Tag: Malen

Great night for Oranje

I wish I followed my instincts and wrote in my previous post that I wouldn’t play with the same eleven vs Gibraltar.

I would have gone with a 3-4-3 and probably leave out Dumfries. I didn’t so I can’t claim to be smarter than De Boer but I have the feeling most of you would probably support that notion anyway.

Frank started the game with the same eleven as he did vs Latvia. I can understand the sentiment, but against a 5-4-1 dogged team like Gibraltar you really don’t need 4 at the back!

Even stronger: in the home game, I think De Boer should put De Ligt on goal!

The first half, we simply had too many issues breaking them down. The two main problems: the ball pace was way too low and our bright midfielders ended up clogging up the box with their bodies making it easy for the Gibraltians (?) to defend. That, and their excellent goalie of course.

Denzel Dumfries ended up with the most issues. And according to influential football magazine VI, he was the only player who got a bad rating. He himself has said, that at times he has “hard feet”, meaning, he lacks the technical finesse to play in small spaces.

The Gibraltar coach is renowned for his tight organisation and there was hardly any room for Dumfries to do what he does best: run into space.

He did play a crucial part in the opening goal in the first half, but Frank subbed him at half time and brought prodigal talent Ryan Gravenberch as midfielder, to cover the space on the right. His contribution would become vital, allowing Berghuis to grow into a Man of the Match performer.

The first 20 minutes were shambolic. Uninspired, slow and sluggish. The first goal made the difference, as we all knew it would. It should have been scored sooner though. The second stage of the first half resembled the Latvia match: heaps of opportunities and half chances, but no sharpness in finishing. Davy Klaassen was against guilty of not having his sights sharp.

In the second half, some things that could be predicted happened: the second goal broke the back of the opponent a bit. They got tired. They were no longer able to track everything. Gravenberch played his part too, being the deep lying playmaker next to Frenkie, allowing Berghuis to stay wide and forcing the defenders to choose: do we stay, do we press, do we follow the runner…

Here are some examples: Latvia had issues with Klaassen as they played 4-4-2 and didn’t have the man available to take care of the Ajax midfielder. Gibraltar had 5 at the back so there was always the free defender to pick up Klaassen. The two wide midfielders would assist with stopping Dumfries and Wijndal. Because of this, Oranje needed to find space centrally.

Look at this situation. Wijnaldum needs to pass the ball. We have four players standing in line, up front: Frenkie, Luuk de Jong, Memphis and Klaassen. The midfielders have pulled their direct opponents with them and as a result the spaces became even smaller. And with Berghuis moving inside as well, the suffocation was complete. Frank de Boer even mentioned this problem beforehand, when he said: “Playing more forwards is not going to work, as the spaces will get smaller. We need to lure the opponent away from the centre and then make quick combinations into that open space!”

Oranje runs into these spaces and fills them up and does Gibraltar a favour!

The two first goals are good examples of what is needed. The first goal is the result of depth without the ball. A run in behind and it’s Dumfries who creates it. Berghuis finds the ball in front of his left wand and knows how to bury it.

In the second half, for the second goal, we see what was missing in the first: players coming into midfield to ask for the ball and creating space behind them. Here it’s Memphis pulling a defender with him, and Klaassen does this with the left back. This results in Berghuis getting more freedom and Luuk de Jong is then one-on-one in the box: 2-0.

Gravenberch offers more options in midfield. The Gibraltar players are pulled into the midfield more and this is how the pockets of space appear.

The fourth goal is a perfect example. Gravenberch, Klaassen and Memphis join at the right side in midfield. The left midfielder is now forced to stick to them which puts Berghuis in a one v one situation with the left full back. In the first half, Dumfries runs would bring that left midfielder next to the left back, making it tough for Berghuis. The Berghuis cross ends up with Wijnaldum who scores the fourth goal.

Same story for the fifth goal. Gravenberch lures an opponent in, Berghuis gets space to play with. He then pulls two opponents towards him allowing Memphis to pass into Klaassen who runs into space. His pass to Malen is a simple tap in. The two final goals are the result of a similar situation but then with Wijndal on the left.

The big lesson for Oranje: lure the defenders out of their comfort zone and use the dynamics to play in the wide players who are capable of taking on an opponent with an individual action. Another big change, was to play Memphis in midfield and having him want the ball in his feet.

The win was predictable. The number of goals was enough, not overly spectacular, but enough. And Frank de Boer finally showed his qualities by analysing the first half and doing what was needed in the second half.

A good night for Oranje, also because Turkey forgot to win against Latvia. They threw a 3-1 lead away and had to be content with a draw. This resulted in a wry comment by De Boer: “Hmm, so the 2-0 against Latvia actually wasn’t that bad after all….”.

A big wet blanket was placed over the win by the sad demise of Daley Blind. In what was a rare outing up front for De Barr, Blind was pulled to the ground by accident and one of his feet got stuck in the turf, which may have damaged his knee or his ankle. Unsure at this point. It looked terrible and the Ajax star had to be taken of by stretcher. It didn’t look too good.

Frenkie and Memphis both were quite happy with how it all panned out. Both players realised during their post-match interview that things ended up pretty well for Oranje. “Yes, we did the job. It wasn’t great, I know. We started weak, it was sluggish, we had to get used to the pitch and they were really dogged. But I think if you told people up front that we would win 7-0, everyone would be happy. I think at least. The second half was ok. And yes, Turkey dropped points of course, so it actually was more than ok. Yes, we actually had a top night!” So spoke Frenkie de Jong.

Skipper Gini Wijnaldum had a frown on his face: “The first half was very frustrating. We were a bit pissed off at the break and unhappy. It resembled the match vs Latvia. So much good intentions but so little to show for. The 7-0 was fine at the end, but it could have been double figures and I’m not happy that we failed to do so. We didn’t really celebrate our goals, we were on a mission. And yes, it’s awesome that Turkey dropped points, but we need to stop looking at others and focus on our own performances and improve!”

Last but not least, Young Oranje did tremendous business. It beat Hungary 6-1 and Cody Gakpo was the main man for the Dutch. When the reporters after the game asked the PSV winger whether he was going to play for the seniors or the youngsters, Gakpo was about to answer. And then coach Van de Looi walked by and coughed loudly. Gakpo: “Oh, I think I’m not supposed to answer that question….” Young Oranje ended this little group as group winner: well done lads!


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No delight for Oranje

I hope you didn’t read “No De Ligt for Oranje”… I didn’t mean to startle you. No worries, Mathijs will be playing, but I was referring to the lack of Turkish Delight. We lost. And I needed two days to write this review.

