Tag: Mertens

Another positive match for Oranje!

A match vs Belgium is always fun, due to the rivalry. This time, it is an up and coming Oranje team oozing with talent vs the top class players of the #1 on the FIFA ranking…

Ronald Koeman was true to his word, he would play different players and rested some lads, in order to give Ake, Van de Beek, Strootman, Danjuma, Promes and De Vrij a chance. In those circumstances, with a starting eleven which never played together before, it’s only logical that the start is a bit rusty. And take into consideration that the players Oranje was facing have names like Hazard, Mertens, Lukaku and Witzel… Not a bad line up.

Holland started on the back foot and Belgium really jumped out of the traps. Hazard in particular had a real appetite and it didn’t take long for Mertens to score the 1-0 in a glorious fashion. I have to be honest, at that point, I really believed Belgium would eat us up, puke us out and eat us up again.

The first 20 minutes were horrendous with Ake constantly chasing his man and De Ligt and De Vrij constantly looking for their man. But slowly, Holland would grow into the game, playing compact and disciplined and it would be long before Memphis was offered a first chance, he should have put away.

When Donny van de Beek picked up on a lose pass in midfield, Memphis had the wherewithal to reach debutant starter Danjuma, and the Club Brugge wing man scored his first senior Oranje goal 1-1.

Holland fought itself back into the game and would get more opportunities even, with a good strike by Promes on the post. Belgium slowly drifted off, with their midfield being dominated by the Dutch.

In the second half, with 6 subs for both teams, the flow of the game disappeared a bit. There were chances for Lukaku and co and some opportunities for Holland (the Ake header deserved more, while Memphis was unlucky with a shot cleared by Aldeweireld).

We saw Pablo Rosario make his debut too in this game and the PSV midfielder had to get adjusted to the pace of the game as his first minutes in orange were a bit unlucky.

The end result (1-1) can be seen as pretty good in an away game vs the world’s #1. We could have won it even, but, as Memphis said post-match: we could have lost the game too.

It was a good effort all in all and Ronald Koeman was quite happy with the two matches. He felt there clearly was a good foundation to build up on.

And don’t forget: we played Germany and Belgium! Two powerhouses of international football. One win at home, one draw away. Not bad. And as Donny van de Beek said after the match: “Playing compact and disciplined, isn’t that how France won the World Cup?”

The axis of the team seems to be quite clear and quite solid too. Cillesen as not real competition, Van Dijk and De Ligt seem to be certainties too, with Frenkie de Jong as deep lying midfielder and Wijnaldum centrally high up the pitch. Memphis as the false #9 again played a very good game and is the danger man up front, this time with an assist.

Dries Mertens and Toby Alderweireld, both with a Dutch Eredivisie background of course, were full of praise about the Dutch. They were quite certain Holland would soon be amongst the European football royalty again.

Speaking about royalty. Mathijs de Ligt has played vs Robert Lewandowski, Romelu Lukaku and C Ronaldo, three absolute top goal scorers, and none of them found the net against the Ajax man. Another calling card dropped last night by the 19 year old Ajax captain!

He is the first Oranje player under 20 years old to play 10 caps in a row for his country, since 1933!

Bookmark and Share

The Best of the 2018World Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VAR ref Danny Makkelie

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

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

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

Back to the season prep for the national competitions then.

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

But there are some nice things to share:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bookmark and Share

Dutch School? Old school….

Dutch football in crisis. How often have we heard this? A lot. We’ve always been highly critical of our top players. Cruyff was not that revered when he still played. The man has achieved deity status after his career as player and coach. When he was a player, the Dutch public opinion called him a “money wolf” and as a coach Rinus Michels (!) called him a psychopath!

The generation Witschge, Rijkaard, Van Basten was called the “patat generatie” (chips generation). The group Davids-Kluivert-Seedorf-Bogarde-Reiziger was seen as controversial with their complaints about racism. And even our Silver Team in 2010 received heavy criticism for their lack of defensive skills.

We haven’t been winning regular European trophies since the 1970s so this crisis is basically the standard situation for Oranje.

Earlier, Ajax and PSV failed to qualify for the EL. Feyenoord met its match at CL level already at home vs Man City. Internationally, we do not register. And our National Team always had ups and downs. But last week, the crisis increased.


