Tag: Van Rhijn

Rafa leads the way to 4th victory in campaign

Truth be told, I wasn’t totally happy with LVG’s appointment. There were too many aspects in his past and personality I didn’t like. The dramatic series with Oranje in 2000/2001. The antics as a club coach (where some clubs asked him to leave, despite his quality) and his recent JC backstabbing at Ajax…

But…he is a world class coach. Club coach, I would add to that, but now he is demonstrating to the world that he has learned and developed. He is acting the National Team Manager perfectly. His relationship with the players seems to be great. He has clarity and consistency in selection and players’ choices. He has a good mix of assistants ( Danny Blind, cool & collected; up and coming Pat Kluivert for the fun factor and the passion; Ron Spelbos and Edward Metgod, the silent scouts in the background and then the usual goal keeper coach Frans Hoek and the video analysts he used at AZ and Bayern).

“Am I so dumb or are you so smart?!?!?! Oh…hang on… I got it wrong…”

Stekelenburg, Huntelaar, De Jong, Heitinga….they all have seen and experienced how decisive the man can be and they all seem to be accepting of his authority.

Van Marwijk has taught Dutch players that winning ugly is important and sometimes necessary and now we know what winning is (again), LVG will add the Dutch identity back into the mix. Wingers, one holding mid and attacking football.

Rafael van der Vaart played his 102nd cap against Romania and surpassed Phillip Cocu. Gio van Bronckhorst and Frank de Boer are in his sights now (106 and 112 respectively). “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t matter to me….”, the Man of the Match laughed last week.

Two assists and a goal for Rafael van der Vaart and that swagger that adds so much confidence to the team. And what a team it was. Power, speed and skill on the wings. A world class number 9 (RVP or Klaas Jan), creative midfielders and a destroyer in between and strength and speed at the back. I think we’re getting in real good shape (considering Robben, Sneijder and Krul weren’t even present…).

Heitinga celebrating the 2-0 with Martins Indi

So Romania had to concede 4 as well, like earlier in Budapest when we played Hungary.

And luck is always a factor. The free kick on the bar in the first 5 minutes could have gone in. And the penalty shout for Oranje could have been ignored. And all that jazz… But it went as it went and Oranje took the chances and did the business.

12 points out of 4 games.

I think Europe will be paying attention. I’m sure the football pundits and analysts in Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal will read the papers and think…hmmmm….. Oranje…. :-).

With rumours that Spurs is following Clasie and our center back BMI scored two out of five, to name two facts, I think it’s clear we will reap more and more excitement around this team.

And with RVP finding the net again and that dream header of Lens, we seemed to be in that flow.

And Van Gaal will do everything to keep that flow going. Until end of June, 2014, I’m sure.

As he said when he was appointed: the World Cup is starting against Turkey.

I think he was right. Let’s keep on winning and only stop doing so when that man Blatter is waiting to give us that trophy.

Raf scores the 3-1 from the spot

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Playful Oranje wins first two games…

And sets a record too. Ten World Cup qualifications games won, in a row. That record belongs to Bert and Louis of course :-). But this has never been done before by Holland.

And the youthful Oranje learns fast from the old master LVG. Three days after Turkey, Holland plays an even better game (against a weaker opponent…granted…) and scores 4 away goals.

Jeremain Lens scores twice and has one assist as he had to replace Arjen Robben who got a groin response in the warming up. Van Gaal: “I won’t take any chances with players’ fitness. Robben is too important and as we’ve seen, his replacements can do well too. Heitinga had cramp in the Turkey came and I didn’t want to risk an injury for him in this game. Besides, Vlaar is an inch taller, so that helped too against the headstrong Hungarians.”

In the stadium where Bert van Marwijk’s Oranje played great games, the new Oranje started to show itself in full form. It might not have been a flashy game like the Hungary 0-4 game in 2011 but this Oranje did very well.

Lens was able to score his first 3 minutes into the game on a perfect cross by team mate Narsingh. Hungary could equalise after a couple minutes, when Clasie allowed Gera the chance to dive over his leg. Dszudszak didn’t fail but it was Feyenoord defender Martins Indi who headed Oranje back on course on a perfect Sneijder cross. Holland didn’t make that many mistakes this time around, although Clasie was lucky that he wasn’t penalised with a second yellow and second penalty when he handled the ball just before the break.