I read all your comments and I have to agree with most of it. I am not as harsh on De Boer though. And that is because I believe a National Team Manager is not there to make the players better, that happens at club level. Nor do I feel he needs to be able to motivate them. Sure, he needs to hit the spot with the players personally. He needs to forge a bond, he needs to know how to reach them, how to inspire them. But he is not responsible for a lack lustre performance in my view. Players need to motivate themselves. It’s Oranje. You’re wearing the jersey, you’re playing for your country. After all the drama and missed tournaments, you, as a player, should be motivated to your gums to do well. I don’t think De Ligt needed it, or Klaassen or Memphis.

Your job, as a team manager, is to pick the best players for the best team. And to assess what system suits them best. And then instruct them.

I can not fault him very much. Sure, picking the squad…. Weghorst vs De Jong. In hindsight, I am not sure if it would have made a huge difference. Weghorst wouldn’t have started. He wouldn’t have taken the penalty. I don’t think it would have mattered.

He picked a logical tactical plan. And one has to assume, based on his pre and post-match interviews, that he instruct them well.

I don’t think we can ignore the fact that the players let him down. As they let us down.

We lost due to two things: amateur hour moves in certain key moments of the game, and a couple of strokes of bad luck.

Lets start with the bad luck. The first shot on goal, by Turkey, was a goal. Ball deflected, Krul wrong-footed… Goal. The second goal was a penalty. I haven’t heard anyone about it, but in my view it was very very harsh. For an English ref to point to the spot. He didn’t tackle him, Malen simply arm wrestled with the guy and he decided to fold. While passing the ball to a team mate! Why give a pen? Harsh!

Ok, I rewatched the footage. Malen’s foot indeed hit the leg of the Turk. I think the penalty can be given. However, if this happens elsewhere on the pitch, a collision, and the player manages to pass the ball on, I don’t think it would have been given as a foul.

Then we had De Ligt’s goal not given. And a handball blatantly missed. That is bad luck.

The amateur hour can be boiled down to the turn-around. We are in possession – corner! – and out of that situation, Turkey is allowed – a couple of times – to break and threaten us. I am positive that De Boer has worked on rest-defence as this is a key topic these days, but the lads failed.

Check the image above. The counter towards 2-0 (the penalty). We have a 2 v 2 situation after a Holland attack. Wijndal is facing the ball. Tete and Frenkie are sprinting back. This cannot happen. And is the result of dreadful lack of leadership on the pitch. De Ligt? Blind? Krul? De Roon? Who is the asshole on the pitch making sure everyone is in his position? Where is the new Van Bommel, the Dutch Roy Keane, or Soren Lerby?

Here is the corner. Not in your view, to the left, are two Oranje players at the corner flag, for the short option. We have 5 in de box. That is 7. And Frenkie on outside the box. With Krul in goal, we have 2 defenders covering our goal. With two Turkey attackers waiting on the edge of the box to turn defence into attack.

Check this situation here, another attack by Oranje. Again we lose the ball. Daley Blind reads the situation and wants to foul the player but can’t grab him. Turkey finds Calhanoglu on the left flank. Tete manages to slow them down but Berghuis has no idea that Yilmax is getting away. His shot will deflect via De Ligt into the goal.

Gini Wijnaldum, the skipper on the night: “Yes, the situation in Turkey’s box, right before this, was their handling of the ball, but we have to be honest. We had 40 seconds or so to deal with it. We made more mistakes after that, more than the ref, and we can’t blame anyone but ourselves.”

The deflection was bad luck. But the lack of organisation and the lack of communication was simply bad execution.

Another problem the team had, was the execution of the team tactics. In the 37th minute, you can see Blind exploding in anger when Wijndal is going AWOL and leaves a huge gap. Oranje tried to put pressure on the opponent, collectively, but they fail again. The plan was to have Malen pressure the central defence, so their right back would be the free man. Then Wijndal was supposed to get straight at him, but the AZ defender is playing too conservative. Something you wouldn’t expect from him.

As a result, the above situation happenes. Blind and De Ligt get into a 2 v 2 situation. Turkey is looking for that by playing the long ball, whenever Oranje wants to press. We lack the body in midfield to challenge for the second ball. Whenever our midfielders want to push up, their star man Yilmaz drops into midfield to give Turkey more options and we were not handling that very well.

Here is the 3-0 in production. Yilmaz drops into midfield. No one is covering him. He gets the ball, Turkey evades the pressure and Yilmaz finds a free man on the left flank. Berghuis worst moments come now. as he first allows the left back to drift away from him, and when the left back gets ball, Berghuis forgets to block the pass-line to Calhanoglu. Don’t give the AC Milan man space and time to shoot on goal!

The third issue is the Oranje right flank. De Boer wanted to have a more defensive right back. De Boer thinks Dumfries isn’t the best option to play with Berghuis: “Steven wants the ball in his feet, and early. So he can go outside, of come inside, or cross early… Dumfries tends to run with the ball and suffocate the winger. With Tete, a more conservative player, the ball will be passed quicker to Berghuis.”

However, the plan fails. On the left wing, we could see some patterns, with Malen, Memphis and Wijndal. On the right side, it was poor. Tete and De Roon both play way to conservative and the forward pass was so late, that Berghuis was blocked in, by defenders and by the touch line behind him. As a result, the best way forward was by crossing the ball into the box, but both Memphis and Malen aren’t aerial super stars, so that simply didn’t pay off.

When De Boer brings Klaassen, Dumfries and De Jong, he brings opportunism. With Dumfries and Wijndal both playing high, and with the aerial threat of the Jong, Oranje starts to press. Memphis gets more joy on the left flank and ends up with two assists to his name, while both subs – Klaassen and De Jong – score. The Davy Klaassen goal was a beauty, of course. It seems a final offensive might have brought us the draw, or even the win, but an all or nothing approach resulted in a foul in our defensive third… 4-2. The missed penalty by Memphis was a fitting final chord for this match.

Apart from some referee mistakes, it seems Oranje mainly lost due to a tactics that wasn’t executed properly, with simply not enough dynamics in the attacking moves on the right to break down the Turkish defensive wall. And at the back, we gave way too much away. When the key players (Memphis, Wijnaldum. Blind) don’t show up on the night on top, all this results in a painful and unnecessary defeat!

Frank de Boer: “This was a a painful blow. Totally unnecessary. And it’s unbelievable, they had 5 shots on goal and score 4. I have never seen them so effective. Everything went against us. But we have 9 more games to go. We lost, we dropped points, but it’s not devastating. We shouldn’t be in tears or anything. We didn’t do well, we need to turn it around and we have all the options to turn it around. But we were sloppy in our passing, didn’t create enough. We had to change flanks quicker and more often. Turkey parked the bus and we were sluggish. It seemed as if we were not at the races, but that is optical. We worked hard but we didn’t work smart. We ended up in situations which we should have avoided. We claim a hand ball and 20 seconds later they score. We give a away a penalty while there were many players still behind the ball. And the second half just started or they had a third in our net. Unbelievable. But even at 3-0, I had the conviction we would turn it around. We scored two good goals but sadly we gave it all away in the end. I am not looking for excuses, don’t get me wrong, but a WC qualification game should have VAR. We would have had Mathijs’ goal and that hand ball. The goal line technology does make the game more just.”

