these words, all defenders and the defensive mid are being replaced.

guus letland

The only reason BMI is back in the team is because Vlaar is injured and BMI and De Vrij work well together. Hiddink wanted to focus on the offensive side of the game, as it is a must win match. “If we don’t win we will lose control and don’t have our future in our own hands. We can get 15 points in total, and if we do, we will finish second and qualify for the Euros.”

The Riga stadium wouldn’t be fit for a Jupiler match, with stands lacking behind one of the goals. That is now a parking spot. It won’t be the first time a missed goal attempt hit a car and took a side view mirror.

daryl latvia

Daryl Janmaat lost his spot in the squad after the Czech game but doesn’t want to discuss that situation. “I made a mistake. I can see now that I had to have handled that situation differently. You need to make those decisions quickly and I was doing something on impulse that belongs to the Eredivisie but not at this level. I paid my dues. But I was happy that the coach invited me back for the Spain game. I think we need to stop looking at that game now. We lost. We are in a position where we need to get our act together and make this happen. I don’t want to look back but forward.”

Daley Blind will move from left back to centrally in midfield. The former Ajax prodigy: “I get that question a lot. What spot do I prefer. I don’t mind where I play. I want to play. I’ll play wherever the coach needs me. And tonight it’s midfield.” Blind will play with RVP and Sneijder on one midfield and will need to guard the balance in the team. Against Team USA this didn’t work out too well and the Americans had a free road towards Cillesen, at times. “The US Game was tough. The space was too big, the space between the lines. We simply couldn’t play compact and we failed to keep possession. Once we can play compact, we are a tough team to play against.” Asked whether Latvia could be a banana peel for Oranje. “Well, we already slipped enough times… We played well at home against them, but this is a different game. We need to be 100% focused because these days you can lose against any team, it seems.”


One player who impressed Hiddink and his staff but who won’t start is Steven Berghuis. The lanky AZ midfielder/winger was a revelation, said Hiddink. “That is a good lad. Normally young players need some time to adjust to the pace with Oranje. But he did very well when the foreign players weren’t yet here. Usually, when the likes of Van Persie and Huntelaar join in, the pace is pushed up even more. But Berghuis didn’t seem to care. He was one of the best players at times.” The seasoned coach will not start Berghuis, but the youngster has a similar threat as Robben, playing as a lefty from the right and scoring many goals after drifting inside. We might see the former Twente and VVV player make his debut.

RVP 50

Robin van Persie could score a record 50 goals for Oranje tonight. This has never happened before. “It might help even, scoring a record goal. We are under pressure and can use a lift. But to be honest: I love it! I love the pressure. We all feel this is a key game. Bring it on.”

I think we will tear the Lats apart and prove to the world and ourselves this was all an incident. I think we’ll be 3-0 up at half time. Sneijder, Huntelaar and Van Persie scoring. We will add two more in the second half, with Depay scoring one and Huntelaar adding his second to the tally.

Iceland and Czech Republic will draw 0-0.

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Holland cheers and Holland mourns…. Oranje out!

Dear friends, I am writing this a full 48 hours after the game. The reason, work had me traveling and I wasn’t able – in amongst my meetings – to sit and write a deserving post. I was happy I was able to watch the full game and read your comments here…

So, with that time in between I was able to give it all some good thought, and reflect on the game.

Which I will summarize as: 89 minutes of cagey play by two 5-3-2 playing teams giving nothing away until Robben in the 90st minute has a chance to score, takes one touch too much and gets thwarted. Extra time. Penalties. Bad luck (bad penalties). Loss.

Robben Arg

This post needs to start with a big thumbs up and a big thank you and shout out for the boys! What they have done this tournament, what they have achieved and brought us is sensational. It’s actually on par for me with 1978. It’s a better performance almost than 2010, if you compare it. Breathtaking, really. What a rollercoaster ride.

And therefor, we also need to congratulate the staff and Louis van Gaal in particular.

He has achieved what no one expected him to do. Apart from us, probably :-). I do know that I have been critical on LVG and his antics, but he did really really well. Who knows, we might start to actually like him, 3 years before he retires, hahahahaha.

