We’re back in action (almost)!

After a bit of a break (and a lot of Olympics ! ) it’s time to focus on football again. This weekend, the Eredivisie starts and so do some of the competitions around us (EPL, Ligue 1, etc).

National Team Manager Louis van Gaal also presented his prelim squad for the upcoming September WC qualification games.

The news that dominated the sports papers though, was Messi’s exit from Barca. Much has been said about it. I have to admit: I was saddened by the news. The guy wants to play at Camp Nou but other people’s mistakes (and maybe some foul play by Real Madrid??) have pushed the Best Player Ever ™ out. We all saw the presser, we all have our own ideas about it. I’m sure Memphis will have mixed feelings. Would it be grand to play with Leo? Yes it would. But without Messi, there is a vacuum in leadership and star-ship (?) and Memphis will be the first to put his hand up to take the free-kicks and penalties from now on.

Wijnaldum must be giggling himself to sleep. One of the reasons why he desperately hoped on a deal with Barca was the chance to play alongside Messi. The finances weren’t good enough for Team Wijnaldum and when PSG offered him twice the deal Barcelona had on the table, he decided to go for his future generations, more than his ego.

And guess what, Gini will be super busy in that midfield now, knowing that Mbappe, Neymar and Messi are not known for their zealous pressing. Wijnaldum might well turn out to be PSG’s key player, amongst all those Hollywood stars.

In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord impress. PSV because of their rollercoaster games in the CL qualifications, with power in midfield, speed up front and goals. Schmidt and Co were able to secure the services of Brazilian Ramalho who made an impression. Boscagli bounced back from his horrific start under Van Bommel and in midfield Marco van Ginkel is playing like a true Roman emperor: back straight, always looking over the ball and playing like a real captain. With the likes of Propper, Sangare and Gotze in midfield, PSV is a formidable challenger for the title. English junior international Madueke claimed all the headlines with his goals, while we all know that Cody Gakpo is destined for great things too! Mo Ihattaren who?

Feyenoord impressed too, not so much due to the wins over Drita and Luzern (which you could expect) or the “friendly” victory over Atletico Madrid, but more due to the fact that coach Arne Slot’s ideas are being processed and implemented so easily, it seems. The addition of CB Trauner from Austria is a big plus, as Feyenoord can now play higher up the pitch. Danish RB Pedersen also adds speed to Feyenoord’s defence. Marco Senesi is impressing with his passing ability and in midfield it seems Guus Til has been able to convince Van Gaal to give him a look in, with his prolific goal scoring and work rate. Up front, Iranian Jahanbakhsh will dazzle the Legion and we also expect Sinistera to get back to his full form and fitness after his tough injury. Oh, and if goalies are key to winning games and titles: Ajax has 37 year old Pasveer, PSV has the somewhat insecure Drommel but Feyenoord has the future Oranje goalie between the sticks. That could well be the differentiator.

We don’t need to mention Ajax, I don’t think. They are in good shape. When you have Blind, Tadic, Antony, Berghuis, Kudus, Timber, Schuurs, Martinez and Klaassen in your squad, you will be the title favorite. Although for me, Ajax will most likely focus more on the CL this season.

In other news, Dumfries finally gets his transfer to Inter. Van Aanholt moves to Turkey. Donyell Malen impresses at Dortmund, Donny van de Beek buffed up in the gym and Virgil is back in action and just signed a new deal with Liverpool.

Which brings us to Louis, who explained how he works as the National Team Manager.

As per usual, Van Gaal is not afraid to give youngsters their debut. In this case, maybe also an oldster. Remko Pasveer, Justin Bijlow and Joel Drommel could all make their debut in Oranje, as could Tyrell Malacia as left back and Devyne Rensch as right back. The Feyenoord LB is the only real left back in the squad, as Van Gaal doesn’t believe Wijndal and Van Aanholt have the fitness levels currently.

Stekelenburg has ended his international career and Cillesen is still not fit.

Louis van Gaal creates a squad every week (!), usually. Even in weeks/months when the NT doesn’t play. This makes his life easier and this is how it works. LVG and his staff use three stages in their work: preparation, execution and evaluation. Execution is the match itself, obviously. The preparation consists of: 1) analysis of opponent, 2) selecting the NT squad, 3) downloading information to the players via tactical talks, video analysis and training.

The evaluation is in group processes and individual, also with video analysis.

In his first tenure as NT coach, in 2000 for the 2002 World Cup, he made a crucial mistake. He decided to trust the core of players he worked with before: Davids, Seedorf, Kluivert, De Boer bros, etc. He gave them his trust also when they didn’t perform. He stopped doing this. For the 2014 World Cup, he went with his system and playing principles and picking the players who were in form, in full fitness and mentally ready (to be coached).

He produced a profile per position in the team and that is the benchmark for picking players. Then it’s all about: form, talent, fitness. He has a group of around 60 potentials, which he follows with his staff every week. Every Monday, he and his staff gather in Zeist to discuss the games they’ve seen and in particular the performance of the players. And every Tuesday, he’d make a 23 player squad. And thus, making his final squad for a certain NT match is an easy process. The skeleton frame is there, it’s just a matter of checking which of the lads is potentially injured, or lost his spot or has issues otherwise…

In 2,5 weeks, our beloved NT is ready to rumble again. Away against Norway on September 1, at home vs Montenegro on September 4 and at home v Turkey on September 7. By then, we know where we stand…

This is my eleven for Norway away. The other line ups will have to wait (depends on result, on fitness, etc).

What is your fave line up for Norway away? In the comments please :-).