As Cillesen ended the warm up with a knee problem, De Boer called Marco Bizot of AZ to join Oranje as third goalie.

De Boer was quized about his tactics. Why start with that eleven? “We played in this formated well in other games, created chances and converted them. Take Poland away, in the Nations League. We conceded early but we turned it around after creating many opportunities. We simply didn’t have it today, and every shot they took ended up in goal.”

Skipper Wijnaldum was harsh in self reflection: “We were weak. You need to be ruthless in certain situations and in the turn around in particular, we were too soft.” Frenkie de Jong: “This was totally unnecessary. With all due respect to Turkey, they really are a good side, but we shouldn’t concede 4 goals. We weren’t dominant enough.”

Daley Blind felt the team did fight. “We did play at a good intensity level, this game was decided on details. Moments. If you get two fatal counters after a corner or dead ball situation for you, well…. you clearly fail in your organisation. Their effectiveness was killing. Two shots, a penalty and a free kick. This is football at top level and details decide games. We were not mature enough.”

Is the playing style, the tactical plan, maybe too predictable?

Frenkie: “No, I don’t think so. We mainly made individual mistakes, decision making mistakes. And we weren’t solid on the ball. We wanted to find the forward pass and we did so too quick at times.” Blind: “Malen got two good chances and on the left we were able to play in between the lines. But we lacked precision in our passing. The second to last pass was usually not good enough.” Frenkie: “It sucks that we lost our first game, always important, but we can still come out on top. We now need to move up a gear.”

You need to be ready for the next game this coming Saturday. Is it all going too fast?

Daley Blind: “Well, it’s nice to be able to take revenge on Saturday and set things straight, but we hardly had any time to prep for Turkey and now we won’t have that much time for Latvia. We haven’t seen each other for a while and you really need more than one training session. But, it’s no excuse. We know each other, we should have done better. No debate.”

The last time Oranje left Turkey empty handed was in 2015. The National Team coach then was Danny Blind. He had just lost and told the press he had the feeling he had bad luck hanging on his ass. When Frank de Boer is confronted with that quote, he can muster a smile: “I don’t have that feeling, I trust we can correct this misstep in the coming matches.”

I think they will bounce back and get 6 points vs Gibraltar and Latvia. Yes, I can predict some really surprising results hahaha. But lets face it, if we love vs Latvia and Gibraltar, I will immediately give up this blog and become a fan of Germany. And Belgium.

I think we will see the following eleven:


Dumfries – De Ligt – Blind – Wijndal

Klaassen Frenkie Wijnaldum

Stengs Luuk de Jong Memphis

And we will beat them 4-0. Klaassen the first (of course), Luuk will score 2 and Memphis will score 1.

Your view?


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Oranje preps for Euros

My dear friends, more apologies from me. I know, it’s becoming a pattern and I’m sorry, but life at this moment doesn’t allow me to write more. Once the Oranje fever is coming up and we get closer to the Euros, you will see more of me. Just busy with work, with set up of a new company, with lots of limitations due to Covid, lower back problems, travel interstate in Oz, etc etc.

But, the pre-selection for the next three friendlies triggered me to pick up the keyboard again. Lets start with comments on the pre-selection and do a quick and dirty overview of the lads, while I prep for some more insightful articles soon again.

Frank de Boer’s pre-selection had some surprises for some and some omissions for others…

The big name missing for me, is Rick Karsdorp. The AS Roma man just renewed his contract with this club until 2025 and he is becoming one of the key players in Fonseca’s plans. The three times capped ex Feyenoord marathon man could be the ideal right full back, but Frank de Boer ignored him. Would he done this if Karsdorp was an Ajax old boy, one wonders?

The inclusions of Maarten Stekelenburg at 38 years surprised people, but not me. I have followed his career (EPL) and remember him playing a sensational match for Everton v Man City a couple of seasons ago, and he still had it. Stopped two penalties! Everton could secure Pickford, England’s number 1, and obviously, the 35 year old Stekelenburg had to make way.

But, in the words of Rafael van de Vaart, he is the second best goalkeeper Oranje ever had (Edwin van de Sar being the #1). “Maarten is technically the best. He has everything. Feet, good in the air, great reflexes and a good vocal coach”, said Rafa recently. “But he is too laid back. He doesn’t care about the jet set life, he likes a cigarette and a beer and is a bit of a stoic.”

If being 18 year young is old enough when you are good enough, than 38 years is young enough, right? He plays really well for Ajax, he has loads of experience and he won’t make a fuss if he needs to be the 2nd or 3rd goalie.

And lets face it… Bizot? He is all over the place recently. Drommel and Bijlow need some more miles and Cillesen only came back into first team playing time recently. Frank de Boer will most likely pick Cillesen as #1 and spot 2 and 3 are open.

Jeremiah St Juste is a surprise inclusion too. I haven’t seen much of him, but what I hear about him is that he can be a bit wild and unfocused at times. Why not Gouweleeuw? Other than that, I think De Boer picked the right lads. Tete does ever so well at Fulham, Veltman to my big surprise does great at Brighton. Was Man of the Match recently and scored even! I personally rate Perr Schuurs higher than st Juste, but like I said, I haven’t seen him play recently.

In midfield, Donny van de Beek is in but will only be called up to help him get fit, as he is currently sidelined with an injury. Gravenberch deserves to start, for me. What a player. Him, Frenkie and Gini in midfield. Strootman back is logical in a way, but unnecessary, for me. I rather see Toon Koopmeiners, Propper or Schouten of Bergamo there. But Koopmeiners is called up for the Young Oranje team which have some key games to play. Same is for Boadu and Noa Lang, the latter might well be the right winger we need for the Euros, by the way.

I would also love to see Bazoer back. He’s amazing for Vitesse, in a free role from the back (I compare him with the likes of Scirea or Beckenbauer). He does play in a back 5, so maybe doesn’t “fit” in Oranje. He also recently had another explosion of anger towards his coach which might have prompted Frank to bypass him.

In attack, Ryan Babel apparently is on good form currently, good on him. Stengs is underperforming and doesn’t deserve to be in the squad. Bergwijn also hasn’t played for weeks due to an injury.