Beenhakker trying to “get” the patat frites situation….

Cup winner Vitesse was ousted from the first round of this season’s cup competition by a lowly amateur team. Ajax draws vs Ajax and loses against the same Vitesse (implying that Swift, the amateurs, would beat Ajax even worse than they did Vitesse).

NAC Breda also got kicked out of the cup by amateurs and they ( in Holland seen as Manchester City’s C-team) were able to beat Feyenoord at home (!) for the first time ever!

At the same time, the PSV that was in crisis some weeks ago, with Cocu under heavy pressure, beat contenders FC Utrecht 1-7 in their own home!

So the finalist of last year’s Europa League, Ajax, is currently in crisis. They dropped eight points in six games. Too much.

PSV was in crisis but seems to be the top dog for now.

Last season’s champions have lost three of their last four games.

Ajax’ problems aren’t to be ignored. They lost key players (Sanchez, Klaassen, Traore) and had to deal with the loss of the biggest talent and highly popular Nouri. They allowed Peter Bosz to leave (who isn’t doing too shabby at the moment) and replaced him with inexperienced Marcel Keizer.

2017-08-02 22:19:11 AMSTERDAM - Coach Marcel Keizer van Ajax. Ajax speelt 2-2 tegen OGC Nice in de derde voorronde van de Champions League en is uitgeschakeld. ANP OLAF KRAAK

The balance sheet shows a capital of 160 million euros but some of that capital should be wearing football boots. But the Technical Heart (Overmars, Bergkamp, vd Sar and the head of development) failed to replace these key players with players of a similar level. They did spend money on new players, but these have merely warmed the bench.

New coach Marcel Keizer has clear “Ajax” ideas of playing but does he have the players? The midfield of Van de Beek, De Jong and Ziyech is attractive but also inexperienced. The wingers are hold-cold and striker Dolberg is lacking form. Huntelaar has had a good spell (and will always deliver) but with the current back four (lacking pace, and leadership) it will be hard to win big games, using the “5 seconds rule”. Ajax played the EL finals and was aware that Klaassen, Sanchez, Onana, Veltman, Kluivert, Youness, Ziyech and Dolberg were on many a radar. Tete and Riedenwald were already given up by Ajax’ management. But despite the interest in half the team, Ajax didn’t act. Sanchez and Klaassen were key in the team and Ajax should consider themselves lucky that Dolberg and Ziyech are still in Amsterdam. The Technical Heart has not managed the issue too well and Marcel Keizer is now lost in different systems, doubtful about the Dolberg-Huntelaar situation and most likely unhappy with the options he has available.

seizoen 2006 / 2007 , amsterdam 12-09-2006 ajax training alfons groenendijk , frank de boer en henk ten cate

ADO Coach Alfons Groenendijk as Ajax assistant coach with Henk ten Cate and Frank de Boer

Gio van Bronckhorst seemed the winner in the summer, with Martin van Geel bringing good young prospects to the team. But while Feyenoord has to play 7 games in 23 days, they have to miss their line leader Nicolai Jorgensen. And immediately, the weakness of the squad comes to the surface. There is no decent second striker in red and white. Poor Michiel Kramer appears clowneske in this Feyenoord team and stumbles and bumbles through games. The fans applaud and cheer any successful square pass he gives. And with Nelom and Diks replacing the talented Kongolo and Karsdorp (Nelom plays for the injured Haps, while rightback Woudenberg was let go so Diks could come in), Feyenoord did not improve. Haps has the potential to become Oranje’s next left back, but Diks is clearly out of his league.

Dirk Kuyt is sorely missed as well of course and when 5 first team players are absent and the rest makes a hash of it (Jones and Kramer the two clowns vs NAC), Feyenoord looks very average.

The new kids at Feyenoord are all getting the benefit of the doubt, but when key players are missing, they come short. For now.

Elsewhere, PSV plays good games and not so good games. Not that consistent, with Marco van Ginkel still having to get used to his leadership/playmaker role and Ramselaar proving to be potentially nothing more than an average utility player. Lozano op front, the new Mexican winger, alongside Locadia might well do PSV a lot of good, but the weak defence might become PSV’s downfall. Rumor has it, that Bert van Marwijk and Mark van Bommel will take the coaching roles next season.