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    1. @Jan Your line up is 1000 times betetr tha De boers line up in Euros..haha..i would replace Wijnaldum with davy propper..or even Vilhena….Blind can stay upfront like dumfries did in euros as Virgil is back also Gravenberch and frenkie tends to play on left..
      @wilson…Rensch is stunning player,amazing talent ,you will like him..huge upgrade fro Dumfries,Tete….karsdorp would be nice …but Rensch is not lesser to karsdorp….Our problem is LB…only tyrell malacia is real modern LB…winjdal,Annaholt are average…Blind lacks the pace(old legs)…..i look forward to Jetro williams,Haps, etc..

  1. I would also go with weghorst to get some aerial advantage in there especially when playing with wing backs. Malen as super sub should weghorst start to fade out.

  2. —-Memphis———Malen——–
    ——Virgil–Devrij–De ligt—–
    i think we should go 433…not 532 lets see

  3. I would think we should go with 4-3-3. What I feel we really lacking in is a creative MF, like Sneijder. I was actually hoping to see Veerman gets selected among the others.

  4. AZ started season in style 0:1 loss to RKC. Typical start of the season for AZ. I watched the game and it has nothing to do with the sale of Boadu and Stengs. Attitude and bad goalkeeping. Very disappointed though.

  5. Watched Leverkusen and Union Berlin. Bosz football written all over. Early stages but they have a decent contingent after the depatures of high profile Leon Bailey and the bender brothers who retired.

    Frimgpong and Bakker both started the game. Liked what I saw of both, Frimgpong with his quick feet was a live wire on the right and had a assist on Diaby’s equalizer. Bakker to wasnt bad and though he doesnt have that speed factor, he did venture forward well and linked up with the forwards. Crosses still remain a question mark for him as he hardly crosses but the improving part for me was to seeing him using his right foot when under pressure. He will defintely improve more as he plays more.

    Also watched Monaco and Lorient. Boadu started the game. Really never found much feet as the defenders swayed him like bees around the hive when ever he got the ball. Usually links up and runs were there but nothing on target. Was replaced around 60′. Monaco has a good contingent I must say, they are in CL qualification as well. I think they will face Shakhtar.

  6. Ki Jana also started and played full 90′ for wolves. Unfortuntely they lost to Leicester city 1-0. Did watch the game but he had a good pre season.

    1. Ah, yes, nice to have him back:

      “Van Gaal, “If I had been in the position of the KNVB, I would also have come to me. The polls indicate that I have a lot of fans.”

      Looking forward to his personal comments on this blog, again, as well. 🙂

  7. Some of LVG’s quotes in the press is really good

    ‘I only picked players that are fit, because we have to deliver right away and there is barely any time to prepare. There is only one player who didn’t play 90 minutes yet. Normally I wouldn’t have picked him, but he allows me to change the tactics. Who that is? Malen.’

    Hierarchy should not be set in stone. It’s very important to bring new players into the squad. Young players shake things up. I’ve implemented young players for thirty years.’

    The last paragraph really contradict to the method implemented by previous coaches and it should have been done long time. No more bench players that just make up the number so that first team players feel happy. Bench players should be there to compete and if first team players disappear on certain day, they will be replaced immediately. Other than that, it also allow us to lock down the young talents that has dual nationality.

  8. Alkmaar and PSV both lost tonight. PSV probably deserved a draw, Gakpo was looking great. If him and Madueke can ever turn up on the same day, that team will be a real threat. I have faith they can make it through, Benfica spent the last 20 minutes without the ball committing fouls and killing the clock.

    Didn’t see much of AZ, except Oosting missing an open net, but that team is definitely lacking offensively.

    1. Yes, I also saw Benfica-PSV. Agree, a draw would have been the fairest result. But PSV has an away goal, and is right in it. Gakpo scored a nice goal. Was interested in watching Van Ginkel, I liked him as a player when he left the Netherlands, before all the injuries. For a good part of the game (especially the first half) he looked like he was a little behind the pace. Could be that the injuries have taken their toll, but I’m hoping that its just rust and getting back to game sharpness after so many lost years.

      1. Agree on Van Ginkel as well and thats maybe one of the reason why he wasnt called up either by Van Gaal. I think on the first goal he was left for dead by Silva.he did have his moments though.

        Gakpo as said was good and he did put up the tempo in the second half compared to first where he didnt get much involved. Once he started making those runs through the middle cutting inside from the left, the Benfica defense looked nervous.

        If PSV qualifies for CL they need 2-3 big signings. A proflic striker who can compete with Zahavi and probably a goid attacking midfield who is upgrade to Gozte or can put up a competition to him. The current contingent is good for eredivisie but at CL level they need better depth then what they have now.

        1. PSV should inquire about Richairo Zivkovic. His contract is expirying at the end of the season and could a good back up striker for Zahavi and Madueke as well.

          1. @Derekvdberg91, Thanks, man. had no idea, lol. I don’t know how I feel about that…but how I feel doesn’t matter. 🙂

  9. I did not watch AZ either but based on comments of people who watched the game AZ lacked offensive power. Currently, AZ is coming to the point when the management should decide what the next step is (1) continue developing and selling their youth Academy products and invest no more than 15% of sales in filling the vacancies and keep large portion of money in the bank in case of crisis or (2) slowly increase the transfer budget and start buying more expensive quality players and less invest into youth Academy as return has not been very high anyway. I think current management led by Huijberts is not ready for the step 2. When I look at this season AZ and compare with PSV and Feyenoord, I think my team has lost quality significantly. We will see, AZ traditionally starts season slow due to transfer games and then in course of the season they ramp up.

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