Mo Ihatarren is not in the pre-squad and that is quite logical. The young talent is going through a torrid time at PSV, where the club even issued a statement to the media, saying that after everything the club, the coaches and the players have done for him he still isn’t improving his conduct, and therefore was removed – temporarily – from the squad. By now, he’s back, but rumours of him making a move to Ajax won’t make things better.

But no matter how you look at it, Ihatarren doesn’t deserve a spot. I like to think that Gakpo – now injured – is in front of him.

March 19 is the final selection.

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Tenacious Oranje vulnerable

We can thank two dead ball moments, two setpieces, for the victory over Poland. But we again ended up in trouble too often. Stronger opponents will slaughter us.

We did it before, we conceded first and we came back with a vengeance to turn the game around. But it wasn’t enough for a spot in the finals, like we managed in 2019. All four finalists this time around, are new nations.

Despite not qualifying for the finals, Oranje closed off the calendar year with a positive feel, thanks again to the duo Memphis and Wijnaldum.

De Boer wanted fresh legs and he put them in the team, on the wings. Two new full backs and new wingers, with Memphis as central striker.

Oranje started slow, for unclear reasons. The pace was down and when Hateboer got pushed off the ball and Jozwiak could start a sprint match with Klaassen, it was clear really quickly that we miss speed. Daley Blind was pseudo defending by never closing the run down and the Polish wing back was able to almost walk the ball into the goal: 1-0.

See the situation below. Van Aanholt is up high, Klaassen is flatfooted and De Vrij, Blind and Frenkie are the only players capable of stopping the counter. That is not a comfortable situation and after that more things went awry.

Below, the situation from above and demonstrating how it could have been dealt with. Klaassen is still ahead of Jozwiak and Blind is coming across to give De Vrij cover for when he pushes up to Lewandowski.

Below you see mistake #1. Frenkie decides to leave his man Klich to go for the man with the ball. As a result, Klich sprints away and now Blind has to choose. Jozwiak humiliates Klaassen with a sprint match and Blind wants Krul and Klaassen to deal with the ball as he is covering Klich. See below.

So, optically, it seems Klaassen and Blind are the men to blame, but it all starts from a bad organisation, Hateboer not strong enough and Frenkie de Jong making the wrong decision.

One of the troubling things is, that this doesn’t happen just once. Or twice. It happens many times, that Klaassen, Blind and De Vrij are the only three players able to stop the counter. Not ideal.

Below another example, how Poland can break using the wings, with Dumfries (for Hateboer) and Van Aanholt way in front of the ball, forcing Frenkie to help out his less agile team mates.

This immediately demonstrated the changes De Boer has pushed through versus Koeman’s tactics: under Koeman, the team played compact, closer to each other and the box. And as a result, Blind, De Ligt and the full backs never really got outplayed, like the Italians, the Bosnians and the Polish did, at times. De Boer wants to play more expansive, more direct and higher up the pitch, like Bayern Munich and Liverpool do. But does Oranje have the players for this, if the quick full backs (Hateboer and Van Aanholt in this match) push up too far, it comes down to De Vrij, Blind and Klaassen to organise the rest defence: great players, but none of them quick.

It’s not the first time Oranje started weak. Since Ronald Koeman, Oranje played 28 matches. In 19 of them, we conceded a goal. and in 10 times, that goal was conceded within the first 20 minutes! But, in most cases, Oranje was able to rise up and take the game to the opponent and turn the result around.

Poland had one more big opportunity with Placheta firing on goal but other than that, most opportunities were for Oranje. Wijnaldum with a weak shot, Klaassen’s attempt was blocked but Malen missed a sitter heading a ball off target, unmarked. Wijnaldum was stopped once when running in behind by Bednarek who also frustrated Memphis later. Malen shot one over the bar and Hateboer wanted to head a ball back to Memphis but it just failed. Frenkie de Jong’s attempt after a Malen through-ball was blocked by goalie Fabianski.

Poland started strong in the second half and stormed for 15 minutes but Oranje straightened their backs on the hour mark and started to dominate. Man of the Match Memphis with an effort pushed to corner, and with three sets of fresh legs (Wijndal, Van de Beek and Berghuis for Van Aanholt, Klaassen and Stengs), De Boer forced a final offensive. First, Berghuis shot a rocket towards the top corner and missed the goal by a fraction. Not much later, a header attempt by Wijnaldum was thwarted by Bednarek who pushed the Dutch captain with both hands: penalty. Dispatched by Memphis emphatically: 1-1. With only a couple of minutes to go, De Boer took Blind off for Luuk de Jong. Seconds later, Steven Berghuis corner was headed towards the goal by Wijnaldum. It bounched off Piatek into the far corner: 1-2.

Frank de Boer was satisfied with what he saw: “Well, for starters, we had a lot of moments that didn’t go well and that was good to see, in a way. We started so slow, and I have no idea why that was. This is something we need to discuss and analyse and improve. But I am very proud how the team fought back. The spirit was excellent and the quality of our play on the ball was top. And the impact of the subs was good in the second half too and I always felt we would get the result.” Asked about the reputation he has of “Play the Ball Square”, De Boer said: “It’s all about the material you have to work with. I was an offensive player myself. I love attacking play. I would always try and play the forward pass. But that is me. Today, we play with players like Frenkie de Jong, Daley Blind and Stefan de Vrij and you, with these guys, the ball will be played forward. Because that is how they play.”

When Memphis was asked about why Oranje starts so slow at times: “I don’t know, it probably is mental. And the pitch didn’t help. We also needed some time to get used to it. It’s frustrating, also for us. You want to be sharp, and then you concede after 5 minutes, it becomes even harder. But we fought back and we created chances. I think we should have scored in the first half already. But at the end of the day, we missed the finals and I’m really disappointed in that.”

Steven Berghuis hasn’t scored for Oranje yet, still he is making his mark. The 28 year old had another assist, for Wijnaldum’s winning goal. Stengs was given the preference, as De Boer wanted fresh legs. “I would have rather player myself, actually, ” Berghuis quipped. “But, it’s Oranje. We have many great players. ” Still, he didn’t have a negative feeling about it. “Of course not, it’s not a drama. But I would have played if the coach needed me. I feel fit and fresh. But I am happy I could show myself to the new coach and there will be more opportunities, I hope. I know Bergwijn is usually a choice for the right wing, but I think the coach will have made notice of what I can offer the team. That is all I can ask.”

Another element that got us into trouble, is the space between the lines. Frank de Boer wants to play more attacking, and Malen, Stengs, Memphis or whoever plays up front, love that. But with a slow defence, what you get is that the insecure defenders tend to go back a bit. As a result. A huge midfield for our players to deal with and gaps so big you can drive the players’ bus through. See below. De Vrij and Blind aren’t even on the pic. They are all the way to the left. Which means that the three forwards from Poland can play in behind Van Aanholt, and can pass their way past that line of 4 players (Van Aanholt, Frenkie, Klaassen, Hateboer) leaving De Vrij and Blind exposed against three opponents.

