Tag: Van Breukelen

Another KNVB/Breukelen screw up!

Will it ever end. When will someone step up and deal with this. And don’t forget: the KNVB is not owned by the clowns in management, or even the non-existing board… It’s the members! It’s a association and the club – amateurs and pro clubs – are the final authority. So even if we have this part time marketing guy formally now as the main man, and Technical Director Hans van Breukelen being able to keep on screwing things up and blundering like an elephant through the crystal shop (Dutch expression I think).

So here is the story.

Hans van Breukelen as the main man in technical areas took it upon himself to find the new team manager. Their profile for it is non-existent. They talked about making a profile but based on the people he spoke with, there doesn’t seem to be any consistency. He went from Frank de Boer to Louis van Gaal. He also went to talk to the key Oranje players (Strootman, Robben, Sneijder) and discussed names with them. Unsure which ones, but one name in particular was NOT discussed. Not by Hans and not by the players. The name of Dick Advocaat.

breuk suf

Henk ten Cate was discussed and most if not all people with anything to say about it (players, ex-coaches, ex-captains, analysts, media) were positive about Henk. He’s got experience. He loves attacking football. He’s a tough task master. He worked internationally. He has a lot of experience.

Henk was happy to go with Ruud Gullit and Fred Rutten as his assistants.

So, Hans van Breukelen flew to Dubai (where Henk lives now) and discuss the situation with Henk. They didn’t really have a relationship and didn’t know each other too well. But Henk and Hans hit it off. Their 1,5 meeting went to 4 hours, in the daytime. Discussing football, tactics, vision, short term needs, assistants, etc etc. Hans was very positive and said to Henk: “I have not had an intense and good discussion with someone I really don’t know well for a long time!”. So Henk invited Hans for dinner that evening in a top notch restaurant. They spend another 4 hours. But this time, they discussed more than football. It was about life, love, family and probably good wines. They fell in love with each other. They hugged when they went their separate ways.

Hans said: “I have a very good feeling about this. I will call you tomorrow for next steps.”

The next day, Hans called Ten Cate. “Congratulations! You’re the team manager. We’ll make it work. I’ll go and talk to Fred Rutten and we’ll go for it.”


Van Breukelen even sent a number of text messages to confirm the appointment and more.

Hans called Fred Rutten to let him know he was in. And that he wanted Fred to come in. Fred would wait for Hans’ call. Ruud Gullit’s appointment would be harder. Ruud and Hans had a major falling out and Ruud pinpointed some lies and untruths and told the media Hans van Breukelen was “a liar and untrustworthy”.

So, it might well be Van Breukelen’s ego keeping Gullit out of the team now. Which in itself would be terrible. Gullit, one of the most recognisable Dutch sports heroes (probably second behind Cruyff). Two times European player of the year, one time world player of the year.

Apparently, Louis van Gaal plays a part in the background as well. He does not have any official role within the KNVB and has said NO to the coaching job, but is the power behind the throne. Apparently, Van Breukelen and the marketing dude (don’t even remember his name) seem to turn to Louis at every single turn for advice. Also, very strange indeed. Not that Louis is a fool. He’d make a very good technical director, probably. But now, the KNVB is not doing the transparant thing, letting their ear hang to someone who might decide not to get involved.

louis zonnekoning

Louis The Sunking?

Anyway, back to Henk and Hans.

Hans informed his family and some of the players were given word that Henk would be their new coach.

The next day, however. Henk received another call from Hans. “Henk, I’m sorry. I am going to need some more time”. Because Fred Rutten apparently decided not to go for the assistant role. And that was the strange reason Hans gave Henk, why they wanted to re-consider.

“Reconsider??” Henk ten Cate said? “What do you mean? You congratulated me? You told me I was the man?”. Hans started to mumble something about “some people in the KNVB having second thoughts, and give me a week to sort it out and then I’ll get back to you.” Henk said: “Hans, this is stupid. Unprofessional. You shook my hand, you sent me text messages to confirm. And now this? I won’t do it if people are doubting. If there is no consensus to sign me, forget it. I’m pulling out!”.

And this is where Hans said: “No! Don’t pull out! I can fix it. Give me some time.”

To which Henk got even more irrate and said: “Hans, this is it. It’s done. I’m not doing it. Good luck!”

Which prompted Hans van Breukelen and his ship of fools to immediately try and sign Advocaat.


The Traitor

This in turn got the players all confused? They responded to the messages in the media by asking Van Breukelen how it was possible that Advocaat was never mentioned in any conversation, not by Hans, not by them… And now suddenly, he’s the man!?

Van Breukelen let on to the media now, that he hopes to present Dick on Tuesday coming week!

But Advocaat informally told his close friends, that he’s not sure yet and will discuss more with the KNVB next week Wednesday.


But wait for it!!! It gets even better….

Dick Advocaat will not start – if he starts in the job – before June 1. As Fener has a cup final on the 31st of May.

But Oranje’s new match cycle starts end of May, with a friendly vs Morocco. It would be odd to start this new cycle with the new NT manager coming in after that preparation game. I know, it’s only Luxembourg at home, so it probably wouldn’t matter too much, but it goes to show how unprofessional this federation currently is going about things.

And to top it all of: the KNVB and Hans van Breukelen came out with a press release, denying everything Ten Cate said. They claim Van Breukelen didn’t appoint Ten Cate. That it wasn’t decided at all. Typical.

What the KNVB did not know, was that when Ten Cate was informed by De Breuk that he was Da Man, Ten Cate was driving in his car with a Dutch sports journalist. Van Breukelen was on speaker phone. The reporter got it all. Not only that, Henk still has the text messages on his phone, with Van Breukelen congratulating Ten Cate.

euro 2012

So, again, the KNVB and Hans van Breukelen have been caught lying, outright. To cover their ass!

Ten Cate is livid, coz they are now basically saying Henk is lying. Whereas he has proof that he’s not.

And the reporter has already wrote a very damaging piece in the biggest football magazine in Holland, exposing the lies.

Fred Rutten, even though he will not take the assistant role, has also publicly stated that when he was called by Van Breukelen for the role of assistant, Hans told him flat out: Henk ten Cate is our new coach. Do you want to talk with us re: assistant role? Rutten oozes integrity. He does not have a reason to lie about this.

So the net is closing in on Van Breukelen. He should go. ASAP. He’s a lightweight. A nitwit. Blundering his way through life. He was a decent goalie. Once upon a time.

The big question is also: who within the KNVB doesn’t want to work with Henk ten Cate? And why? The marketing dude (Decossier or whatever his name is) won’t be the one. He always claims to not get involved in football matters. So could it be that Louis van Gaal made it hard for Hans? If so, why didn’t Hans check with Louis beforehand if Louis the boss? Who else could it be?

And why?

So it now seems we get the Money Grabbing Traitor back as NT manager. Stepping up after the first friendly.

