Tag: Veltman

Oranje draws, but takes a loss…

Or actually: three losses…

Friendlies are there for coaches to try things out, test the team, build confidence, let players gel together and for federations to make money….

However, prestigious friendlies against rivals might do the opposite: a loss will not build confidence and as Oranje already had to make so many changes, letting players gel together was a big ask.

And typically for the bigger mess we find ourselves in, Danny Blind loses three key players in run up to Luxembourg! Stijn Schaars: calf. Vincent Janssen: concussion. Jeremian Lens: hamstring.

Sure, it’s only Luxembourg, but again Blind needs to re-shuffle and again we will miss an opportunity to build on a new foundation.

Danny is almost able to field a complete team of players not available due to injuries or not available coz they don’t get playing time…

lens ham

The good thing is: Arjen Robben will be back.

Watching Nederland – Belgie was watching a team of top class players playing against a team of rookies, with one top class player: on the stands. And it was a boring ass game. Belgium didn’t seem to want too much, Holland couldn’t do too much.

Belgium is stacked with players from the big leagues / teams who clearly didn’t want to put too much into the game. As a result, they had nice dominance, nice possession, some flowing passing but no end product. Not having a real striker but Dries Mertens as a false nine didn’t serve them too well.

Defensively Belgium was vulnerable and looked off the pace at times but I don’t think they will have been too shocked with the Dutch attacks.

They have sensational players and I’m sure they’ll do well.

As for Oranje: yes we have injuries, yes we lack team composure and automatisms, but it was definitely not the sort of performance that instills confidence in the average fan (like me).

hazard sneijder

It was poor. Team tactics were fine and to see us go 5 at the back in the second half with young Brenet coming in was actually refreshing. At the WC2014, it worked at times. In the friendlies (Van Gaal, Blind) it didn’t work at all (France at home!) but against this Belgium it did. Veltman in particular was dramatically exposed on the right flank in the first half and the fast and hard working Brenet, playing fearlessly, add some spice to the team in the second half.

But on all other aspects of the game, we looked second-best constantly. The result is ok (if you care about this), but the performance was poor. No creativity, lack of speed and sense of urgency off the ball and poor passing.

Joel Veltman would be the first player to take off the team sheet for me. Defensively weak, build up play even weaker. He had several opportunities to launch the fast Lens with a ball over the top and he hardly used those.

Virgil van Dijk was the only player for me who stood out, with Vincent Janssen second best, purely because of his hustling and ballsy duelling. Van Dijk is becoming the real deal. Plays like a leader. Will make a big move this summer.

janssen baalt

Stijn Schaars started well but got knicked twice in a midfield duel and had to go off with a bad calf. He actually got the knock last week in the Eredivisie game vs Sparta, and might have agitated the muscle by changing his movement a little to avoid that knock. A dependable player. Low in risk taking. But not moving too gingerly anymore with his 32 years on the clock. He might not wear an orange jersey anymore, once the suspended and injured players return.

Lens was good on the ball but it was visible that he hasn’t been part of Oranje for a while. A lot of miscommunication between him and the midfield/defenders.

Janssen is able to make something out of nothing. Goes for everyball and will happily clash into goalies if the game needs it. Reminded me of Huntelaar eating grass at Wembley a couple of years ago, in a friendly.

I think he should have had two penalties for the two clashes with Mignolet, to be honest. The first one he knicked past Mignolet – ok, foot was high – and the Pool goalie grabbed him. Second clash, Janssen was there first and Mignolet crashed through him with his elbow hitting the Spurs striker on the head.

Lens did well to create the pen for us. On the ball, he looked solid. Sad to see him leave with a hamstring.

In typical fashion, Janssen played on for a spell – refusing to go off – but a concussion is not something to fool around with, and he’s out for Luxembourg.

janssen klap

For me, most players were average to poor. Clasie needed time to find his feet and rhythm and had some poor balls. Daley Blind didn’t reach his usual level. Wijnaldum still can be wrestled off the ball to easily for me. And to top it all of, sub Memphis Depay was not able to shake the cobwebs off and do something special.

Joshua Brenet has clearly put himself on the radar though. After 1,5 years of “not talking to each other”, Danny Blind and Brenet made peace. The PSV defender once said on tv that he thought Danny Blind only selected Ajax players, which is why he was ignored for Oranje. A gutsy thing to say. But also stupid.

Obviously, it isn’t true. And secondly, you don’t make the coach select you quicker. Brenet was ridiculed in Holland for these statements, as he was playing average in those days. Like many Dutch defenders: good on the ball, good going forward, but shocking defensively.

Brenet and Blind had their pow wow last week, shook hands and move forward. I’m sure he made an excellent impression and he could have had an unforgettable debut with an unforgettable goal, with a massive counter-attacking run when Belgium was out of position. Sadly, he missed the target.

Marten de Roon and Leroy Fer are called up for the Luxembourg game. I don’t think Blind will add another striker. Surely, Dost, Luuk de Jong and Fer as pinchhitter should be able to do the business.


It will be nice to take some rest from Oranje and hope for the likes of Elia, Bazoer, Willems, Janmaat, Memphis, De Vrij, Karsdorp…

Danny Blind said after the game he was happy with the result and the defensive performance. I can’t agree fully. The Belgiums didn’t really try. We were not really tested. The center backs did ok. The defensive mid did ok. The work rate of the team was ok, but parking the bus and stopping attacks is not “defending well”. Our out ball was poor and we had many chances to play out from the back only to dwindle too much on the ball and losing it again.