This 1-2 victory is a welcome warning. Oranje has a lot of urgency to attack, which is great, but this gutsy play comes with a wide open backdoor. The next international break, this will have to be dealt with, or else we won’t be playing for any trophies in the coming Euros.

Some early conclusions:

  • Blind and De Vrij as a central defender pairing won’t work
  • We need more coordination between full back thundering forward
  • Tim Krul is the new #1 goal keeper for Oranje
  • Berghuis is currently better than Stengs and should be on corner kick duty
  • Babel and Strootman are superfluous
  • Dumfries is the preferred right back

Next up, a big post on “What chance do we have at the Euros?”

Thanks to Pieter Zwart

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Oranje back on the field!

We were without NT football for 10 months! The last time it took this long, was during World War 2!

Oh, before I forget, due to the plethora of football matches in the past weeks and due to a very busy worklife, I was not able to “moderate” the blog as often as needed and this debate ensued re: antisemitism ? Or something racism? I read the posts, and even though Tiju makes my head explode at times, I don’t think there was any racist malice implied and I have emailed the upset poster to share my position with him but I haven’t heard back.

I hope we can put this beside us soon, as it seemed to be a case of misunderstanding.


Interim coach Dwight Lodeweges is thrown in the deep end but the experienced coach doesn’t flinch. He is missing some players at the back, as Dumfries, De Vrij, Blind and De Ligt are all missing ( not a bad back four). Dumfries will become father, De Vrij came into the camp with a slight issue and Blind and Mathijs’ stories are well known.

CB options Nathan Ake and Perr Schuurs

Lodeweges decided not to call on another defender: “We did use Teun Koopmeiners as a fill in at practice, borrowed him from Young Oranje, but no. The guys we have now will have to do it for us. I think we have enough to be ok.” Asked if he was ready to give the debutants (Schuurs, Wijndal) a go: “Oh for sure. They are ready. Otherwise I would have invited them. Wijndal is positive, good left leg, quick, recognises the opportunity. Schuurs is open and like a sponge. Then we have Ihatarren, they’re all good kids. And you want them to play, don’t you. They’re so keen.”

So who is Dwight Lodeweges?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the KNVB will hang on to Dwight in this role, particularly when the two upcoming games go well. The players seem to enjoy his style.

Lodeweges was born in Canada, in Turner Valley. His parents were looking for a brighter future in Canada, post World War 2, but returned to Holland when he was 7 years old. Lodeweges was developed as a talent at Go Ahead Eagles and was a youth international for Holland. When Hans Kraay Sr went to play for Oakland, he jumped to the opportunity. When he arrived in California, it appeared the club didn’t exist anymore and Kraay and Lodeweges went to play for Edmonton Drillers in Canada. This was the start of the life of a football nomad. He played in Northern America and in The Netherlands. As a coach, he also had stints in Canada, in Japan, back in Holland and for Al-Jazira in Abu Dhabi.

Dwight in the middle, for Go Ahead. Left on the photo, Nigel’s dad Jerry de Jong

After a dramatic and painful season at FC Groningen in 2003, where a horde of hooligans jumped him with baseball bats, he decided to only work in pleasant environments. If something didn’t work for him, he’d get up and leave. He left NEC after three months in the job and also closed the door voluntarily at SC Heerenveen. Hans Schrijvers was his assistant coach at FC Groningen, Edmonton and Jeff United in Japan: “He is a pure person. What you see is what you get. If you trick him, or lie to him, he’ll pack his bags. He is totally honest and loyal and the way people treat him and one another is key for him. He has high expectations of himself and the people he works with, as he will give every inch, every drop of sweat he has. When he realises a group isn’t open to his football ideas or philosophy, he’ll end the relationship and moves on. Contracts or money don’t interest him.”

Henk ten Cate is, like Dwight, a kid of Go Ahead Eagles and in the 1960/70s, Go Ahead was the shining light in terms of youth development. The typical Dutch school was perfected there: build up from the back, good positioning play and combinations to create chances. Ten Cate explodes when we call Dwight “a good field trainer”.

“What is that?? People say this of others. I have been told this! And now Alfred Schreuder gets that label too. Because we were once loyal assistant coaches? But a field trainer can not be a good trainer and a bad coach? How does this work? Dwight is a complete coach. He is a great field trainer, but also a solid tactician. Very driven and professional.”

What is his strength? Ten Cate: “What every coach must be able to do, Dwight does really well: he can create practice forms that fully support his football vision. So he tells the players, this is what I want to see, and then he gives them many tools and ideas and practices that will support them in that goal. He is also open with his staff, he wants them to challenge him and create an even better level. Players who play under him usually realise during the game that everything Dwight predicted, is happening. Like Louis van Gaal.”

Dwight at amateur club VVOG. He is happy working at this level, and at Oranje level

Lodeweges works this way at Oranje, but also at Edmonton when there were no balls, no jerseys, no field… “He is a football fanatic. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Dwight talks with Frenkie about football. The level of detail and insights. Must be wonderful. I also think he deserves a job at the highest level,” Ten Cate goes on.

Sef Vergoossen worked with Dwight as assistant at Al-Jazira, Nagoya Grampus8 and PSV Eindhoven. “I am not surprised with Dwight at Oranje. He’s a top professional. He reads games amazingly fast and can tell you within minutes where the problems lie. He can correct this swiftly too and control the game. That note was a typical example.”

It’s November 2018. Holland is trailing 1-2 vs Germany. Koeman gets a note with some line up and system changes. Koeman takes the notes and instructs his captain to make the changes, with 15 minutes to go. Right at the death, Van Dijk scores the 2-2 and Holland reaches the finals! The note is found and auctioned of for 35,000 euros for a good cause. Dwight thinks the humbug of the note is all hogwash. But he smiles when he learns that his note results in a Cruyff Court in South Africa!

Vergoossen: “In the past, players would come to Oranje for a little reunion and R&R. Seeing mates, playing golf and prepping mentally for a match. Under Dwight (and Koeman), it was different. They would come to the training camp and work with laser focus on the specifics needed for that particular opponent. Tactical training sessions, aimed at the little subtle details needed to win a match.”

Van Dijk scoring after some tactical changes by Dwight

Cambuur CFO Gerald van den Belt has seen a different side of Dwight. “He is extremely down-to-Earth and won’t get carried away. I think he is all these things that Ten Cate and Vergoossen and others tell you, but he can also be an absent minded professor. He was successful with Cambuur, and when our big rival Heerenveen offered him a step up to the Eredivisie, he took it. This was so sensitive here, that the club and the fans almost exploded with frustration. He never expected that. He didn’t realise how big his impact was here and how he was loved. He is authentic as a person and has always remained the same Dwight Lodeweges. One has to respect that!