Or…if that doesn’t happen… maybe Hans van Breukelen will appoint himself? As long as he doesn’t lie to himself as well and pulls out the next day…


gullit advo94

Interesting pic from 1994. Prior to the US World Cup, Gullit pulled out of the squad over differences of opinion with coach Advocaat. Ruud realised the heat in Florida would impact the matches and had tactical suggestions for Dick to consider. The little Napoleon ignored it and Ruud decided to pull out. He was right. The heat and humidity resulted in a poor group performance of Oranje. We ended up exiting early vs Brazil which prompted Dick to conclude they “had a very successfull campaign and Oranje is in the top 16 of the world!” WTF!!

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Oranje 2016 in six stories….

March 2016: Oranje built on quicksand

This was supposed to be the year of Oranje’s renovation. France was the first opponent. The media was devastating after the 3-2 loss in the friendly against the Euro’s hosts: “In the first half, team manager Blind opted for the 5-3-2 and everything that could go wrong went wrong. Whenever Oranje lost possession the spaces between the lines were so huge that pressure on the ball was failing all the time. In the turn around, Oranje was constantly second best, while in possession Oranje seemed clueless. In the break, Blind returned to 4-3-3 and got Oranje some honour back and we even created a couple of decent attacks.”

This inconsistency in tactics resulted in the conclusion that Oranje was devoid of ideas even after 6 international games under Danny Blind. “This international week was supposed to be the symbol of a new phase of hope and opportunity, but this game versus France demonstrated our weaknesses to the max. The framework is gone, mediocrity rules and we will be confronted with this for weeks if not months to come.”
Typerend beeld voor de oefenwedstrijd van het Nederlands elftal tegen Frankrijk.

Typical shot from the France friendly

The final conclusion was that Oranje hadn’t learned a thing from the friendly vs France. And the media asked questions. “In the recent months, the 5-3-2 system was declared holy for the future. Is that still the case if the players aren’t able to execute it? Are we playing with 4 or 5 at the back? No player can answer it and clearly the team manager doesn’t know either. Cruyff’s motto – stick to what you know and improve on your own identity – offers some handles for the future. If not, than using terms as building is a courageous and ambitious thing, but know you are building on quicksand.”

On the day the media presented this analysis, Blind decided to forget the 5-3-2. In a 4-3-3 Oranje got a strong victory over England on Wembley, which gave new hope. Striker Vincent Janssen became the new symbol. As Van Persie was still absent, the AZ striker became the new leader of the line.

May 2016: ‘I will never say no to Oranje’

At the end of the season, Oranje continues the new look with three friendlies against Euro participants. A draw away against Ireland (1-1), a win in Poland (1-2) and a win in Austria (0-2) are the result and Klaas Jan Huntelaar watches the game from his sofa in the living room. The 33 year old Schalke striker gives an interview. One of the topics: his refusal to come on as a sub against England. “I always want to play and I don’t mind coming on as a sub, but I couldn’t do it for two minutes. I was sitting on the bench all the time and hadn’t had a warm up. Other lads were doing their warm up. Danny needed a player to help out in the last minutes and disturb England’s flow. The risk was simply too big for me to come on cold. I’m 33 years old now, I’m not 21 anymore. I couldn’t take the risk for myself and for Schalke. So I said: “Use one of them. It’s fun for them, so they can add a cap to their name.”

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar traint met Oranje op Wembley. Tot een invalbeurt in het legendarische stadion komt het niet, op zijn eigen verzoek.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar training on Wembley. He won’t play that night. At his own request.

People feared Huntelaar had enough of his cameo role and might even close the door on Oranje. “Ha! People who say this don’t know me. I will never close the door. Sure, I had my tough time in Orange but I’d never walk away. I am not bigger than the National Team. No player is. It’s always a joy to be there. The feel, the national anthem, the fans, that is what drives me. My sharpness is a result of this. I am really touched, every time I play for Oranje.”

But those three friendlies in May/June were too much for Huntelaar. “We are now sparring partner for nations that did make it to the Euros. No player enjoys those games. You are not the focal point. You are not playing for anything. That is tough. It’s an open wound for me, not qualifying. I’ll watch some of it, sure, but I’ll be happy when the Euros are over.”

July 2016:  Dick Advocaat supports Danny Blind 

Oranje’s good results in May and June coincide with Dick Advocaat’s role as new assistant. The veteran coach will take the role of Ruud van Nistelrooy for the WC campaign. “Danny called me and it didn’t take a lot for me to say yes!”.

Advocaat speaks highly of Blind: “His approach, his tactical talks, the way he informs the players about the opponent, that is truly professional. He’s strong verbally and has a natural dominance of the team. As an assistant, you always hear what players think or feel about the coach or the vibe in the team and the players didn’t complain or had anything negative to say. It’s a motivated group, ready for a new start. I played with Blind (at Sparta) but never experienced him as a coach. Some people are really negative about him… I don’t get that at all.”

Wil de échte bondscoach opstaan? Dick Advocaat neemt de coaching op zich in de oefenwedstrijd tegen Ierland.

Assistant coach Advocaat the most animated. Friendly vs Ireland

But the alert reader knew this might not be for the long haul. “I do have a clause in my contract. I want to help Oranje, but if a dream club comes I want to be able to go. If a club wants to sign me, I can go just like that. There’s always offers from Russia, Belgium could be an option.”

In September, Dick got a call and decided on the spot. Fenerbahce called and he packed his bags. Additional mayhem for Oranje, as Marco van Basten left for a cushion job at FIFA.

July 2016: ‘One of our best is ridiculed as a clown” 

The continuing troubles re: Oranje’s technical staff results in a lot of criticism for the new technical director Hans van Breukelen. Former PSV and Oranje goalie Ronald Waterreus gets more and more agitated and supports De Breuk in an article: “I read that Advocaat has a clause in his contract, allowing him to jump a passing train, should this happen. That is something Hans would never do. He commets, with passion, and wants to do his job. And I am convinced he will.”
Hans van Breukelen krijgt veel kritiek als technisch directeur van de KNVB, maar VI-columnist Ronald Waterreus vindt dat onterecht.

Waterreus is angry about a column by satire writer Dijkshoorn, who ridiculed Van Breukelen. “Criticism is fine, but focus on someone’s plans or actions or results. But no, Dijkshoorn tries to make a fool of one our greatest goalies ever. Without any foundation. Turning him into some clown. Dijkshoorn probably never even met Hans. He usually speaks in his columns about scared deers, but I think he is one himself. He is able to be really funny and critical sitting behind his typewriter (sic), but whenever he is on TV in the studio, he is always showering people with compliments. I have 1000 times more respect for Van Breukelen. If he doesn’t let the people around him get under his skin, Hans will lead us to the World Cup.”

 September 2016: ‘Oranje is your annoying friend’

The Dutch team starts the new season with a friendly against Greece. Another nation that didn’t make it to the Euros. And loses at home 1-2. The media: “I think we all had a friend like this. One who would tell you that they hadn’t even start studying yet, the day before the exams. Or who would tell you after the exam that they failed miserable, only to have scored straight As. And you actually didn’t do well at all, because you actually started studying too late. That is exactly what Oranje is doing now. I feel it. It has to be. Holland is the annoying friend. Because how else can a nation who finished third of the world in 2014 suddenly be number 26?? We don’t make it to the Euros and then we lose against Fucking Greece!! It has to be this.”

