I am sorry guys, I am making up excuses for having abandoned you. I feel like Darth Vader. Using Oranje’s defeats as an excuse is lame.
But there is no excuse. It is just life. I suppose the high of the WC2014 left me in a slump. We could have won it in Brazil. Robben should have scored against Argentina. But he didn’t, so we didn’t. And then Louis went and Guus came and we have to play Iceland and Andorra and Kazachstan and Liechtenstein again….
I am a slow starter, just like Oranje under Hiddink.
I am also a bit concerned with the fate of our lads in Italy, Portugal and England. I am not 100% convinced of Janmaat, De Vrij and Blind I suppose.
They were great under Louis. Because Louis is like an omnipotent Demi God who gives our players wings. From Depay to Fer to Janmaat to De Vrij. They all added 20% to their usual game thanks to their coach. Add top notch players like Nigel de Jong and Arjen Robben to the mix and you have a winning team.
But can Guus? His style is different. Totally different. Where Louis even determines the brand of the sugar lumps used during the press conference, Guus might not even show up for them as his Harley Davidson took him on a detour and he’s enjoying a fine wine in Tuscany with an olive skinned local….
Danny can do what Louis does. But do Robin, Klaas Jan and Nigel really listen to him like they did to Louis?
So it is one of those “we are focusing on settling into our clubs” phases where Oranje literally comes third. First career/club, second family (settling in, language courses, what not), third Oranje. “Because we will qualify anyway.”
The Kazachstan game was as to be expected… They defend. We try and break down. These games take time to go in the right direction. Why? Because this Oranje is not yet a footballing machine, with Van der Wiel back, Afellay back, Van Persie lacking form, Blind not playing his usual spot etc. So the 3-1 was actually exactly the scenario one could expect. A typical FrankdeBoertje by Martins Indi. A lucky goal. Us chasing the win. More fire power with a totally psyched up Huntelaar. A bit of venom between Hunter and Robin van Persie. And the dream story of the Lost Son making good (Afellay, in case you were wondering).
And we snatch the points up. The first one is down (the first win I mean). Guus can breath. The team can go back to normal and from now on it will be smooth sailing.
Still, heaps of question marks for Guus but not all very urgent. Relevant yes, urgent not so much.
For instance: what system to play? What to do with Van Persie (Van Gaal might ask the same question). How will Blind fair in Manchester and who will take his role on the left full back side?
All in all, Guus will slowly make the changes. The Dirk Kuyt exit wasn’t too clean, I don’t think. But Guus at least is clear. Kuyt saw an important role for himself in Oranje, still. Guus didn’t. Dirk was part of Louis’ inner circle (with RVP, Sneijder, De Jong, Robben) but under Guus he won’t be. No more vice captain. So Dirk decided to go. Rafael van der Vaart may not wear the orange much either and should Guus shift systems again (as he is prone to do), who knows what Robin’s role will turn out to be.
Hiddink did make a comment on that rift between Van Persie and Hunter and what he said was telling. Where both Hunter and Van Persie downplayed the incident as something that always happens in the heat of the moment, Hiddink said he didn’t even want to talk about it. “But I will say this: Robin should have passed that ball”.
So this is clever Guus. He says he doesn’t want to say anything about it, but he does say something about it and he shoves his captain under the bus.
Watch this space, as we will see some fascinating developments for sure, as the players slowly realise it is now up to them to step up. There is no more all encompassing Van Gaal taking the flak and making the decisions.
Good points? Afellay! Huntelaar!
There is absolutely no reason not to be positive about our future and as Sneijder said so tellingly: “We have done well in the last 6 years but coming second and third is not the same as winning a trophy. We want to win a trophy!”