The key difference for me, and not just in this game, is the running and positioning off the ball by Belgium. As opposed to our play. Our defensive mids (Strootman, Schaars, Clasie) simply sit in that space. Not enough dynamics. Our midfield runs to support the striker (Sneijder, Wijnaldum, Klaassen) are lacking. The change of position up front and diagonal runs (De Bruyne/Hazard versus Janssen/Lens) was absent. It is not so much a quality thing, but more a sense of urgency thing, if you know what I mean.

Klopp, Conte, Pep, Pochetino, Ancelotti, Simeone…these are the coaches demanding this from their players. And players like De Bruyne, Hazard, Dembele, Vertonghen, Carrasco bring this to the team. In our team, only Wijnaldum has it (at times). Sneijder doesn’t have the legs. Lens doesn’t have the wherewithal and I think Clasie/Strootman/Schaars are simply not allowed…

Unless we don’t adapt to this new level of play soon (Ajax, Feyenoord, PSV, Oranje) we will slip and keep on slipping…

Iceland, Wales, Portugal, Leicester City… These teams do not have amazing quality players. Still they beat England, Belgium, France and the whole EPL last year…

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Greek Tragedy for Oranje…

I like some drama, as you know… But it wasn’t really a tragedy for me. Friendly schmriendly, really. We lost. Big deal. We won vs Poland and England. Big deal again.

We are not at full strength yet, what with Robben not available, and some of our players are most likely not fully match fit (Sneijder). We played some good football from the start, some zippy passing and good movement. And some individual mistakes cost us. Lack of concentration? Lack of communication? Nerves? Who knows.

The Oranje goal demonstrated some good positioning by Berghuis and Wijnaldum and excellent play by Janssen, who basically made the goal.

Janssen greece

We should have created more in that first half, but didn’t. In the second half, Danny Blind changed the midfield and allowed Hendrix his debut. Any team would become weaker as a result. The first Greek goal was a series of mistakes. Veltman’s pass forward (like a lob) was ill advised, the positioning of our defence was all wrong, Daley was swimming, Bruma lost his man and Zoet should have remained in goal…

The second goal they scored was a horrific Bruma howler after an unnecessary square ball by Hendrix. Sadly, Zoet boxed the ball straight into the feet of the Greek attacker who finished it well. Was harder than it looked, to be fair.

zoet griek

I think tactically we did alright. The starting line up was logical. The desire and intensity was there. We just got sloppy in certain areas and that cost us.

But let’s hope that this loss will further strengthen our resolve against Sweden. Losing vs Greece but winning against the Swedes will be way to go. And this friendly becomes a footnote.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Danny Blind. The role Hans van Breukelen played is unclear. Advocaat and Van Basten exits are unrelated I believe. San Marco’s passion is rejuvenating the sports (for many years) and Dick…well…he’s simply a dick.

sneider griek

I do think Van Breukelen is behind Jorritsma’s departure as he wants to install a performance coach or something. He should include the national team manager in his forward thinking though and the KNVB is solely responsible for this mess. And all this plus Bert van Oostveen’s stepping down just one week before the WC qualifier vs Sweden…terrible timing…

daley griek

It’s time the players rise up now and show they support their coach!

Daley: “It was not great and a loss is a major disappointment, but if we win vs Sweden, all will be alright.”

Danny Blind was hopeful: “We only had a couple of days for this game and the changes made it harder to keep control in midfield. Typical practice match, I suppose. The loss was unnecessary and we need to take the lessons from this game. We started well and that is a positive, but we gave it away thanks to some individual errors.”

Asked whether this is the ideal line up for Sweden: “I wanted to say yes, but based on tonight I think we will need to do some further analysis and see what we can improve. This might be in the form of some changes, yes.”

Jeroen Zoet started for Oranje. Blind: “This doesn’t mean Jasper is suddenly second goalie. He has had a couple of distracting weeks of course, but he has been a loyal soldier for Oranje, so let’s see how things develop for him at Barca. But Jeroen had a great season last year and played very well vs Austria, so I was always happy to start with him.”

Blind Danny Griek


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One down, nine to go: Oranje – Ecuador 1 -1

It is easy to be disappointed after a 1-1 but I personally think this is not bad news. Because IF Veltman would have blocked that through pass and if RVP scored on Van Aanholt’s pass and if Van Aanholt scored himself as well and maybe even Van Persie in the first half when Depay was through (and in an alternative parallel universe he would have passed it square to RVP) we would have won 4-0 and the whole country would be ecstatic. And not just the whole country: also Van Gaal would become very arrogant.

I want Oranje to draw and lose all their friendlies. That will put the pressure on Louis. And that will help :-).

Based on the highlights, I wasn’t too disappointed, personally. I mean sure: it’s not Spain or Chile. Or Brazil or Germany.

But we weren’t Oranje either, without Robben and Sneijder.


I think we will improve. Kongolo and Van Aanholt will have dealt with their initial nerves. Veltman, De Vrij and BMI will be sharp. Clasie will feel good after his pass and both Blind and Clasie will be told in strong terms by the staff that sometimes you need to be tough and dirty in midfield and not try to fix everything in football solutions. Sometimes you need to block an opponent or tackle.