Griekenland juicht, het Nederlands elftal treurt.

Greece celebrates, Holland in despair

“So, at the start of this WC campaign, we are the Loser Nation of the Football World. And that is the plan, the whole set up. Sweden and France already book tickets for Russia and relax. And they will pay for it.”

But the flying WC campaign start doesn’t happen. Holland is stuck on a draw (1-1) in Sweden. We do win 4-1 versus Belarus but France is again too strong in Amsterdam (0-1). These results mean we’ll have to focus on becoming second in the group.

November 2016: ‘I would have gone crazy’

The year of re-emergence of Dutch football ended with a 1-1 draw vs Belgium and a 3-1 win over Luxembourg. This last win was not a really smooth one. Pierre van Hooijdonk: “It was quite clear what kind of circumstances we’d face, but somehow Danny Blind took the toughest road to victory.”

The way Bas Dost, the Oranje striker, was used annoyed Van Hooijdonk to the hilt. “Dost has had one decent ball to his head. One! From Bruma, in the second half. As a striker, I would explode with anger. With this tactic, Blind could have put Ramselaar in the striker role or any other player who can pass and move.”

Tot ergernis van Pierre van Hooijdonk werd Bas Dost tegen Luxemburg nauwelijks op maat bediend.

Bas Dost vs Luxembourg, never a decent cross

The conclusion of the former Uefa Cup winner was that Oranje is still getting used to this new reality. “The 1-1 in Sweden was unnecessary. Unlucky. But upfront, a draw would have been logical. And to lose against France, based on the differences of quality was also not a surprise. I have gotten used to the fact we are currently not world class. The number of top players is getting lower and lower but also the quality depth is going down fast. Despite that, we’re still in it. We’re second in the goup after a period of injuries (Robben, Strootman, Vlaar, Van Persie, De Vrij) and changes in the staff. If they are able to remain second in the group, it would actually be a top result.”


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Breaking news! KNVB taken over by cult!!

My friends, I’m sorry I had to push the Van Persie top story aside so quickly. Hope you still enjoy reading that if you haven’t already. But this is too hot to ignore. The title of the post might assume an April’s Fool angle or an exaggeration? Well, it’s not April 1, and yes, it might be exaggerated but it is an astonishing development.

All you will read here has been uncovered by investigative journalists of De Telegraaf. One of the best and most influential (and largest) newspapers in the country (in particular in sports). Their main competitor (Algemeen Dagblad) is the official spokes daily for the KNVB, so this news will not really appear in that medium. Chris van Neijnatten was the sports chief editor of the AD and he is currently head press relations at the KNVB, so there you go.

Anyway… what is the story?

You know that Hans van Breukelen was appointed Technical Director of the KNVB and the boss of Danny Blind and all KNVB’s football related activities.

In the same time frame he came in, chaos happened. The Board of Directors resigned collectively (bar one), general manager Van Oostveen was side lined and his successor will not be appointed until April 2017. This leaves the KNVB in the hands of the part time (interim) manager, who is in charge of commercial / business matters.

There were dramas with team manager Hans Jorritsma and two assistants to Blind resigned. Advocaat, to chase more cash and glamour with Fener and Van Basten went after his dreamjob at FIFA, although the appointment of Van Breukelen may well have had an impact. Replacement assistant Ruud Gullit firmly declined to deal with Van Breukelen after he told Ruud some fibs.

oostveen goes

Bert van Oostveen, report author Jelle Goes, KNVB Chair Michael van Praag

You all know this.

What you don’t know (and what was uncovered this weekend) is that Hans (or De Breuk, as he is called) has been part of a Dutch sports consultancy company (BTSW – Buro for Applied Sciences) for 15 years. And the people who work there as “mental coaches” and “peak performance consultants” and “team building mentors” and “psychologists” have all seem to have found their way into the KNVB in some form or other. All on the payroll and/or consultancy roles at different levels. The Technical Manager Jelle Goes, Youth Academy manager, the coaching development manager, all sorts of jobs at the KNVB filled by people 1) no one heard of before in football and 2) all partners/working for this company. All colleagues of De Breuk, for years.

Jelle Goes is the author of the much maligned report “Winners of Tomorrow”.

Joost Leenders, mental coach of Memphis Depay, amongst others, is now the new coach of the Under 18s and is BTWS ambassador.

Frans de Kat is youth coordinator – also of BTWS) and has worked for Arsenal and claims to have firmed up an agreement with Arsenal for youth development activities.

What you also don’t know is that the website of BTSW (now taken down, apparently) boasts relationships with all sorts of artists, musicians, clubs which clearly are all made up. The likes of FC Groningen, Arsenal, rapper Ali B and other big names in entertainment and sports are used to boost the profile of this company, but all of these have now been taken down. Arsenal even published a press release saying they’re outraged their name was used. None of these people/organisations seem to want a public relationship with these pseudo psychologists (or psychos!).


Rini Stoutjesdijk

It goes even further: the founder of BTSW (Mr Stoutjesdijk, I believe) is an intense and dominant leader. An NLP (Neural Linguistic Programming) expert who operates like a sort of svengali and gets into people’s heads without them wanting this. A number of people have now come forward and claim this guy is 1) manipulative, 2) overpowering, 3) dangerous even…

Stoutjesdijk himself is the newly appointed mental coach for the Dutch women’s team….

What also came out, is that many athletes who have been “managed” by the psychos have suffered severe trauma and issues as a result of these people. And they wanted to come out. So a certain female author wrote a book about this and she actually called the company a “cult” with Stoutjesdijk as their cult leader. The victims, however, asked for their names and all the names of the people to be withheld and replaced by pseudonyms, for fear of retribution.

As a result, the book became a bit of a blank shot. Powerless. It read like fiction. And it never really made a mark. Until De Telegraaf uncovered all the real fact. The book was published (yes, was!) by a highly reputable publishing house but was taken off the market when the author was personally threatened by unknowns, with vicious threats. So the book is no longer available.

People who dealt with these psychos literally used the term brainwashing and are convinced Hans van Breukelen is actually a victim of this himself, being used by that company to get into a position of power in the KNVB to get control over sports talents in the Netherlands.


New PIM: Peter Blange

The newly appointed Performance and Innovation Manager (former Gold medallist volleyball star Peter Blange) also is linked to this BTSW group.