Oranje defended calmly and had some attractive attacking plays over the wings. It never panicked, even when leader of the pack RVP decided his thigh muscle needed a rest. The hungry Huntelaar would take his place and after Lens’ second goal, the Hunter scored his goal, taking him closer to the record top scorer, assistant coach Pat Kluivert. Huntelaar is now on par with Cruyff and Lenstra.

Skipper Sneijder was pleased but also critical. “Our first half was not great. Our ball circulation was too slow. But in the second half, we improved and played well. Every lose ball was ours, we had speed on the wings and we controlled the game. We also demonstrated that every one wants to work. Everyone is keen to close the gaps. Than football is relatively easy and fun. This makes we are always tight and close and there are several options.”

And truth be told, even Robin van Persie, super striker, was working and challenging where he could.

Bruno Martins Indi was replaced by team mate Joris Mathijsen, as a result of injury as well, while Adam Maher came late to replace Kevin Strootman, who still played a good game, but was less deciding this time around compared to the Turkey game. Strootman was kneed in the back.

Van Gaal: “We got six points, but lost a couple of players: Krul and Fer first. Now Robin, Bruno, Kevin and Arjen Robben…”

Louis van Gaal is a contrarian. Whenever the media are ready to criticise, he defends his team. Whenever euphoria comes up, Louis will criticise his team :-).

“Listen, a 1-4 against Hungary is quite a good result, in Europe. I think we have made a statement these last four days. But… I am not satisfied. Hungary was in disarray in the second half and we didn’t respond good enough. We could and should have scored a couple more. We didn’t take all our chances against Turkey, and this made me sit nervously on that bench. But this time around, we were sloppy with our opportunities again.”

LVG was pleased with Clasie’s performance. “He played well. He did much better than against Turkey. The only criticism I have, is that at times he was too slow to push up for the lose ball. That is part of his job. To be alert and always be in time. That is the objective. And he didn’t manage to do this always. But the whole team deserves a compliment. This team has hardly played together and most are pretty young.”

Van Gaal likes to compliment himself too. “And I am allowed to say my subs were ok? I replaced Robben, had to replace Robben, and Lens didn’t disappoint did he? Huntelaar came in and scored too. And Mathijsen had to come on without a warming up and played strong too.”

When the reporter said to Van Gaal, that despite Van Gaal’s decisions it was actually Lens that scored, not Van Gaal, the coach became prickly. “If I am not allowed to say I coached well today, I will shut up.”

But he finished positively. “This shows that the Eredivisie is actually a strong league. We have technically and tactically strong players. We shouldn’t have allowed that penalty though… but we have good young talents and very good internationally experienced players. Good mix.”

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A Big Puzzle for Louis

You can say a lot about Louis, but he does have balls.

Most of the nation think he is a dicknecked pompous asswipe, most people feel he failed with Oranje in the past and the media are clearly feeding him suggestive questions hoping that he’ll blow up….

But he took up the reigns of Oranje in a time when even our most successful team manager ever wasn’t able to “reach” the players anymore.

And in his first game, against old rivals Belgium, his team of world class talents and established names failed. Scoring two, conceding four. And if it wasn’t for Stekelenburg, we could have conceded seven or eight…

Quite the jigsaw for Louis.

The old guard at the back or done. Boulah, Mathijsen… I still believe in Heitinga but other than him, we do need fresh blood. Willems I like… Erik Pieters is good at left back but might be even better as center back. Don’t forget: this is his natural position. And with Vlaar, Douglas, De Vrij and Martins Indi we might be in good shape, just as Ricardo van Rhijn and Nick Viergever will most likely have the goods.

Van Rhijn is a good replacement for Van der Wiel and Kelvin Leerdam can play right back as well.

Nigel de Jong had an unlucky game ( and was singled out as such by Louis) but Nigel has demonstrated in the past – for me at least – to be great value. He mishandled the ball and it was 2-2, sure, but this doesn’t seem to happen to him in big games. And as Carlos pointed out after the England game, our goals all came after De Jong stopped England attacks…

But sure, Kevin Strootman can play there too. Or Leroy Fer maybe? Or Jordy Clasie? Or Afellay… Vernon Anita? Enough candidates…

With Robben on the left (with Ola John and Elia as stand ins) and Narsingh on the right (with Robben or Wijnaldum or Lens or Kuyt or even Van Persie) as stand ins, we do look good upfront. Huntelaar, De Jong, Dost, Van Persie, Wolfswinkel… all capable of scoring goals…

Louis will need to fix the heart of our defense and the right holding mid.