Expect some cool stories soon re: Donny’s Man U move and Nathan’s Man City move. More info on Barca and Frenkie and way more :-).

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Boycott the Qatar World Cup!

I’m terribly sorry guys… As you know, I’m a huge football fan and I would love to see our NT compete at the World Cup, and maybe win it some time, I have to say… what is going on in Qatar is disgraceful…

I watched this documentary on it and decided quite quickly afterwards, that as far as I am concerned, this whole “Slavery” World Cup can be banned, boycotted and ignored.

We see all these wonderful initiatives across the globe to end injustice. Whether race wars, gender inequality, the gap between rich and poor, it’s all basically injustice that we are battling here.

In The Netherlands, the banning of Black Pete (“Zwarte Piet” as part of the Sinterklaas celebrations) was the key topic, in other countries we saw demonstrations or riots even… One particular bad joke in Veronica Inside, made by Johan Derksen – the Godfather of football journalism in The Netherlands, was the cause for the Dutch internationals to actually boycott that particular tv program.

Which is fine. Football players can decide to ban someone, why not? I have no problem with this. What I do find difficult though, is that these same players will go and play in Qatar, knowing that human rights are non existent there, and 1000s of people died in horrific circumstances, building football temples for the privileged.

So, as a football fanatic but also humanitarian, I had to create a petition to get the KNVB / National Team to boycott this World Cup.

We haven’t even qualified for it, yet. But no matter. And I also want to push the English, Germans, Belgiums, Danes etc to do the same. It’s simply something we can not and should not condone much longer.

FIFA makes billions on the broken backs of illegal Nepalese, Indian and Pakistani workers… it’s disgusting.

Sorry guys. I will stand by my words and also boycott the World Cup with my blog. Sad but true.

I hope you will be kind to me and sign your name….


Do you agree? Leave comments below please….

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Covid-19 impact and more news…

Eric Gudde, the KNVB GM on the photo. Symbol of Chaos.

Hi guys, hope you are all staying safe and sane without live football?

I was planning to make the Johan Cruyff 1990 post now, but the Covid situation deserves some attention – as commented on by some of you – and we had the news of Ronald Koeman’s hospitalisation as well.

To start with that, it is not clear what he has, exactly. Probably needs to have a vein clearance situation, as Ronald is known to enjoy the good life (wine, food).

He is given all the space to recover by the Federation and with our football agenda empty, he will get that time easily. People like his brother Erwin and Dick Advocaat already mentioned publicly that they expect him to return to his job, no worries.

The impact on the Dutch football scene of the Covid-19 situation is huge. As you will appreciate: most Dutch clubs are not wealthy and in the second tier – Keuken Kampioen Divisie – it is tough going.

Even a rich club like Ajax will get hurt, if this goes on too long and if we indeed have to play without fans for a long spell, it will everyone badly.

So the Dutch Federation decided to end the competition and as they believe there would have been time for the two relegation candidates to play themselves safe… So, in their infinite wisdom, they have decided not to relegate anyone and not to promote any club from the 2nd tier to the first.

As the UEFA does want to hear how the competition ended re: European spots, Ajax is the #1 (but not the champion) and goes straight into the CL. AZ will play CL qualification football with Feyenoord straight to the Europa League and PSV playing Europa League qualification, just like… Willem II. The Play Offs have been canceled and there is a fair chance that the Dutch Cup final  ( Feyenoord – FC Utrecht) will also be canceled.

There is a lot of anger about this amongst the clubs. Feyenoord probably the only club without any hang ups. Ajax wanted the title. AZ wanted a way to challenge Ajax for the title. PSV wanted the coefficient ratios over the last 5 seasons to be counted, so PSV would get the Feyenoord spot.

Cambuur coach Henk de Jong called this the “Blackest Day in Sports History” and that got him an interview on the BBC

FC Utrecht has the most reasons to complain, of them all. They had 1 game in hand, and 1 point behind Willem II. Their goal difference was better than that of Willem II. Based on this and on the coefficient ratios, FC Utrecht would have been the better choice to play European. Also, because they made it to the National Cup final.

RKC and ADO Den Haag ended up not being relegated. Good news for them. But both Cambuur and De Graafschap were miles ahead in the 2nd tier and would have been promoted in any other situation.

So, these clubs (Cambuur and De Graafschap) along with FC Utrecht are making their way to the courts.

People like Marco van Basten – independent as ever – have slammed the KNVB for their way of working: the outcome but also about the process used.

At some point, the KNVB wanted the clubs to vote for relegation of clubs or no relegation.

From the top of my head: 15 clubs said “YES” to relegation. 9 clubs said “NO” and the rest refused to vote (PSV, Ajax, Feyenoord, Groningen, Vitesse and others), as they “didn’t want to have a say in relegating their colleagues”.

FC Utrecht sad. RKC happy.

This tells you, that the non-voters actually did want the two bottom clubs to get relegated but they refused to say it. If not, they would have picked “NO”. Right?

But for some reason, the KNVB added the non-votes to the NO! Meaning that the majority allegedly voted NO to relegation. Which is just plain stupid.

I think the court cases are being held today/tomorrow.

The KNVB was capable of cancelling the competition because – as opposed to the situation in Spain, Germany and England – the tv money has been paid out in full, by Fox Sports, which is a good thing in a way.

So, in France (where they ended the competition as well) and Holland, the result of all this is anger, frustration and court cases.

Dutch consultants Hypercube have come up with an alternative plan, which would mean that all competitions will be played out after all!

They have pointed towards the World Cup in Qatar, which is being played in the Winter of 2022. So why not use this calendar year to finish the competition and start the new competition at the start of 2021. So use Calendar year as a season, instead of August till May.

Gini using the off-time to find out how his tools work…

Then, the Football Federations have the option to go back to the broken-calendar structure for football seasons after the World Cup 2022.

“This takes a lot of strain and pressure away from the clubs and the federations. The English and Germans want to finish the season whatever the cost, due to the tv money they need. The number of seasons remains intact. Every competition will have a winner, a champion and all decisions are made on the pitch and not in a board room or a court house”, so says Managing Director Pieter Nieuwenhuis. And the oft criticised winter World Cup in Qatar can suddenly be the solution we hoped for.

Nieuwenhuis: “This is way more sensible. Otherwise they’d have to plan competition games, European games and national team games from September onwards in a very full season, and if something goes wrong, we are all in deep doodoo again!”