We didn’t see the best of Kongolo and Verhaegh but that will surely change.

We saw what kind of balls Depay is growing and we know RVP can still score super goals.

All in all, we didn’t do badly for a team that has been working hard for a week, almost consisted solely of Eredivisie players plus an RVP lacking some rhythm.

This team will surely improve! Lens might lose his spot now and depending on how Sneijder fairs, he might lose his spot too.
Memphis Depay is knocking on the door as the trump card and Robben could play on Sneijder’s / Wijnaldum’s spot.

Van Gaal felt we had the upper hand: “We could have won this. We didn’t play really bad but the key was that we didn’t manage to find the free man quick enough. But the opportunities to do so were there. Some players failed to see them. This needs to improve. But for a first 5-3-2 execution I am not unhappy. This is the way forward for me. I like winning. I think this system with these players will work best for us.”

He continued: “Do you realise that Janmaat had the most crosses for us in the qualifications? More than Robben and Lens? So I think the system using the full backs as attacking players has proven itself. Not just for us, but also many other teams.”

janmaat hurt

Kongolo after his debut: “I am not happy. I am very critical of myself always and I know I didn’t play great. It wasn’t bad either, but I had a number of sloppy passes and that is simply not on! When I was subbed during half time I was unhappy but Mr Van Gaal said something funny: “I subbed Janmaat on his debut too and he is now a firm solid player for Oranje”, hahaha. I was nervous in the beginning, I have to say. The first minutes I couldn’t hear anything but I settled down nicely after a while.”

Darryl Janmaat was subbed after a hit on his ankle. It looked like a sprain. “It was very painful. But I don’t think it will last, really. Nothing broken or torn. We’ll see how it mends but it was a dirty tackle and I am happy that it was merely painful.”

Overall, I think we didn’t do too badly. The team was still a bit under pressure from the intensive practice days. They played with only 7 days on the clock in terms of practice in the 5-3-2. Young Kongolo started a bit nervous and there is still some tweaking to do here and there and last but not least we do still miss some big guns from Turkey, Italy and Germany.

I hope we will play three lousy friendlies and have a cracker of a world cup campaign as opposed to three awesome friendlies and a shit World Cup.

I believe we need Nigel De Jong for Daley Blind and Robben for Wijnaldum and we might be on our way to something good.

I personally also hope Krul will get the nod over Cillesen (whom didn’t impress in the way he attacked the ball when we conceded) and I also hope Fer will get a chance on Clasie’s position.

Holland will need a player with a killer pass though and it it isn’t Sneijder or Van der Vaart, it will have to be Clasie. He has the goods and needs to launch our forwards. Nigel won’t be the man to do so, so all hinges on how Van Gaal plays the midfield. The forwards are fine (RVP, Hunter, Depay, Lens) and the defence will not improve tremendously anymore in the coming weeks. Midfield has the key. We might even consider a 5-4-1 for all I care….

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First Oranje practice sessions – Van Ginkel called up

While I am laughing my arse off watching Louis van Gaal being interviewed by the English media, I am writing this. The first session of training for the PrePreLim squad and the reporters from Blighty gathered around the Oracle. The question: “So obviously you know about Man United, you played against them…” and Louis says “Now that is a stupid question”. Hahahaha, may the games begin! In all honesty, that clip alone would be enough for me – if I were the Man United decision maker – to pick another coach, hahahahaha.

Anyway, as Louis said “I am now Oranje manager and I will focus on my job here now” I will leave all that alone.

Now it’s 33 Days to Go to the World Cup and we are none the wiser!

LVG practice

“Don’t talk back to me or I will have you spend the afternoon in that corner facing the wall!!”

This week Louis started his first sessions with the players who 1) could make the cut, 2) are no longer involved in official games in their competion and 3) some filler players from Young Oranje to make the right numbers.

Remarkable names like Castaignos and Locadia are not that remarkable as they can be seen as the Young Oranje contingent. The same can be said for Terrence Kongolo but the in form Feyenoord defender played too well, has too much talent and too versatile to overlook. I wouldn’t be surprised if LVG used the tall defender as Strootman replacement in midfield….

Another potential replacement for midfield was on the list as well. Chelsea player Marco van Ginkel The first and only player coming in from another competition amongst the Eredivisie players. Without a doubt Louis has checked with the Annoying One what the status of our popular midfielder is and based on the response requested for Mourinho to release the former Vitesse man for Oranje.

Interesting… I am not surprised if Afellay gets a go as well.

luc zoet

“Castaignos, Zoet (l) and Martins Indi (r) didn’t want to play spin the bottle.”

So there are three practice sessions and on May 13, the future Man U coach will announce the preliminary 30 player squad. On June 2, he has to announce the definitive list and that list of 23 needs to come from the 30 in the prelim. Oranje has a training camp in Lagos Portugal for a week in May and will play two friendlies after that, versus Ghana and Wales. Oranje plays Equador on May 17 in Amsterdam by the way.

Terence Kongolo was nervous to meet Van Gaal and went to the first Oranje camp with team mate Jean Paul Boetius. His career goes really fast. “I noticed this in particular when I drove up to the hotel with all those media people waiting. It was intense. Feyenoord is big but this is humungous.” After the session the talented defender said “Mr Van Gaal is very direct but I don’t mind that. I really enjoyed myself and will do what I can to to stay with the group. I hope Mr Van Gaal is going to need me in Brazil and if he does, I will be ready.”