He wasn’t perfect though, he made some mistakes. Just like Sneijder, Blind, Van Persie and Cillesen weren’t perfect. But man, did I love this team and what they achieved.

robben kuyt

We will celebrate the performance of the team in the days/weeks to come and I am sure the Dutch fans will give the lads a real heroes welcome once they return home. As number 3 or number 4, who cares…

In the words of Louis: “I wish they cancelled this consolation finals. What a bad idea. Who cares about that. You don’t want to lose twice in a row after having played such an amazing tournament. We should be going home now.”

And I agree: Third or Fourth. Who gives a samba? Poor Brazil was humiliated by Germany. What will they do? How will they cope? Will they be on the top of their game? Or foaming at the mouth of aggression and adrenaline? Or will they be stressed out to the max? Will be beat them too? Then what will happen over there? Will Louis allow the veterans their last WC game? Will he rest the top guns to allow them their much deserved break?

cillesen mourns

All these questions.

However, now…. with the game in less than 24 hours, Van Gaal has changed his tune: “I want to write football history for the Dutch. Never ever before did we finish a World Cup campaign without losing a match. In 1974, 78, 98 and 2010 we lost at least one game. This tournament, I want Oranje to be able to say: we went to the World Cup, played 7 big games and didn’t lose on single game in normal open play.”

I will watch the game and I will cheer for Holland but if Brazil beats us 5-0 I wouldn’t care. It’s a stupid thing. I do hope Louis will allow some of the benchwarmers to play. I think it’s time for Vorm, for Veltman, for Kongolo and Clasie for instance.

I will get back to the Argentina game for a bit here, still.

janmaat kopt

Brilliant defending header by Janmaat

I read Willem van Hanegem’s column before the game. And I was hoping to have time to put it here. Because I fully agreed with Willem. He basically said:

“Now we have reached the semis, we have formally reached our objective. We have also shown the world how good we can be. But we have not yet played our beloved Dutch style football, bar some periods in games where we had to. Lets take this game against Argentina and do it. Forget about 5-3-2. If you play that against Argentina who do the same, it’s almost as if you’re asking for penalties. Lets take the game to them. If we get past them, we’ll have a chance against Germany to put some pressure on them too. If we do not win against Argentina, we will at least leave the tournament with a good last hurrah! Dutch lose playing attacking football! Better than hearing “Dutch sneak into finals with negative play” again…. So play Clasie from the start. Make sure we have quick feet and quick passing. Put three forwards on and put pressure on their back five. Because there is nothing that can take the pride I feel for Oranje away anymore. You guys cannot lose anymore.”

Heartfelt message from De Kromme.

But Louis didn’t believe. For the first time in his life, Louis lost his bravado and wanted to squeeze out a win with another 5-3-2 “all balls on Robben” tactics. This is the drama for me, of this Tournament.

wijn arm

When I talked about Vlaar’s penalty yesterday ( a fluke as I have now seen footage from another angle, Vlaar touched the ball), I was in need of some drama. Losing games is ok, as long as there is drama attached to it.

1974 – The Swimming Pool Incident; Holland having 24 opportunities to score, German Dive got them penalty
1978 – Rensenbrink hits the post in dying seconds
1982 – Van Breukelen – Krol – Platini – nuff said
1984 – Spain – Malta 12-1
1986 – Grun scored in the last 5 minutes to launch Belgium to the Mexico WC
1990 – Beenhakker, Michels, Cruyff, Gullit
1992 – Van Basten misses penalty
1994 – Brazilian offside goals, winner scored from free-kick which was supposed to be an Oranje ball
1996 – Davids/Hiddink
1998 – Van Hooijdonk fouled in the box; no penalty but yellow for Pi-Air
2000 – Holland – Italy semi finals, Holland miss 12 penalties
2002 – Louis van Gaal
2004 – Robben substitution Advocaat
2006 – Battle of Nueremburg
2008 – Personal Tragedy Boulahrouz
2010 – Casillas’ toe
2012 – Zero points, Van Persie missing 34 chances to score
2014 – …….

I was hoping it was “Penalty goal Vlaar overseen by ref” but it most likely should be “Van Gaal sticks to defensive tactics too long”.

mesi blind

But of course, always easy to criticise in hindsight. In Dutch we say, “Hindsight is like looking a cow up her arse”… I do not know who made THAT up (not Cruyff!!) and why he / she made it up…. But if there is one thing I wish LVG hadn’t done, it was playing 5-3-2 against the masters of 5-3-2.

