Tag: Vermeer

What’s the status with the Eredivisie’s Big 3?

All three Dutch top clubs have a challenge to deal with. Feyenoord won the title, which resulted in a seismic eruption of elation, joy, relief and pride. It won the National Cup the season before and apprentice Gio became the Meistermacher or Champions maker, and with a cockiness befitting a champion he now has to go for his sophomore album. The season after. Ajax had a wonderful second season half with an unexpected Europa League finals and breathtaking football (at times). But the loss of Peter Bosz and the exit of Davy Klaassen and potential other players leaving (Dolberg? Sanchez?) makes next season a tough one. And remember, Ajax hasn’t won silverware two seasons in a row now, so… And PSV? Well, their season was a wet fart, really. No excitement, no results, no outstanding players or performances and no European continuation of the season before. Embarrassing almost.

PSV will have to renovate and will want to renovate. Marcel Brands, technical director, seems to cop the most blame for not allowing Cocu to field a team with all positions covered by specialists. Brands allowed Narsingh to leave without having any real alternative. Resulting in Luuk de Jong having to deal with two wingmen who weren’t wingmen. Ramselaar on the left wing? An insult to the dynamic midfielder. Locadio on the left wing? He’s a centre striker. Pereiro on the right wing? No speed, no explosivity. And always coming inside to find the shortest way to goal.

cocu de jong

Luuk de Jong, the former talisman, skipper and leader of the team lost form in an incredible manner. I think he must have missed at least 15 opportunities which would have been surefire goals the season before. And that also a season in which Jetro Willems was outstanding and delivered many fantastic assists from the left. Without him this season, Luuk de Jong was harmless. Van Ginkel was brought in and so was Siem de Jong, but the midfield lacked pace, guile and class. Guardado, the leader and captain in midfield was less forcefully present than in previous seasons and Davey Propper dropped form from the moment Zenit St Petersburg knocked on the door.

Guardado will leave for Betis Sevilla. Jetro Willems is most likely on his way out to Turkey. Moreno, the central defender, is gone already. Davey Propper might leave for Zenit this summer. Cocu will want a sweet revenge on last season and he’ll need some fresh players in the squad. A loan deal for Vincent Janssen has been discussed with Spurs and if that happens, Luuk de Jong might even fear for his spot. Marco van Ginkel wants to stay at PSV and might take the role of Guardado, while Jorit Hendrix deserves his opportunity to play. Just like Ramselaar deserves a spot in midfield where he belongs. Two new wingers will be high on the list for Brands and Cocu, as will two full backs And full backs are in fashion this summer. Both Feyenoord and Ajax need a couple as well. With Jeroen Zoet being courted by Napoli, and Pasveer – the second goalie – already gone, PSV might also go shopping for goalies.


In Eindhoven, there are some envious looks going towards Amsterdam and Rotterdam. 27Mio for Klaassen, approx 30 mio for Kongolo/Karsdorp. Some loose change for Tete and Elia. While PSV was able to just get 6 mio for Moreno who’s off to Roma. PSV’s focus will also turn to the youth. And why not: they do have some pretty good striker talents coming through (thanks to the work of Luc Nilis and Ruud van Nistelrooy, among others) and Cocu has invited three youngsters to join the A-squad this summer.

Ajax endured the shock exit of Peter Bosz. Everyone understands that when a CL level club comes for a coach, in a country where the paycheck is substantially higher, he is not criticised if he takes the job. But Bosz also claims to have left because the relationships in the technical staff were toxic. Dennis Bergkamp: “That hurt me in my soul, you know? I just don’t buy it. He worked here all season, he never said anything about this to anyone, and a day before Dortmund calls he suddenly has differences with me and L’Ami? As if I am difficult to work with? Come on! And I don’t get it? Why not say “I’m going for my ambitions, the money, the challenge!”. We are proud at Ajax when a player we developed or a coach who had success here moves on to better pastures. We get that. But why did he need to use those reasons to justify his leaving? The emotions have settled with me now, but at the time I was furious.”