For people reading this and not being able to believe all this, here are some things about Hans van Breukelen you might not know:

  • Yes, he was an above average goal keeper, whose mental strength as often named as one of his strengths
  • Yes, Hans van Breukelen is considered a good man, with a good heart
  • Hans van Breukelen suffered severe depressions in his playing days
  • After losing a key game (vs Feyenoord) as a result of a major blunder by De Breuk, he self-confessed to have contemplated committing suicide
  • It’s also a fact – corroborated by ex team mates – that after a bad performance, Hans would decide himself to remove himself from group training for months, spending time alone (with a keeper trainer) as he couldn’t face working with other people out of shame
  • Hans did not do too much in football after his career but went into NLP and co-wrote two books about mental strength with….you guessed it….the CEO of that psycho company…
  • And Hans made his post-career money going around the country doing motivational speeches on leadership, most likely using it to bring clients to the consultancy firm

It might well be Hans is under the spell and firmly believes to be doing the right thing.


The infamous “polletje” incident vs Feyenoord

At a football talk show last weekend, Hans was the guest explaining to the analysts there (incl Pierre van Hooijdonk and Co Adriaanse) how he saw the future re: football development. Claiming that clubs have approached him with the question: “How can we determine if a player has the winning mentality?”. All analysts present fell off their chairs, claiming that 1) no club would ask this and 2) any youth coach not being able to see this for himself, would not be worthy of his job.

The talk show host cut De Breuk short all the time as he started rambling long stories about “assessment” and “mental guidance” and “structure” and “foundations”, asking De Breuk what was actually going to happen in terms of football development….

Where Wim Jansen (and people like Cruyff, Van Hanegem, Gullit and Van Basten) fully focus(ed) on football skills development, Van Breukelen’s only goal seems to be to push BTSW through the door!

Today, the KNVB board (the ones left) will discuss this new drama with Van Breukelen. The media in Holland are claiming there is only one option: sack Van Breukelen and kick out all the people linked to this weird company.

The company’s website was taken down yesterday.

Coming Friday, the author of De Telegraaf article will be on tv in Voetbal Inside with KNVB chairman Michael van Praag.

How interesting though, the man who is promoting the winning mindset within the KNVB might well be forced to throw the towel, as it seems that everything he touches fails and his commercial links with WTSB seems to hard to overcome, as he is clearly bringing his business buddies into the KNVB where ever he can….

I will keep you posted!

breuk accordeon

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Wim Jansen: revolutionise Dutch football – pt 2

This is part 2 of the Wim Jansen story on the KNVB strategy “Winners of Tomorrow”.

A big number of football “experts” were engaged in this big think tank platform for the KNVB, but funnily enough, a number of them have asked to have their names removed from the report. Dutch football wants to go back to the top of the world, but Wim Jansen thinks we’re taking the wrong exit on our way.

Wim Jansen was also invited to join in on the broader debate for a new model for the Eredivisie. Wim asked if the number of clubs was on the table, as a discussion point. He was told “No”. The number of clubs – 18 – was fixed. For Jansen, having debates about a new format were useless if the KNVB wasn’t open to debate that. Wim Jansen doesn’t take prisoners. He might have been the quiet one on the pitch, off te pitch he only lives his own truth and is happy to tell people about it. Jansen: “I have no personal ego or agenda in the game. I want to do what’s best for football in Holland. But if I share my thoughts with the a bigger group of people, with vested interests, it will become chaos. If you really want to improve the quality, the first decision needs to be: no more artifical surfaces! Real grass. It seems Holland is the only “major” football nation allowing artificial pitches. You don’t see it in England or Spain. And we have around 4 clubs in the Eredivisie with those artificial pitches and they’ll need to either redo them or leave the competition.”

Jansen celtic

Success at Celtic but Jansen left the club due to difference of opinion on future

But that’s not all. “I also want to propose a 10 club competition and I would like to see clubs play each other four times instead of two. Four Feyenoord – Ajax classics, four PSV – AZ Alkmaar fixtures, etc. This means every week you play a tough game and every week players need to step up.” He realises this plan is seen as a bomb by the general assembly. “Of course! The boards of Roda and Excelsior and Go Ahead Eagles will be devastated. I get that. But if you want to reach for the top, you need to start creating resistance at domestic level. All other solutions are compromises. People doing their best to please other people. That is not what a top league needs.”

With an eye out for the new top leagues the European top clubs are contemplating, Holland needs to prepare for this new future. The Oranje midfielder goes on: “It’s alarming that the best youth of the country in the under 13s and under 16s are not in the same competition! It’s ridiculous. In particular in our little country. Now, PSV doesn’t meet Ajax and Feyenoord! No wonder they win their regional competitions all the time. The D pupils and B juniors (first years) of Ajax and Feyenoord also don’t compete against each other. All three top clubs are in separate competitions. Sometimes the coaches organise something amongst themselves on a Wednesday afternoon. Not good enough! The biggest talents of the country need to compete amongst each other! Then there is the national cup competition. The winner of that competition plays Europa League football. Why do we allow amateur clubs in that? Now, the pro clubs need to play three rounds against – potentially that is – amateurs. How does that make them better players?”

jansen iran 78

The KNVB amateur division has a strong power base in the federation. And Jansen knows that the amateur wishes count for something. “I get that, but the result is that these shenanigans will be hurdles on our way to the top.”

Former national team manager Bert van Marwijk and former Ajax and Chelsea coach Henk ten Cate already publically withdrawn their support for the KNVB plan, while football legend Clarence Seedorf and physio Raymond Verheijen have had their names removed. At Feyenoord, they were quite surprised to see the name of under 13 coordinator Gerard Rutjes in the report, in the “revolution in youth football” chapter.

Rutjes did participate in the meetings but he was strongly opposed to the new Twin Game approach. The report claims Rutjes was a supporter of the plan. Wim Jansen: “Rutjes had the loudest voice against this plan!”

At those Twin Games on small pitches, you see results like 55-3 and 1-39! And they play without refs, so the bigger lads will win the games. In matches where the fittest wins, football talent is not longer focus.

Jansen gets worked up now. “I am so baffled about the fact that the KNVB doesn’t want to disclose who is behind all this? Someone came up with this revolution and must have used scientific research? But the KNVB doesn’t wanna tell… Where is the proof?”

jansen snowbal

Jansen hit in the eye with iceball when returning to De Kuip in an Ajax jersey

The first thing new Technical Director Hans van Breukelen wanted to do, when appointed, was appoint a so-called Performance and Innovation Manager (PIM). But in the golden seventies, when Oranje reached two world cup finals, this role didn’t exist. Same in the late 80s when Holland won the Euros and there was no PIM to be found in 2010 and 2014 when Holland won silver and bronze.

All the successes were reached without some innovation manager. And in a period of complete chaos – no more board of directors, no management team, two assistants left, a team coordinator has to leave – Hans van Breukelen is pushing for this new and vague role.

Wim Jansen feels the KNVB should first focus on getting their own stuff together. but instead of structural improvements and organisational clarity, Van Breukelen is focusing on football technical matters, together with director amateur football Van der Zee.