Also…. with what I saw of RVP and heard about him having stomach and bowel issues… I think LVG should have left Van Persie on the bench and only use him as a supersub (for instance, to score a penalty).

The signs were ignored. Van Persie’s body gave clear signs of exhaustion. The misses against Costa Rica. The stomach pain… Clearly an immune system response, saying “I am done”.

In hindsight, we should have gone Kuyt – Vlaar – De Vrij – Janmaat. Midfield: Sneijder – De Jong – Wijnaldum. And up front: Depay – Lens – Robben.

With Depay dropping back and Lens as deep striker.

During the game, we could bring Clasie for De Jong, as LVG did.

And bring Huntelaar AND Van Persie when / if the game needed it.

robben ballet

Btw, I just saw that a rumour has been going around saying that Sneijder, Kuyt and Robben asked Van Gaal to use Huntelaar instead of skipper Van Persie as Robin didn’t look too fresh. Van Gaal and Kuyt at the press conference said that was bullshite. Kuyt: “I have played on 5 major tournaments and never ever have seen so much team spirit and cohesion in the squad a snow. And Robin is our captain. There is no foundation to all of this.”

But….. Easy to say for the steering people standing on the shore. Another Dutch expression for you :-).

All of this is not to say, that I am proud, extremely proud of our team.

vlaar messi

If I already can give you a headsup of my upcoming rating for the Squad, I think Vlaar was sensational, I think De Vrij was great, Wijnaldum played a bland first half but ended the game on a high. Clasie had a good turn as a sub, and Janmaat was at his usual high level. Sneijder was not too shabby either, but Robben and Robin, the special ones, were not special enough for us against Argentina…

What actually is a fun statistic: Wesley Sneijder is the player who ran the most kilometers on this World Cup. Of all players. If you would have said this to Louis van Gaal last year, he would have done this:

Robben is short listed for the title Man of the Tournament and if he does well against Brazil and Muller / Messi do not well in the finals, who knows. Memphis Depay is mentioned as the Talent of the Tournament title. Maybe LVG will get coach of the World Cup, who knows…

Anyway, enough musings. We’ll have some Samba time tomorrow.

Lets finish with some fun. This is how the English viewed Holland-Argentia:

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Tribute to Nigel de Jong

Oranje practised against France in March 2014. Van Gaal didn’t call up Nigel de Jong. He wanted to use Clasie in midfield. He knew what De Jong could and couldn’t do. The AC Milan destroyer seemed to smirk when confronted with this, as if to say “you wait and see, I will play at the World Cup”.

Holland got muscled off the pitch against France. Our complete midfield was too light against the Pogba’s of this world. In the meantime, Nigel was outstanding for AC Milan week in week out, even taking the key free kicks and scoring goals with his head. Nigel returned in the squad and into the team.

And became the Man of the Group Stages for Holland, along with Arjen Robben.

Sadly, it seems his World Cup is now over with a serious groin injury. It’s too early to call maybe, but it doesn’t look good.

Vilified in 2010, declared a hero in 2014. This is the opportunistic game that is football.



Nigel as ball boy with future coach Clarence Seedorf

De Jong’s story is quite remarkable. Son of Jerry de Jong, former Oranje international, but hardly knew his dad. He came through the Ajax development system and was known as a creative, dynamic midfielder, scoring many goals, most notably the one in the European Cup competition against Thierry Henry’s Arsenal. He was Ajax’ Player of the Season in 2004 but lost his spot in the season following and was disgruntled with his treatment.

He made his international debut in 2004 but was overlooked for the 2004 Euro tournament. when Hamburg SV came for him, he gladly made the step to the Bundesliga. HSV paid 1million euros for the midfielder. Huub Stevens, his coach at HSV, turned the attacking midfielder into a defensive block in midfield. Stevens recognised De Jong’s tactical vision and physical strength and motivated De Jong to work and focus on this role. “He said to me: as an attacking midfielder, you will be sub top in Europe. As a defensive mid, you can become world class. I believed him. And he was right. I am no Messi or Ronaldo or Robben. I do not have that quality. But I can definitely hold my own in a competition of defensive mids. I think I would be among the best out there.” A knee injury kept De Jong out of the World Cup squad of 2006, although he was on standby in case any of the other midfielders had to bail out.

nigel memphis

Marco van Basten used De Jong next to Orlando Engelaar in the 2008 Euros where he played outstanding.