So there was no conflict between you and the backroom staff and him and Kruzen?

“Not as it was described. We had our differences and we had firm discussions about football, but that is part of the job! You need to have these. And it’s not like I would walk out and bang the door shut. He’s the main man, the head coach so he decides. I respect that. It was about pure football stuff, the training build up, the intensity… Technical stuff. Nothing political or personal. And always respectful. Like I also worked with De Boer. But we have Ajax DNA. We are direct, confrontational and speak our minds. Maybe that was part of the problem. Versleijen was Bosz’ guiding light re: intensity training and all that. We decided at Ajax to abandon his philosophy. Marcel Keizer will work according to the Ajax way and this is one of the advantages if you have not only players moving up through the system, but also coaches.”

You had to leave the bench and sit in the stands, was that a problem for you?

“Not at all. My role changed. Under Frank I was assistant coach. Now I am training players individually and I coordinate the bridge between youth academy and the professional squad. Henny and Hendrie were the real assistant coaches, so Peter needed them. Henny Spijkerman is a genius in reading a game. He is the first one to spot where things don’t flow and he’s the one with the quickest solution. He was needed. Carlo L’Ami is the man for dead ball situations. Organisation. Like many ex-keepers they see the shape and have a good insight into who marks who, and all that. But Henny was not so happy with the way he could work under Bosz, but that was addressed. Henny would go to Young Ajax this coming season.”


But Bosz did want to make changes in the staff and you didn’t allow this?

“Not me. Nothing to do with me, Dennis Bergkamp. It’s Ajax! When Peter had his evaluation with Edwin van der Sar, I wasn’t even present. But Ajax, by voice of Edwin and Overmars, will not allow a coach, a passerby, to determine the structure of Ajax. We work like we do, with reason. The new coach can bring in his own assistant, and that’s it. That was not a conflict. It was a suggestion from Bosz and Ajax said NO. Next subject, you know?”

And now, Marcel Keizer…

“A great choice and you will like this: we already knew that Marcel would succeed Bosz. We just didn’t think he had to do it this soon. We signed Bosz for three seasons, so Marcel had some more time. But taking everything into account, we knew he was the one. The Ajax DNA I mentioned before is key. And we know how he trains, how he works, communicates. It was a no brainer really. The only thing is: how will he handle the pressure of the platform… But then again, he will have to start at some stage. Now, in 3 years… Cocu, Gio, Pep, Ronald Koeman, they all had to have their go at some stage.”

Sadly, it seems Appie Nouri will not be playing too much top football the coming weeks as he sadly was hospitalized as a result of heart rhythm issues during the practice camp in Austria. The young and highly talented midfielder was treated on the pitch for 20 minutes or so before he was choppered to the hospital. He’s not in life threatening danger, Ajax stated. If that is the best they can share, you know it’s a serious matter. Riedewald, in the meantime, has discussed his exit with Marcel Keizer. The young talent is being courted by several clubs. “I was really happy to stay at Ajax and go for my chances, but there is some serious interest out there and am open for it. Big clubs from big competitions. I explained this to Ajax and they won’t make it hard for me. Mind you, this has nothing to do with coach Keizer. I think he is the ideal choice for the club and I support him 100%.”

keizer emotie

An emotional Marcel Keizer waiting for news on Nouri

The Eredivisie champions and CL qualifiers have lost more players than expected, but they also lost someone else. General Manager Eric Gudde has resigned and will leave the club in November. The man who took the job almost 10 years ago, when Feyenoord was close to bankruptcy. Who had to take some harsh decision and take risky offers from investors to keep the club alive. Who had to put top talents like Wijnaldum and Fer in the shop window to survive. Both players going to direct rivals. He made his decision the day after the title was won. Feyenoord is more alive than ever! The biggest club in the country, when determined by followers (Ajax is the biggest in trophies). And financially healthy. But only just.

