Van Gaal’s pressers are usually interesting. He can be funny, over the top or very agitated.
Frenkie de Jong was with Louis, this time.
Frenkie, how did you manage the difficult transfer period, which was pretty intense?
“Well, I knew what I wanted myself. So I didn’t suffer much from all the mayhem. The media were constantly talking about it, but it wasn’t tough for me. Simply, I knew what I wanted. Sometimes the club wants something differently than the player, it’s a fact of life. I can deal with that. But I’m very happy that it went as it went, and I am playing again so, all good.”
Frenkie, what does lack of match rhythm for you?
“It’s more a physical thing, a strength thing I suppose. It’s not like you suddenly can’t play. It’s not a technical thing, but a physical thing. I am pretty fit and I think I have a good match rhythm. Maybe if you don’t play for months on end, you may lose some of the technical skills, but usually it’s not about that.”
What can you tell the defenders about Lewandowski?
“I don’t have to tell them any thing. Our defenders are very experienced and all top notch quality. They know exactly what to do and how to play a striker like Lewandowski. The key is that as a team we defend in such a way that he won’t get too many chances.”
The coach said you haven’t executed his tactical plan too well as yet. What is your opinion?
“I think so too, we have reached a good level in parts of the games, but we can definitely get to a higher level, and we need to work on this. I think the Belgium was good, the second half versus Germany too.”
And with this Frenkie left the presser to go back to the team activities.
Louis was very complimentary about Frenkie and in particular the way he handles interviews and media, in this particular case.
Louis, were you able to do all the things you want to do, in this busy week?
“Yes, of course. Football is key and priority and I made sure I was able to do what I wanted to do. The rest has been planned around it. The lads were very good, they are committed and they take responsibility. And the players understand that all these fringe things are also important. It’s not too distracting, because we mix it up. Only last night was the first night they were able to do something for themselves. And our team manager has been amazing with the planning, when to do the blood tests, when to try the new kit, when to see the dentist, etc etc. The penalty test results are not yet done so I can’t say much about this.”
How do you see this Poland versus the Poland we met in Rotterdam?
“Lewandowski. He is playing from the start and he wasn’t there in Rotterdam and he is the best striker in the world, so that is a true test. We scored enough, but we also conceded too many goals and with Lewandowski in their team, it will be key to work on that. We did an 11 v 11 match on training. We had the A team playing our so-called reserve team who played as Poland. It was a very good practice session, but sadly we didn’t score. But… we didn’t concede either. 0-0. But we should have won. By the way, that Szymanski midfielder, the Feyenoord player, he’s also special. I like him.”
There is a great hierarchy in this team, what does that mean exactly?
“Well, it’s a logical thing right? The older players are the leaders and the younger players follow. We don’t have young players rebelling against the older ones for instance. Players like Taylor and Rensch are youngsters and know their place.”
You said you wanted to work towards a firm starting eleven. How far away from this are you?
“That is not handy to say publicly, because I want to make sure all players will have a drive, a reason to ask 100% of themselves. And obviously, there are key players whom have performed always in Oranje, who are the pillars. I will not name their names, but you will know who they are.”
Louis, did you always believe penalties are trainable?
“Yes, I have always known this and still believe this. Sure, you cannot emulate the pressure of the moment or the sound in the stadium, but you can automate your kick. If you train the kick constantly there is a level of consistency you can work with. And also, we can teach the player how the opponent’s goalie can try and influence him and for them to try and overcome this.”
How do you compare this squad with the 2014 squad?
“I think this squad is better than the 2014 squad. That was more a transition team, with an older trio or quartet of older stars and a number of younger players, less tested. This team is more balanced in age, and in experience. We have players in top teams again and I think the fight in this team is better and the team dynamics are fantastic as well.”
Tim Krul will not be part of the World Cup squad. The Norwich goalie didn’t want to come to the penalty test day in Zeist, for whatever reason, and this decision means Van Gaal will not invite him to Qatar. Van Gaal understands the reasons Krul gave and is a bit disappointed in that, but he respects Krul’s decision. Van Gaal also conceded that interestingly enough, Krul has the best penalty killer stats.
Five Oranje players need to watch themselves for a second yellow card: Virgil van Dijk, Steven Berghuis, Steven Bergwijn, Frenkie de Jong and Teun Koopmeiners. After this group stage, the yellow cards will be scrapped.
With Wijnaldum not part of this squad, we see a huge gap between topscorer Memphis and the #2 goal scorer, Davy Klaassen. Memphis has 42 goals, Klaassen has 9 goals!
38 year old Pasveer can become the second oldest debutant in Oranje, behind Sander Boschker who was 39 year old. Barry van Galen is then third and Henk Timmer (goalie as well) would be fourth.
Daley Blind will get close to 100 international games. If Oranje reaches the semi finals, we will probably have his 100rd cap. If he is rested one match, he might play the World Cup final in his 100rd cap for Oranje. He’s currently the most experienced Oranje player in the squad.
When LVG speaks of his key players, I think it is fair to say that Virgil van Dijk, Denzel Dumfries, Daley Blind, Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay are clearly in that little group.
I can imagine Jasper Cillesen and Steven Bergwijn will join that group and as he believes Koopmeiners is a bit like Van Gaal, I expect Teun also to be part of that elite circle.
For the Poland match, I think we’ll see:
Rensch – Timber – Van Dijk – Ake – Blind
Taylor – Frenkie – Koopmeiners
Memphis – Bergwijn
I expect us to play 2-2 versus Poland, with Memphis and Koopmeiners scoring.