Before any World Cup, Johan Cruyff will be asked about Oranje. The Oracle this time wanted to spend some time on his relationship with Louis van Gaal. “People think we have this whole thing going on, as if I don’t like him or he doesn’t like me. That is not it. I do not have any issue with Van Gaal. He is a good coach. But, our football vision is totally different. That is all. Literally, totally different. People say “but you both play 4-3-3 and want to attack”. Yes, that is the only similarity. We need too much time for me to explain but I’m talking about specific roles and tasks, about positioning, about pace. In Van Gaal’s way of playing, the midfielder will open up to the build up from the defence with his back to the
opponent’s goal. That is 90% of what happens and then 90% of those times, the ball goes back to the goalie or to the full back. In my tactics, the central defender is a player who moves into midfield to become a midfielder with his face towards the opponent’s goal. I would use individual class to play fast paced pass and move football. Van Gaal is more a handbal type coach. With players wide, strictly on the byline and a more rigid approach.”


“Kongolo demonstrating how Louis van Gaal dances in the clubs”

Joel Veltman (Ajax) and Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord) seem to be tight buddies already. In tv interview Veltman gave a hint re: the tactics Van Gaal will try out. “He will play with more defenders. The 5-3-2, but with the emphasis on attack. We want to see the ball the most and this is a way of creating dominance. The principles will remain the same.” Stefan de Vrij: “Mr Van Gaal wants us to think, to use our brain as a tool and make rational choices in the games. He is working on that on specific situations and makes us pick the right decisions and offer up solutions. He is very clear in his instructions and that is always wonderful to work with.”

Luc Castaignos is used to working with great players and coaches. He was part of the Feyenoord squad, worked with Sneijder and Milito at Inter Milan and is now the main man at Twente. But working with Van Gaal is a level higher even… “Everything needs to be perfect. That is something… Everything you do needs to be good. Van Gaal demands a lot. I never expected this and was quite surprised. This experience is wonderful. I noticed it immediately, we had this practice where I had to use my left foot and I was instinctively going to my right all the time… But there is no time for those sort of moves at this level.” Castaignos had a tough season. “I had some ups and downs. I played ok but missed a lot of sitters. But still I did well if you look at the stats. But I do realise I got lucky to be invited. Mr Van Gaal was cool. He said “Enjoy yourself and show me what you got” hahaha. I do know I have many names in front of me, potentially, such as Van Persie and Huntelaar… But I am allowed to dream, right?”


Van Ginkel’s nightmare might be finally over now

Louis van Gaal is working behind closed doors for a spell but will open up the practice to the public on the last days of the trainings camp in Holland.

On June 3, Oranje trains in Alkmaar in the AZ stadium and on May 30 in De Kuip in Rotterdam.


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WHAT a great season it was….Ajax, Feyenoord, PSV, Oranje…..

Dear friends, Johan Cruyff again agrees with me. It is becoming a bit predictable and boring, I know… But this 2013-2014 season is a very positive season for us. I will tell you why right now: because it can only get better!!

We have had many “Champions of the Poor” before (the name given to the team that plays the least bad football and wins the title) but this season I think is the worst.

Vitesse, Twente, PSV and in particular Feyenoord decided not to want the title this year. And poor Frank de Boer and his Eriksen-less team of bland players found themselves the best of the lowly….

I do congratulate Ajax of course and Frank de Boer. He is a top class bloke and an excellent coach. I cannot see him not coach Oranje one day.

Ajax was not the best this season, but they surely were the most consistent.

PSV played very sexy football this season, but only at the start of the season and way too brief….

Feyenoord should won it this season but too many late goals conceded resulted in a losing too many points…. Feyenoord lost one-third of the points it could win…. And with that stat, they became second AND may dream of CL football next season. Ouch. Feyenoord will probably end with 4 points difference with Ajax. And Feyenoord lost the two games against Ajax. If those were drawn, Ajax and Feyenoord would have finished even… Goes to show what a close call it was and how Feyenoord should have won it this season. If there ever was a season with a solid chance, it was now.

ajax kampioen

Vitesse played the most Dutch in particular in the first half of the season. Very good football, lots of possession and many good results. The second season half, however, something happened in Arnhem and they spilled way too many points.

Twente was the other candidate and with a real killer upfront they might have done better. Gutierrez in particular was a highly consistent factor and this player might win the Best Player of the Season Award just before Jordy Clasie and ex-Feyenoord playmaker Mokotjo (PEC Zwolle).

The good thing about our competition that whenever clubs sell players, young Dutch developed lads make their way into the team. Ajax and Feyenoord have been vanguards of this in Dutch football but Heerenveen, AZ and other clubs are following suit. This is why we can now see exciting lads like Vilhena. Boetius, Klaassen, Veltman, Rekik, Depay and Sinkgrave play regularly. And they do make mistakes. But they have to. As long as they learn from it…

Cruyff says the football IQ needs to be raised. And he has a point. Skill itself is not enough. Knowing when to use what skills is key. Decision making. When to play the deep pass, when to pace it down, when to apply pressure, when to back off. When to play the direct ball, when to dribble…

Ajax was not the best, but the most consistent team. Phillip Cocu is still in development, as is his team. Peter Bosz at Vitesse would like some peace and quiet and less weird comments ( “Vitesse is not allowed to win the title in Holland” ) and Twente might get a slap on the financial wrist by the Dutch Federation.