Gio van Bronckhorst and Martin van Geel knew that Elia wanted to move on. One more big step up. They knew Berghuis was going to have to go back to Watford. Dirk Kuyt was a question mark but he retired from football. If he wouldn’t have, his role would have been diminished anyway. Elia resulted in a smallish transfer fee (2 mio euros). But Rick Karsdorp has suitors as well, mention even of the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich. “When I win the title with Feyenoord, I will move on” he said in an interview before last season. And now he won it and AS Roma came knocking with a checkbook. And Feyenoord welcomed the 14 mio+ for the full back. Van Geel was quick to find a successor, even with Nieuwkoop in the squad, and got Kevin Diks on a loan deal in. Fairly unexpected, Feyenoord got to cash in another 15 mio euro cheque, this time for Terence Kongolo. The 23 year old will play his football at AS Monaco next season. Quite a big move for the talented defender. So, approximately 30 mio coming in and with Diks, the return of the lost son JP Boetius and the young Amrabat Feyenoord will prepare for next season. AZ full back Haps will get on the short list for sure, and Steven Berghuis might well return to the Kuip as well. Among all of that, the name of Robin van Persie also floats around in Rotterdam.


Gio van Bronckhorst is confident.

“I went on a holiday right after winning the title to clear my head. I did take some of the Title Celebration books with me and the DVD. Really enjoyed processing the season and had a good time resting. When I went back to Rotterdam, I literally closed the books on the title. That is in the past. And it doesn’t count anymore. Now, we want to win the title again and do well in the Champions League. That is the journey of the pro. Improving and raising the bar again and again.”

Fey Diks Boetius

New signings Diks and Boetius with Kenneth Vermeer


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Oranje pleases 250 mio Indonesians

But forgets the millions of Dutch fans….

Ah well…it was part holiday, part football development mission, part practice, wasn’t it.

enjoying fans

Robben, Sneijder and Kuyt enjoying the fans

The big guns all were past their big finish lines. RVP winning his first title. Robben winning his first CL. Kuyt surviving the madness of Turkey. De Guzman proving a point to the Spanish and Sneijder lucky to still get a call up…

LVG used a couple of newbies in the team (Nelom, benchwarmer at Feyenoord and Toornstra, midfield motor at Utrecht) and hussled the team nicely up for the second half.

With a couple of more hares for Cillisen (first half) and Dwight Tiendali in the second half.

What was it all about?

About PR. About finally acknowledging all those fans in Indonesia ( ManU / RVP connection but more so, the colonial Dutch Indies connection).

And it was about having fun. A post-season school trip.

Who cares about the game really? Who cares that RVP missed a couple of sitters. The Indonesians enjoyed it. Van Gaal enjoyed himself. The players must have really enjoyed themselves, being treated like Beatles.

And that Robben goal was quite something too.

Many good things to say about the game and a lot of irrelevant bad things to say.

Unfortunately for Lens, he didn’t make it to the end due to injury and his fitness is in doubt for the China game.

Even the Sneijder situation was not really a downer. On the contrary. Louis calls this as he sees them.

He took the band off Sneijder, telling him he is simply not fit for top football at the moment. A harsh but clear message and somehow Sneijder felt relief. He needs to take time to get back and is there a better place for him to do that then under Mourinho at Chelsea? Yes, probably Ajax… But that won’t happen…

Van Persie didn’t mind it either, as the natural leader is now the deserved Oranje skipper. He led Arsenal in the past and is now the undisputed star of Oranje. Arjen Robben had the band in the second half.

skipper RVP

Skipper Robin van Persie

Siem de Jong scored twice with his head. Perfect header as he is. Two goals, that must do him good. Ricky van Wolfswinkel missed luck, just like many other players could have scored if the pitch was a bit more generous.

The surface was wanting, just like the climate was very tough. Humidity up in the 90s and a lot of heat. Van Persie said after the game he had to really grasp for air at times. And this is one of the fittest chaps around….