Virgil van Dijk posted this

Hypercube also claimed that in 2023, the clubs/federations could decide to start with a short competition until the summer of 2023, and then go back to the normal structure, of August – May. “We calculated this through, as the clubs will suffer financially from this plan in the first months. We believe for Europe, there is a need for 8 Billion Euros to finance this. This is a lot, but if you take into account that the turnover of Football Europe is 30 Billion Euros, it’s not that bad. Surely, playing half a season in empty stadiums is even more costly.”

The UEFA and FIFA together have 3 Billion Euros in cash and could be guarantors. This would require zero subsidy money. Call it the Marshall Plan for football. “What we need now is a long term plan with solid financials, because if we just rush into this, certain clubs are at risk of going bankrupt.”

The big question though: what to do with players’ contracts, who now go from July till June.

“We don’t have all the answers. There are options, you could say: all players’ contracts will be shifted to the Jan – Dec format. Or, you could decide to keep the contract terms as is, meaning players will suddenly finish the season with another club. I think the international Players’ Unions will need to weigh in on this.

Memphis wants the cup in 2021

As for the Covid-19 impact on our lads… I don’t think there is any. Players like Memphis and Malen will have more time to get fit, and apart from Babel and Strootman, all our players will benefit from the additional time to get ready for the Euros. Blind can deal with his heart issue (we hope), as will Koeman. Zirkzee, Wijndal, Stengs, Boadu, Kluivert, Karsdorp, Bijlow and others will have a bit more time to build on their strength, while Marco van Ginkel might be joining in again as well?

A fit Koeman, a super motivated Memphis, Malen in form and Frenkie with a strong Barca season in his back pocket, why wouldn’t we win the Euros this time?

How are you guys doing? Share your stories below.


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Daley best player of the Season

Well my friends… the season is over. The Dutch Federation and government will not allow the season to be finished. There will be no events or gatherings until Sept 1. Which means next season will start on Sept 1, not sooner.

This results in massive headaches, I’m sure. Tomorrow, the KNVB will present their plan, how to determine the title winner, which clubs will be relegated, which clubs will play European, etc etc.

The German competition (and others) will probably continue, mainly due to the TV funds they need. Fox in The Netherlands have paid all the clubs, so there is no financial loss (apart from ticket sales), whereas in Germany and other nations, the TV money is only going to be paid if the season is finalised. Hence the plans to finish seasons without fans on the stands.

It’s a disappointing end of this exciting season.

This is the best eleven of the Eredivisie, according to the AD Sports newspaper….

Keeper: André Onana (Ajax)

Onana the invincible. The weird antics from his early days at Ajax are over. His panther like reflexes are still there. His best save? He did really well stopping a certain goal by ADO striker Michiel Kramer, with his foot.

Right back: Denzel Dumfries (PSV)

The fact that Dumfries is the top scorer behind Donyell Malen says enough. He is the perfect captain of this PSV: intelligent, funny and down-to-Earth. Always hardworking, even if he is not the most skilled player, and scoring goals and assists.

Right central defender: Sebastian Holmén (Willem II)

The Swedish international could be the twin brother of Angelino, who would have been in this team last season, as left back at PSV. This Holmen is a real defender though, and was key for Willem II’s success this season.

Left central defender: Daley Blind (Ajax)

Blind doesn’t want to be on the foreground and may have been in the news a bit negatively after his heart issues. He gets better and better every season and was the best Eredivisie player by a mile before his heart problems. With his special weapon, the forward pass.

Left back: Owen Wijndal (AZ)

He might have been the surprise for some, in the surprise team of the season, but experts have seen him coming and this lad should be mentioned in the same breath as Boadu and Stengs as gems.

Right mid: Joey Veerman (sc Heerenveen)

Veerman is a player who seemed to remain a talent all his life. The Volendam born and raised player blossomed under coach Wim Jonk and demonstrates his quality at Heerenveen now. He sees opening and passes no one else sees and created the most chances in the Eredivisie (even ahead of Berghuis and Ziyech). Feyenoord is courting the youngster.

Attacking mid: Hakim Ziyech (Ajax)

The most exciting player in the Eredivisie. Whether coming from the right wing, or playing as playmaker on “10”. We have seen the last of him this season, the wizard is off to Stamford Bridge to impress the English football fans.

Left mid: Orkun Kökçü (Feyenoord)

Every season top talents come into the fold, but only a small percentage will reach the top. IT seems Kokcu is one of them. He’s only 18 years old, but a modern playmaker. Not your classic static number 10 but an alrounder, who works, tackles, makes dirty yards and reads the game well. Arsenal is whispered to prepare an offer.

Right winger: Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord)

Probably the only attacking player to compete with Ziyech as the most exciting player. The Feyenoord captain has tremendous stats this season, but he can be as inconsistent as his personality. Once he manages his sudden bursts of aggression, he can be a key player for Oranje and for coach Dick Advocaat’s aim to win the title next season with Feyenoord.

Striker: Donyell Malen (PSV)

Deserves his selection based on his first half. The super quick PSV forward hasn’t kicked a ball in 2020. Still, he is only 4 goals behind top scorers Berghuis and Cyriel Dessers.

Left winger: Chidera Ejuke (sc Heerenveen)

This dribble king of Heerenveen tends to have blinders on at times, but seeing him play is an adventure in itself. This unpolished diamond gives colour to the Eredivisie. Lets hope he stays another season.

Coach: Dick Advocaat (Feyenoord)

There are people who believe the impact of a coach is limited. These people should look at Feyenoord before and after Dick. With Advocaat, hope and self belief returned to De Kuip

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Oranje fans: e-unite!

Hi all, this is our safe space. This is where we can hang out all of us, safely, without fear of contamination. I mean, COVID19 contamination of course. Because we do have some other viruses going around here, which hopefully are not contagious… The Kuyt-is-bad-virus. The Daley-Blind-Is-In-Oranje-because-his-dad-used-to-be-virus. More dangerous than Corona, of course.

Enough jokes! I hope everyone is well? Safe? At home with family? And taking care of business!

I read that this virus has the most dramatic impact on men!! No more football, no more pub crawls, no more music events or partying, while women can still do what they do: cooking, ironing, vacuum cleaning, laundry… It’s not fair!


Let me know how you are all going, below in the comments. There is still a lot of fun for us Oranje fans. Youtube is filled with super dooper clips. And we have this blog of course…

The news will come to you faster via other channels, so I won’t even try to be bringing you scoops.

But we do need to talk Euro tournament and the impact of the virus.

So I think common sense prevailed, we will not have the Euros this summer. A big bummer for most, but the Dutch will probably count their chickens… Memphis, Malen, Bergwijn… And more time for Zirkzee and Karsdorp and Wijndal and Boadu… It’s not that bad.

I do hope the competitions will be finalised properly and I hope this particularly for Liverpool!