As for next season, we see some changes happening… Frank de Boer claims he wants to stay and I do believe him, but if Barcelona comes calling he will probably go. Ronald Koeman, however, is being named as a strong candidate by a Spanish paper. He is leaving Feyenoord and making way for Fred Rutten. Koeman was applauded and cheered during Feyenoord’s last home game this weekend. He was told he would leave the club on the shoulders of many and via the front door. He will always be welcome. Koeman admitted to regret to have to leave Feyenoord. “I have played for all three top clubs in Holland and I coached them all. I have sympathy for all of them but Feyenoord is special. My whole family feels very at home here. And in particular the home games have given me goosebumps. Feyenoord will always be special to me.”

A nice touch after the debacle exits of Mario Been and Gertjan Verbeek (who got fired this week in the Bundesliga).

Marco van Basten remains in Holland, moving to AZ Alkmaar while AZ CEO Toon Gerbrands is moving to PSV to assume the General Manager role there. Jan Wouters will leave FC Utrecht as the head coach but has already suggested he would consider an assistant role under another head coach. Jan has always felt more at ease in that role (Rangers, FC Utrecht).


The best we keep for last.

Louis van Gaal. He has said no to Spurs (probably wasn’t going to gel with Levy) and Wenger himself stated he would stay at Arsenal so a move to London was also irrelevant from that angle. Man United however, is in need of a strong coach who would be able to build up the club again. Give new input to the scouting, the analysis, youth development… in other words…renovate Manchester United.

LVG’s signing also means RVP will most likely stay in Manchester. One of the conditions the ManU owners have, is that the 1992 generation (Scholes, Giggs) are being utilised. Van Gaal has suggested he might take Pat Kluivert with him as assistant, as will Frank Hoeks and the video analysis team.

He will be paid a handsome 10 mio euros per year and can count on a 100 mio pound war chest!

I will be tuned in for all the Man U games. I wanna see how and if he can make it work (he is a good coach) but I also want to see him in the English media :-). The tabloids are quite….hectic… Actually, Sjoerd Mossou wrote a great little piece in the AD. I will use that for this post:

Dear Louis here are some tips for you, to work in the UK.

1. Don’t read the tabloids

It is bad for your heart. You will miss us, the Dutch press, as we will appear to be very friendly compared to our UK colleagues… Don’t expect an article on your tactical views or on the running patterns but expect a picture of your left full back naked in a strip club.

2. Watch our for Sir Alex

Sir Alex is angry. David Moyes was his mate and his choice. And Sir Alex was against firing Moyes. So watch it, because he will look over your shoulder. Make little noises. Will blow his nose suddenly. Or whine and mumble. And you don’t like that. Remember battling the ghost of Cruyff at Barca or your clashes with Hoeness in Munich? It’s no fun fighting club legends. You can’t win. So have a glass of red with Sir Alex quickly.

3. Yell a bit less

The English don’t appreciate yelling. You can tell them anything, they have a great sense of humour but mind your tone of voice. Be polite. Your buddy the Special One has the urge to say whatever he wants, but he hardly ever yells in interviews. He is smart like that.

4. Sell Rooney

It sounds weird because he is one of the few really good players you have, but he is not a typical Van Gaal player. He will turn 30 next year. His lifestyle will inform you that he won’t be playing like this for much longer. I don’t think there will be a personal connection between the two of you. Because Wayne is from Croxteth in Liverpool. Google the suburb. Your total Human Being Principle….words like “interpretation divergence”….. Don’t use them with Wayne. The Rooneys won’t be able to follow you.

5. Get a gauge on the Glazers…

But don’t trust them. They’re Americans. They gave Man U debt that will make you hallucinate. And they don’t know jack shit of football. Now they need you but don’t give them your loyalty. They might be selling everything in two years. And the ManU fans despise them.

6. Explain it all very quietly and patiently 4 times

RVP will be able to follow you. You already gained his trust. Robin is a football philosopher like you. But don’t make the mistake that the English players understand tactics because they don’t. It’s almost non existent. Take. It. Slow. The English don’t see football as a thinking game. They prefer to kick the ball up the park and then chase it like Braveheart, with foam  on the lips and blood on the legs. That is deeply ingrained in their genes.

Which brings us to Oranje.

I have not a lot of additional things to share…. Dirk Kuyt won the title. Jeremain Lens is not doing too well and neither is his club. The Debate re: Sneijder is still being entertained in the media. With Arjen Robben claiming his buddy and mate should definitely go to Brazil.

It’s not a big debate for me. Our suggested alternatives to Wes and Raf were Siem de Jong and Adam Maher? Wijnaldum could have played there too. Or Van Ginkel. Or Affelay. But the latter two have not played a serious game and should not be considered. Maher and Wijnaldum have not played enough to give them any position (although Wijnaldum might be able to convince LVG in the coming weeks and Siem de Jong is still injured.


So with all these lads not in the picture, of course you take Wesley Sneijder, playmaker of Galatasaray.

It might not be Real Madrid but he is still playing at a big club which played at the highest level in Europe this year.

And even if he is 80% of his 2010 version, he is still better than the 100% Maher, Van Ginkel or Fer on that position.

Rafael van der Vaart is another story. Is he fit enough? To me, form is never an issue for Raf. He can be out form at Hamburg and score a brace for Oranje. He is an artist. More so than Sneijder. So Van der Vaart could be of use, but I see him only as a second striker (in a 4-4-2 for instance). Not as a midfielder.