“It was tough. Playing against teams that only defend is hard in itself, but we couldn’t play our normal fast paced game. Your tank would be empty in 10 minutes… And we don’t know how to play slow…. this is what made us look so bad in the first 45 minutes… “

In the second half, the fitness on Indonesian side ebbed out and Holland got some more space to operate in.

Van Persie is honoured with the skippers role. “Of course. A huge honour. Being the captain of Oranje. You can’t get much higher. Maybe King. Oh and being team manager of course… “

Wesley Sneijder acknowledged he was not able to meet the coach’s requirements. “My year was tough. I didn’t play in Italy for months. At this level, that hurts. Getting back to fitness was impeded by the fact that I wanted to perform for Gala, immediately. We could win the title, we were still in the CL, so you tend to overdo it a bit. And all these little pains start to come, so you are never fit. I will know work as never before to get back to top level. I feel I have let Van Gaal down.”


Lens not so fortunate this gamelens








Jens Toornstra in his first internationaltoornstra

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Congrats and Thanks, Ajax!

Ajax won their 32nd title in the Dutch Eredivisie and with a record number of trophies and winning it for the third time in a row (Frank de Boer joins Michels and Van Gaal in an illustrious little group of success coaches, he only needs to win the Champions League now), Ajax establishes itself as Holland’s best club.

Quite a feat and a warm congrats from the blogsphere :-).

Ajax deserved it (as any club deserves to win it, after 30+ games in a competition). PSV should have won it, in my humble opinion, what with their investments in a strong squad but despite the presence of Mertens, Wijnaldum, Strootman, Lens, Van Bommel, Toivonen and Matavz, PSV never looked like they could really bother Ajax.

This will put even more pressure on the Eindhoven club towards next season, although it is quite likely that a number of big names will leave PSV (Mertens, Lens, Strootman, Toivonen). Feyenoord seemed to be a contender but in the last stage of the competition, they choked, spilling points vs Heerenveen, RKC and now ADO Den Haag. A young, bright and talented bunch, in Rotterdam, but simply not ready yet. And with the financial issues the club still has, they might sell a number of remarkable players this summer (Pelle, Clasie, Martins Indi, De Vrij), which will further erode their potential.

And with Vitesse and now even FC Utrecht making their way up, we might be looking forward to an increasingly interesting domestic competition.

Ajax is doing a lot of things well. I personally believe Feyenoord have eclipsed them in youth development, as Ajax is the Manchester City of youth players. They might keep the wallet closed for older players but at the youth level, Ajax is one of the big spenders.

But hey, they are not as good in development maybe as they used to be, they still know how to scout. With players like Eriksen, Fischer, Moisander and Boilesen, it’s clear that the Ajax scouts still now the way in Scandinavia. And now, Ajax is even scouting further afield, and China is full on the radar in Amsterdam!

With the JC revolution still going (more like an evolution) in the background, it is Frank de Boer and his staff who have been working diligently and without too much fuss on furthering the Ajax cause. Frank is a true manager. He says what he does and he does what he says. He is clear in his vision, he treats the players like adults and he is 100% himself. We all know that Dennis Bergkamp is not much different, so the leadership positions in Amsterdam are filled up very well.

De Boer lets Ajax play recognisable football and isn’t afraid to experiment a bit with his tactics (as Roberto Mancini must have noticed in the CL group games). He has also been able to lift question-mark players like Ken Vermeer, Daley Blind, Derk Boerrigter and Lasse Schone to a higher level. The first three even made their Oranje debut under De Boer.

Ajax did what it needed to do domestically and actually impressed in the European league.

The key thing for Ajax will be to hold on to Christian Eriksen and Siem de Jong. With those two players in the squad, and a fit Ryan Babel and a further matured Victor Fischer, Ajax could definitely try and survive the group stages in the CL. This year, they had to face the Spanish, English and Germany champs and they didn’t do too shabby. With a bit more luck in the draw, Ajax could start its renewed ascent under De Boer, allowing him to enter that somewhat bigger group of coaches who won a European Cup with the Sons of Gods.