I believe 4-3-3 should work out for us in most games. As we can quickly adapt to 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1 in the game, depending on having the ball or not…

I do worry a bit about Sneijder and Van der Vaart on the same midfield in a 4-3-3. I can see it with Van der Vaart as holding mid in a 4-2-3-1, but Sneijder needs a more penetrating midfielder with him, I believe. Someone like Afellay or Maher, indeed… But who knows, with Strootman as holding mid, he could even be the man with depth, if Raf will take over his position…

From what I’ve heard, Turkey was not too impressive. We should be able to beat these guys.

Once the EPL is on its way, we will see how things progress. Sure, a defensive line up with Heitinga paired with someone like Martins Indi or Vlaar should work. Willems and Van der Wiel or Van Rhijn on the flanks should be enough.

And Van Gaal will have to watch both Strootman and De Jong in how they operate, to pick the man in form for that match.

I believe this World Cup qualifications series will be played with a large squad. Douglas, Van Persie, Ola John, Afellay, Kuyt, Strootman, Vlaar, De Vrij…

Some players will need to present themselves, others will disappoint and/or Louis will try out different combinations.

And only a couple of months before the World Cup, we will see the final contours of our new Oranje emerge…

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Louis wins the press, but loses the match

Most of you know I was not 100% behind the appointment of LVG. I know he is a great coach and knows a thing or two about (good) football but I sort of fear his dark side…

In the last press conference, however, he was more Han Solo than Darth Vader.

It gives me hope!

He manages groups well, in first instance, and he clearly won over the media with his new behaviour.

Most important question: is this a new Louis, or is he merely acting?

Louis gave clarity to a lot of questions prior to the game. About the captaincy, the line up and even the players he’d bring at half time…. And seemingly, in a friendly way. That did promise something for the future :-).

Holland plays with Stekelenburg on goal, Van Rhijn, Mathijsen, Heitinga, Willems at the back. Nigel as sole holding mid and Raf and Wes as forward midfielders. Robben, Huntelaar and Narsingh play upfront in a 4-3-3.

Fairly remarkable was his comment that Huntelaar will be his striker for the near future. About his conversation with Robin van Persie: “Robin struck me in that. He is very intelligent and we had a very profound talk about football and about life. I have not had a conversation this deep with a player for a long time. It felt good and Robin in my eyes is an absolute top bloke. But Klaas Jan did bring more in the orange and he gets the nod now.”

Breaking news: Arsenal and Man United have reached an agreement on a transfer sum for Van Persie. Tomorrow, the ex-Feyenoord man will negotiate with Ferguson about his personal package.

Holland and Belgium. A famous fixture in the past. In the last decades, Holland likes to see Germany as their arch rival, but our neighbours in the south still see us as such. We played them last in 2004. Much too late. We lost 0-1, on a Bart Goor penalty kick. Sneijder, Heitinga and Kompany played in that match too.

The most famous friendly was the 5-5 in Rotterdam in 1999 with an Edgar Davids on fire.

Today’s Belgium played with (former) Dutch Eredivisie players Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Chadli and benchwarmers Mertens, Alderweireld, Simons, Dembele and Pocognoli.

Belgium plays with pressure high up the park against us and Mathijsen looks sluggish. Narsingh on the other hand impresses with his speed and a good cross on Huntelaar. Holland has lots of possession in the first minutes. And it’s also not as “friendly” in the first phase, with celebrated Van der Vaart copping yellow for a sliding on goalie Coutois.

After 20 minutes, Belgium scored. A lucky. Genk striker Benteke receives the ball after a Heitinga block and scores via Stekelenburg’s feet: 1-0.

Five minutes later, debutant Van Rhijn almost scores on a Narsingh cross. Coutois’ fingertips save Belgium here. The Ajax defender is bulldozered 7 minutes later, in the Belgium area, but ref Atkinson refuses to point to the spot.

Oranje is strong in possession but vulnerable in defense. Van der Vaart has the last word in the first half with a distance strike, blocked off by Vermaelen.

In the break, it’s Mario Been on Belgium tv criticizing Mathijsen: “He’s too slow and sluggish. His build up play is lacking.” And Ruud Gullit on Dutch tv: “Huntelaar isn’t found. If you can’t engage your striker, you are playing with 10 men. And Stekelenburg gambled with that first goal. If he would have stayed on his feet, he would have stopped that one. Like with Germany’s second goal at the Euros…”

In the second half, De Vrij, Maher, Viergever and Martins Indi all make their debut. Heitinga, Mathijsen, Willems and Van der Vaart stay in the dressing room. With Van Rhijn in the line up, Oranje plays with all debutant defenders.