I do believe LVG will change his 4-3-3. Maybe not “publicly” but in the execution we will see a departure from 4-3-3. Feyenoord was successful this season with the 5-3-2 and I can see Van Gaal play this formation too.

Depending on his fitness, Krul might not make Brazil, which will probably mean Ken Vermeer will come as third goalie. But he might end up as the first one. This will allow LVG to play with a goalie as sweeper. Than he might use Kongolo as left back and Janmaat as right back to work the flanks. And with three relatively fast centre backs (De Vrij, Bruma, BMI for instance). Three man midfield with Nigel de Jong, Leroy Fer and Wesley Sneijder and up front RVP and Arjen Robben…

Or something like that :-).



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Oranje talents dream of the World Cup

Most Oranje fans would want any competition to stop now to make sure players like Robben and Huntelaar and Nigel de Jong won’t get injured… With Strootman out and Van Persie on the brink of being out ( sources claim that his injury might take longer than 6 weeks) any more bad luck amongst the mainstays would mean disaster.

This is not how the young talents look at it. And we do have a couple. With Strootman out and with Van Gaal opting for the 4-3-3 he is working with (wingers, penetrative midfielders, attacking full backs) a number of youngsters are aware they might be playing the World Cup this summer (albeit short….).

Davy Klaassen can’t stop smiling. He’s 21 years old and asked to come and model the new Oranje away jersey with his peers Joel Veltman (Ajax) and JP Boetius (Feyenoord). Klaassen smiles when he is confronted with skipper Van Persie’s kind words about him. In the game vs Barcelona, young Klaassen had the wherewithal to keep Barca at bay in the dying minutes and play like a veteran.”I read what he said in the newspaper. You then realise that these guys are watching me play like I am watching them. It hit me suddenly and it felt great.” Van Persie said he had enjoyed watching Klaassen playing for time. “Well, I did get a lot of positive responses to that but that was probably mainly because it was against Barca.”


Davy Klaassen

And with the mention of Barca, the discussion goes to the Real Madrid – Barcelona clash of last weekend. Klaassen: “Seeing that game did not give me any incentive to leave Ajax very soon. Man, that was such high level! I actually believe you should leave the Eredivisie at the moment where you feel you are at your top and you cannot grow anymore. Like how Sneijder and Ibrahimovic and Kuyt left.” Jean-Paul Boetius agrees. “Davy is right. And I think your gut feeling will tell you too. I have had my fair share of offers from abroad but I wanted to break into the first team of Feyenoord first. And make myself important for the team.”

Klaassen: “Playing CL or with Oranje is really a different level. It goes so much quicker. And I noticed that the energy drains away when you need to adjust to this. It’s massive. I think I can handle the level, but playing a World Cup is not the same thing. It’s at least three massive games in a short time span, maybe more. And then all the pressure. And playing top nations, right? There are no shabby teams there. And I have learned from the Barca game that if you have a plan and stick to it, it can work.” Boetius adds quickly: “Don’t forget one Lionel Messi didn’t play…’ Klaassen: “True. That is a big difference indeed.”

Klaassen knows the team manager is a fan and his call up for Oranje gives him the feeling that he might get lucky (with Strootman not fit). Boetius dreams of the World Cup too. “Mr Van Gaal has some options of course. Memphis Depay is a very good left winger. We played together in the youth Oranje teams. He as left winger, me on the right. I will do all I can these coming weeks and let’s hope it’s enough.

Klaassen will first party a bit with Ajax and the Eredivisie Shield. The fourth in a row. Has Boetius congratulated Klaassen already? The Feyenoord winger: “Listen, the Ajax of these past weeks is not the same Ajax as at the time of that Barca game. It feels like they’ll make it exciting again. And Feyenoord will want to finish as high as possible.” Klaassen: “Ah, yes, you’ll go for the second spot. Nice…”


Stefano Denswil

But there is more. Stefano Denswil (20) made his debut for Ajax in November 2012 but is still not a regular starter for Ajax. The central defender is quite a complete defender, with his length, speed and athlethecism. But he is still young and too kind. “I need to become more of a killer. I have worked with Jaap Stam and Frank de Boer on my defensive skills. It’s hard to go from Ajax youth to the Ajax 1 team. The difference is huge. The resistance at Ajax 1 is much higher. You saw that how we won many games easily in Europe in the youth CL ( Ajax lost against Inter Milan in the finals but beat the likes of Barca and Liverpool with aplomb). I am not happy yet and I think the coach shows this with his choice of starters. It’s as simple as that. De Boer always says: as a defender, you can never let both the man and the ball go past. If the ball goes past, the man stays. That mentality I have to learn.”

Karim Rekik is the PSV central defender this season. Developed at Feyenoord and now under contract with Manchester City. “I had a good talk at the start of the season with Man City. They wanted me to stay and I would be able to play 5 to 10 games in the first team. Mainly League Cup and lesser important games. I needed more games, so I decided to go for a loan spell. I preferred Holland because of the open play, the focus on youth and the Dutch style. I only needed one conversation with Mr Cocu to know that PSV would be the right team. Their vision but also the fact that they signed Jeff Bruma, Adam Maher and had Wijnaldum and Jetro already…”


Karim Rekik

Denswil: “This is my 13th season at Ajax. I started when I was seven. I was slowly prepared to play in Ajax 1 but the change is big. As Ajax youth player, you can hardly do any wrong. You win most games and you are Ajax, you know? But the supporters can be harsh re: the Ajax first team. Winning 1-0 at home is not good enough. At least three goals, is what they want. And I know, I used to be on the stands when Ajax played, hahahaha. I was one of them….”