So it’s congrats, and thanks… As Ajax will further stimulate the competition with the likes of PSV (ashamed) and Feyenoord ( wannabees) while Vitesse, Utrecht, Heerenveen, AZ and Twente will be looking up with jealousy. Offering us even more exciting games to come!

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Ajax dominates, PSV and Feyenoord choke….

The Eredivisie has been called the Mickey Mouse competition since before Walt Disney got the inspiration to draw the black mouse, it seems… But the so-called Big Leagues have lost some of its glory this season for me.

Bayern Munich, Man United and Barca were surefire champions on Boxing Day already, it seemed. While two weeks ago, five clubs in Holland were still battling for the title.

Sadly, however, Ajax has shown it’s men against boys in Holland. In the last weeks of the competition, the business end, Ajax demonstrates it wants it. Badly. While Feyenoord succumbed under pressure (physically and mentally) while PSV disgracefully disappoints. So much so that Mark van Bommel considers throwing in the towel and retiring.

What is going well in Amsterdam can clearly be summarized in three words: Frank de Boer. Sure, his assistants Dennis Bergkamp and Hennie Spijkerman (and Carlo L’Ami) will have an impact, just like Overmars and Van der Sar do great things in their suits and the Ajax scouting is able to find the talent, etc etc.

But to take all these great ingredients and to mix it all up into a winning team for three seasons in a row is quite a feat. And all that in non-matching clothes to boot! All Ajax staff wears the formal Ajax costume, bar head coach Frank de Boer who has his own personal fashion sponsor…. Something for Dick Advocaat to consider. He was still wearing his Russia National Team jacket in the PSV dug out….

Back to the field.

PSV – Ajax was a match between a team that really wanted it and a team that felt it merely deserved it.

PSV has spent millions on attacking talent in the last seasons. Matavz, Mertens, Narsingh, Lens, Wijnaldum and with Strootman and Van Bommel in midfield it seemed PSV would have all the ingredients to start winning titles again.

But someone in Eindhoven forgot you do need good defenders too. Scoring a lot is not a problem for the PSV team. But conceding a lot is doing them in.

Seasoned coach Dick Advocaat couldn’t find the right tone with his team. Where Ajax, Feyenoord and Vitesse are working with a coach that can relate to the 20 year olds, PSV decided to go for the veteran coach who is renowned for his “gun for hire” mentality. In a recent interview, he said “don’t expect me to go and check out a PSV youth team. Can’t be bothered…”. No wonder the spark was gone after a while.

Some old PSV icons, who are still involved at the club formally or informally (like Hans van Breukelen, Wim Kieft and others) are moving towards a coup in Eindhoven. Maybe not JC style so much, but the ex-players believe general manager Tiny Sanders is to blame.

Most pundits expect a different PSV next season anyway. Dries Mertens, Kevin Strootman, Ola Toivonen and Jermaine Lens will have moved on, while new coach Phillip Cocu will most likely replace a number of average players wearing the PSV jersey ( Hutchinson, De Rijck).

That will most likely improve the situation in PSV a bit, as the vibe in the dressing room has deteriorated. As Willem van Hanegem said in his column, he had heard from well-informed sources that most players were busy checking the American NBA results after their defeat against Ajax. He also heard that Mark van Bommel was most keen to put his studs not in an Ajax leg, but in Hutchinson’s for his continuous mistakes.

And Advocaat was heard muttering about Pieters’ mistake till late in the night. “What can I do, if an international defender like Pieters allows Boerrigter an open road to goal like this???”.

Van Hanegem went on to criticise Feyenoord too. He did not see a Feyenoord fighting for its last chance, against RKC. “Where is club love?” he muttered. “Should these guys fight till they can’t get up anymore, even if just for the fans who pay their high salaries?”. A often heard complaint by the Feyenoord legend. Ronald Koeman could only agree. “I still get tears in my eyes when I think how Duits was allowed to steam up into our defence. No one responded!”