Pep Ten Hag

Mentor Pep with protege Erik ten Hag

FC Utrecht is still a club hitting above their weight. They have the 11th budget or so of the competition but continuously perform at sub top level. Erik ten Hag consistently overachieves and makes players better individually. Utrecht also lost a couple of key lads (Haller, Barazite, Amrabat) but the new kids gelled in nicely and despite some big defeats, they will most likely do well. Same as AZ, the first team plays attractive football and the Academy churns out some great talents. Heerenveen is one of the most attractive teams at the moment. Norwegian Martin Odegaard impresses every week and with a fit Stijn Schaars as the general in midfield, they keep on getting the points with attractive football.

Vitesse is the last of the contenders, Henk Fraser has forged an attractive team, playing free flowing football. Their cup defeat being a big blemish, I’m sure they’ll rebound and give it their all this season.

Apart from them PEC Zwolle (John van ‘t Schip) and VVV Venlo are doing surprisingly well.

But all these domestic battles full fun and games are not so impressive in the perspective of Dutch football internationally.

If we analyse the way they most dominating teams play, we come to a highly concerning conclusion. I’m talking Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Napoli, Borussia Dortmund… They do the exact opposite of what Dutch coaches (and coach’ coaches) preach about. In Holland, we say “without possession, keep the field compact, but when in possession, stretch the pitch and make the field big”. This is not what Lazio does, or what Dortmund does…

pep JC

Mentor Cruyff with protege Peo

Their coaches say: “When without possession, keep the pitch small. When in possession, keep the pitch small”.

How does this work? These teams all play in “triangles”. Every thing they do, is done in triangles, meaning that when a player has the ball, anywhere on the pitch, at least two team mates are close for the bounce. The player with the ball needs to play the ball vertically, never square, even if the team mate is marked. A precise ball can be bound back to the third – moving player. And so on. So the team moves across the pitch like an organism. In triangles. Example, the left midfielder has the ball, so the left winger, left back, the striker and the mid midfielder should all be somehow offering themselves as options. If the left winger is the target, the striker will make a move so he becomes the third player receiving the ball. In that case, again the mid midfielder and the left winger (and maybe the right winger) will make themselves available.

This involves total fitness! Lots of movement. And lots and lots of practice. A typical practice is: 11 v 11 on half a pitch and you can only have one touch before releasing the ball.

Napoli's head coach Maurizio Sarri gives instructions during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Napoli at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan, Italy, 4 October 2015. ANSA/DANIEL DAL ZENNARO

This is total football New Style. And it’s not how Oranje plays. It is how Peter Bosz let Ajax play last season, but two key players (Klaassen and Sanchez) are missing from that team.

There are key advantages to play this way. 1) as you’re constantly moving around, it’s hard for the opponent to win the ball back. 2) you have several options always available to you to unleash the killer pass. 3) once you lose the ball, you don’t need to track back 20 to 40 meters to get back in position. You can immediately go for the wolf pack 5-seconds approach, get the ball back and you’re still not far from the position where you were.

These eight principles are the foundation of Napoli’s positioning game.

Coach Sarri doesn’t play ” a system” or formation. He even says: “If people talk about systems, they don’t get football”. His players will adapt their position to what is happening on the pitch. And Sarri uses specific key points to instruct players what to do and how to respond. These key points are the basis, but there is a lot of freedom for creativity as well. “What they have to do is firm, how they do it is up to them.”