The metamorphosis was spotted by many European top clubs and in 2009, Manchester City manager Mark Hughes signed him on their quest to the European (and English) top. They paid 25 mio euros for the midfielder. He became a fan favorite in his first season and added grit and professionalism to the second Manchester club. He won the FA Cup and the EPL title with Man City, before he was sold on to AC Milan in 2012.

De Jong was also a starter for Oranje in the 2010 WC campaign and played every game bar the semi finals vs Uruguay due to suspension. Demy de Zeeuw played for him. In the finals, De Jong infamously hit Xabi Alonso in the chest with his studs, which got him criticised globally and he was the symbol of the “Ugly Dutch team of 2010”. In the same time, he had a couple of incidents on the pitch in England and with Holland against Australia in a friendly, which prompted coach Van Marwijk to not select him for a spell. De Jong never publically commented on this and would later say that “there will be no words that would convince people otherwise… being silent and playing your game is all you can do. Everyone has the right to their own opinion. I don’t think I can change that or should try to change that. What counts is what my family thinks and what my coaches think. The rest is irrelevant.”


He suffered injuries in the first half of this season in Milan and Van Gaal ignored the blocked midfielder for a while to try out different players. But with the absence of Strootman, the loss of form and fitness of Sneijder and the lack of experience of our defence it became apparent that De Jong could and would play an important part in Brazil.

His tremendous concentration, leadership and commitment has earned him many compliments this tournament. Van Gaal, after the Australia game: “I don’t like singling out individual players but if I have to, I will name Nigel de Jong as the man of the match.”

In an interview, recently, with Helden Magazine (Hero Magazine, about football players and ex players): “I used to really get off on doing a cool trick with the ball. A little flick or a step over. But I came to realise that many players can do so. There are 100s of players in Europe who can do a cool trick or two with the ball. They practice this day in day out. But I also realised there are maybe only 10 players who can execute the perfect block tackle. And enjoy doing it. Seriously. There are not that many who can do this. I like to think I am one of them. The perfect block tackle to me is much more satisfying than a step over or a Cruyff turn. I get off on stopping an opponent. And in all honesty, I focus on getting the ball, but if I don’t get the ball, I will settle for the man. One of the two will be mine. I cannot allow both of them through.”

nige wes

De Jong is 29 years old and back in demand in the EPL. Arsenal is supposedly zooming in on the midfield block while Man United is being named as his new club as well, what with Van Gaal being their new coach. “I wouldn’t mind returning to the EPL. But I am at an age where I will need to make the right decision and it really needs to be a good deal for me.”

All was looking so good for him. He was revered by his mates and his coach, while the media and fans at home again realised what a power house and important player he is. That, plus the fact he realised this could well be his last World Cup gave him the extra energy to support the youngsters and to bring Holland closer and closer to the finals.

De Jong is very positive about the chances of Oranje: “This 5-3-2 is a perfect system for this group and the circumstances in Brazil. These tournaments are tough, physically, mentally. We play with lots of young, untested lads, who have played Eredivisie and some international games with Young Oranje. Hell, most of the Feyenoord players haven’t played any European games of note. So the way we are approaching this tournament might not be to everyone’s liking, but it does do what it needs to do for us.” De Jong doesn’t want to compare with the 2010 World Cup.

nige kaka


Nigel with a juicy tackle on Brazil’s Kaka

“Totally different. New group, new staff, new stage… We need to stop comparing with the past but simply deal with the present.”

And the present is, that De Jong is most likely out for the rest of the World Cup. I’m sure the interest in his services for next season will remain but Van Gaal will need to look for another option in midfield.

He does have a couple: Wijnaldum has played on the center mid spot but will be considered too light for the role. De Guzman has been tested there but Van Gaal declared that he doesn’t consider the Swansea man an option for the role. Clasie and Blind play in this role for their respective clubs, but might be considered too light against really tough opponents (France, Argentina), while Fer could be considered once he is fit again or even Dirk Kuyt. Even Cillesen commented that he is worried that Kuyt might take his role in the next game!

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