The Feyenoord coach believes the selection of some of his youngsters this season for Oranje has not helped his quest.

All in all, Ajax is simply the best (again) this season.

Frank de Boer must be complimented for his work and Ajax fans will lose sleep this summer, as many European clubs will vie for his services, without a doubt. De Boer said “no” to Liverpool last season but what will he say if AC Milan, Barcelona or Manchester City comes to chat?

He earlier on said, he’d want an Alex Ferguson career at Ajax, so maybe it will all be well after all.

The man who helped Vermeer, Siem de Jong and Blind into Oranje and has made Christian Eriksen into one of Europe’s hottest midfielders will most likely see Dennis Bergkamp move to Arsenal. His successor is known already, what with Jaap Stam coming to the Arena, while Fons Groenendijk is also a highly respected coach in Amsterdam.

Ajax Godfather Johan Cruyff was pleased to see Ajax’ progress. “The performance can still be improved. It wasn’t great all the time. But the mentality was great. And Ajax has moved from “it’s nice to play good” to “we have to play good”. Frank de Boer is the right coach for Ajax. He made three changes and all three changes were aimed at winning the game. He didn’t make them because of PSV’s actions. It was not reactive, but pro-active. Things are looking up. Financially, the club is doing ok and winning the title this year again will help tremendously.”

Frank de Boer is one of the few players of a golden generation who is capable of transcending his passion as a player into his coaching. It took Jan Wouters a long while to find his mojo, while Rijkaard, Van Basten and Koeman had a hot-cold career so far.

It’s officially too early to congratulate the Sons of Gods, but their demonstration of will in the PSV-Ajax game clearly makes them the only club deserving of the title this season. And with a bit more luck in the draw next season (and Adam Maher for Christian Eriksen who will most likely move away from Amsterdam), the Champions League might prove to be a good platform for Ajax anyway…

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LVG ignores big name players

Oranje plays his first international game of 2013 on Feb 6 against Italy. And the classic last weekend gave Louis van Gaal a lot to think about.

The Dutch team is in a period with lots of injuries. And there are many bench roles for players in the big competitions. Ajax-Feyenoord was double interesting, due to this. Louis van Gaal saw 14 candidate internationals at work.

And what did we learn? That it’s a thin line between international top defender and flop of the match… Bruno Martins Indi made it into Oranje when LVG took the reigns but the agile Feyenoord defenderr played atrocious against Ajax. Weak in the passing, naive defending, no personality and will.

Joris Mathijsen’s problems could be seen by any one watching while Darryl Janmaat and Ricardo van Rhijn both struggled. Both very good in offensive duties but very vulnerable as real defenders.

But, some players impressed. Kenneth Vermeer is Ajax’ eleventh player in build up. Very good with his feet. And Daley Blind played like he did before the break. He deserves a call up for Italy. He was boss against Schaken and had time and air to support in offensive duties.

Vermeer could even start against Italy, as Krul is losing game after game and Stekelenburg is benched.

Amongst the midfielders and strikers it was remarkable to see that the most impressive players are Danes… The only Dutch player to impress in that area was Jean-Paul Boetius. He is only 18 years old and kept on taking the game to Ajax, with bravado and a good work ethic. Even when Feyenoord had clearly lost the game, he tried to do what he could.

It’s important that he is able to play at a higher level than Eredivisie at times, such as Europa or even Champions League. Feyenoord struggles to offer him this, while Ajax seems to have that consistency at least.

Jonathan de Guzman might make his debut for Oranje. The Swansea midfielder can finally count on wearing a Dutch jersey with the seniors. The Canadian born player did play for Jong Oranje before.

Former Feyenood man De Guzman left Rotterdam for Spain but Laudrup signed him for Swansea, where he scored twice last weekend with assistant Danny Blind in the stands.

Wesley Sneijder and Stekelenburg didn’t play for their clubs for quite some time and are left out. Rafael van der Vaart and Arjen Robben are on their way to match fitness and won’t be part of this, while Heitinga is ignored as he hardly gets playing time at Everton. Nigel de Jong hardly is match fit while Afellay is also injured.