  1. Most players in the centre of the pitch
    – The flanks of the pitch are only taken up by the full backs and sometimes Callejon plays a bit more wide. Most players will be found in the ax of the team. See the image on the left, above
  2. Using the passing lines to become free in space – The oppoosing midfielders will try to block the passing lines to the key midfielders of Napoli, Hamsik and Jorginho. These two will gladly “hide” behind their markers until the right moment pops up to move a litle bit wide or away and that timing is drilled into the team, so the pass will come right on time. And it takes them just two or three steps to get the ball between the lines.
  3. Anticipate, not re-act – The Napoli players are constantly moving. Whenever a player is played in, the others move around, finding space or making dummy runs. This is incredibly hard to defend.
  4. Movement in conjunction – Sarri tells his players to constantly watch each other, constantly check the movements of the others and to offer options all the time. The distances between the players will be maintained this way and there are triangles everywhere.
  5. Ignore second man, play in third – In Napoli’s positioning game, the players like to ignore the closest player but play the ball one line further up. This allows the “ignored player” to turn and move towards the goal and receive the ball as the third runner. This player is already positioned right, doesn’t need to turn and can find the next solution.
  6. High paced circulation – Napoli plays a lot of short, fast paced passes from feet to feet. The opponent is forced to think on their feet and constantly confronted with new situations. Napoli tends to be a step ahead all the time.
  7. More players around the ball  – Wherever the ball is, the players are. They create a man more situation all the time and it is harder for the opponent to keep possession. See the situation in the image, below right. It is a 4 v 2 situation. The goal is not necessarily to get the ball then and there, but to push the opponent back.
  8. Tempt the opponent – Once the opponent is organised and behind the ball, Napoli will slow down. The opponent will at some state try and find something and once one or two players “bite” and are out of position, the accelerations starts.

Final third play

Positioning play is nice, but useless if it doesn’t lead to chances. And Napoli has a clear plan. As they really are capable of that dazzling positioning play, the defenders of the opponent are dragged higher up the pitch. The midfielders try to put pressure on Napoli, so the defenders need to push up too. This will make it easer for them, but it also offers Napoli space behind the backline. And that is what Napoli wants. Napoli uses this situation in two different ways.

The first one is by running deep in behind the backline. The three forwards are masters in this. Mertens, Callejon and Insigne scored 60 goals together last season. Most of these goals came from a deep run in behind. They actually first come into the ball, and then turn to sprint in behind. They create their own space, but they also have a head start as a result of this “in the ball, turn, go deep” move.  Which means that they can run at full speed without being off side. And their team mates get a sort of red flag sign: once Mertens comes into the ball, they know he’s going to make the dart towards goal and the midfielders can loop the ball into space for him.

The second way they create chances is by suddenly using the player on the flank, who usually moves up unnoticed (the action is all in the axes of the game, remember?). So if the opponent’s backline has moved up, the space behind can be attacked. By playing in the left back, for instance, he can swing the ball into the space – mostly low if Milik doesn’t play – and the forward runners can score an easy tap in, when the ball is played between goalie and backline in no man’s land. Left back Ghoulam does this all the time and creates easy tap ins. See below.

Bookmark and Share

Year of Truth for PSV

PSV seemed to join the ranks of Dutch behemoths Ajax and Feyenoord over the last 15 years with a huge string of titles. The last years, however, PSV had to allow two non-Top-Three clubs (Twente and AZ) to snatch the title while Ajax won it twice in a row now.

Fred Rutten had to make way, just like 95% of the squad was renewed over the last two years. The designer behind this renovation is Marcel Brands. With Martin van Geel (ex Willem II, ex AZ, ex Ajax and currently Feyenoord) the most “visible” of technical managers in the Dutch Eredivisie. And like Van Geel, he has a history as a player in the Feyenoord jersey (Van Geel also played for Ajax).

Brands succeeded Van Geel when the latter left AZ for Ajax and PSV was happy to snatch the former Feyenoord and RKC midfielder to reconstruct the PSV squad.

You used to be able to find cheap players with a lot of potential, but at PSV it is as if you are throwing big money to young and coming talent?

Marcel Brands: “That has to do with the club where you work. At AZ, we had less means. We had to buy smart. PSV has a higher yard stick. We want to win titles and play along in the CL. This means you have the buy quality. And quality costs more money. At PSV, we need players who can immediately settle in. We used to get players for the future, like Stef Nijland, but that doesn’t work here. Jetro Willems is an exception. He was signed for the C team and immediately made his way in. But players like Narsignh and Wijnaldum are players who are expected to deliver immediately.”

Narsingh was also on Ajax’ hit list. Did you outbid them?

MB: “No. He could make more in Amsterdam. He simply wanted to play for PSV. That is a strong factor, which is often overlooked. We wanted to sign Sighthorsson as well, last year but he picked Ajax. Not because we didn’t offer enough. But because he always dreamed of playing for Ajax. You can’t fight that.”