Rekik has trained with big names, like Kompany, Toure, Balotelli… Isn’t that a big step back, playing for PSV? “Well, at PSV I train under Phillip Cocu. Quite a legend too, I think. But sure, the practices at Man City were unreal. These guys you mention, Tevez, Silva, Aguero… It’s top top notch. And I had Mancini as coach. He was quite a good forward but he knew exactly how to defend as well. He taught me about Italian defending, hahaha. We played pretty intense defenive games. He would let us defend with a string between us. And if the ball was played to the left, the whole defensive 6 (4 defenders + 2 midfielders) were supposed to move as one. Keeping distance but not too much and not too little… Really tough. And these type of sessions we don’t do in Holland. But… in Holland I get to play and in Manchester it was mostly practice.”

Kyle Ebecilio has a Feyenoord background like Rekik and Boetius but moved to Arsenal when he was 16 years old. “I don’t really regret that step. It was amazing. I played with Alex Song, Van Persie, Fabregas, Sanga…. Every day a master class. The pace was so high, unbelievable. I realised this was to be my year. I felt it was time for me to become an Arsenal 1 player. But in the talent team they kept on playing me as a winger, or a wide player. And I’m not. I am midfielder, a real midfielder. That didn’t feel good. There was some interest, PSV, Anderlecht, Twente… I spoke with the clubs but the talk with Alfred Schreuder of Twente was just amazing. He knew everything about me and told me what he wanted to do with me. I was sold from the get go.”

Is the level in Holland much lower than abroad? Ebecilio: “Well yes. It is….it is slower. Not lower. I believe it seems a bit less good because clubs go for youth now. You see many youthful squads and they can be a tad naive still .”


Kyle Ebecilio

Karim Rekik: “I think the pace is a bit slower but I also believe our current generation talents is really good. We can easily tag along because of our development. Also, in Holland the coaches expect you to take responsibility and show leadership. I think it helps your confidence if you are made important and it probably looks like we are playing with more experience then we actually have, hahaha.”

Tonny Vilhena, the Feyenoord midfielder (18 years young) chips in: “I think we play a little bit too naive compared to the more seasoned players. I played against Van Bommel last year. The trainer told me I could make him crazy by constantly running away from him. Make him work. His legs being a bit older than mine. But he is so smart. He would constantly move in such a way that I would bump into him and he would get a free kick. He would pace the game down, play the referee and get me out of my balance. And I remember thinking “man that guy is so smart….” You can learn from opponents in the field as well. But the number of Van Bommel’s in the Dutch eredivisie is decreasing of course….”

Vilhena can look back on a Superb Year. “I am not complaining. I am still only 18 years old and I do feel like a regular for Feyenoord now. That gives me some rest in my head. I have played 50 Eredivisie games already, I was at the EC with the Young Oranje and played Spain in Israel and I have made my debut for the big Oranje. I am quite happy.”

Kyle Ebecilio feels like his peak is yet to come. “I got a lot of confidence from the coaches but I didn’t start too well. Too much loose balls, too much little mistakes. I need to simply sacrifice myself for the team and work like a beast. That is my game. I seem to be important for Twente now, but I am also aware that this is because of Wout Brama’s injury. Wout is returning now, so who knows what the coaches will do.”

Vilhena remembers the moment well, when Ebecilio told his mates he’d move to Arsenal. “We lost Karim and Kyle. Karim went to Man City. Kyle to Arsenal and Nathan went later to Chelsea. JP and myself had the opportunity too but we both decided to break here. Somehow it feels better for me to play a number of years in Feyenoord 1. I am a Feyenoord lad and they put all their energy in my development. I am happy here, so I decided this. Karim and Kyle did their thing and that worked out well. There is not one way to reach the top.”


Tonny Vilhena

How do you deal with the expectations at the highest level? Rekik: “The expectations were always there, also at Feyenoord and Man City. But not comparable to playing in a first team. We had a bad series before Xmas and the fans really suffered. I believe it is your task, your responsibility as a player to deal with that. The external pressure was enormous. After our loss against Feyenoord our bus was attacked. I needed to get out and talk to them. I wanted to know what they thought and what they needed to get off their chest… I think my bond with the supporters got stronger there….”

And do you dream of the World Cup? Rekik: “If I have to be honest, I would be disappointed if I wouldn’t be part of it. I think I can handle it.I was invited earlier by Mr Van Gaal and had to say no due to injury. I think he will keep on checking me out and I believe I can deliver. So I will focus on that.” Vilhena: “Of course. If you have played for Oranje once, you do know you are close and you want to be part of it. But, I am young still. And there are many great Dutch midfielders, so….”. Ebecilio: “I want to be part of it, but I have quite some competition on my spot. I think I better focus on the Olympics….”. Denswil: “Van Gaal once said he wanted to select me but didn’t because Young Oranje needed me for a key game. That gives me confidence. That was a strong signal. I know need to show Van Gaal that he needs to pick me, but I’m not the only candidate, I know.”

boetiusJean Paul Boetius

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Van Persie: "We still don't know how good we are…."

