It is clear from the response in the country and on this blog, that all Oranje fans are really happy with the way Louis van Gaal has started this campaign. As he said himself: “My start in 2000 was bad, because I didn’t bring in new blood. I won’t make that mistake now.”
Louis van Gaal made some big decisions.
He decided on a style of playing that is more fitting of Dutch school playing: 4-3-3, forward pressure, fast circulation, real wingers…
The next thing he did, was to write profile descriptions for the positions. And then he went on to find the right players for these spots.
The next decision he made, was to not select players who are not match fit. So players who just made a big move from one country to the next, would not be selected. Good decision.
Clarity for all.
The response we’re seeing on this blog is mirrored in the response we see in the Dutch media.
Five football experts gave their opinions….
1. Robbie “Snakeman” Rensenbrink; former left winger in Oranje ’74
“Finally we have a real left winger again. I never understood the positioning of Robben on the right. It was so predictable. Coming inside, and trying to shoot. I played on the right at times, but you’re always slower, as you want to take on a ball with your strong leg. Lens did well too, against Hungary. All the youngsters were great. We only have 4 or so of the old guard in it. As far as I’m concerned, the coach can stick to his plan. Let this group have a go. We got a lot of criticism when we started in 1974. The friendlies we played were horrendous. But briefly before the World Cup we had a practice game against Argentina and suddenly, it all came together….”
2 Gertjan Verbeek; no international caps, coach of AZ
“Something had to change. And making tough decisions was key. Van Gaal showed his courage. It could have gone against him. We could have lost against Turkey. But we got lucky. Against Hungary, the team played well. Solid. But don’t forget, Hungary is a weak opponent. If you saw what these guys were doing when Clasie took that free kick. That was pathetic. But Louis started really well. Great for him, the national team and for Dutch football. The points are in the bag and the 1-4 is a good result internationally. Well done!”
3. Gaston Taument; former Oranje international and current Feyenoord youth coach
“I thought Oranje was fresh and fun to watch. Van Gaal has given a couple of youngsters a chance, but I do believe these guys are stayers. Hungary wasn’t too strong, that is true, but we shouldn’t emphasize that too much. We won twice. That is great. I watched the Feyenoord lads, in particular. Clasie and Martins Indi. The latter had to really work hard, very hard, to get to this level. But he is developing so well. The big clubs abroad will have him on the radar now. He played great against Hungary and that goal really did something to me. Scoring for Oranje is special. I once scored with my head ( World Cup 1994) but I wasn’t a stayer in Oranje. But I think Bruno will be….”
4. Hans “De Breuk” van Breukelen; former Oranje international, PSV Board member
“I am positively surprised by Oranje. The first win over Turkey was a bit lucky. We did create a lot but we also gave away too much. But against Hungary, it was great. I tip my hat to the staff and players. The staff had the guts and the vision to blend these youngsters in. And it’s been good. I was watching this with glee. It was fresh and playful. The latter is sometimes missing in a well oiled team. I do believe Van Gaal will definitely use players as Afellay, Van der Vaart, De Jong and Van der Wiel later on. But the message is clear. We do have younger and hungry players that will do the job too. That is clear. The old guard won’t have a permanent pass to get a starting position in this team, like it appeared to be under Van Marwijk, at times.”
5. Adri “Spijker” van Tiggelen, former Oranje international, Sparta scout
“There is a new regime at Oranje and that is fascinating. Van Gaal wants to make his mark and create his own group. Our luck is that we are in a very weak group. Turkey and Hungary are the strongest opponents but they’re not too good. We play Andorra soon and then we’ll have quite a gap, I guess. I am not sure if have so many great talents, to be honest. We call a player a talent very quickly. Willems is not yet the Oranje left back we need. He’s still vulnerable. The Feyenoord lads got a chance because the club was lacking money to spend. Ajax and PSV have lots of foreign lads in the youth developmment. It’s clear to me that Sneijder, Robben and Van Persie will still have to carry the weight. We will see Mathijsen and maybe Heitinga disappear, but whoever plays, we will always qualify of course as a result of the weak group we’re in. Louis can start to worry about the squad for 2014 World Cup… Ample time.”
Maarten Stekelenburg went through the wringer with Oranje. First Van Gaal bypassed him for the job between the sticks, but when Krul was out with an elbow injury, the Roma man was the Oranje no. 1 again.
“I was totally surprised Van Gaal benched me. And obviously, I wasn’t in agreement with it, but what can you do? You can sulk and whine or you get on with it. I decided to train hard and wait for my new chance. Luckily for me, unfortunately for Tim, it came very quick.”
Does Stekelenburg have feelings of revenge? “No, that is not me. The coach knows me, he knows what he can expect from me.”
What does Steks think of the criticism? “As a goalie, if you concede, you hardly ever look good, you know? When we were winning, no one criticised me. Now we lose a couple of games and people focus on all your little mistakes. It seems as if I played a lousy Euros, the more it is behind us…”
Rafael van der Vaart wants to fight back. He feels he has been overlooked, despite Van Gaal’s comments that he wanted to “spare” the lads who made a transfer…
“If you’ve played 100 international games and than you suddenly aren’t called up, it hurts….”, say Van der Vaart. The coach said I wouldn’t be fit enough, but I don’t think I agree.
The former Ajax, Madrid and Spurs player has returned to his second home in Hamburg and wants to get back in Oranje as soon as possible. “This is the good thing with Van Gaal. He will always give you a chance.”
Van der Vaart got the chance to make an impression on his new coach at HSV in two friendly games. Thorsten Fink: “He immediately demonstrated how important he can ben. We do need time to make the team gel, but I am very positive.”
Klaas Jan Huntelaar joined Cruyff and Abe Lenstra on the eternal topscoring list. He now has 33 and is still counting. “It’ a huge honour to see your name on that list, with all those legends. The Schalke striker had to – again – accept a role behind Van Persie. “The coach told me from day 1 in the trainings camp. So I knew. I want to play always, but Van Gaal gave me his tactical reasons, and I accepted it. I respect that approach.”
Hunter felt frustrated at the Euros under Van Marwijk as he felt he wasn’t treated in a fair way. “It is different now. I can handly clarity. I will fight my way back in. I always do. But the series are long and I’m sure I will contribute.”
Van Gaal has made it clear to both players that he is not in favour of a line up with both players in the team. Only one of them will play. “That is the coach prerogative. But it’s been clear from day 1. That to me, is important. The coach looks at it one a game by game basis. He will determine what is needed on that particular moment. And this is how we as players will deal with it.”
Arjen Robben wants to become more egotistical. Huh?? The Oranje and Bayern winger wants to regain his form in this way.
Robben: “I have struggled in the last months of last season and at the Euros. I wasn’t free in my head. There were different reasons, but mainly my injury but also the discussions at club level about my egotistical play. I started to adjust as a result. Subconsciously, of course, but still. I started to think about this, while I was playing. I would have a little debate “Should I pass, do I dribble…?”… That is not how I play. I am an intuitive player. My strength is my independence. And yes, I make mistakes or make the wrong decision…
By changing the way I naturally play, I think I wasn’t able to reach my normal level.”
Robben continues: “I spoke about it with people around me. I need to go back to my fundamentals. It will sound weird, I know, but I need to play more egotistical. Going for the action, have confidence and go for it. In the season prep and also in the game against Turkey, I felt: Yes! I’m back!”