Don’t you fear that clubs will make use of the fact that PSV is willing to pay top dollar?

MB: “But we aren’t. We set the norm for players. If a club doesn’t want to negotiate, we walk away. We wanted Moisander from AZ, last year. They over-asked and we walked. Same with Jorgensen from Kopenhagen. We are prudent, even though out budget is bigger than other clubs.”

Proof that Brands played for Feyenoord ( standing in the mid row, next to Martin van Geel)

So you changed the squad and technical staff over two seasons. Is this the Year of Reckoning for PSV?

MB: “You can name it what you want, haha. The point is that we have certain expectations. And sometimes, the media share this opinion and then they proclaim us to be the title favorites. But you can only know if this is reasonable when you’re a couple of weeks into the new season. Players need to settle, tactics need to fit, etc. Once it’s August 31, the market closes and it’s up to the coach to work with the material.”

The current squad has three PSV talents (Depay, Locadia and van Ooijen) in it. Is that satisfactory?

MB: “We are starting to see talents. I am satisfied about the progression. We can also see it in the Oranje youth teams. We didn’t have starters in those youth teams. We have more and more starters now. We have some huge talents in Eindhoven.”

Were you shocked by the level of the PSV Academy when you came here in 2010?

MB: “The density of talents in Eindhoven is less than Amsterdam or Rotterdam. That is fact. Plus, our competitors spend much more than we do on their Academy. Viktor Fischer of Ajax, has cost them 1,4 Mio euros! We have never paid a fee like that for a youth player! We only invested 700k euros per year on the whole academy! So, the low return is not that strange, considering those facts.”

PSV had a tremendous number of Belgian talents in the youth academy. None of them ever made it through?

MB: “I know. Belgium is part of our service area. It’s only 30 car minutes and you’re in Belgium. But we have now deployed the rule that the further a talent lives, the better he needs to be. We have three quality levels (A, B, C) and players who live further away, like in Belgium, need to be A-level players. We now have a Belgium player in our midst, 16 year old Bakkali, who is definitely A-team quality.”

It was quite a battle to keep him in Eindhoven, right?

MB: “Yes it was. That is today’s football world. Someone from Anderlecht simply stood at the door of Bakkali, to try and get him to sign. And one day before we would sign our contract with him, some unlicensed agent invited him to come and see a Manchester City match. Man City!! The lad is only just 16. Luckily he was strong enough to ignore these people. But there is only so much you can do. We hope to be able to keep a good relationship with the kids’ parents. They are the ones that can be counted on, to take the wellbeing of the kid into account. But, we lost Perreira, who went to Man United. He was 16 years old and it was his dad who forced this move…so…”

Jetro Willems

And now, PSV sold two players to the two Sevilla clubs and is owed 5 Mio euros. Which are not forthcoming…

MB: “this happened before my time. I don’t know all the facts. It’s the Spanish federation that is at fault. In Holland, Germany or England this would never happen. When at AZ, I sold Medunjanin to Valladolid. For 450k. We’d get half in cash at signing and half a year later. That second half was never paid, but Valladolid sold him on to Tel Aviv for 600k and still AZ didn’t get paid. That is just crazy… Only in Spain.”

Remarkable, Dick Advocaat had allowed you to cut away a full time equivalent in his staff? He only works for Ernest Faber and sometimes Cocu as assistant?

MB: “That is result of Dick’s philosophy. He doesn’t want to work with line-coaches. One for attack, one for midfield and one for defence. He rather has one assistant for the whole week, than 3 assistants for 2 days in the week. We also want to invest more in youth academy coaches.”

When is PSV able to invest in a serious way in youth?

MB: “That has to do with our CL qualifications. Once we get acces to the CL, the income stream will increase and we can make some delayed investments. We are still making investments. Narsingh is one example. But we also invested in a heated practice pitch, we renovated the the first floor of the main stands…we do what we can.”

Dickie, always happy to save PSV some money…

PSV also wanted to decrease wages cost in the A-squad. Did that happen?

MB: “Yes, we have a salary cap. 1 million euros gross and no one is paid beyond. When I started here, we had 7 players above that level.”

And suddenly we here in Eindhoven that the title must be won. Must?