Jansen: “Dutch football is now being flooded with psycho-babble. They’re talking about re-thinking. Quotes like “with a draw, both teams have won”… They want to create a winning mindset amongst youngsters and visualising victories and all that. But I try to stay closer to the game, with these kids. The best way to innovate football is to develop good players. Football was never improved by scientists, therapists and even coaches. It’s the players. You know who was football’s biggest innovator in recent decades? Johan Cruyff. He changed the game as a player. He made Ajax and Barca into what they are. Then he went to evangelise in the US. When he was 34 years old, he returned and won two titles with Ajax again. Then he moved to Feyenoord and won the double. Ben Wijnstekers was already in his early 30s when he played with Johan and he told me: I learned more in that one season with Cruyff than in the 12 seasons before him.”

Dips 80 Road Askew, Cruyff, wearing 79 Unis

Jansen and Cruyff as team mates for Washington Dips in 1979

Cruyff became a legendary coach as well and he kept on teaching his players how to see the game, develop their vision and see the spaces. Football is a simple game, but playing simple football is complicated, was his motto. In one of Jansen’s recent discussion with JC, before the #14 died, was about how the pro clubs develop talent. Not the federations, not the amateur clubs. “The number of pro players in the different competitions developed at big clubs is stunning. There’s approx 40 players in the Dutch competition who started at Ajax. Probably around 30 from Feyenoord. Same with Man City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich. We need to empower the big clubs to keep on investing, instead of using the recreational bodies – like the national federations – to see if they can create talent wholesale. It won’t be possible.”

Jansen about Van Breukelen’s plan: “Hans wants to focus on youth football with mental concepts. No! Let’s focus on football. On skills. On developing your weaker leg. And once we get there, focus on other aspects. Van Breukelen was a goalie, he wasn’t a midfielder or forward. He had an amazing mentality. He also wrote two books, about winning. Psychology stuff. But paper has patience. However, you win matches on the pitch. Not on paper. It’s decided on the pitch.”

The KNVB is considering opening up a whole new department focused on winning mentality. “The KNVB thinks you can create top players by working on their mentality. It’s the world turned upside down! Talent needs to be developed. How do we teach them the details. How can coaches improve in that, is a factor as well. You cannot focus on 300,000 young amateur players, which is what Van Breukelen wants to do. The Federation is going to educate and train 41,000 youth coaches for recreational football. But for Oranje, you’ll only have approximately 50 players who will reach top level. If you want to play top with Oranje, you need to focus on the top talents. Instead, they’re paying lipservice to the broader community.”

jansen jc 74

Hail to the Chief in 1974

“They recently added the second and third division to the two pro leagues. Why? Will that improve the quality at the top? Of course not. It’s just shifting with boxes instead of improving the quality.”

The big sponsor of the KNVB – the ING Bank – is also involved. They will go past amateur clubs with a whole circus of buses to make young players physically stronger. Doing push ups, more long distance running… Jansen: “This won’t make better players… Sigh… This is a sponsor campaign. The ING Bank is focused on the masses. Good on them and I don’t want to stop them. I’d love to see these initiatives for recreational football and as far as I’m concerned they do get more coaches and more different games and practices. Fine. But we need the disctintion between top level and recreational level.”

This distinction is not made by the suits of the KNVB. According to Jansen, most people at Federation level are not equipped for top sports. Amateur football director Van der Zee for instance, recently said “Jansen didn’t have a lot of understanding of youth football” until he realised who he was talking about. Jansen couldn’t care less.

“I’ve said it years ago, the FIFA, the UEFA, the KNVB, they lack vision. They’re an old boys network with the key focus on keeping their job and their perks. These suits are there for themselves. And you wanna know the big irony? The KNVB wants to create a winning mentality, but their chairman – Michael van Praag – …he lost everything in the last two years. He wanted the Euros in The Netherlands? The bid failed. He wanted to become a head honcho at FIFA and UEFA, he didn’t get elected. Then he went on to clean up the KNVB? Well, the board of directors is gone, the management is gone, we are missing two assistant coaches for Oranje and our team coordinator is asked to leave! His main focus was to get 40 countries to the World Cup, instead of improving the quality of football. And that focus of his, was purely focused on getting votes to become a top man at FIFA.”

jc kromme

Two Dutch football warriors, Cruyff giving his opinion with gesture. Willem only needs a look

Jansen keeps on going: “The KNVB has the monopoly on coaching licenses. There is no other avenue for anyone to get a license for The Netherlands elsewhere. So if that is their core business, they should focus on improving those courses. Instead of thinking they can develop talent. We need top coaches at all levels. Now, in this new plan, they want to bring players from under 15 till under 19 to Zeist for more training sessions. So they take the players away from the club, but it has always been at club level that talent was developed. The Federation should facilitate. They need to provide strong coaching courses and strong competitions. That’s it. One thing I can see, is that there’s always players at amateur level who develop late. We have seen many examples. The current Sparta striker is one of them. He’s 29 years old and only played at amateur level. Last year he was the top scorer in the Jupiler League. That bridging role I can see for the KNVB.”

Feyenoord winning the UEFA Cup in 1974, with Wim Jansen as skipper, over two legs vs Tottenham Hotspur.



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Wim Jansen: revolutionise Dutch football! -pt 1

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I will show my age with these words… But one of the most underrated players from the legendary WC1974 team was Wim Jansen. Defensive midfielder of Feyenoord. Robin to Van Hanegem’s Batman. And the glue that kept the Oranje 1974 team together. We had marauding Neeskens in midfield, conniving playmaker Van Hanegem and shining star JC up front. Wim Jansen kept the balance. For the young ones amongst us: see JC as Messi, Van Hanegem as Iniesta and Wim Jansen as Busquets. Very important for the team. Always diligent. Always aware. And always timing his challenges and positioning to perfection.

Another way for Wim to stand out was for being in the background and avoiding the spotlights. JC was the messiah, John Rep the face, Neeskens the gladiator and Van Hanegem the rock star. Wim Jansen was the quiet one.

wim oranje

After his long standing career at Feyenoord, Jansen played in the US (like Cruyff and Van Hanegem) and returned to Holland, to be lured to a very young and talented Ajax by Cruyff, to guide talents like Rijkaard. He was one of the first to don both jerseys and when Mr Feyenoord returned to De Kuip for an away game with Ajax, a so-called “supporter” threw an ice ball (it was winter time) on his face, damaging his eye. Jansen didn’t play that day.

He coached his beloved Feyenoord, set up the youth academy, coached Celtic with success and kept on working with youth all his life.

It’s common knowledge that Cruyff and Van Hanegem had a tremendous relationship on the pitch and deep respect for one another, but personality-wise, they were too different. Van Hanegem would call Cruyff on his BS and Cruyff felt Van Hanegem was a loose cannon. They didn’t spend much social time together. De Kromme: “Cruyff was the best ever, but I wouldn’t go to his birthday party. I wish him well but I’m not part of his coterie.”

Cruyff: “People say I was the best player, but if I played bad, I was useless for the team. Willem however, would hussle and battle and tackle if he didn’t play too well.”