De Guzman was part of the pre-selection in 2008 as well, under Van Basten. He had just received his Dutch passport. Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Khalid Boulahrouz – both Sporting Lisbon – are selected too.

This Friday, LVG will present the definitive squad.

Pre-selection Oranje

Goal: Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Kenneth Vermeer (Ajax), Michel Vorm (Swansea City).

Defense: Daley Blind (Ajax), Khalid Boulahrouz (Sporting), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Joris Mathijsen (Feyenoord), Ricardo van Rhijn (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord).

Midfield: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Leroy Fer (FC Twente), Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Adam Maher (AZ), Kevin Strootman (PSV).

Forwards: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Ola John (Benfica), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (PSV), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Ruben Schaken (Feyenoord), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Sporting).

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Holland – Germany; my analysis

Daryl Janmaat had the best opportunity for the Dutch

I am pretty sure I start most reviews on friendlies with “I don’t like friendly games”…

And I still don’t.

What does it offer me? It offers excitement in the run up and then massive disappointment. Because if we lose against Germany, we lost against Germany. And if we win, it’s basically irrelevant as it’s merely a friendly…

And I hardly ever get entertained. There is no excitement in it. The only people who actually “enjoy” these games are the national team manager and his staff. And most likely the media.

Not me.

But looking at the game through the glasses of Louis van Gaal, I think there are some interesting conclusions:

1. Germany is further than we are. There “flow” in the game was better. They were more confident, played a higher pace and were able to find each other in time and space. And they created good opportunities using the wings and pushing forward.

2. Using players that hardly ever play together in these roles does not work well. Our team lacked any flow as a result. Huntelaar and Afellay play together at Schalke: LVG benches the Hunter. Why?? Schaken and Janmaat play well together at Feyenoord: LVG lets Van Rhijn start. Why?? The hub in Feyenoord is Jordy Clasie. He plays or has played with Vlaar, BMI, De Vrij, Janmaat, Schaken but LVG decides to use Nigel de Jong centrally in midfield…

3. Our youngsters surely have the goods. From Vermeer and Krul to De Vrij, Janmaat and Van Ginkel. Bring it on. It might now be said that Bert van Marwijk was a bit too slow using youngsters, which now results in Holland being behind Low’s Germany. And we know Maher, Fer, Narsingh and Strootman are waiting in the wings to come back. Our present time might not be world class, but our future most certainly is.

4. Louis van Gaal makes weird choices. Why does he risk getting on a bad footing with Huntelaar? Why does he play Nigel de Jong who offers so much in defence, but so little in build up?

My fear is that Van Gaal is merely another “rigid” coach, just like Van Marwijk. The latter held on to his 15 man squad and 4-2-3-1. Van Gaal seems to be married to 4-3-3 and likes to impress whoever (media? his wife? The opponents? The players? Danny Blind?) by making weird choices.

Playing against this Germany, he could have used the Ajax system, with a false striker. Don’t use Huntelaar when he’s out of form (is he really??? The Hunter is NEVER out of form… He always scores) ok, but maybe use a stronger midfield… And let Van der Vaart play as central midfielder behind Schaken and Robben… I probably would have picked Afellay over Schaken. Used Clasie in midfield. With De Jong and Van Ginkel. Second half, bring Emanuelson for Van der Vaart. Siem de Jong would have been the right player for that midfield too. He is in form. But being “in form” clearly is less important than being out form…

Anyway…too late now.

I’m just a bit concerned that Klaas Jan might lose it one day. Before the Belgium game, he is called the no. 1. After the Belgium game, Robin is the number one. Now, suddenly Kuyt gets the nod. And every player loves playing against team mates, so I’m sure Klaas Jan feels terribly humiliated. Smart move, Louis!

On a closing note: our width is improving massively. Players like Emanuelson, Van Ginkel, Elia, Janmaat, Fer, De Vrij etc have a lot to offer. I loved how the two Feyenoord defenders took the game to Germany (De Vrij and Janmaat).