MB: “Yes, that is Dick Advocaat for ya. He is the one articulating the objectives loud and clear. THis is also the difference between Rutten and Advocaat. Advocaat is not happy when he doesn’t win anything. Our squad is ready, we have experience and talent in all lines. We are ready.

In the first weeks of the Dutch competition, the hand of Advocaat is not yet too visible.

He has had his run ins with big name players such as Mertens and Wijnaldum and he has also put Matavz and Narsingh on the shame bench. Matavz was too heavy and Narsingh didn’t deliver enough.

Advocaat means business, but he still needs to rule out the lack of consistency of his team.

Dickie: “So I said to De Kromme… I have ball this big! I will demonstrate it to you. In the second half, I’ll sub Robben!”

Bookmark and Share

Football, here we come….

Above: PSV skipper Mark van Bommel celebrates with Mr PSV, Willy van der Kuylen

The Olympics are on the last stretch, towards the finish. As ever, I highly enjoyed all that sports on telly. My goodness…. After the disappointment that was the Euros and the Tour I got tears in my eyes watching Marianne Vos win gold, seeing Ranomi slicing through the pool, Dorian humiliating his competition and Epke Zonderland win the first gymnastics gold for Holland ever!!

Wonderful sports… And the hockey boys and girls are in it too, still….

But….I am ready for the football to begin!

And with the JC Plate game of last Sunday and Feyenoord’s CL qualification game yesterday, it does feel that we are back in business. So expect the frequency of posts to go up soon :-).

So lets start with Feyenoord. My team. But my oh my, how they fumbled it. They played well. Good enough, at least. Creating massive opportunities. A ball on the post, a free header (should have been a goal) and most shockingly, two players (Cisse and Guyon) going towards goal after a dramatic throw in… If Feyenoord was ever going to beat Kiev it was yesterday. With the 2-1 from the away game, 1-0 at home would be enough. But Feyenoord simply didn’t score. Immers had a close range effort, straight to the goalie in the second half. And of course, Dynamo would chuck salt in Feyenoord’s wound by scoring a late goal themselves.

And having witnessed Koeman’s young team play, one has to say that the CL is probably a couple of levels too high. Sure, the money is great but the team will be butchered by any conceivable opponent and maybe, just maybe, it’s better for the talented youngsters to play Europa League.

Ajax and PSV played their JC plate game, last weekend. The first prize of the season. And taken seriously, at least by PSV. With Dick Advocaat at the reigns and Mark van Bommel back in the jersey, it seems PSV wanted to show Ajax that it means business this season. 2-0 up after 12 minutes, against an Ajax not ready to compete. PSV seems to be eager to start, having signed all the key players they wanted ( Narsingh, Van Bommel) while Frank de Boer of Ajax is still uncertain what will happen with Van der Wiel, Anita and Theo Janssen. The latter is flirting heavily with Vitesse and expects De Boer to really want him to stay, while the EPL is chasing Anita and Van der Wiel. Christian Eriksen was not fit yet so he missed the JC Plate game (and it showed) but all in all, Ajax simply didn’t want it that badly.

It will turn into a massive battle this season, between Frank de Boer’s youngsters and PSV. Dico Kopper, Van Rhijn, Fischer, Eriksen, Blind, Ozbilic… It might take a while, but I love to see them play.

Obviously, PSV is interesting too with Willems (played well!), Wijnaldum, Narsingh and Strootman. And Mark van Bommel of course…

The Eredivisie can start as far as I am concerned.

I will give you my predictions for the Title:

I see PSV win it this time. I think Ajax will lose some players before August 31 and Frank will have to struggle a bit to make it all work, the national competition and the CL.

I do see Ajax finish second and do well in the CL this season.

Feyenoord finishes 5th, as they can’t replace Guidetti and Vlaar and have a decent but not spectacular season.

AZ and Twente occupy 3 and 4 and Heerenveen is knocking on the door still, to enter the top 6.

I think the season will be key for Feyenoord’s future. Do they pay off more debt and get more cash in from sponsors, so they can build on the current talent pool… Or will they have to sell the next lot of talent (Clasie, De Vrij, Leerdam, Martins Indi) to make ends meet?

Share your thoughts with me, good people and let’s prepare for an amazing new season…

Bookmark and Share