Jansen and Van Hanegem were good friends. Lived in the same street in HI Ambacht (my home town, one block away from me) and shared duties at amateur club ASWH and played tennis locally. They were a tremendous team on the pitch.

willem jansen happel

The terminally ill success coach Ernst Happel, De Kromme and Wim Jansen

However, Jansen and Cruyff were best buddies. They had an understanding beyond words (on the pitch and off) and developed their football vision in conjunction. Cruyff with a focus on top level football (Ajax, Barcelona and indirectly AC Milan, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man
United) while Jansen focused on youth development.

If there is one guru in youth football today in Holland, it’s him. And if there is one guy the Dutch federation should have asked for advice to help patch up our football identity, it was him. But instead, the KNVB appointed former goalie Hans van Breukelen (who never coached in his life), who in turn went on to give out job offers to former waterpolo, volleyball and ice-skating coaches… Luckily, all of them turned the job down, under pressure from the many football pundits in Holland.

Some background on that KNVB strategy: when it was clear we were heading towards a quality gap in the post Van Marwijk days (post Van Persie/Vaart/Sneijder/Robben/Van Bommel/Van Bronckhorst) and we missed the Euro 2016 tournament, the federation decided to make plans.

breuk knvb

They decided to appoint a Technical Director (up until then, former burocrat Bert van Oostveen made the strategic technical decisions!!) and kick start a think tank of people to come up with a strategy going forward.

That, in itself, was a good idea. But the execution wasn’t that wonderful. They picked Hans van Breukelen (over people like Henk ten Cate, Rene Meulensteen, Wim Jansen, Marcel Brands, Martin van Geel, Co Adriaanse) and created think tank with 20+ people. This obviously resulted in a committee report full of cliches, but without cojones. Design by committee.

With the key objective: “Oranje to be back at the world top in 2026!”. WTF!!!

Finally, Wim Jansen – who declined to be part of that Think Tank for obvious reasons – has agreed to an interview to give us his views. It makes for compelling reading and I invite you to share your thoughts…. From the daily newspaper De Telegraaf:

“Dutch football wants to go back to the top, but the KNVB appears to have taken the wrong exit, according to Wim Jansen. He played two World Cup finals for Holland, co-developed Dutch world domination with Feyenoord and Oranje and developed the top class youth academy at Feyenoord (and indirectly: Ajax). “I don’t do this interview for me, but for the top talents we do have and who deserve the best treatment.”


He is not interested in reading the KNVB report “Winner of Tomorrow” anymore. He knows it by heart. And he doesn’t like it. The KNVB objective is to be world class again in 2026. “But you will need to act on it now, then. But the emphasis is on physical and mental development. Higher demands on our defenders. These ideas are far removed from what is needed to be the absolute top.”

“Our football culture and style have been copied for 50 years now, by other nations. They all came to Holland to see how we do things. And now, our Federation is telling us to abandon this vision. They want to change what we do without any guarantee this will work. This strategy is irresponsible.”

jansen now

Jansen Now

“Physical and mental development are not the foundation of football. They are merely in service of football. It can never be leading. If you can’t play, physical strength and mental strength will bring you nothing. Top football is done on the basis of ball skills, technique, tactics and team play. Those ingredients will make a team top. Look at Spain, Germany.. Two top nations. Are Iniesta, Xavi, Griezmann, Ozil, De Bruyne so strong physically and mentally? is that what you think of them when you think of them? Or see them play? It’s their ball control and vision.”

Wim Jansen is still honing his skills. He is never ready with learning. He is still in charge of Feyenoord’s youth academy and works with the nations top academics in the field of neuro-psychology (Professor Scherder) and mobility sciences (Professor Savelsbergh) and is working on talent development day and night.

And this is where his biggest beef sits. The KNVB does not want to make the distinction between top football and recreational football. He agrees with Johan Cruyff for years and has had hour long debates about the development of football in Holland. Years ago, both stated with conviction that clubs need to develop pro-football and the Federation should develop recreational football.

jansen jc

The KNB has changed the training foundation of youth teams by adopting the so-called Twin Games. Teams split and playing on smaller pitches or even quarter pitches. “Unacceptable,” Jansen says. “Our new plan at youth level is now playing on quarter pitches? Why? The current system (7 v 7 on half pitches, 9 v 9 from box to box or 11 v 11 on full pitches) is the best. This will give young players a sense of space. Football is a game of time and space. The smaller the space at youth level, the harder the step up. The KNVB says they make the pitch smaller to copy the old street football from way back. As if “size of the pitch” is key. Its not. Street football was all about being able to play whenever you wanted. You learn things in street football, like dealing with bad surfaces, or playing with obstacles, like sewer manholes or curbs. Or pebbles, or street cobbles being uneven. I played street football but my friends didn’t make me better. I started to become better when I played in the Feyenoord youth with bigger players on a full pitch. And playing real matches, against top teams. So you need to bring talent together as young as possible and make them train together and play against other top talents. Your individual skills can be improved on the street, like Brazilian players learn ball control on the beach and with bare feet. But the development of becoming a team player is on a real pitch, actual size. The biggest ball magicians will fail once they have to play on a real pitch, because space can be your friend or your enemy. Remember John de Bever and Arie Riedijk? They were the best futsol players in the world, at one stage. Incredible technique. But the failed to make the step up to real football.

jansen cruyff

Jansen vs Cruyff

Football on a big pitch changes the game, it’s another dimension and the big pitch is the real judge and jury for football talents. In practice, you can work on technique and handling speed, but top football is played on 7000 square meters. So take the shortest route to that. If you want to attack, the first thing a coach will say is to find the space. Make the pitch wide, so you can move into space. If you need to defend, you make the pitch smaller.”

Jansen shakes his head… “The KNVB says we need to learn to defend better… I think it’s the other way around. 80% of our attacks come to nothing. I think we need to improve there. And the sooner the better. And don’t forget: as long as you have the ball, they can’t score. And you don’t need to defend. Do you think Luis Enrique at Barca is figuring out ways to defend better?”

Wim Jansen thinks the emphasising on defensive qualities is misplaced. “Remember the last classic between Feyenoord and Ajax. Ajax is leading, 1-0. It’s only 5 minutes on the clock. The tallest defender of Ajax, Dijks, marks the Feyenoord forward on the wrong side. The result, he is half a yard late when the cross comes in. Kuyt is able to dive to the ball right across him and scores. A little mistake, with a big result. It had nothing to do with physical strength. But everything with positioning, reading the game, vision and feeling for space. At that point, the smaller Kuyt won against the big, strong Dijks.”


Jansen himself was 35 years old playing as sweeper of Ajax, next to Rijkaard. In the winter of his career, he wasn’t the tallest nor the quickest. But he was one of the smartest.