I’m not going to go into conspiracy theories here or what this whole panic pandemonium means, there are heaps of comments and posts on social media and tweets and what not to deal with this.

So, we’ll keep our eye on the ball here, as far as I am concerned.

There is stuff to read, this blog to get with and start interacting more often, there are amazing youtube clips and classic games to enjoy too.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 19: A general view (GV) of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris clear up toilet paper thrown on the pitch by the Leipzig fans during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Tottenham Hotspur and RB Leipzig at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on February 19, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Tell me below how you guys get through all this.

I’ll start:

I’m working from home, in a remote little beach town in Australia. Life is going as per usual, with the exception of the availability of toilet paper!

I spend more time watching movies, as opposed to watching football and I probably hit the sack earlier. I can freely check the sports sites without the risk of seeing a final score of a game I have yet to watch.

I’m intrigued by this whole global shit show and focus – as an amateur anthropologist – on that, on American politics and other geo-political stuff.

We are not stocking food and supplies but take it all as it comes.

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Oranje’s future…

What a year we had… With Ajax in last CL season and with Oranje… first in the Nations League and of course in our Euro qualification matches… We have seen Frenkie and Mathijs go to the big leagues, we saw Chong and Zirkzee making waves, the likes of Tete and El Ghazi making good on their promise and AZ impressing domestically and internationally… But we also saw Ajax being shafted by the VAR this last half year, Mathijs sidelined at Juve, we saw Daley Blind going to grass and Memphis and Malen with serious injuries…

Lets look at what this all means.

Memphis and Malen

I think we need to be realistic. We shouldn’t count on them for the Euros. Donyell Malen, maybe. He might be back in April or May and right in time to make a Marco-Van-Basten-style return… Memphis is probably sidelined until next season and it might be best for him – and therefore, for Oranje – when he focuses on 2022, in Qatar. The question is not: can they be fit in time, but: would it be wise for them to even try….

Memphis working hard

Donyell Malen in Florida

Daley Blind

It’s really vague what’s going on. Ajax doesn’t tell us a lot. “Insurance policy and privacy of the player”. Daley himself is optimistic on his Insta-feed but he didn’t travel to Qatar and we haven’t had any serious updates. His loss will be felt, should he not be able to get back to his old level, both at Ajax and at Oranje. His leadership, his passing, his sense of positioning… I don’t think we can find a player in the squad who can offer what he has to give. Let’s wait and see.

Mathijs de Ligt

I don’t think him not playing for a spell would be a serious problem. We’ve seen that his Turkish rival also got injured. It would sense if Sarri will sign another centre back in this transfer window but despite that: Mathijs will get his minutes. He is still highly regarded and he had a pretty amazing late block in the match vs Roma. He and his team mates cheered the interception as if he had scored. He’ll be fine.

So when we take into account the incredible development of the likes of Boadu, Stengs, Wijndal, Koopmeiners, Ihattaren, Gakpo and the fact that we have Ake, De Vrij, Vincent Janssen, Jetro Willems, Tete, Weghorst, Wijnaldum, De Roon, Propper, Van de Beek and many others in the wings, I don’t think we need to worry too much.

Willems staying longer at Newcastle

However… replacing Memphis, who was so important for us, will not be easy. His work rate, his showmanship, his leadership and personality, his free kicks, corners and crosses, his important goals (even when he plays like shite all day, he’ll score you the winner)… I can see several players doing what he can do, partially. Babel can work his arse off. Stengs can score goals and dribble. Promes or Berghuis can hit a free kick, Weghorst can hassle, but there is not one player who has it all. Like Memphis.

So what are the options for Ronald Koeman?

Like I said, he can opt to replace Memphis for another player. Some say Babel. Others want to see Weghorst. Another group yells Boadu. Promes also played centre striker at Spartak…they’re all good options. But I want to propose a different one. Also taking into account that we might miss Blind as well.

Memphis: “I’ll tell Koeman that you should replace me!”

I would opt for a 3-4-3.

Playing three at the back:

De Ligt – De Vrij – Van Dijk

With a four man midfield, with Blind on the left (when fit). Or alternatively, Van Aanholt or Wijndal.

On the right hand side, I really hope for Tete or Rick Karsdorp. But Hateboer or Dumfries are decent alternatives. Not great. But decent.

Frenkie on the left inside, with Van de Beek next to Frenkie.

Then three players up top. Promes with Wijnaldum as false striker and Bergwijn or Stengs on the right.

Obviously Cillesen or Krul as the goal keeper (depending on the rhythm of Cillesen, who lost his spot briefly).

With this tactics, I don’t think we’ll have to worry too much defensively. When the opponent plays with three forwards, Daley can drop back and help the back three. But most opponents will play with one striker or two strikers, these days. The centre backs are all good build up passers, and De Ligt can easily move into midfield when the opportunity is there.

Blind can act as a playmaking midfielder alongside Frenkie, allowing Frenkie to roam while static Blind keeps his position. When Frenkie stays put, Donny van de Beek can make penetrating runs, with De Ligt covering. Obviously, the communication between Van de Beek, Tete and De Ligt needs to be top.

Tete, Karsdorp or Dumfries can make marauding runs on the right, allowing for Bergwijn/Stengs to dart inside to support Wijnaldum or even take the #9 role when Gini drops off. This also allows Van de Beek to penetrate into the box as well, and like with Ajax, Oranje will become a Total Football team with players constantly moving in and out of position.

We’ll have length enough with set-pieces. Wijnaldum is a good header of the ball, as are De Ligt, De Vrij and Van Dijk.

We’ll have more than enough legs and penetration, with Donny, Gini, Bergwijn and Tete/Karsdorp/Dumfries.

We’ll have enough football guile and intelligence, with Frenkie, Blind, Promes and Wijnaldum.

And we have goals! Bergwijn, Promes, Wijnaldum, Van de Beek…all good goal scorers.

And should Daley- God Forbid- not make it, I think Wijndal or Willems will offer the footballing skills we need on the left, although Koeman could also opt for the legs and the opportunistic play of Van Aanholt… Even Tonnie Vilhena is an option for that role, should Wijndal or Willems not cut it, for whatever reason.

This would be my line up.

With Ihattaren as the first sub from the bench, being able to play playmaker (even in Frenkie’s role) or as false striker in the Wijnaldum role.

And Weghorst for if we need a pinch hitter.

Boadu would also be in my squad.

My 23

Cillesen – Krul – Bizot

Tete – Karsdorp – De Ligt – De Vrij – Van Dijk – Blind – Ake – Wijndal

Propper – Van de Beek – Frenkie de Jong – Wijnaldum – Ihattaren – Marten de Roon

Stengs – Boadu – Weghorst – Bergwijn – Promes – Babel

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