Oranje is 100 days away from Brazil. Only 100 days…. It feels like it’s so close. But looking at the task of Van Gaal, you’d wish it was 1,5 season away…. So many uncertainties…. These last couple of days, Raf van der Vaart and Michel Vorm have left the camp, sick. Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben aren’t fit either. It wouldn’t surprise me if we would see a somewhat devaluated Oranje perform. Van Persie is also struggling with the flu, while Robben is trying to fight off a knock.

Siem de Jong is called up to replace Raf.

Wesley Sneijder will most likely start along with some new names up front. Huntelaar will play if Van Persie isn’t fit and he will be flanked by some youngsters left and right.

Van Gaal told the media he is ok with Van Persie and Robben not being able to play. “I will use them in Brazil anyway, of course. But now I have a chance to see some new kids. Boetius will most certainly play.” Based on the last practice session, it seems Karim Rekik will also play his first Oranje game.

Van Gaal has a rookie-card, or a wild card, in his mind for a youngster who currently is not yet part of the squad. Van Gaal knows who that is, but doesn’t want to announce the name yet.

LVG training

Van Gaal is currently working with a 35 man squad (incl Van der Vaart and Lens). Willem van Hanegem wouldn’t be surprised if the rookie is Feyenoord defender Terence Kongolo. The last weeks, the young talents has played Mathijsen out of the Feyenoord team. “I have said this two seasons ago: that is probably our biggest prospect as a defender. He was the best player in the Feyenoord – Ajax of last weekend.” If the youngster keeps on performing the coming months, it could well be him. Virgil van Dijk could be another candidate. In Amsterdam, the name of Ricardo Kishna is being whispered. Danny Blind is a big fan of the youngster. When Kishna was badly injured, the top management of Liverpool traveled to Amsterdam to sign the winger. Blind was quicker and presented a juicy contract for the bravado boy and secured his services for Ajax. Kongolo, Kishna. Boetius, Rekik, Klaassen, Promes… It could be either of them. Boetius is cautious with his comments: “I have been battling injuries and I am happy I am playing for Feyenoord again. Everything else is a bonus. I will do what I can to show myself.”

Karim Rekik: “I have nothing to claim but I would be disappointed if I would miss out….”

Van Gaal discussed the situation of Jeremain Lens in detail at the press conference, as the former AZ and PSV man plays in war stricken Kiev. “We keep an extra eye on Lens, as he has a special training program during the long winter break in the Ukraine. But with this unrest there, the situation is pretty serious there and we keep an eye out for him.” The suspended Lens is not part of the squad now.

Van Gaal will use this game vs France as his last real opportunity to experiment. Partly due to the fact he has a long list to submit by May 7 (30 players) and partly due to the number of absentees. It looks like Van der Wiel and Clasie will get a chance to show themselves. This team manager is not that hard to please. Veltman, Klaassen and Cillesen, for instance, all were players of Young Ajax at the start of this season and are now part potentially, of the World Cup squad. If a youngster shows consistent form from now on, he could be in it.

Quincy Promes played for Go Ahead Eagles last season. The Twente forward is humble, still. “I am not counting on anything. It is going fast, but I don’t want to get lost in all this. I take it one step at a time.” Klaassen played Jupiler league last season, but for him it can’t go fast enough.

strootman robben

Kevin Strootman is still considered a youngster but he is about to play his 25th international game. He will be honoured with a bottle of champagne and a shield with inscription. Dirk Kuyt and Arjen Robben are also about to reach a milestone: 100 and 75 caps respectively.

Robin van Persie, still not sure if he will play, was happy to be interrogated during the press hour. He frowned and was quite stern whenever someone raised issues re: Man United. “We are here at Oranje now. And I wish to keep my comments limited to Oranje.” But when someone asked him about the squad and the newbies in it, he said he couldn’t comment on topics that are the team manager’s decisions… What he did say: “The Stade de France is sold out for this game. Quite astonishing. 80,000 people on the stands, which says something. It will be a real match, I think. France has a strong squad. They play well. I saw some of their games. Players like Evra, Giroud, Pogba, Cabaye are pretty good. I see them as a contender.”

Asked if he felt Oranje was one too…. “I think we need to be modest. We don’t really know where we stand. We have some changes in the squad, with some players out and some newbies coming in. The expectations in Holland are always sky high. Ever since the 1970s, that result and those performances are now the benchmark. I don’t think that is realistic.” Van Persie does not believe Oranje will lack confidence or ambition. “Oh no, we are going to Brazil to go for gold, for sure. But with us, at least 10 other nations. We simply do not know now where we stand. But I will say this: I am impressed with the quality of the youngsters. I saw Ajax – Barcelona and the way Klaassen was making sure that the Spanish couldn’t get to the ball in the dying minutes and how he played it tactically was pretty impressive. We have wonderful talents and if we can make it gel, we can do something spectacular. But we also need to be critical. Only then can we get better.”

RVP training











Call me crazy, but I think we are going to give the French a beating. I think they will be cautious at home, playing in a low pace and our fresh legs and youthful enthusiasm will get them. I think we win 1-3, with a dazzling Boetius and a powerhouse Klaassen performance.

Sneijder directing traffic, Boetius and Klaassen making runs while the rest of the team keeps it tight.

What do you guys think?

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