At Varkenoord, Feyenoord’s youth complex, he visits the clinics of the new talents. “These kids come play here for the first time. And what do they do? Dribble. And the first thing you notice is that their eyes are on the ball. So the first thing we teach them is to look over the ball. Trust your skills and keep your head up to see where the free man is, or where the space is, or what the opponent does. The next phase is, to let them make decisions. We give them free reign. He can pass, dribble or take on an opponent. We don’t tell them what to do. As long as they do. They need to decide themselves but they do need to learn to look for space.”

jansen rijkaard

Jansen mentoring Rijkaard

This is the exact opposite of the KNVB vision who want to see kids play on small pitches and force them to pass. “If you want to give them lots of ball touches, give them all a ball. That is what we do, partially. But the match is leading. Whether you’re 7 or 10. The match determines how good you really are and what you need to develop. And things you can’t do in a game, you start to work on in practice. It’s not like the training determines the match. It’s actually the other way around. The match determines what to train on. In reality, there’s 22 players and only one will have the ball. 21 players won’t have the ball. And they need to work on playing without the ball. Moving, finding space, positioning, this is so important.”

Every pro club in Dutch football needs to have a full youth academy. There are clubs now that don’t. Jansen: “What is our license committee doing? You shouldn’t be allowed to play pro football without a youth division. If you want to reach the top, you need to demand more from the clubs.”

marco patrick

“Why is Max Verstappen a world class F1 driver at 18 years old? Because he learned how to drive a cart and learned listen to the car from when he was 4 years old! Its not like he started driving an F1 car after getting his driving license. Max is competing in F1 now coz he started early. The ages between 6 and 18 are the years in which a talent develops into a real player. That is 12 years of development. Every day that he doesn’t learn something is a day lost. Being a pro player is a craft. A profession. And they need practice as much as possible. There is scientific proof that a kid learns best between 6 and 12 years old. You can teach players patterns very easily. And they do pick up the most from other players. I played with top players, like Cruyff, Van Hanegem, Israel, Kraay, Moulijn and boy did I learn.

People underestimate the profession of being a pro footballer. You need to have so many skills, it takes so many details. And you need to see and be able to execute it. Every time again. If it was easy, we had 1000s of Arjen Robbens, because everyone wants to be a world class player. But, we only have one. That tells you enough.

young arjen

“Today the youth teams of PSV, Feyenoord beat their opponents easily. But when they play international tournaments, they get often beaten. They learn more from their defeats than from winning. But we see less and less talents. Ajax and Feyenoord keep on winning youth academy awards but in the last two games I saw Ajax play (in the Eredivisie) I only saw four players that were developed in The Netherlands….”

Wim Jansen scores vs AC Milan, semi finals Europa Cup

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The 1990 World Cup Debacle revisited

The gap between skipper and coach….

In the interview with Gullit, he made some comments about the 1990 World Cup.

Some of you seem to be ignorant about the whole run up to that tournament. Here is a post I published some years ago on the topic.

So here goes, by popular demand… What happened at (or rather: before) the WC1990.

Well, it all started in 1988 of course. Van Basten & Co stunned the world. With Michels moving up from manager to federation official, former Feyenoord coach Thijs Libregts took the reigns. The ex-Excelsior and Feyenoord player had quite a reputation as a coach. Arrogant and authoritarian, he had a title to his name, but no one thought he actually won it… He was Feyenoord’s coach when Cruyff decided to avenge his departure at Ajax and JC (and Gullit, Houtman, Hoekstra and Jeliazkov) won Feyenoord the title. Libregts was a suave operator, wearing the right suits and hairdo. But he was also a bit crass, with careless slip of the tongues… Like “Gullit is lazy, that’s what you get with those blacks…”.

Gullit, Rijkaard and Van Basten were a force in these days. The Milan trio ruled. But so did one Ronald Koeman, Jan Wouters and Ajax captain John van ‘t Schip. And positivo Hans van Breukelen was a voice to be reckoned with as well. The big guns decided they didn’t want cold Libregts. They wanted to win the World Cup and they pleaded with the KNVB to replace the unpopular Thijs by a coach they respected. Someone like JC for instance.


Libregts as Cruyff’s coach at Feyenoord

At some point during qualifying for the WC1990 (which we intended to win) revolted. Gullit led the players to a vote of no confidence and Libregts was told to go. But who would have to lead Oranje to the title? The players got to vote.

KNVB honcho Rinus Michels chose the side of his players and a ballot was made. All players voted and the top three was: on number 3: Aad de Mos. The former Ajax and KV Mechelen coach is a tactical wizard and a kid from the street, who spoke the players’ language. Wim Kieft and Ronald Koeman (having had some negative experiences with Cruyff who made them leave Ajax) picked De Mos. Leo Beenhakker came in at number 2, with a tad more votes than Haagse Aadsje. Leo is well liked by most. He can work on players’ confidence and seemed ideal for a short stint. Although everyone remembered how Beenhakker failed to coach Oranje to a big tournament in the mid 1980s (Mexico WC 1986, with the dreaded late header by George Grun). JC topped the list, of course. The Milan and Ajax clan in particular (Witschge, Winter, Schip, Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard (despite Frank’s falling out with JC at Ajax). And JC was game.

But Rinus Michels showed his true colors. He looked at the list and thought…hmmm…Johan…Can’t have him winning the WC and putting my EC trophy in the shadows… And Rinus vetoed JC’s appointment, giving the job to his mate Don Leo in the meantime.

Can’t remember what Rinus said to justify this, but it was along the lines of “Leo is more experienced, Johan is an inexperienced coach. He never did the course. And Johan will cause problems with the KNVB, because Johan is expensive and he wants to pick his own staff. It’s not good to pick Johan.”

Later, off the record, he even called Johan Cruyff a psychopath…

The players were livid. The one-time schmooch-fest between Gullit and Michels was over. And before that WC1990 had started,  a true trench-guerilla war began. Michels wrote columns in the Telegraaf (Amsterdam-based newspaper) and he leaked inside stuff to the press. Gullit wrote columns in the AD, the Rotterdam based rival of Michel’s on-the-side employer. A war began, resulting in the KNVB forbidding players to write columns.

So, the scene was set. Beenhakker – the fool – accepted the job and should have known he couldn’t win. And then, as they have done many many many times before, the KNVB in all their wisdom came up with their tournament preparation scheme… How they fucked up, again! In 1994 they would highly, dramatically underestimate the weather in the US for the WC (Gullit was adamant that the summer would be too much for a normal prep and – influenced by the Milan scientists – begged for a special approach… When people told him he should stick to kicking footballs, the dreadlocked one decided to withdraw from the Dutch team… We all know the result of that group phase…).

breuk pissig

A scene from the game vs Germany. Van Breukelen going apeshit on Voller. Both Voller and Rijkaard would be red-carded


Anyway, the KNVB decided to book a monastery type castle in the middle of nowhere in Yugoslavia…

These top players, who had tough seasons with their clubs, were looking forward to fun and chilling out. To clear the heads for this WC. Some beach volley ball, a nice town nearby for the wives and girlfriends, maybe a golf-resort…. But they got medieval circumstances… Isolation and a full on training scheme…

Something broke in that period. The players were miserable, and some players started to rebel (again), breaking out of their prison and going haywire.