So, all in all: I’m happy with our talent and future prospects. But I’m still on the fence with Louis…

Eljero Elia back in the squad

Marco van Ginkel shows lots of promise…

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Wonderful week for Ajax with balls! ( Pt 1?)

On the day before the biggest Classic in the country (Feyenoord-Ajax), we can look back at a great week for Ajax.

And typically for Ajax, it has everything to do with balls. Big balls.

The difference between Ajax and Feyenoord, PSV, Twente and all the other teams in Holland is basically that. Bravado. Balls. Arrogance. Self-consciousness. This is what made/makes Ajax extraordinary.

Yes, good football. Yes, results. Yes, a good venue. Yes a good jersey. Yes, a strong supporters following. All of that. But it’s Ajax gogme ( jiddish word for street smartness) that sets them apart.

And it was demonstrated by Frank de Boer ( and his staff) in the tactics against Manchester City.

The Oranje1974/Barca style of playing with a loose striker ( ™ Carlos) worked wonders. Roberto Mancini didn’t get it. Lescot and Kompany didn’t have a clue. Ajax ruled the game.

And it was demonstrated by Cristian Eriksen, Siem de Jong, Ricardo van Rhijn, Daley Blind and even Paulsen. On the pitch. In amongst big name players like Toure, Nasri, Aguero, Barry, Milner.

Ajax deserved the lead in the first half already, but over enthusiasm by the team (and Van Rhijn) allowed Nasri to score (was Vermeer indeed pulling his hand?). But Man of the Match Siem de Jong set up the equaliser in brilliant style, after a one-two combination with Van Rhijn.

In the second half, Ajax put the foot firmer on the pedal and won the game highly justified with 3-1.

Dennis having a good time while Roberto is not happy….

And sadly, one wonders…what would have happened if the lot would have found their cojones earlier on in the competition? Sure, they played well against Dortmund in Germany, but forgot to kill the game. The home game against Real Madrid (with yours truly in the stands) gave us another Ajax, however. Frank de Boer said “It was as if I was watching Martin Jol’s Ajax…”…

But he got them to play exciting, adventurous and ballsy again. According to the Dutch school, but arguably in a 4-4-2 formation. So what?

So, there are many different scenarios out there, but in my book, Ajax needs to win away against City (Boerrigter and Babel up front, no Sana and 4 men in midfield) and at home against Dortmund and Real will do the rest :-). If Ajax goes up to the second spot, Dortmund and Man City will go after spot 3 and Man City will definitely win a game (after they get their arse whooped by Ajax again 🙂 ).

Former Ajax chair and FFP advocate Michael van Praag

So, there you go people: Ajax to go through.

Also, on another level, in the board room, former Ajax executives Michael van Praag and Maarten Fonteijn have pushed for (and received) agreements on Financial Fair Play. To be introduced next season ( 2013-2014)!

Like Frank de Boer on the bench, Michael van Praag does not take prisoners. Asked if he would have the cojones to have a go at Manchester City and Real Madrid, he said (with a smile): “You betcha!”.

So clubs like Ajax will have a real chance to win the CL again.

Van Praag: “If Real Madrid doesn’t want to play according to the new rules, they are out. Simple as that.”

Any club competing in a European competition will have to have his financial household in order by running the operation break even. Making a loss is not on.

“The revenue streams will have to come from ticket sale, sponsoring, tv rights and merchandising. It is not longer an option for the owner of Man City to say “what do we need to balance the books? 100 million? Here you go…”.”

Debt needs to be repaid in three years. In the first year, 45 mio is allowed, but in year three only 5 mio. After that, it is zero! The only investments that are allowed is the youth academy. The only option left for them is to sell shares in the clubs. But they won’t…”

Fascinating developments in Amsterdam.

Sadly for them, they’re now on their way to Rotterdam where Feyenoord will put their feet firmly back onto the ground :-).

Man of the Match

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