Ten minutes into the second half, it’s Martins Indi’s pass to Robben that creates the equaliser. His low cross is too strong for Hunter, but Narsingh – Holland’s best man in the first half – is at the right spot to score the 1-1.

And only two minutes later, the same actors create the 1-2. Martins Indi’s pass reaches Robben who finds Huntelaar available to tap in the second goal.

Stekelenburg keeps Oranje in the game with good responses to shots of Defour and Chadli. Not much later, it’s Robben dribbling past three defenders, only for Belgium to stop him halfway their own area. Martins Indi impresses in possession but is sloppy defending. Chadli gets a free header thanks to the Feyenoord defender’s lack of marking. Stekelenburg saved Holland just moments before.

Stekelenburg actually needs to act more in the minutes after. A Lukaki shot, and Witsel with a tap in, almost. Adam Maher attempts a distance strike, but Coutois saves this time.

Oi, 2-2 for Belgium. De Jong loses possession and Mertens is away. He outpaces De Vrij and scores. Martins Indi offered Mertens a chance earlier too.

And Belgium scores twice in two minutes too. Mertens creating again, this time Lukaki gets the tap in.

Oh dear, another goal two minutes later yet again! Van Rhijn is marking air and offers Mertens all the time to find ex Ajax skipper Vertonghen who beats ex buddy Stekel. Three goals in 5 minutes? Hmmmm…

Van Persie, Afellay and Kuyt remained on the bench.

So Oranje loses with four goals conceded. The fourth defeat in a row. This happened last in 1954.

Captain Sneijder: “The first 20 minutes in the second half were fantastic. And then we make individual mistakes and we lose the game. That is sad, in particular because we all support this new system we are playing. We should look at the positives now and build on that.”

Coach Van Gaal: “Everyone is really emotional. So I didn’t talk to the lads yet. The first half was not great but we did create 6 chances. We had two great goals in the second half but we had trouble with Lukaku. Personal mistakes get Belgium back into the game.”

Mario Been: “It’s clear where the issues are in Oranje. It’s the back four with the problems. Fix that, and you have a good team.”

Arjen Robben: “We learned a lot today. But there is work to do. But despite the result, this were 3 days well spent. We had good talks and the coach gave me clarity where he wants to use me. In Oranje, he believes my ideal spot is on the left. At Bayern, he switched me to the right. I have a preference there, but I am happy to play on the left wing.” Robben had two assists today.

VI editor and analist Johan Derksen, earlier on extremely critical on Van Gaal (calling him a sneaky unreliable backstabber): “I rate Louis van Gaal’s work today an 8 out of 10. He has put the right players on the right spot. He was very logical today. If players make mistakes on the pitch, he can’t really help that. This must have been a useful night for Van Gaal. Here he could see what happens when we are not at our best. We lose against Belgium.”

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Louis van Gaal won't change much….

This week, new Oranje coach Louis van Gaal got presented to the press. His first working day got squashed in between much more important news: Olympic news from London and the first preliminary squad for Oranje.

Van Gaal will make the definite selection known on August 10.

The former Ajax and Barca coach decided to not rock the boat too much.

“I think Bert van Marwijk can not be faulted for his team selection choices. He clearly picked the best players at his disposal so I can not really make too many big changes, nor do I want to.

Mathijsen and Kuijt are still part of the squad, as are so-called rebels Huntelaar and Van der Vaart. They only players not longer in are Wilfred Bouma and Mark van Bommel.

Van Gaal did give the same signal as Van Marwijk before him towards the youngsters in the Eredivisie: Clasie and De Vrij of Feyenoord and Adam Maher of AZ are called back into the frame, as are Bas Dost (Wolfsburg) and Ola John (Benfica).

I personally believe Louis is taking the wishes of the people into account, but Bas Dost will not make it to the final squad, with Van Persie, Huntelaar and Luuk de Jong all present as well.

Erik Pieters is not part of the selection as he is still injured. Ricardo van Rhijn’s inclusion is pretty remarkable as he hasn’t played too much since Van der Wiel is back at Ajax, but with Vertonghen in London, chances are that the talented defender will see much more action.

As mentioned on this blog, Van Gaal loves defenders with build-up skills and both Van Rhijn and De Vrij fall into that category.

Jeffrey Bruma ( Hamburg) and Douglas (Twente) will both be on Louis’ radar as well.

PS Louis visited the Dutch hockey women at the Games, hence this pic 🙂

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