The performances were abysmal in this WC. Gullit and Van Basten weren’t able to deliver. Was it fatigue? Injuries (Van Basten’s right ankle was already in shambles)? Was it the Beenhakker thing? Van ‘t Schip and Wouters were the danger men for Holland, Kieft had a good spell, Rijkaard was solid, but it wasn’t enough. At one point, Leo Beenhakker left the dressing room with what seemed to be a black eye. Rumors started how Van Basten punched him out, but Don Leo said “he’d bumped into to something”… Marco’s fist? Other stories related how Van Basten had thrown an ashtray to Leo’s head. Whatever it was, we’ll never know.

Don Leo sighed that “75% of what happened behind closed doors will never be revealed” but when asked about this much later, he claims he never said it. Players now balk at that quote, saying they can’t imagine what Leo had been smoking…

“We just didn’t have it. It didn’t gel. Gullit, Van Basten, Koeman…they all seemed tired. It’s one of those things…”

The first knock out game against Germany was a classic. Oranje could have won that, there were some good chances (Wouters, Winter, Schip) but the Germans scored twice and we only once. That sums it up. Although Rijkaard scored twice against Rudi Voller of course . But that didn’t result in us winning, it only resulted in both men being sent off.

Rinus shouldn’t have screwed the players over. And maybe the players should have gone on strike.

mich libr

Director Michels with team manager Libregts. Who thought he would lead Oranje to Sicily


Maybe, they should have said: look, we’re the 3 from Milan. We won European cups, we won the EC in 1988, we have tremendously skilled players and we’re eager. We only need one thing: a coach we respect. Give us JC! If not, we won’t go.

That never happened. They went with Don Leo and stayed too long isolated from the world in some horrible camp. The spirit was broken. The mind wasn’t fresh. The legs refused to listen.

No gold and glory, only humiliation and mysterious insinuations of mythical proportions…

This is a 14 minute clip of the highlights of the Germany game. Before the Germans scored, we could have been 2 goals up….

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It was 25 yrs ago today, Oranje taught the world to play

Most Oranje supporters simply have to be masochistic. Playing brilliant football (sometimes) and hardly ever winning the prize.

Over the last 7 years, we have covered all the upsets, the highs, the magical, the drama and we will keep on doing this for years to come….

Hopefully amidst future tournaments where we can harvest some silverware too. I for one, am not one of those supporters who secretly enjoy being the “loser”. Even if I am a Feyenoord fan….

So, 1988.

As most of you know, I lived in Holland back then and I was pretty convinced we would do well. As I am always convinced we will do well.
As you know, a broken clock is correct twice a day :-).

I remember the lead up to the Tournament really well. Rinus Michels in charge. Ajax was doing really well. Johan Cruyff had won the 1987 Europa Cup II with Ajax (Van Basten scoring) and Ajax played the finals yet again, this time against Mechelen. Mechelen, with Erwin Koeman, won it this time, but Ajax had a strong side with Jan Wouters, John van ‘t Schip, John Bosman, Arnold Muhren and Aron Winter. Danny Blind was the right back in those days.

AC Milan had the “three of Milan” and although Marco was injured and struggling to be the starting striker in Milan, we all knew that these three were exceptional. PSV had just won the Europa Cup 1, with Koeman, Wim Kieft, Hans van Breukelen, Berry van Aerle and Gerald Vanenburg. Adri van Tiggelen played for the grand Anderlecht side in Belgium and Dutch football was doing really well.

But, Oranje missed out on the three big tournaments before 1988 and the last tournament we played ( 1980 in Italy) was a bit of downer.

Some people didn’t expect much from this young team and when Michels clearly didn’t know how to start the tournament, lots of fans lost faith. Marco van Basten was hardly used by Michels as a result of his injuries and when he was fit he missed the decided against Belgium as a result of a suspension.

So, Michels wanted to start with Bosman as center striker ( a very cool finisher in the box… A sort of Huntelaar, for the young ones under us). And John van’t Schip played on the left wing (he played right wing or midfield at Ajax), but Schippie was perfect two-footed and was able to cross from the left with his left. Gullit and Vanenburg competed for the right wing, and Gullit was the type of player some coaches didn’t know where to put. At PSV he even played central defender, while in Milan he was one of the two forwards in a 4-2-2 system.

Arnold Muhren and Jan Wouters played in midfield with Vanenburg on the right, behind Gullit.

Not a very well balanced team.

And future superstar San Marco van Basten was not amused. He felt fresh. He was fit. And super motivated. But Michels almost didn’t select him. Kieft and Gilhaus were a lethal duo at PSV. Bosman was a killer. Piet de Boer of KV Mechelen just scored the winner in the ECII finals. Michels had options. But he did pick Van Basten and gave him the number 12.

The ambitious striker was livid. How could he not get the support from the Ajax legend? And he went to his close friend, surrogate father and former coach Johan Cruyff to vent his anger. And to tell him he would gracefully thank Michels but no thanks. I am not benchwarm material.


Marco van Basten

Here goes….

But Cruyff told him to shut up, to pack his bag and go. There was no pressure on Bassie and JC knew that Michels would be using him in the tournament. “Be patient, await your chance and take the opportunity when you can”.

The rest is history. Oranje lost against the USSR in the first group game. The 4-3-3 Michels concocted didn’t work. So he changed it for the England game. The team needed more balance.


So Erwin Koeman came in to support 37 year old strategist Muhren and Bassie came in to play with Gullit in a 4-4-2 set up. Bosman and Schippie took the bench.

A hattrick against England, a freak Kieft goal (off side) against feisty Ireland and a true battle in Hamburg vs West Germany and before we knew it, Oranje got a second chance against the USSR in the finals.

In the Olympic Stadium in Munich, with yours truly sitting right behind Dasaev when “that moment” occurred….

It’s 1-0 (Gullit’s only goal of the tournament, the Oranje skipper was walking on his gums…) and pressure from the Russians. Van Tiggelen breaks out, passes the ball to Muhren who wants to reach Van Basten but he overhits the ball. Van Basten has three options… Option 1: control the ball and wait for midfielders to come closer…with a couple of defenders on his toes… Option 2: pass the ball with one touch to the penalty spot where Gullit should be. Van Basten took option 3.

Now this goal made history. It’s one of the best goals ever! It is certainly the best goal ever scored at an EC.

Muhren: “I felt I overhit the kick. I was trying to launch him in space, but I overdid. He could only do one thing, or so I thought. Take it down and start the build up again.”

Van Basten: “You don’t think about this. The ball comes, I saw a defender closing me down, I felt I was fairly isolated. What do you do? You don’t think, you simply do. It works only in practice normally and it wasn’t against some shabby goalie either.”

Jan The Blogman: “I was sitting behind the goal with some other Oranje supporters and when the ball was in the air you could tell by Marco’s body movement that he was going to hit it. And we all stood up, arms raised up in the air because we could see in our minds’ eye that yes, there was a small chance he would score from there. And he did.”

Now the freaky thing is, that the AD Newspaper traced something really cool.

Oranje practiced before the EC 1988 against an amateur club. They won that match 8-1, but the amateurs scored as well. And the way they scored might have inspired Marco….

Take a look at this! His name is Michel Dreis.

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