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.
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 :-).